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Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
12/10/20 8:10 a.m.

Love the horsehide idea!

DocRob Reader
12/11/20 11:13 a.m.

Sold some of the spare Alpine parts I have, and that covers the cost of buying a new seat. Just grabbing one now, to reduce the amount of stuff in my garage I'm trying to work around.

Decided on the Drifter by Procar in brown 'velour' the color looks like it should match my leather fairly well. The price is solid at <$200 a seat with sliders included. I figure at this price, I won't cry if I want to have the seat covers redone. Only downside here is these are single-locking sliders. But I can upgrade to double-locking for <$100 down the road. 





DocRob Reader
12/13/20 10:24 p.m.

Didn't really get much done this weekend. Except for adding some shelves to the garage and reorganizing. The biggest challenge with a one car garage is that space has to constantly be maintained. Still sorting things and reorganizing. But I can once again walk through my garage. 

It'll be kind of slow progress over the next 4-6 weeks. If things go 'well' I might be able to finish the body work on the front valance and get it primed. 

DocRob Reader
12/18/20 3:36 p.m.

Probably another slow weekend for car work. 

I'm really interested in trying to get a tucked radiator in front of the core support. So I did up a 3D box roughly in the shape of some of the tucked Honda radiators. It almost fits. But not quite. So the challenge becomes deciding if it's worth it to modify the front valance. And my gut says, "Yes. Because you already have to do some extensive repair to the valance and it's not structural. So cut that E36 M3 up!" 

My brain says, "Uhh...let's really look this over first." 

Meanwhile, got in some corrugated plastic to use as my backers for panels. Made a rear kick panel backer earlier: 

itsarebuild Dork
12/18/20 9:30 p.m.

Cool build. I will be following!

DocRob Reader
12/20/20 8:09 p.m.

Well, this weekend I was supposed to fix the idler pulley that seized up on my FJ on Wednesday. But my parts are somewhere between New Jersey and Chicago right now. 

I managed to sneak out to the garage for about 45 minutes today to "fit" my engine. Actually...as you'll see fit a box that is roughly the dimensions of a K24 that I took digitally from an image. Because I don't yet have my donor engine here. The box is roughly the size of a K24 sans oil pan and accessories. Because oil pans are a little more labile in construction, but engine blocks aren't. 

A couple of things jumped out at me right away...one is probably pretty obvious


It doesn't fit! This isn't terribly surprising but at 5.5" too tall at the front there is a bit of ground to makeup here. I dig the hoodless aesthetic sometimes, but not all the time. 

But you guys can see - the "hang up" is that the front crossmember is in the way: 


A couple of things jump out here. One the stock motor mount supports for the Sunbeam engine are too narrow. Removing those alone with net me an 1.5" of vertical space back. But then my oil pan won't clear and the engine block will be against the crossmember. 

So, I'll have to notch the crossmember - this is probably a bit excessive for the clearance I'll need. I just kind of chalked it in to put an eyeball on it: 


So let's say I notch the crossmember how much space do I gain? How about...almost exactly 4". So with the bottom of my block even with the bottom of the crossmember I'll clear the hood. Then the challenge will be oil pan + ground clearance. But that's another day's challenge. And I can probably get enough by spacing the crossmember down an inch or so. 

Now there are two other issues at work here. The first is steering. I thought I'd have tons of space to clear the pitman arm. But didn't realize the idler arm also pivots a considerable amount. It turns out I'll probably have just enough clearance on both sides. But this is also a "real engine present" situation. 

The other issue is forward clearance for a radiator. I have decided to solve this problem with a tucked radiator. Because the spot between the grill and radiator support is dead space. A 24x9x4" double-pass radiator can fit. But only if inserted from the bottom of the car and only if I cut some of the valance away. No big deal you can see here the section I'll cut away of sheet metal (in blue) and a slightly more conservative amount of chopped crossmember. None of the sheet metal is structural here. And opening this area up will, with the sway bar removed, give me plenty of space to insert the radiator from underneath. 


That's all for this week. Hopefully I can get the FJ back on its feet before Christmas. We're supposed to get some nasty weather later this week. And I have a dissertation chapter to finish and a bunch of work to get in before we shut everything down on Thursday. Hence mostly just eyeballing and planning as opposed to execution. 

DocRob Reader
1/5/21 12:41 p.m.

Short post-Christmas Update

Had a go at making the rear kick panels. They came out pretty well, but I folded them wrong and there is a bit of splitting at folds. It's okay, because the spray on adhesive I bought didn't really stick as well as I'd hoped anyways. So, I'll probably pull the leather back off and try again. Fortunately, I have PLENTY of leather. I didn't even use half of a single quarter and I bought 3 full quarters.

I also had a go at stripping the remaining filler and paint off the front valance to inspect it for repair. Unfortunately, I found where they had shoddily spot-welded up the edge of the valance and filled the seam formed with bondo. As a result, there is rust forming on the valance and it's to the point where I'm not sure it's repairable. I can order a replacement valance from the UK, but the costs are high, we're talking $1200 with shipping. 

