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Last Post 07 Feb 2017 10:15 AM by  Fair
Vorshlag Build Thread - 69 Camaro Pro Touring/Track Car
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Fair
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06 Aug 2015 01:43 PM
    Project Introduction August 6th, 2015: This one is a bit unusual for Vorshlag - a Pro Touring build. Yes, this is the first classic Detroit iron we've done up to this level. No, we're not selling out and trying to cash in on a "new trend" - I grew up building and driving 60s-70s F-bodies, Mustangs and Mopars. They were great looking cars with good drivetrains but had pretty terrible brakes, suspensions and chassis. I have watched the Pro Touring trend evolve from day 1 (BigRedCamaro) and have been waiting patiently to build one with more of a performance slant than a show car.

    This customer came to us with his 69 Camaro project because he thought we had the skills that best fit his needs. This will be no ordinary Pro Touring show car / Cars & Coffee queen, but a real deal track beast with giant Hoosier tires, big aero, and LS V8 power. Sounds a lot like what we do, but it needs serious safety gear and custom everything to work well.



    Quick picture from where we are now on this build, in August 2015, when we launched this build thread

    We've been working on this car now for about three months and this has turned into something pretty amazing, and I cannot wait to see what the end result looks like. Many people have commented after seeing the car in person or the few pics we've shown that they wanted to see a build thread. So let's get caught up on the progress, starting at the beginning - when the customer found us. I will start this forum build thread with the first post showing the tear down and some of the new frame work, and follow up with more progress in upcoming posts.

    Picking A Shop Is Important

    Earlier in 2015 we had a customer contact us about finishing a build he had started at two previous shops, which will remain unnamed. He came to our open house event in February 2015 to check us out in person, see some of the work we've done on customer cars, and get a feel for our shop - to see if we might be able to deliver what he wants.



    He focused a lot of his attention on a 2013 Mustang GT (below left) road race car and silver Subaru Land Speed Racer (below right) that were in our shop that day, with recent work completed by Vorshlag. The owners of several cars we have built were also in our shop so he could talk to multiple customers face to face.



    This type of research is smart, because not enough customers really check the background and skills of the shop building their dream car. They might hear about some shop that a friend says "check this place out", then without much further investigation they drop off their car and hope for the best. Well, this guy didn't take our word for it - he came to our shop when several customers and their cars we built were there and learned a lot.

    I watched this video recently where shop owner Vinny Ten said these things - that customers need to research the shops they work with - and I hadn't really thought about this much before. Sometimes customers want to blame others for their poor planning and bad decisions, but Vinny says its partially their fault for not researching the shop that did the work.

    Luckily this 69 Camaro customer did his home work - and after he researched Vorshlag he brought the car up to us for a look, along with a truckload of parts, back in April 2015. We looked over it, made a list of recommendations and changes, had some good discussions with the owner about intended use and concerns, gave him some detailed estimates, and work got underway in May. Here's what we've been up to...



    Note: Most of the pictures in this forum thread were shot by our shop manager, Brad, and most of the work so far has been completed by one of our fabricators, Ryan. Our whole shop has been involved in researching and selecting components, ordering parts, in discussions about safety and layout, Jason and I have had engineering input on many aspects, etc - its always a team effort here. If a photo looks noticeably ugly, though, I most likely shot it with my #potatocam on my phone or my old Nikon DSLR.

    New Direction + Inspection

    There were a number of significant changes in this build when it came to Vorshlag, many of which entailed removing previous work and starting over. We quoted the hours to re-do the frame, floor, cage and more, and we have stayed on our time budget so far.



    We noted a lot of things that needed to be changed to comply with safety, classing and engineering standards for what the customer had in mind, which was serious HPDE and Time Trial use. I won't go into all of that, other than the list was detailed, extensive, and we re-used as many parts that were applicable.



    We all liked what he had in mind, and were eager to get started. We had to finish another project first, but that was soon done and we began on this '69 Camaro in May of 2015.



    The car rolled into our shop as a semi-built rolling chassis. The amount of tear down shown below may seem excessive, but there wasn't a single piece of the old car cut out that wasn't done for a good reason. I'm not going to get mired in knocking down the work done to this car before it got to our shop - I'm just showing what we did - but I might mention our reasoning here or there.

    Beginning of Tear Down

    We had agreed upon a course of action with our client and he had signed off on all of the changes we had in mind. We told the owner that to get the car back to a rolling chassis that was safe/competitive/reliable would likely take a certain number of hours of tear down and rework, which was approved. When Ryan was freed up from another cage build, he was ready to tear into the Camaro and he jumped right into action. Tear down is chronicled in the short 24 second time lapse video below, taken on 5/11/15.


    Time Lapse Video of Day 1 of Tear Down

    The engine and trans were removed and the existing roll cage was cut out. Its painful to remove parts and work that has been completed, but a necessary step in order to move forward. We really "ripped the Baind-Aid off" on day 1, heh.



    The front subframe was removed, with an eye towards possibly re-using this section. It was a name brand 1st gen F-body subframe designed for C6 Corvette control arms, hubs and uprights, then modified heavily for this car. We see them on lots of Pro Touring builds and assumed it probably had decent geometry (which we would later check).



    This car had a custom floor and frame built to replace the OEM floor and unibody structure, but for various reasons it all had to go. Ryan used plasma cutter, saws-all, and other tools to get these pieces out over the course of a few days.



    Once he started on this Camaro we couldn't get him to stop - he was having too much fun. Of course we cannot work on one car non-stop for months, and Ryan split his time on other customer work here and there, but a lot of time was logged on the '69 from May through July.



    The rear frame rails and trunk floor were also removed, all of which was off-the-shelf kits adapted to this car previously. The deconstruction totaled only 16 billable hours for the steps shown above. The 2x4" rear frame rails that were previously installed on the car were only 1/4" thick (see below) in long horizontal sections near the inboard sections of the rear tires. With 345mm Hoosiers and their cornering loads transferred to the frame in these narrowed sections, we had concerns, so all of that came out.



    The solid rear axle housing was a big beefy custom Ford 9" unit (below) with lots of extras, and we would end up re-using that for the build. It had no "guts" (bearings, seals, axles, gears, or diff) so we would be ordering all of that later. The front and rear shocks were only "mock-up" shocks, made for eye-to-eye mounts and with a pin to change the length during chassis setup. Handy things to have when you are building a car from scratch. After a few days of loud cutting and flying sparks later it was ready to begin reconstruction - all of this happened very fast.

    New Frame

    To stick with the same frame section sizes used in the bolt-on front subframe (that had been welded to the center frame section) we stuck with the 2x3" rectangular tubing for the center section of the new frame we would be building. This would make it possible to mate it all up at the firewall. Its a good size of tubing to use in any case.



    We ordered up more of the 2x3" tubing as well as several other sizes of square and round tube for various fixtures or frame pieces that needed to be constructed. At the same time a pair of mandrel bent "over the axle" 2x4" tubing rear frame sections were ordered. Then the tedious work of fitting the side frame rails into the Camaro rockers was undertaken, which meant more cutting, but with more refinement and measuring involved...



    The previous 2x3" frame sections were placed several inches inboard of the outer rocker panels. This meant the old roll cage tubes didn't line up with the frame rails. Our new goal was to "pocket" the inner structure of the exterior lower rockers and move the new 2x3" frame tubing outboard. This would allow the new frame rails to "nest" inside the outer portion of the lower rocker panels. The new frame would be several inches wider and would allow the new roll cage to move outboard and land on these 2x3" frame members directly, which would make for a safer roll cage and a more efficient overall structure.



    As the work to fit for the new frame to the body progressed, more and more of the previous fabrication work was removed. I could write a book about the missing welds, poor engineering, and shoddy fab work we have seen on many cars that enter our little shop, but it isn't worth the down sides. It seems if I say anything negative about anything ever built, I end up being the bad guy, so I'll just say "lots of stuff was removed", and that we "only removed what was inappropriate for this type of build."



    Before the entire frame and some interior chassis structures were cut away, temporary bracing was added to keep the outer body panels square. These tack welded tubes (shown above) will be removed as the new frame structure is added.



    There were some hours spent making room for the 2x3" frame rails out in the rocker sections (tack welded in place, above), but it was worth it to be able to get the cage mounted more outboard than it was before. This work gained several valuable inches, room needed to keep the tubes from being where the seat needed to be, to keep cage away from the driver's head.



    Once the frame rails were mocked-up on the chassis, measurements were taken and a flat and sturdy structure was built onto our 4x8 foot heavy duty welding table. Its not really a "frame table" that I'd like, but for our limited shop space, it works. Then the frame rails were removed from the Camaro tub and placed onto the table structure at the right width... then the body was lifted onto the frame rails, set onto those, and re-tack welded in place.

    More Next Time

    This work shown above was completed by about May 20th, and this tear-down is as good a time as any to stop this project thread installment. I'll show more of the frame table work next time.

    Thanks for reading,
    __________________
    Terry Fair - www.vorshlag.com
    Fair
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    --
    20 Aug 2015 04:14 PM
    Project Update August 20th 2015: This forum post update covers much of the work we did from late May through mid June of 2015 on our customer's tube framed 69 Camaro "Pro Touring" track car. A little more deconstruction was needed, but for the most part that was all wrapped up and the real fabrication work really got underway in this period.

    Before we get started I wanted to list the forums we're posting this build thread on. Note: The pictures in all of my build threads can be clicked for higher rez images or sometimes videos, but for some reason clickable images do NOT work over at S197forums.
    • http://forums.corner-carvers.com/sh...hp?t=48983 - Corner Carvers
    • http://www.sccaforums.com/forums/aft/447510 - SCCAForums
    • http://www.s197forum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=123945 - S197 Forums
    • http://www.vorshlag.com/forums/showthread.php?t=8393 - Vorshlag forums

    One of these I own (vorshlag), two of them I sponsor (sccaforums + S197forums), and corner carvers puts up with my shenanigans (mostly). If there's another forum that would welcome this build thread (even with...gasp... watermarked pictures), and it has approval from an admin to post as-is, please PM me and I can port it over. Not that this is a ground breaking build or some unknown tech going into it, but its a fun Pro Touring / track build that not a lot of shops are willing to share the behind the scenes work on, to this level.

