At last work on Datto got back into full swing after the initial building of “Lil Datto”, I’m very proud about the work on the second Datsun as this is the car that I will use to compete in this year Witzenberg Motor Clubs Gymkhana Series. Hopefully I will have Datto running before the end of the championship to at least enter it to gain some experience behind the wheel and if time allows on the particular day to play around with the setup.
One thing that we realized was the building a roll cage was no easy task, you need to have your own pipe bender and MIG Welder to make it easier. Work started on the Windscreen pillar reinforcements, first we tacked them in place, this allowed us to manufacture the bottom door bars and the roof supports. After the previous mentioned was manufactured and we were happy we proceeded in welding the windscreen pillar reinforcements, this turned out to be our biggest mistake on the cage to date. I’ll explain this to you later as I have pictures that will show it more evident. Since we made the error that we have not been aware of, the dog started to keep a watchful eye on us, he must have sense the problem but due to his communication skills could not share it.
Next on the list was the roof supports, here we opted for a slightly different than the normal configuration, instead of the conventional cross, and we went for 2 separate pipes that start in the front corners and en next to each other in the middle at the roll bar. This must have been the most difficult pieces to weld, seeing that we made the complete cage so close the roof, at the end of the day the easiest we could figure out to do the welding was using mirrors. We placed these between the roof and the cage, oh boy let me tell you, welding while having a look at a mirror image is no fun if you aren’t used to it. To make this worst was the fact that the mirrors that we used were not designed to cope with the heat generated from an arc welder. Arc Welder, yes you read correct, an arc welder was the only welder we could get into the confined space. But after a few hours we had them in place with a few shattered mirrors.
Installing the seats was moved to the next important components that had to be done before we could continue with the roll cage, all this due to the fact that the driver’s side windscreen pillar reinforcement was too close to where we thought the steering wheel would be, so we also had to get that done before we could continue, this would allow us to make a decision the rectify it or continue.
After some trail fitment of the seats we decided that we would need some seat rails, we opted to make these in such a way that they are bolt in, this would allow us to make the necessary changes in the future if needed. The rails ended up bolting to the seat supports and to brackets welded to the roll cage and the chassis and the also bolted in the middle to the old seat mountings, this ended in a very strong configuration and the option to be removed. We then moved on to the seat brackets, as space is my biggest enemy, I couldn’t use the pre made brackets and had to make my own, after a thorough read thru the documentation we set about making our won as this was allowed in the FIA Rules. We opted for two 8mm bolts per bracket to seat rail, even if only 1 was needed as per rules. Three of the four brackets per seat were easy, the remaining one was the biggest challenge, and we decided that we will have to make these outside of the vehicle. After removing the seat we tacked two pieces of square bar between the rails to keep them in place as if they were mounted in the vehicle and the made the last bracket on a workbench.
Due to the very confined space the driver’s seat had to be mounted in such a way that only I will be at ease with the seating position, this is due to the bigger gearbox tunnel and the huge wings of approved bucket seats. I’m very pleased with the view from the driver’s seat, originally I thought the windscreen pillar would add a big obstruction, but this is not the case.
During my spare time I did a few mock up installs of front suspension, power steering rack and steering column, this allowed me to move the car around easier and to start with some much needed front suspension and steering column planning.
More Pictures – 5 February 2011 – Roll Cage 3 & Seats
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