So, I decided I'd do it myself. I have plenty of experience working with sheet metal. And I've always wanted to have one of these...

This is from Grizzly Industrial, the slightly higher end model. About 500 bucks delivered with liftgate service and comes with a full set of anvils. We're gonna make some compound curves!

damarble New Reader
1/5/21 1:30 p.m.

Sweet project. I had considered the K swap for my Datsun roadster. I have many similar obstacles to fitting a modern engine. In the end I decided to go bananas with the ecoboost. I figure if I need to cut anyway I might as well make it stupid. 

DocRob Reader
7/12/21 2:07 p.m.

~6-months later...

Not a ton of progress on the car, but I finished a PhD, becoming Dr. RevolverRob, and moved halfway across the country from Chicago to Seattle to begin a 3-year post-doc. The move comes with a nice upgrade to a 2.5-car garage, big driveway, house with extra parking pad in the back and proximity to autocross.

We only arrived ~2-weeks ago, so I'm still getting things organized, but soon, everything will be done and I can focus on the car for a bit.

Pro-Tip: Towing a Sunbeam over the Rockies with an FJ Cruiser is right on the cusp of acceptable...got a little hairy in a couple of places.

obsolete Reader
7/12/21 9:12 p.m.

Yes! I was wondering what happened to this project. Happy to see an update. Congrats on the PhD, good luck getting settled into the new place and back to doing cool car stuff.

Did you get an engine yet?

Mezzanine Dork
7/13/21 11:23 a.m.

Congrats on the PhD! I'm just across the Puget Sound from Seattle- give a shout if you need a hand with any of your projects. 

damarble Reader
7/14/21 9:12 p.m.

Congrats on the PhD. I'm just over the mountains on the dry side of Washington. 

spitfirebill MegaDork
7/15/21 9:40 p.m.

Congratulations on finishing your PhD.  I wish I had stuck it out.

Couple of quick questions.  Would a Tiger cross member help with your interference problem?   Why not a Honda V6 swap like people are doing to the Miata?    

DocRob Reader
7/19/21 9:29 a.m.

In reply to spitfirebill :

The Tiger and Alpine crossmembers are identical. The difference is the steering. The Alpine has a recirc-ball where the center link is along the firewall. The Tiger has a front-mounted rack and pinion rack. To swap the steering, Rootes (Shelby American in the prototype) took the Alpine steering arms and swapped sides with them. This inverts the Ackermann angle and creates a massive scrub problem. You can use MGB steering arms to return back to a 0-degree Ackermann, but the original setup offers a very nice basic setting without issue. So really you want to maintain the Alpine steering geometry if possible.

The width between the wheel wells is (IIRC pre-coffee this morning) 22" at the bottom and 26" at the top. Most OHC V6 swaps won't fit in the engine compartment without extensive surgery. I considered them seriously.

The Alpine guys are primarily going with the Ford OHV 'Cologne' V6 as a swap, which works pretty cleanly. But I'm not interested in trading parts rarity of the Rootes drivetrain for a completely discontinued Ford setup that also doesn't have much support for parts.

DocRob Reader
7/31/21 7:23 p.m.

Starting to get things into shape around here, this was mostly from last weekend/this past week. Shelves up, hardtop stashed out of the way, car on skates:

Always time for a bit of decor:

And the reference library, small, but important:

But of course the best pieces of decor are functional. I.e., the 'Baby' English Wheel ready to promo:


Today though, a CL Ad for 'moving sale, getting rid of big tools' prompted me to drive about a half-hour. It was a good score.

First, a much needed bead roller. This is one of the now discontinued Harbor Freight rollers, with a full set of dies, on a custom built stand. It's beefy and should work a treat.

But moving you say? Well, what else have you got - A new 1500# engine stand and 2.5 sheets of 18-gauge sheet metal? Yes, I will take those too:

What's that manhole cover looking thing? A block of steel with a bunch of 7/16" threaded holes in it used as a fixturing jig at Boeing? And it has four countersunk spots for bolting it to a bench? Yea, I think that'll be useful, toss it in the truck: 


Gotta do some minor repairs on the FJ Cruiser here next week (serpentine belt tensioner is going bad). Once that's done, we'll be off to the races on finishing stripping the car down for media blasting. I was originally hoping to have the blasting done by end of August, but work is going to keep me spun up for a bit extra this month. So hopefully I can have it all ready for blasting by end of the month.

Once blasted, I'll get in there with a death wheel and cut out the bad metal and use as much as possible of it as forms to make the new pans. I think the sheets I got today are enough to do the pans, but I'll have to measure it out and see. My eyeball-tape says it is, but we all know how accurate that one can be.

NOT A TA SuperDork
7/31/21 10:25 p.m.

Nice haul at the moving sale! I like the bead roller stand, might need to make one for mine.

DocRob Reader
8/8/21 5:00 p.m.