    New Rear Suspension + Frame Section = Thoughts About IRS?



    Once we had the new '69 Camaro frame rails laid out on the "frame table" we started looking at the rear suspension. It came here with a custom 9" Ford axle with a semi-finished 3-link (fore-aft control arms) and a Watts Link (lateral location), but it didn't look right. Sure enough, after Ryan measured the arm lengths, pickup points, and positions, then input the numbers into 3D suspension software, the the geometry was "less than ideal" for track use.



    So by now we knew we would be massively changing everything out back - adding all new rear frame rails, altering the geometry and mounting points on the rear control arms, and making a new Watts using some of the old parts. And the solid axle housing was bare - it had no differential or axles installed. So a thought occurred to me... would now be a good time to discuss an Independent Rear Suspension?


    We proposed both a C5/C6 rear transaxle and rear subframe/suspension for the 69 Camaro IRS

    We pitched the idea to the customer, first showing him a C5/C6 rear transaxle and suspension, using the OEM aluminum rear cradle, arms, halfshafts, and transaxle. But he was invested in the custom ford 9" axle that was already in the build and didn't want to give that up. Plus after we measured a C5 in the shop we realized that an unmodified C5/C6 rear subframe and halfshafts would push the track width wider by at least 4 inches, which meant rear flares, and that would disrupt the original bodylines too much.


    Custom IRS we built for a 99 Miata with an LS V8 swap = costly + time consuming

    There are some aftermarket rear IRS setups but they aren't very.... good. Sorry, they are generally "Not appropriate for this application" - again, with massive Hoosiers making big grip numbers, and serious track performance as the end goal. So doing a completely scratch built IRS was an option, and we've done that before (on the Miata, above) but it would be a lot of custom work and added costs. We discussed the pros and cons with the customer and in the end we scrubbed the IRS idea, as this build was already too far along and LOTS more perfectly good parts would get chucked. So we got back on track and started diving into the new rear suspension geometry and frame rails.

    Getting The New Frame Started

    As I mentioned at the end of my last entry, the center of the chassis was built from 2x4" tubular frame sections, which were first fitted into the gutted unibody tub. These were then transferred to our frame table at the same width.



    The existing aftermarket front suspension was added at the right location and tubing was made to joint the "center" to the "front" frame sections. We don't know where this front frame clip came from, but it doesn't really matter. There are dozens of "bolt in" front suspensions for the 1st gen F-bodies and they span back over a decade, with lots of revisions along the way.



    We had some serious reservations about some of the material used in the major suspension mounting point load paths, but the customer really wanted to use what he had. So we moved forward and mounted it to the frame table at the correct height, so we could do more mock-up and measurements.



    Two things became obvious once it was joined to the center section and tack welded together. First, the maximum amount of negative camber we could get with this setup was -1.0° up front. Which is nowhere near enough, as these Hoosiers would probably generate enough cornering power to need closer to -2.5 to -3.5° up front. So we'd have to cut off the main upper control arm mounting plates, move them inboard, and figure out how to reinforce those plates to counter cornering loads.



    Second, there were some surprising side-to-side suspension geometry inconsistencies in the lower control arm brackets of this production built front clip. These were going to already have be heavily modified and beefed up anyway, but its just odd that supposedly CNC laser-cut brackets could be assembled and be off by 5/8" from side to side. Again, we don't know who originally built this subframe kit, or if it was modified after it was installed, but it was a big hot mess.

    So we now knew we had to remove the upper mounting plates and move them for more negative camber travel, then reinforce the flimsy plates heavily. Not to mention all of the control arm pick-up points were thin, poorly supported steel plate - everything needed to be heavily beefed up. The geometry wasn't good, the alignment capability was poor, and the engineering wasn't up the grip levels planned for this car.



    In the end, it was easier to just build a whole new front subframe than "fix" was was here. Ryan did all of the geometry calcs in the 3D software and came up with a new front frame rail width and placement so that the suspension loads would go through the frame members directly or through plate and tubing added to the 2x4" rails. When we displayed all of the shortcomings of the old front subframe, our customer agreed. Now the complete front subframe can be sold to someone else - to use on a street rod or drag car, which this design (above) is more appropriate for.

    Updated Rear Suspension and Frame

    So we now are tasked to make the entire frame from scratch. We ordered the pre-bent rear 2x3" rectangular rear frame rail sections below to work with a solid axle rear suspension. Being originally made for drag cars with long lower arms, they were just a bit too long to fit the confines of the chassis we had laid out, so they needed to be shortened several inches...



    This isn't particularly difficult, just a little time consuming to do right. First the rails are cut to the correct length, then a "slug" of tubular steel is made that fits inside the junction. Drilled holes in the 2x3" sections allow for rosette welds and of course a weld at the main junction. Then it is lightly ground for aesthetics. This makes the welded frame section stronger at the joint than before, with just a little more weight.



    All of that work was still MUCH easier than hand making these curved frame sections that go over the solid axle. Pie-cut pieces would look all choppy without being as strong. So after it was made to the right length Ryan cut the end, aligned and tack welded the rail in place on the cross beam.



    The lateral placement of the rails is now correct and they won't need to be "scalloped" for more tire room, like the previous frame rails. These have more than an inch of extra clearance inboard to the existing existing rear wheels and 345mm Hoosiers. And if you look above you will see two different lower control arm mounts on the cross beam - the first pair had a single mounting hole, but the final pair allow some adjustment so they were made with 3 mounting holes.


    Our fabricator on this project Ryan (left) and our engineer Jason (right) evaluate settings in the animated 3D suspension software

    While planning the pick-up points and arm lengths it was determined that the existing lower rear control arms could stay untouched but the upper control arm (below left) was too short by several inches. New material was ordered and a longer upper arm, a new upper mount and a new upper crossmember were added (below right) to get the geometry where we wanted.



    continued below

    Fair
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    --
    20 Aug 2015 05:38 PM

    continued from above

    Watts Link and Aluminum Center Section

    Many of the Watts Link parts were re-used in the new layout, shown below. The mounting tabs were super sketchy before, and looked like they'd fold up under hard cornering. These new mounts are stronger and will receive additional bracing and structure as the build progresses.



    The solid axle had the mount for the center pivot of the Watts, as you can see above left. It was a decent looking mount and double-shear style football pivot, so those pieces were re-used. Since the rear frame rails and mounts for the Watts link changed, we had to alter the length of the lateral arms for the Watts. So those went from steel to aluminum lateral locating links; the old pics show black arms which are now gold anodized and adjustable length.



    Next up was ordering the "third member" or "pumpkin" (rear gears + limited slip + bearing assembly) that bolts into the front of the Ford 9" rear axle housing. The housing was bare when the car rolled in here, so Ryan shared different available third member brand and material options with the customer and in the end we chose a Moser aluminum center section. Normally these are cast iron (nodular iron) but the Moser built aluminum third member is much lighter and plenty strong. Gearing calcs were done to pick the rear gear ratio that worked with the tire height (345/30/19 Hoosier), the gearing from the G-Force trans, and terminal speeds we expect the car to see at Texas road course tracks.



    There are a lot of differential options for the Ford 9" but we chose a WaveTrac. We needed the third member in place to be able to know where to make room for the driveshaft, exhaust and such. Having Moser build and supply the entire assembly made it easy - they installed and setup the hypoid gear set, bearings, and differential into the aluminum housing - so that can be just bolted into the axle housing. We picked up some ARP studs and nuts for a Ford 9" housing and installed the third member shortly after it arrived (below).



    New Front Subframe Fab

    By now we are into work done in early to mid June. After the old front subframe was removed, additional 2x4" frame rail material was purchased. Ryan got to town and had the new rails cut and tacked in place quickly and began the front suspension mounting points.



    The suspension used of a lot of pre-existing parts, including C6 Corvette aluminum uprights, aluminum C6 upper and lower control arms, and big disc brakes from Wilwood. There's a fabricated steering arm on the spindles, which was for the old subframe and rack setup. There was a haggard looking Fox Mustang steering rack kluged into the old subframe, but we knew that had to go (more on that next time).


    Please note: all of the lower control arm mounts WILL be double shear. They are incomplete in the image above

    Since we had other ideas for a more appropriate steering rack, Ryan left out some of the front structure - awaiting the new rack. As you can see the front has room for a bolt-in lower brace structure, which should allow for track-side service of the oil pan with the motor still in the car. Its a dry sump oil oiling system and pan, which still allows the motor to sit fairly low. The C6 control arms were mounted after geometry was again checked in simulation and placed where we could get some real camber and alignment settings appropriate for track use.



    Again, the previous plate steel mounts were cantilevered off the frame rails and looked like they would not withstand the side loading that 315 Hoosiers could generate. We asked Ryan to tie the upper control arm mounting plates into the frame with tubing. The curved tubing wraps around the mounting plates and vertical 1-3/4" tubing will come up and tie across the engine bay. This will also be tied back into to the roll cage.



    Before too long the motor and transmission needed to go in to make sure the front subframe frame rails left appropriate room to add custom full length headers (will show the construction of the headers in my next post). The placement and driveline angles were checked and re-checked then Ryan began working on the motor mounts. The driver's side mount is already installed in the image above, and you can see the digital angle finder on the tail of the G-force transmission as well.



    The motor mounts use the same Energy Suspension polyurethane bushing we've used on hundreds of LS swaps, which is both rigid enough to prevent drivetrain deflection but just supple enough to cancel out some NVH. The mounts tie into the front frame/subframe structure and bolt on.



    Above you can see Brad and Ryan test fitting one of three different racing seats the customer brought - a Sparco EVO III, an EVOII, and a Lajoie aluminum seat - which I will show next time. They also mocked up a driveshaft with 4" PVC tubing, to check rear crossmember clearance and tunnel position. There's some floor and tunnel structure started here, but I will show more of that in my next post.



    A quick body mockup showed that meeting the desired engine setback would be easier to remove the factory cowl in favor of a fabricated part rather than just trimming it. Again, the firewall had been heavily modified (and yet had zero room for exhaust headers) and the rusty cowl was a mess, so losing all of that wasn't making anyone too sad. Plasma cutter made the initial, big cuts on the cowl, then the body could slide down over the chassis to verify fit...



    With the body on you can see the engine setback clearly, above. The Norwood "alumi-fit" 69 Z28 reproduction aluminum front fenders and hood were also test fitted at this stage, to check basic clearances to the engine, tires, etc. Everything looked good and fit as expected.



    That shot gives you a better image of what the car will look like when its done. It looks SO much meaner with the wheels and tires fitted, but I will show that next time.

    Videos - This Week At Vorshlag

    The 69 Camaro has made it into a few of my semi-regular "this week at Vorshlag" videos, and the one below get us caught up to where we stopped here in this build thread.



    This June 15th Video has plenty of 69 Camaro at the beginning to about the 3:38 mark.

    What's Next?



    Next time I will finish covering the rest of the work knocked out in June and then some going into July, including: the differential install, more floor structure and tunnel fab work, dry sump tank mounting, more front suspension work, and firewall structure work. Oh yea, and the roll cage was built (teaser pic above). Until next time...

    Cheers,
    __________________
    Terry Fair - www.vorshlag.com

     


    Fair
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    --
    09 Sep 2015 07:34 PM
    Project Update September 9th, 2015: This forum post update covers much of the work we did in June and into July of 2015, which includes the bulk of the roll cage design and fabrication. Remember - each picture can be clicked for a larger image (except on some forums, which have weird UBB code).

    FIREWALL FABRICATION

    A small amount of time was spent here adding some initial tubing and gussets to create a new firewall frame and a bit more trimming of old, unused sheet metal. The new Goodmark reproduction cowl panel was also fitted in place - the goal is to have all of the original lines and exterior panels of a 69 Camaro, and the outer cowl panel is a significant visual piece.




    This lower framework will make up the front portion of the transmission tunnel. Access was left for header routing, but a slight change on a component down the road made for some small amount of rework to this frame (you would have to measure it before and after to see the difference).



    The reproduction upper cowl panel is fitted to calculate the upper firewall position. This is as far as the cowl will get for now, as that will need to wait for final cage tubing, the tunnel fabrication, the exhaust header construction and some other items that will go in later in the build.



    STEERING COLUMN MOCK UP



    Once the new firewall location was picked (after moving the engine rearwards significantly from the OEM placement) a basic framework for the firewall mount for the steering column / bearing was built. The placement of the steering rack was fairly obvious, and the seat mock-up in the last installment showed where the steering wheel needed to end up... connect the dots and that's where the firewall mount for the column needed to be.



    Ryan selected a Sweet Manufacturing steering column cage mount clamp kit, which he modified for better strength. This might not be the final clamp we use for the steering column. For now it lets us quickly rotate, raise/lower, and alter the angle of the column to make the final seating arrangement and steering wheel location/angle perfect.



    This clamp was completed after parts of the cage (below) were in place - namely, the horizontal "dash bar". Looking from the engine bay you can see that the angle on the bearing/U-joint at the firewall junction was minimized.

    BODY & FRAME STRUCTURE WORK



    Squaring the body on the chassis was done to ensure the cage layout would be correct and the final body lines would look symmetrical. This took some time, measurements, tweaking, and adjustments.



    Some temporary support tubes were added to the window and door frames to add strength while interior panels were cut away piece by piece. We just need the outer skin - everything else is just dead weight that will get in the way of the cage tubes. The final cage structure will add significant rigidity to the overall chassis, so most of the old unibody structure no longer provides meaningful stiffness to a tube framed chassis like this.



    These rectangular gussets were added diagonally to join the middle frame and rear frame rails to make the cage layout and load paths work better. The width of the 345mm rear tires pushed the rear frame rails inboard more than you'd normally see on a car like this, so these diagonals help reinforce that offset step in the chassis.

    ROLL CAGE COSTS

    Building a roll cage for a road course car is a complicated, time consuming job. You have to know the class/rules it is being built for, the construction has to follow the constraints of the chassis you are building it for, there are materials to know how to select correctly and welding techniques to use for various tube and plate junctions. It takes a good bit of skill/experience/technique, proper tools and welders, and when done properly it takes a lot of time.



    Lots of people ask us for roll cage quotes, and we usually use $5000 as a starting price for a typical road race cage. That might seem high to some, but even that price rarely covers the materials and our hourly rate. Most times we have to eat about 30-40% of the hours on a fixed bid cage job. Of course some cages cost more, but that's our typical cage cost. I've had trouble explaining the costs to people on the phone so I made a detailed entry about cage costs on our forum and just send them this link. That post serves as a "tech article" to show why our cages might cost more than others', shows some details on a number of different cage jobs for differing racing classes, etc. Other shop owners have linked to this forum post to help justify their own cage costs - more power to 'em.

    ROLL CAGE WORK BEGINS

    I sent that forum post about cages to the 69 Camaro owner as an explanation, early on during our quoting process. And on a build like this, a $5000 cage isn't a huge impact on the bottom line. OK, so where were we? After the main portion of the frame was laid out on the frame table, and the front and rear subframes created and welded to that, the rest of the body went on...



    After the body was on the frame, and the first driver's racing seat was in place, Ryan started laying out the roll cage. Jason and I had some initial layout and classing/rules input, but once he got the inner panels out of the way, Ryan went to town and did his thing.



    This is a major step in the overall '69 Camaro build, and Ryan was bending, cutting and notching tubes for two weeks on the main portion of the roll cage structure.



    The cage tubes are laid out, measured, and bent carefully. Templates are made, strings are run, angles are measured and it is all transferred into tubing. The notching for each tube junction requires math, templates, the right tools, and careful fitting.



    It is easy to have a tube droop or rotate slightly in the bender and have the angle thrown off. Ryan sets up guide tubes (see above) to keep the sometimes 10 foot long tubes from slipping or bending downward in the bender, and watches the digital angle finder attached to the tube during each pull.



    Accurate measuring, calculation and fitting is key when building a cage that fits this tight to the chassis and body. Here Ryan is adding some tubing that will make up the floor structure and trans tunnel, which I will show in another post.



    The image above was where work stopped on July 14th, which was when the cage was about halfway finished. There will be additional tubes joining the upper side bars to the main hoop, in the roof, and of course the dash bar and door bars.



    All outer tubes are routed very close to the outer skin of the body for maximum room to the driver's helmet and arms.

    continued below
    Fair
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    --
    09 Sep 2015 07:35 PM
    continued from above



    Now we probably could have argued for not using the optional "FIA bar" (below) on this Camaro. The FIA bar is the vertical bar that goes from the upper corners of the windshield to the foot of the forward most vertical cage bar at the A-pillar. Adding these is just good insurance, and has become common practice in all rally and many road racing safety cages these days.



    This is a more critical tube on a more "laid back" modern windshield - which have typically windshields at 25-30° from horizontal (measured on cars in the shop to check this). This 1969 Camaro A-pillar is sitting more upright at a 41° angle, but that still means the top of the windshield/roof is 15-1/2" further back than the base of the windshield and the front foot of most cage tubes, so the FIA bar was added. In a roll over situation this will help keep the roof from crushing - and that's a big part of what a "roll" cage is supposed to do.



    The first roof diagonal bar is in place above. Bends were added at the ends to gain more headroom for the driver and passenger. This bar is almost touching the roof skin in 2 spots and the ends fit tight to the cage. Most of the original inner roof structure has been removed except the forward most panel at the front/top of the windshield, and even this inner panel was tweaked for more room.



    Here you can see that the second roof bar was added. This is optional, but worth it on a car that will sometimes have two people in it and driven hard on track. The first roof diagonal joins several others in a big "node" behind the driver's head for maximum strength nearest his helmet. These tubes are only tacked in place, and will be disassembled for final welding. Each tube will be individually welded at to the node - one tube at a time on atop the other - for full 360° welds on each tube at this junction.

    WOODWARD RACK IS HERE

    At this point we are well into July work. This is not the only car Ryan was working on in June/July, as he was pulled away to tackle some final work on the FR-S LS1 car before it left our shop, as well as some work on the LS1 Miata, but the Camaro was his main priority.



    The Fox Mustang factory steering rack looked a lot worse for wear, and the original placement left a lot to be desired (it was going to have massive bump steer where it was placed, plus it was in the way of the harmonic balancer). We explained the rack's limitations and suggested a few options to the car owner. Options ranged from electric steering assist to several options of OEM and custom servo-style racks like this made-to-order Woodward rack, below.



    He picked the Woodward servo rack, so we sent our calculated dimensions to Woodward and had it built. Brad took this picture of the rack and various parts that came in this kit. Ryan wanted to mount the rack to the front crossmember immediately, but the tailstock on our manual lathe broke, and he needed the lathe to make some of the mounting components, so that had to wait until we repaired the lathe. Next time.

    DRY SUMP TANK MOUNTING

    Mounting locations for the dry sump oil settling tank was discussed within our crew. Some racing engineers want to use the tank plus the 8-12 quarts of oil it holds as ballast, and place it way in the back of the chassis. Engine builders want this tank want it as close to the engine as possible to reduce/oil feed suction problems to the dry sump pressure pump.