Must be Sunbeam Sunday

Yesterday more tool acquisition, this time a workbench. Ostensibly another Boeing cast-off this thing is HEAVY duty, solid steel, long seam welds and a 3/8" steel top and 1/4" steel back. No, you aren't seeing it wrong, it's sitting on its side in my garage. My initial plan was to cut the back off of this thing and turn the back into a drop-leaf I could attach to the bench and ~double my work bench size. But whoever built this thing was NOT messing around. First I went after the welds with the grinder and opening up a gap big enough to insert a chisel into I did and then hit it with a 5-pound deadblow hammer. I succeed in...scooting the table across my garage floor. More grinding try again, nope. After 20 minutes of working it over with a grinder and getting nowhere, I concluded I wasn't going to cut through the welds anytime soon. I tried the sawzall with a metal blade next and succeeded in ruining two blades and scuffing up the paint. So, I decided to go after it with the Oxy-Gas torch and cranked it up and went at it. I cut through one side of the angle holding the back on, then started to cut through the other and it wouldn't get through. As I looked, whoever did this used four pieces of steel, two pieces of 3/8" plate and two pieces of angle to weld it all together with full and thorough seam welds. I could cut through it at the cost of about two tanks of gas to do it, which isn't worth it to me.

So....I decided that the back of this thing was just fine. I ordered some casters for it and will mount them and tip it over and have a workbench with a tall, very strong, back to it.


So back to the Sunbeam. I'm prepping for media blasting, so I started by removing some emblems, the rear bumper, and the trunk lid:


I crawled under the car looking for any rust just poking around. As I scooted back under the car, I looked at the rear axle, something I had never done before. And realized that the clearance between the axle and the well that holds the spare tire in the trunk is pretty small. In fact this blue line is ~2".

This made me think...I want to run a 7" Winter's Quick Change...but will it fit? So I looked up the dimensions (thanks to Winter's for diagraming them in their catalog). I drew out a little square template and crawled back under the car and there is no way. I need 3-3.5" of more clearance past what is there. That presents a bit of a problem, because where am I going to get that kind of clearance? I mulled this over for awhile, thought of scrapping the QC rear end and going with a light weight 9", costs are similar, but the 7" Quick Change is about 20 pounds lighter than a 9" and with the car being used as a HDPE, Autocross, and Time Trial car I wanted the versatility of swapping ratios quickly for different track configurations.

What did occur to me though and knowing myself, if it's not easy to do something, I'm less likely to do it. And I know myself, having to crawl under the car on hot pavement to swap rear end gears isn't the most enticing thing to do. But you know what is easier? If I can do the work from inside the trunk.

Wouldn't you know...somewhere along the line someone used a floor jack to jack the car up and smooshed in the sheet metal around the spare tire:

I hammered this back down earlier today when I could get good leverage on it, but in doing so found there are some rust pinholes forming and some cracks from this older damage:

AND that's almost exactly where the rear end would need clearance in the trunk.

So, I think the answer is sort of obvious...cut out the bad metal, slot the rear end in place, built an easily removed box that I can get to the rear gears from above. I maybe have to raise the rear end a bit, lowering the car an inch isn't a problem, I'll be running 2" smaller diameter tires over stock, so dropping it a bit would make it look better anyway.

DocRob Reader
8/19/21 3:30 p.m.

Pretty low key weekend last weekend - no real progress this week, except to work on some more disassembly. Feeling under the weather and have to go in for a COVID test tomorrow (hopefully it's seasonal allergies and not the 'Vids).


Last weekend's project was mostly to get my workbench on casters and painted. I rattle canned it with Rustoleum. I may eventually sand the bench top all the way down and throw a good quality enamel on it. But for now a semi-gloss white works fine.



Perfect space for hardware bins too:

Got some shop lights hung up for some extra lighting...and had to break out the big guns to bust loose the bolts holding the old 3-point shoulder belts in place. Yes, I could have used an air tool, but where is the fun in that?

SanchinMiata Reader
8/20/21 11:29 a.m.

Re: steering, I seem to recall that my Tiger had very odd Ackerman behavior- reversed angles led to some, ahem, interesting handling dynamics. The steering in the Alpine actually worked better...

DocRob Reader
8/29/21 4:17 p.m.

Still recovering from whatever was beating me up. I had two negative COVID PCR tests. So, it wasn't that, but whatever it was, I'm still running about 90% or so.

In the meantime, mounted my jigging block to the workbench and took a moment to measure the english wheel mounts...turns out it was perfect...


And what build thread is complete without some divergence? I need a good commuting vehicle from the house to the ferry and ferry to the office and vice versa...so I pick this up in a couple of weeks:

2013 Genuine Stella 4-stroke/4-speed with a Pinasco exhaust already installed. Nothing serious is happening to this. Planning to remove the racks, perform some basic maintenance, install some fresh tires and ride. But it means a side track, because I never bothered actually getting a motorcycle endorsement on my license before. Oh well, should be fun!


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