    With as far back as we have moved the engine and transmission, plus the driver, we felt we are going to be doing pretty well on rear weight bias and went with the forward tank location. This tank is sitting behind where the stock firewall would be, but it will be tucked inside its own (accessible) metal enclosure away from the passenger cabin. The passenger seat is moved back the same ~18" as the driver's side, so their feet will have plenty of room away from this tank enclosure.



    Ryan mounted the tank at this point to route the extra forward cage tubes from the roll cage to the vertical tube that ties into the front suspension mounting tubes/plate. You can see the pink layout string in the image above, which runs above the tank. Planning ahead is crucial so we don't have to back track later.

    TRANSMISSION CROSSMEMBER AND MOUNT

    The transmission had been set at the right downward driveline angle, opposite that of the rear axle flange, so that the U-joints are in sync. It had been sitting on a temporary piece of steel clamped to the frame, but now was time to construct the transmission crossmember and mount.



    The bottom of this car is going to be flat (for aerodynamic reasons), so the exhaust and driveshaft have to be tucked up well inside the transmission tunnel. That's why the tunnel is so large. Since this is a dry sump motor, the oil pan is short and the transmission sits very low in the chassis. This means the transmission crossmember had to sit low but ALSO have clearance for two 3" diameter exhaust tubes - which made for a fairly elaborate 3D plate structure.



    The red bushing sandwiched between the transmission and the crossmember is our 95A polyurethane rubber transmission mount busing we use on many of our LS1/T56 drivetrain swap kits. We have these molded to our specs and this bushing keeps vibration to a minimum while eliminating slop normally seen in an OEM rubber transmission mount. I will show more of this in a later post, when it is out of the car for final welding.

    DOOR MOCK-UP + MORE CAGE PROGRESS



    Next up in the build was the initial fitting of the fiberglass doors to the car. To save weight the doors are composite and the front sheet metal is aluminum - the only steel skin will be the roof, rear fenders and rear panel.



    Mocking up the doors at this point was necessary to be able to lay out the "NASCAR" style door bars for the roll cage.



    The car came in with a cage that had a flat "X" bar that was a bolt-in portion (drag racer style - not allowed in road racing). This put the bars inboard of the stock door structures, and made for a very tight cockpit.



    The right side lower door bar was fitted first. As you can see above, this bar comes way out into where the shell of the stock doors would be. The amount of interior space gained with the new set-up is dramatic. 8-10 inches of additional room is available on each side.



    Fitting bars like this was tricky and took lots of iterative measuring and small cuts for tubing clearance on the rear door jamb. But it is worth it in the end, and the driver and passenger will both have plenty of elbow room and additional side impact crush space inside the cabin.



    WHAT'S NEXT?

    At this point it is around July 28th, and the cage was mostly done - now we just need to have the customer stop by for a "fitting". This is where he chooses the final seat among the 3 he provided as well as a half dozen other options we had at the shop. He finalized the seat placement and angle so we can add the harness bar. This test fitting also allowed us to position the shifter and final steering wheel placement.



    Once we knew all of that Ryan will finish the horizontal door bars and the verticals that tie those into the frame and together. The car owner flew in July 31st for the fitting, so I will show that next time.



    There's more to show on the 69 Camaro next time - front suspension work, custom exhaust headers, new floor mounted pedal arrangement, exhaust layout and component discussions, steering rack mounting, steering shaft construction, and more. I'll try to get another post written about this car in the next couple of weeks.

    Thanks for reading,
    __________________
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    23 Oct 2015 02:03 PM
    Project Update October 20th, 2015: This forum post update covers much of the work we did in August of 2015 to the 69 Camaro project, which included custom exhaust header fabrication and some front suspension work.

    CAGE FITTING WITH OWNER

    The owner flew in July 31st to check out the build in person and to sit in a couple of different seats in the car.



    First up was the aluminum NASCAR Lajoie seat he had purchased before the car came to our shop. This is a full containment style seat with a separate head rest section, but a weird seating angle. It is a really well made seat and looks like a work of art. While these seats are more commonly seen in circle track cars we made it work for this road course sedan.



    Next up was a Sparco composite FIA seat he had purchased for the passenger side, which Ryan mocked up on the driver's side. It looks more comfortable but doesn't have the head containment portion - which is fine for most HPDE and Time Trial cars. We're all still discussing which seat is right and will leave room for both in the final build, but both of them are moved 18" rearward for this build - to mimic the engine & transmission setback - both of which will help move mass to the rear axle from the front. We are still shooting for a slight rear weight bias in the final build.



    The Tilton pedal box and a temporary mock-up of the remote shifter for the G-Force transmission was tested with the owner sitting in both seats, as well as the steering column and wheel. This helped us nail down the location for all of these driver controls as well as door bars for the driver's side. Helmet clearance to the cage is exceptional.



    Although he was only here a few hours, the car owner Stewart was happy to see the work in person for the first time since he dropped the car off. Of course he gets detailed emails with these same images I'm showing in this build thread and more, plus we have some good questions from him we have to answer from time to time. There is also a lot of feedback and direction he gives us on what he wants things to look like and functional aspects, all of which we incorporate into the build.



    CUSTOM EXHAUST HEADERS - RIGHT BANK

    At this point the drivetrain is in its final location, set back behind the OEM firewall location, with the corresponding driver setback. The new frame is in place and the front frame rails are narrower than before.



    Of course there's no off-the-shelf, full length exhaust header appropriate for this rear-biased LS3 in a 69 Camaro with a custom frame like this, so it was time to fabricate custom headers.



    It is often a rushed part of any big build, but we waited until all of the items were in place before starting the header fabrication. This is why the steering column was already in, the front frame was done, the dry sump tank, much of the firewall and tunnel structure laid out, and a mock-up driveshaft was in place.



    We use 304SS mandrel bends in the same bend radius as our Ice Engine Works header modeling kit. Each tube was laid out in the snap-together plastic bends, then one tube at a time was turned into stainless bends cut and tack welded together.



    The passenger side header was tackled first and it came together in under 2 days. Later in the build each header will come off and be final welded.



    These slip-fit bolt-together collectors were used on these 1.75" diameter long primaries. They have excellent craftsmanship and were supplied with the build.



    Its a snug fit in there but the headers have plenty of room to the frame rails, dry sump tank, and are above the bottom of the floorpan, as this will be a flat bottomed car.



    A section of 3" exhaust tubing will run down the from the right side, cross under the tailshaft, and then stack top-to-bottom with the left side 3" exhaust tube and run inside the tunnel. A crossover merge will be built in the tunnel, but that's for another day.

    CUSTOM PEDAL MOUNTING

    Now that the passenger side header was completed the driver's side still needed some parts in place before it could begin.



    The new bottom-mount Tilton pedal assembly was mounted. Some components from the "top hung" pedal assembly that came with the car were re-used on this "bottom-mount" assembly.



    Ryan added structure and tweaked the floor section there to make room for these pedals.

    FRONT SUSPENSION WORK

    Now that our manual lathe was back up and running the weld-in bungs could be machined to mount the steering rack and servo.



    These are mild steel bungs of bar that are machined inside and out to perfectly fit the bolt needed and the tubing that these will attach to. Simple things that fabricators need to whittle out from time to time.




    Some mounting bungs were also machined for the transmission crossmember, and then those were tacked to the frame for a proper crossmember mount.



    The holes were drilled in the square tubular front subframe to mount the weld-in bungs. More structure is going to tie all of the subframe together at a later day, and it won't be left "open ended" like this.



    A look from underneath shows the mounting bungs tack welded in place and the new Woodward steering rack finally mounted to the chassis. From here it was time to make the steering shaft, or at least mock-up most of it, before header tubes were snaked around that.



    Another one of Brad's "glamour shots" of the rack mounted in place. I've never seen a steering rack that looked so damned good. Weird.



    I snapped a quick and ugly shot here to show that the valve covers were installed an an ignition coil and spark plug wire were in place. This coil and plug wire was moved from port to port to make sure each primary tube gave clearance for the plug wire.

    continued below
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    23 Oct 2015 02:04 PM
    CUSTOM EXHAUST HEADERS - LEFT BANK

    Now that the steering rack was in place, and the steering shaft built (and attached at one end) and mocked in place, the driver's side exhaust header could be laid out and built.



    Back to the Ice Engine Works kit, which was mocked-up up on the exhaust flange. Several iterations of each primary tube could be quickly tested before cutting any metal.



    Once the routing looked good in plastic each Ice tube model can be removed and replicated in stainless steel bends. Lots of time but its worth it for one-off or prototype header development.



    Snaking around the steering shaft is always tricky, so the driver's side header on LHD cars usually takes a bit more time. The steering shaft is a 2-piece collapsing design using stainless 3/4" DD inner bar that slides inside 1" hollow DD tubing, with Flaming River needle bearing U-joints at both ends.



    At this point all of the ignition coils and plug wires were attached to verify primary room and most of the tubing layout is complete. In the image below you can see the convoluted design of the transmission crossmember, which is necessary due to the very low mounting height of the engine (dry sump oil pan) and transmission, flat bottom nature of the floorpan, and the need to tuck two 3" main exhaust pipes above the floor.



    The starter is in place here and you can see how the collectors come back into the custom transmission tunnel. The driver's side was the constraint on primary length, as the external shifter has levers and rods that reduce clearance on that side. The shortest primary is about 26" long, which will is appropriate for this motor, and still considered full length.

    RADIATOR MOUNTING

    To check hood and sheet metal clearances the entire front end was installed again.



    The customer brought us a custom C&R Radiator made to bolt into a 69 Camaro. It was a beautiful 2-pass heat exchanger that had an integral oil cooler and power steering cooler and included a plastic fan shroud . This would be a great package for a street driven car, but this is more of a track beast.



    The other problem is the C&R that the owner provided (above left) was too wide to fit the frame rail width on the new custom frame. The width of the new frame was dictated by other factors (wheel size/offset, C6 spindles, C6 control arms, camber range needed) so this nice C&R radiator would have to be changed. We used the Griffin (above right) stock car style radiator that would soon go into my C4 Corvette (Project #DangerZone) as a mock-up for the 69 Camaro.



    The narrower width of the Griffin worked perfectly. We had a ducted hood and custom front grill inlet idea already in mind so a severely forward canted radiator angle was what was tested. With this data another "basic" C&R Radiator was ordered, this time without the integral oil and power steering coolers.



    Once the new C&R arrived Ryan began to build the brackets necessary to mount it to the frame. Some of this is square tubing, the rest is flat sheet with dimple die holes to give it strength and reduce mass.



    The tubular front mounting bar for the splitter and nose was also built, but I will talk more about that next time. Here you can see the new C&R radiator in its final mounting location and tilt. Since it is sitting this low we will be able to block off the upper grill completely (reducing drag) and make a inlet duct box for the lower grill to feed the various heat exchangers, which will then vent out of the hood. This C&R core has a -20 AN fitting for the upper hose connection, which you can see above. The lower "hose nipple" would later be cut off and another -20 AN male fitting welded in place. This car will have all pressurized systems plumbed with threaded fittings, throughout, even coolant lines.



    It is always a good idea to protect the fins of the heat exchangers during fabrication. We wrap card board around them to prevent damage to the delicate fins when these go in and out, get mocked up in various ways, etc. You might see a sneak peak of a splined 3-piece swaybar in the images above, but I'll talk about that more later, when the splined ends and endlinks are fitted.

    CUSTOM DRIVESHAFT

    The custom 3.5" aluminum driveshaft was spec'd out by Jason and Ryan and ordered a week earlier.



    After that arrived it was slid in place to the output shaft of the G-Force trans and bolted to the axle flange on the Ford 9" input flange. It fit perfectly and looked great, and we've ordered more shafts from this supplier since.



    WHAT'S NEXT?

    More fabrication was completed and more parts were ordered and/or installed in September including more front tubing and structure, custom accessory brackets, and more.



    And in October we're working on front grill/bumper, custom aero with a dual plane splitter, custom front sheet metal and flares/canards, front brake ducting, additional heat exchangers, and hood ducting.



    Until next time,
    __________________
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    06 Dec 2015 04:40 PM
    Project Update December 6th, 2015: This forum post update covers work we did to the 69 Camaro in September of 2015. This included LED tail light fitting, radiator work, cooling fan mounting, custom splined swaybar mounting, as well as custom engine accessory drive brackets that had to be designed and fabricated. This chunk of 69 Camaro work was all done in a VERY busy month for Vorshlag's race shop, too.

    LED TAIL LIGHT INSTALL

    The original tail light assemblies were 46 years old, worn, and showing their age (see below). These were made for old style incandescent light bulbs and the owner wanted something that looked original but had a more modern function underneath - which is pretty much the theme of this whole build, so its natural that this thinking went into the lighting as well. Since this car could be made legal for limited road use. Also, street legality makes it possible to attend events like Optima and possibly even run in SCCA's CAM class, so it needs to have functional head lights, brake lights, turn signals and wipers. That aside, it needs to at least have brake lights for any track events.



    These "little street car things" can be time consuming additional work to high end, tube framed, serious aero, race car build like this, but its nothing we cannot tackle. Texas has a rolling 25 year exemption for annual emission inspection, so a 46 year old car like this can be inspected and road legal for a mere $14 "safety only" inspection - where they check the horn, lights, and turn signals only. Next year this exemption applies up to the 1992 model year (aka: now a 1992 model car is a "Classic"), which gives me some evil ideas on another car I own (many of you will figure out what and why, quickly).



    We made our $2011 GRM Challenge winning race car (above and below) pass the Texas safety inspection checks with only a few small changes, as it was a 1986 model when we did this back in 2012. Amber LED turn signal strips were added up front, since the E36 grafted nose didn't have room for the OEM housings. After it got the legit inspection and registration stickers (and insurance) I drove it to Cars & Coffee type events (on "DOT legal" Hoosiers) without the need to trailer it.

    And for those that doubt that an LS-powered RWD car with an OEM tub can be built with big wheels and tires (18x11) and still hit the 2500 pound goal we have guesstimated for this 69 Camaro, well this was our all OEM steel and glass equipped, wide bodied BMW E30 with an aluminum LS V8 on the scales at 2534 pounds, 100% street legal. Granted, this only had a 4-point roll bar, but it had a full interior and dash. And please ignore the fit and finish on that thing - it was built for $2010 in parts for the GRM event (the 18x11 CCWs and ASTs we sold it with were outside of that budget).



    This Camaro is pretty overbuilt compared to this E30, so it might be as much as 100-200 pounds heavier, but also has all aluminum front bodywork, fiberglass doors, and most of the unibody structure is gone. It won't be some 3300 pound, pavement crushing Pro Tourer, trust me. We will weigh the heck out of this car when its off the frame table (soon!).



    So the 69 Camaro needs functional tail lights, turn signals, and headlights to be street "legal". We discussed a number of options with the owner, including some rather modern looking billet aluminum tail light assemblies with integral LED lighting, like the ones below. But the owner wanted to stay with the classic housings and just use LED lighting underneath, as unobtrusively as possible.



    Then we looked at LED retrofit kits for 69 Camaro housings, like the image below, and that's what we all agreed to use. This was coupled with a flasher unit made for LEDs, and the total on these parts was around $250 for a quality brand that had good reviews by users.



    Next up was ordering a brand new pair of OEM style 69 Camaro tail light assemblies, then Ryan added the LED lighting arrays to the housings. There is a tedious bit of work involved to do that but he got them installed and wired up to a pair of harness connectors for each housing.



    These are mounted in the back panel and ready for wiring, which is still several weeks away. Better than looking at two holes in the rear bodywork.



    These look fairly "plain jane" now but when you power them up they are BRIGHT, so that should go well with the LED headlight assemblies as well...



    These 7" LED "truck light" style round bulb replacements will replace the $8 stock style round bulbs we have in the car now for mock-up. We will install these later in the build - don't want to damage them, as they cost a bit more than $8 each.



    That's a bit of a sneak peak at where we were in late November and shows the airbox and small tubular bumper mounting structure used to mount the splitter struts, headlights, fenders, and more. We'll get to that further in this thread.

    RADIATOR OUTLET FABRICATION

    This is one of those projects where plumbing becomes critical, as the motor has a dry sump and we're adding oil coolers for the engine, power steering, and more. When we build any race car plumbing we go to AN style (37° inverted flare) fittings and the appropriate lines for the pressure and fluid being used.



    The C&R radiator we spec'd to fit the frame rail width and height we needed at the layback angle we wanted was available with a -20 AN fitting welded to the upper (inlet) hose connection. But the lower (outlet) was a normal nipple made for a clamped rubber hose fitting.



    The C&R's lower hose nipple was cut off and shortened, then an additional ARP -20 AN aluminum weld bung was sourced, mocked-up, and welded in place for the lower outlet.



    A billet thermostat housing was added to the water pump outlet in a matching -20 AN size. We still need to adapt the upper radiator hose mount at the water pump and the heater hoses, then all of the coolant connections can be matching AN fittings. Is this 100% necessary? No, but it is commonly done on dedicated race cars, which this car has many aspects of.

    FAN BRACKETS + SPLINED FRONT SWAYBAR MOUNTING

    These two items seem pretty unrelated, but the packaging of the radiator and front swaybar were actually done hand-in-hand, earlier in the build. The placement of the swaybar is limited by several things - like the approach paths for the splined "ends" that attach to endlinks and ultimately the C6 lower front control arms, and often by the crossmember or engine. We had long lost hope for an off-the-shelf one-piece swaybar solution, so as most race builds do we went with a circle-track style splined tubular bar setup.



    These come in a variety of lengths, diameters, and stiffnesses - usually too stiff for street car grip levels, but with 315 Hoosier A6 tires up front this car will have plenty of grip for track use. You always hope for there to be plenty of room to mount a straight swaybar like this, and with the 18" setback of the engine we had ample space in front of the engine. But it was apparent that the ducting for the exhaust side of the radiator would be right where the anti-swaybar needed to go. We've seen some kooky placements of swaybars, like at the top of the engine bay with with 30" long endlinks, but we chose to keep the endlinks manageable and the splined ends within reason. So we mounted the swaybar to grease-able bearing mounts shown above.



    So with the swaybar mounted the dual fan setup from the existing C&R "bolt-in 69 Camaro radiator/fan combo" were mounted to the new C&R core. Ryan had mocked the fans up before the final location for the swaybar was picked. He made templates for aluminum bracketry in cardboard before transferring it to aluminum sheet.


    You can see above why the fan brackets and swaybar were done at the same time - fighting for space

    The aluminum sheet was cut in the sheer and bandsaw, then bent in the brake, then nut-serts were added for the fans housings to bolt to. The finished aluminum brackets were then riveted to the exposed flanges on the C&R radiator, and the fan assembly was then bolted to the new brackets. It all fits tight to the fins (but not touching), leaves little of the radiator core expose beyond the plastic shroud from the fans, and could work well for street use if needed.

    With the swaybar location locked down Ryan could then specify the splined aluminum ends to order as well as pick up the end link parts needed to tie the bar into the control arms. I'll show that in a later update, as it was done a couple of weeks later than this.

    continued below
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    06 Dec 2015 04:42 PM
    continued from above

    CUSTOM ACCESSORY BRACKETS

    Early on in this build we were all concerned with the brackets used to mount the accessories to this LS3 based dry sump engine. The alternator on the car when it came here was not the OEM LS3 unit, but a smaller aftermarket unit rated at lower amperage. Somebody had also hacked up this "smaller" aftermarket unit beyond recognition - trying to make it fit the OEM bracket and the previous front end. Ryan found a racing style, smaller diameter alternator that was rated at the appropriate amperage so this needed to be mounted to the engine. The power steering pump was mounted to the same OEM cast aluminum bracket that wasn't going to work, so this needed to be re-mounted as well.



    We had narrowed the front frame rails by about 2" from the "kit" front end the car came in here with, making space for both of these accessories more of an issue. There wasn't an of off-the-shelf bracket setup we could find that would re-use the various pulleys and engine accessories - including the balancer and dry sump pump drive - without some custom bracketry. We discussed this with the customer before proceeding, and looked at all manner of off-the-shelf LS bracket options, both factory and aftermarket. None seemed to fit the confines of this frame and hood line.



    So Ryan began designing a custom, complicated assembly of brackets on the driver's side of the block to mount the power steering pump, the new small alternator, and an idler pulley.



    He made templates from cardboard, then more durable ones from MDF, which helped him perfect the patterns before going into CAD.



    The power steering pump is at the bottom left of the engine bay....



    ...and the alternator is at the top on the same side. This was needed to clear the tubular structure of the front control arm mounts and narrower frame rails - which were needed to get the proper suspension geometry and camber settings for the existing wheels and tires the customer wanted to keep.



    After the templates were perfected in CAD they were printed out in 1:1 scale, trans transferred to aluminum plate, and cut out on the vertical band saw.



    There were several aluminum plates, machined spacers and various hardware used to tie it all together and mount everything to the block and cylinder heads.



    This is what the assembly looked like off the car with the alternator and power steering pump attached (foreground) along with the cast bracket it was replacing (background). We didn't use computer simulations and FEA to remove every ounce from the bracket assembly, as some have asked about darned near everything we've done along the way. That just isn't practical for this type of one-off track car build. Sure, if this was a $500K, full-effort, pro race car, then maybe. Instead the assembly was built with rugged materials and hardware using experience and forethought, and it should make for a rigid set of mounts for these accessories.



    This is what the bracket looked like attached to the motor, along with the idler at the bottom - as shown above. The brackets were all hand cut, edges were ground and sanded, and we will anodize these parts when the car comes apart for paint. Clear or black, maybe even a color? Its up to the customer and won't cost much. Leaving them raw is an option but they will get water spots and such that have to be scotch-brited out.



    Here we have the brackets and accessories installed with the correct length serpentine belt installed (we tried a few sizes to find the best fit). There is "good wrap" on the crank pulley, alternator, both idlers, and the water pump and power steering pulleys.



    It was a dozen hours of measuring, design, and fabrication work but this assembly is critical to keeping the belt aligned (to avoid slinging the belts off at high RPMs) and to keep all of the accessories mounted firmly to the engine, nestled between the narrow frame rails. Losing a belt can lead to loss of electrical power, coolant flow, and if you are really unlucky, a flying serpentine belt can kick the cogged belt off the dry sump oil pump drive - and that can get costly in a hurry.

    WHAT'S NEXT?

    That was September's work, which wasn't exactly super sexy aero bits or big suspension work, but it was all necessary to move forward.



    Next time we will finally cover the splitter + new lower valance design + the hood duct layouts. We sent a lot of images to the customer back and forth before we cut metal, and even sourced a flat hood to test hood ducts without the raised cowl hood restrictions.



    Ryan was working on some other projects and on vacation for a week that month, so this was all of the September work completed on the 69 Camaro.



    We also had the LS-FRS in the shop for a bit of follow up work, and took a bone stock 2003 NB Miata to a fully caged and prepped track car in 3 weeks, plus did more work on the LS Miata and other cars - all during September. It was a very busy month in the shop, for sure.

    More next time,
    __________________
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    02 Jan 2016 05:38 PM
    Project Update January 2nd, 2016: This forum post update covers work we did to the 69 Camaro in October of 2015. This included front splitter layout, front splitter structural mounts, some suspension and shock questions, front brake ducting, air intake tub and airbox, upper grill, some initial radiator ducting, and more. Some of the "work" was just conversing with the customer to finalize the look for certain things, or reasons why we wanted to not use an existing part, which I won't bore you with here. Just the pics of the work completed and the reasons behind the parts or design choices.

    Just a quick shout-out to Lateral-G forums. This build thread was added there after a moderator reached out to me last week and said "bring it". If there's another forum where you think this build thread would be welcomed (and you are an admin or moderator there) please send me a PM and we'll take a look.

    LOWER SPLITTER DESIGN & FABRICATION

    There have been some hours spent on the front splitter design over the past 3 months, perfecting the dual plane splitter design that we have come to now. The work below was from early October and the design based off a lot of back-and-forth discussion with the car owner and us, where we refined our engineering / aero / fabrication goals and merged them with the aesthetic look he had in mind.



    We took inspiration for the final splitter from a certain racing series where some recent rules changes have allowed for better splitter designs - and where multi-plane splitters on sedans and coupes has arisen (one example is above left). We do caution folks when looking at pro racing series for aero design inspiration, though, because this is one area that is almost always heavily regulated by strict rules. Race engineers have to come up with lots of tricks to exploit rules loopholes, which might not apply to your build. (exception: World Time Attack has almost unlimited aero rules) This 69 Camaro isn't really being built for any racing class (after long discussions with the customer) so we can "go nuts" with aero. This car is still being built around a budget, and looks do matter, so the customers "intended use" makes some of the "unlimited" front aero tricks unfeasible (see above right).

    There was a bit of compromise on both sides for the splitter and front valance. In the end (it is nearly done now in January) I think the splitter and front end looks amazing, is very strong, should make ample downforce, push air past three heat exchangers, feed two brake cooling ducts, and keep the intake airbox filled with high pressure ambient air. All sorts of systems are tied into the splitter so this was a pretty big chunk of this project.



    Jason has a specialty in fluids engineering so he worked directly with our fabricator Ryan to lay out the airflow paths and put the splitter where it needed to go. They also discussed splitter length, as we tend to run more extension than others. Why? Because we've tested it, and a longer chord works better in most cases.



    Vorshlag has built and tested a number of splitter designs for a number of different cars. We used 3 different splitter designs and lengths on the 2011 Mustang above, which I raced in NASA competition events for 5 years. We were told by some that the 10.25" extension on the splitter shown above "wouldn't work", but in fact it worked too well and overpowered the rear wing we ran at the time.

    The long splitter length and low height made loading the car onto our trailer a total bear (even with 12 feet of ramps), and scraping the pavement driving around in even a somewhat smooth paddock was common. We later made another splitter with only a 6" extension past the nose, and that was much more user friendly (even somewhat streetable), and still made ample front downforce - when coupled with a lower grill inlet duct, a ducted hood, and blocked off upper grill. I will come back to that set of "grouped mods" below.



    Ryan took Jason's engineering direction, some "inspiration" pictures I provided, and his own experience and built a mock-up of the lower plane of the splitter in MDF. This was built with a certain amount of extension past the front bumper, and fixed at a certain height from the ground - not too close to make it impossible to load on a trailer or get taken out by a simple off track excursion, but not too high as to ruin the ground effect we're going for. We sent several images of the mock-up to the customer, then moved into metal when he approved.



    Some have questioned our use of aluminum plate for front splitters in the past, but we have explained that in detailed replies before. Short version - there are 3 materials we feel are appropriate for front splitters: plywood, aluminum plate and carbon fiber. We don't like Alumilite or other corrugated "sign shop" materials for a number of reasons, mostly because you can permanently deform that between two fingers. This stuff tears easily and the force of air pressure alone has made more than a few Alumilite splitters fly off - one of which then caused a crash on the car if flew off of, as seen in a certain high profile race event a year ago.



    Plywood has its place in racing (usually in lower budget endurance, W2W or Time Attack cars) and we've even used plywood on the Hillclimb Subaru, shown above. We chose plywood here because of high level of abrasion on the paved Pikes Peak mountain hillclimb course + the low cost for each unit allowed for multiple spares. Carbon is the lightest/strongest choice, but too pricey for anyone but pro race teams to use and beat on (and we are not a "composite shop"). That leaves aluminum - which is easy for us to fabricate, has a relatively low material cost, and has a good strength-to-weight ratio. We could talk for days about the pros and cons of splitter materials, but I'm going to leave it at that so we don't get too sidetracked.



    Ryan transferred the buck to 1/8" 6061-T6 aluminum plate and that was cut out with a saw by hand. No fancy CNC water jet in our shop (yet) so he did it "old school". Green tape, Sharpie lines, careful measuring, then a jig saw with a steady hand. The edges are ground and cleaned up to remove a sharp edge and it then get's mocked up on the car, above.



    Did you notice what changed in the second metal splitter picture above? Look closely. There's a change in splitter height at the ends when compared to the middle. This "channel" was done for engineering reasons as well as for aesthetics. Its a long story, but basically this slightly taller center section feeds some additional air under the car to the rear diffuser (which we will be building very soon).



    You can see some fabrication of the lower grill ducting to the radiator, and a little bit of this changed later. The splitter design and fab work spanned over 3 months to get it all just right, so that will be shown in upcoming posts to this thread.

    FRONT LOWER VALENCE DESIGN & FABRICATION

    This is an important part of the "look" of this car, so dozens of emails, sketches and calls with the customer went over how the front lower grill opening and aero bits would look. The front splitter and valance, along with the hood, will be the key visual aspects of this build. And are also very important for making front downforce.



    We mocked-up a lot of different designs until we came up with one that worked for his tastes as well as fed the heat exchangers and brake ducting properly. We could have done this a lot quicker and more cheaply, but it wouldn't have looked as good nor pleased the car owner.



    I had hoped to keep the factory foglight holes in the lower valance but lost that battle. The design we all eventually agreed upon would be a lot more work to make, but it also looked better and has more lower opening surface area than our earlier designs. Basically there are three vertical openings that won't make sense until I sneak in some pictures from December, where it is nearly complete. Getting there took a couple of iterations to make it look like the owner wanted.



    These two pictures above are after one dead end start, and another revision to this layout, where it was finally getting closer to the look like he wanted. There are coolers mounted in these pictures that have to be fed and have to exhaust heat, with a lot of other considerations as well. We will get to those details in later updates.



    Again, I don't want to spoil too much from future posts (November + December work will be in the next 2 posts) so I'm going to leave it there and show the remaining lower valance work in due time.

    UPPER GRILL BLOCK OFF PLATE

    The front grill openings on older cars, and even modern designs, are sometimes pretty massive - creating extra drag. The 1969 Camaro front end had all of the cooling air coming from a very large upper grill, as shown below. These large front openings were often deemed necessary to keep cars cool in the worst stop-and-go traffic, in the hottest climates, with air conditioning running on full blast.


    This is what we had to start with - more in common with a truck than a sports car

    More modern sports cars have gone away from large, open grills to more limited front openings. The most modern, aero inspired designs push the grills closer to the ground, and we're starting to see a few OEMs that even duct the waste heat out via massive hood openings (see the C7 Corvette, below). This is a trick that can be packaged in new designs to create some extra downforce (or eliminate lift).


    This is more what we're shooting for...

    One of the things I mentioned that we've tested (from previous track testing and splitter work) was blocking off the large, open upper grills from a typical "flat front end" car, like the 1st gen Camaro or the modern Mustangs and Camaro coupes.



    Since this 69 Camaro is being built primarily for track use we're going to cut down some drag and force high pressure air where it can do more work - to a newly created lower grill opening. Blocking the upper grill puts more air through this smaller lower opening, right above the splitter, which in turn helps create downforce. This is amplified when the air has a better place to exhaust - through massive, ducted openings in the hood placed in the right places. That's another big part of this project we will will expand upon in later posts.



    And there is a lot more than just "making a lower opening" - there has to be inlet ducting sealed to the front sheet metal and to the heat exchangers, to force air through instead of around the radiators. The images above show that on our shop Mustang - with the front end removed you can see the duct boxes and routing of air from the lower grill.



    For this car Ryan first took the new OEM style, reproduction, plastic 1969 Camaro grill and made templates in cardboard to block the back side openings completely. The goal is to keep the "look" of a stock 69 Camaro SS grill, but with aluminum sheet mounted behind it keeps the airflow through the upper opening to "zero", forcing more air over the hood or towards the lower grill opening - and reducing drag. It won't be as effective as the smooth grill plate we did on the Mustang shown above, as the protruding plastic mesh grill in front of the block off plate will add a little drag, but its the best compromise between looks and performance.



    The templates were turned into four portions of aluminum structure, with the two middle sections welded together. The outer sections bolt onto the back of the grill, outboard of the headlights (which have a bit of airflow normally). The two conjoined inner portion bolts on to block out the majority of the middle grill surface, with a near air tight seal to the plastic grill structure.

    continued below
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    02 Jan 2016 05:40 PM
    continued from above



    This "grill block-off" plate was later modified to feed the air filter box. This was deemed necessary after the various heat exchangers were placed and duct work to the hood was laid out. Now a small portion of the original radiator airflow from the upper grill will force feed the engine for a small "ram air" effect. Those bits are shown below.

    And yes, the raw aluminum grill plate will be painted or coated black later in the build, to help "hide" the bits behind the grill. This will give a more subtle and OEM look to the upper grill, at least.

    RADIATOR DUCTING FAB (PHASE 1)

    There was some initial work done in October to make the intricate lower grill opening duct work. These bits are in front of the radiator and create sealed pathways for airflow to move from the various splitter openings to the 3 heat exchangers and two brake ducts.



    This lower radiator ducting fabrication was started in October but only just wrapped up in December. It took many hours. Other than this teaser shot above, I will save the rest of the pictures of this phase of fabrication for a later post.


    AIR INTAKE BOX & INLET TUBE FAB

    Like I said above, things underneath the hood started to get cramped once the hood ducting was being laid out. The initial hood ducting layout steps began in October, shown below with cardboard and aluminum sheet showing potential routing of exhaust heat. During this step we figured out a number of constraints, so Ryan went ahead and built the intake tube and airbox.



    The solution was to bypass all of the possible routes for hood exhaust ducts and push the air filter box to the front in a nice, high pressure zone: the back of the blocked off upper grill. The massive engine setback of this LS3 plus the rolled radiator placement made for a really L-O-N-G intake tube, as you can see.



    Brad and I snapped a few pictures of these components as they were being built. The airbox bolts to the grill plate (with weather stripping at the edges for an air tight seal) and the air tube bolts to the airbox, then has a hose coupling at the throttle body. The back plate unbolts from the rest of the air filter box structure, for access to the air filter inside.



    That doesn't look like much but there was some thought that went into the air inlet tube and air filter box parts. At right above, the finished parts are sitting atop the mock-up flat steel hood we used for some duct layout work. The mocked up cardboard ducting is shown upside down in that image.... deep ducts.



    On some other ducted hood setups we have built before (see above) the hood duct was pretty straight forward - a sealed duct box was built from the back of the radiator to the hood. In that type of layout you re-route the intake air tube laterally and around the hood duct. This setup puts the inlet air filter in an airbox mounted off to the side of the heat exchangers.



    On the 69 Camaro we had less latitude on the placement of the hood exhaust ducts. We spent many hours (only a faction of the options are shown above) trying to find a way to duct the 3 heat exchangers and fit inside the confines of the OEM style, aluminum, 69 Camaro cowl hood. The raised cowl section just did not lend itself to placing the large hood ducts we needed in the proper places (ow pressure zones - which helps extract air).

    Then we tried an flat 69 Camaro hood and had new styling constraints for the ducts. Even the front tires themselves limit where the ducts can be on the hood - stuff 315s under stock fender contours and they begin to intrude inboard, in a big way (shown above right at "full bump travel"). I will expand on this when we finally have the new hood installed (a composite hood is being built now) and the final hood ducting design is under construction. These ducts are gonna be BIG.



    The "straight on" approach for the inlet tube we used on this 69 Camaro is the cleanest routing for the intake air and should work fine here. This produces the cleanest, straightest path for air to get to the engine (only one small bend in the inlet tube, behind the airbox).



    A big K&N filter is stuffed inside the airbox and it draws air from two open grills in the upper grill section. The filter element is visible inside those grill openings in the grill block-off plate pictures in that section above. An LS3 style Mass Air Flow sensor "blade" will be added to the intake tube ahead of the throttle body later in the build.

    FRONT BRAKE DUCT FABRICATION



    The car came in here with 2-piece 14" Wilwood front rotors and some 6-piston calipers installed up front. Well as big as those are, for longevity on a road course this car still needs some forced cooling air thrown inside the at least the front rotors. Ryan fabbed up a pair of custom brake backing plates with 4" inlets to keep these cool.



    Simple aluminum plate was laid out and cut to fit around the C6 Corvette front spindles / hubs and seal to the inside face of the 14" rotor. The 4" oval tubes were made on the tubing roller and welded to the backing plates, then fitted with 2-layer, high temp, 4" ID brake duct hose routed to inlet ducts in the splitter (which I will show later).



    No rocket science here, just careful measuring, some experience, and good craftsmanship. The main thing to remember is you want to get as much of the duct aimed below the rotor face. Blowing air directly at the rotor face doesn't do much cooling - but ducting air inside the rotor hat cools the front wheel hub and allows the vented brake rotor to act as a centrifugal air pump, which pulls the air through the rotor from the inside out. Even without ducted air the rotor will do this on its own to a small extent, but high pressure air forced inside the rotor makes for a HUGE bump in brake cooling efficiency.



    Along with the brake duct hose some November work is shown in the image above. I will talk about what's coming up in the final paragraph of this update.

    SPLITTER MOUNT FABRICATION

    All of the factory front structure is gone, from the radiator support to the inner fender unibody structure. There are critical items that need a solid piece to be hung from at the very front - like the splitter, which can put 200-300 pounds of aero load through the small struts that mount at the leading edge of the the lower splitter plane. There are also other pieces that need some mounting structure at the front of the engine bay, like the radiator, coolers, headlights, front bumper, and more.



    The exterior "bumper" is an aluminum OEM reproduction unit, mostly added for styling (it covers several seams between OEM panels). Underneath this black aluminum bumper is the real structure added, by way of a 1.0" diameter DOM tube. This piece of tubing is bent to follow the contours of the OEM front bumper and then many things were tied onto this structure.



    Reproduction OEM headlight buckets were mounted at the bottom using custom brackets welded to this 1" front structural tube. There are also splitter support rod mounts that attach to this front tube, with brackets hidden behind the exterior of the black aluminum bumper.



    More things were then added to this bumper, like structure to mount the various heat exchangers, which we will talk about next time.

    WHAT'S NEXT?

    That's it for the October work, but there was a lot accomplished in November which I will show next time. This includes finishing the steering shaft, power steering and oil cooler mounting, front anti-roll bar "splined arm" and end link fabrication, fitting the front body panels better to finalize some mounts, a big discussion of hood and duct choices (including flat hood vs using the existing aluminum cowl hood), making a new front steering arm that bolts to the C6 spindles, then making new tie rods to finish the steering, planning out the wiper motors, making room for the driveshaft at the rear of the frame, as well as some exploratory work on hood hinges.



    We will cover all that and more in my next update. Thanks for reading.

    Cheers,
    __________________
    Terry Fair - www.vorshlag.com
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    19 Apr 2016 05:02 PM
    Project Update April 19th, 2016: I've been pretty buried with other work but I'm finally doing some catch-up posts on various build threads and will try to cover the work we completed on the tube framed 69 Camaro track car for November through early December 2015 in today's update.



    The work shown this time includes finishing the steering shaft in the engine bay to the Woodward rack, mounting power steering and oil coolers, completing the front anti-roll bar "splined arm" and end link fabrication, fitting the front body panels better to finalize body mounts, a lengthy discussion of hood and duct choices (including flat hood vs using the existing aluminum cowl hood), making a new front steering arm that bolts to the C6 spindles, then making new tie rods to finish the steering, planning out the wiper motors, making room for the driveshaft at the rear of the frame, as well as some exploratory work on hood hinges and some more front splitter and valance work.

    STEERING SHAFT FABRICATION



    The 2-piece steering shaft has been "mocked up" in the chassis for a while - necessary during the exhaust header fabrication. We had a temporary u-joint at the firewall (above) made for a 3/4" DD shaft, which came with a bunch of other parts when the Camaro made it to our shop last year.



    We had been waiting on the splined lower steering U-joint, which finally arrived long after the headers were built.



    We have been making multi-piece steering shafts for many years for the BMW crowd, for use in our LS1 swap kits as well as for racers looking to remove the slop in the factory "rag joint". The final "real" steering u-joints for the custom 2-piece collapsible shaft were ordered and the shaft was built. This unit uses both 1" DD (hollow) and 3/4" DD (solid) steel shaft material.



    Not too glamorous but its in there and the steering rack was steerable in November. It was so buried by the motor and header that you can't really see it once installed.

    POWER STEERING & OIL COOLER MOUNTING



    To ensure the steering stays cool on track we have a power steering cooler spec'd, purchased, and mounted.



    A properly sized Mocal heat exchanger was mounted into the Left Front corner of the lower grill with brackets fabricated from small gauge tubing. One more small tube (not shown yet) will connect this structure to the removable front tubular section.



    These tubular structures later had sheet aluminum ducting attaching to the inlets. The coolers receive cooling air from above the splitter and the opening at the left side of the lower grill.



    On the other side of the lower grill, another Mocal heat exchanger was sized and purchased for engine oil cooling.



    This one is mounted in the Right Front corner of the car, also receiving cooling air from atop the splitter, with a similar custom bracket.



    Both oil coolers + the radiator will exhaust out of the hood ducting, which I cover below.



    HEADLIGHT MOUNT FABRICATION



    I showed some of the detail work involved in mounting the headlight buckets in an earlier teaser post. Lots of little custom bits needed to make the buckets install with the tubular front end.



    Ryan installed some temporary halogen bulbs in the Camaro while we awaited the LED headlight assemblies. We just wanted to see the front end together with lights to see if the aiming was in the right ballpark.



    STEERING ARM REDESIGN

    The old steering arms were made to bolt to a modified C5/C6 front upright (where you cut off the integral C6/C6 steering arm). The fabricated parts that came with the car were made for a different steering rack, a different ride height, different tie rods, and a different subframe. These old arms were made without any Akerman and the bumpsteer was pretty bad, plus the tie rods were connected in a single-sheer, bolt-thru mounting design.



    To correct these suspension geometry issues, Ryan did the suspension software calculations as part of the entire front end redesign which required a new pair of steering arms with new lengths, angles, heights, and geometry to work with the C6 bits and new ride height.



    He built the new pair of steering arms using box sections, reducing weight by nearly 12 pounds for the pair. The end was made to mount the tie rod end in a double sheer mount.



    The new steering arms were installed and the bump steer and Ackerman numbers were verified.



    The spherical-end tie rods were also custom built during this time, finally wrapping up the steering system components - the car can now steer.

    continued below
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    19 Apr 2016 05:42 PM
    continued from above

    FRONT ANTI ROLL BAR FABRICATION

    I believe I showed the front swaybar being mounted in an earlier post. This is a straight, splined shaft with pillow ball mounts on the frame. Now was the time to make the splined arms and endlinks to complete this component.



    Various aluminum swaybar "arms" are made for these straight splined swaybar shafts and they can be purchased in a number of lengths, thicknesses, and even some are pre-bent. We started with straight arms that were then bent to fit in the 20 ton hydraulic press.



    In these pictures above and below you can see the completed swaybar assembly. The arms are bent - both for tire clearance (inboard) and to line up with the C6 Corvette control arm's endlink mounting hole. The arms were drilled for multiple adjustment holes as well. Some of the items shown are only tack welded at this point as some final checks still needed to be done once the car was off the frame table, sitting on the wheels and tires at ride height, and rolled onto a 4 wheel alignment rack.



    Ryan built a pair of adjustable length swaybar end links out of threaded rod ends, threaded weld bungs, straight tubing and some misalignment spacers for the bolted ends.



    The front tie rods that connect the Woodward steering rack to the steering arms that bolt to the C6 uprights are also visible here. Everything is fairly robustly made - it never hurts to over build things a bit when you aren't striving to save every ounce. This car is not built around any minimum weight or racing class, and the owner wanted a little extra reliability and durability.

    BODY PANEL FITTING

    The car owner had sourced some pretty slick aluminum bodywork for the forward section of this chassis. This Norwood kit was made by Auto Metal Direct for the 69 Camaro and included all aluminum sheetmetal forward of the doors and cowl. These pieces had been bolted in place (with several custom mounts) earlier but now it was time to fit the hood and try to get the panels to align better.



    The only problem with these aluminum bits is they bend easily and it looked like a number of the parts were bent somewhere along the way, possibly in transit, especially the 2" raised cowl hood.



    One corner of the hood was bent down and the culprit was a popped set of spot welds in the corner of some under structure. Easily bent back and fixed.



    After fitting, massaging, and reinstalling the ADM panels they were looking much better and ready for the painter - who would get the panel gaps and fit-up perfected just prior to paint.



    Maybe in retrospect an entire composite front end would have been a better choice. Heck, a fiberglass unibody might have been better. Hind sight is 20/20, and we suggested a new body at the very start. It wasn't until we put in the hours of tweaking and rust fixes that the car owner saw that, too.



    INITIAL HOOD DUCTING TESTS

    With the aluminum front bodywork panels fitting better it was time to choose the hood venting. The whole front end - splitter, various coolers, radiator angle - were all going to be built around a vented/ducted hood, from the very first conversations we had with the car owner. The actual design decision was a long process.



    The car owner had noticed some of the other vented and ducted hoods we had built in the past and understood aero enough to know how advantageous this setup would be for making front downforce, proper cooling, and a better layout. He also sent us 20+ pictures of other modern race car hoods and splitters, for styling and functional examples.



    We struggled to lay out some appropriately sized and placed hood ducts on the existing aluminum 2" raised cowl hood, but just could not make something that fit within the geometric confines of the raised cowl. As good as this hood looked on this chassis, it just wasn't conducive to proper placement of the rather large vent holes we felt were needed to exhaust the airflow from the radiator, oil cooler and power steering cooler.



    The car owner was reluctant to lose this raised cowl hood, which was understandable, but we didn't want to start cutting on it without trying something else first. So we found a stock 69 Camaro flat steel hood and I piked it up for $150 locally. We fitted this hood to the car on our dime and then started mocking up hood duct vents to show the customer how they could look on flat hood.



    After a few tape mock-ups Ryan started cutting the expendable steel hood so he could show real, 3D duct layouts. The locations of the coolers, the placement of the engine, and the low pressure zones on this hood (in our imaginary wind tunnel) dictated where the vent holes and duct routing should end up. Our engineer Jason wanted these large vent sizes and Ryan made this first cut and then the cardboard ducting mockup, above. I then photoshopped this mirror image to show what the final hood would look like with these vents. Not quite what the customer wanted, but we were getting closer.

    The gap in the middle of the hood between the two vents was there to clear the engine's intake tube, of course. The angles of the ducting underneath were constrained by several things - the placement of the coolers, the upper chassis braces (including two forward pieces not installed yet), the best low pressure location on the hood, and the tires themselves.



    There were also some placement constraints from some styling lines in even the flat hood. The ducts really needed to be outside of the lines (see above) that the flat hood had, so we went on a search for a truly flat 69 Camaro hood.




    We took a lot of pictures trying to show the owner the constraints that dictated the placement of the vents. This is just a sample of the mockup designs we did. The 315mm tires at full bump travel were a constraint. So were the frame rails and upper tubing placement. And the location of the radiators. Plus we had to make it look "right".



    Not only are the vent placements critical for function but these will be the single most critical cosmetic item on the car. The hood vents and ducting could make or break the look of this car, and getting rid of some useless styling lines in the stock flat hood opens up even more possibilities for the vent hole shapes and placements (see below).



    Long story short: so we ordered a custom composite flat hood without the two styling lines normally found on an OEM 69 Camaro flat hood. We will address this design feature further in a future post, after this hood arrives...

    HOOD HINGES AND WIPER MOTORS

    Another constraint on the hood design was the customer's wish to keep functional windshield wiper arms as well as a traditional hinged hood (not just a pin-on). It does rain in Texas, so the wipers make sense. Pin-on hoods are a pain to extract quickly, especially with one person. You also have to worry about a hood that is removed getting stepped on, driven over, or flying away in the paddock. All sensible requests. We began our research by shooting images of the cowl section of the car with both hoods, then hitting the interwebs looking for options.



    Our first question we had was do we use an aftermarket strut-equipped hood hinge kit or just refinish the factory spring-style hinges (shown above). Turns out: neither.

    There are many aftermarket options for these cars with varying degrees of detail, finishes and price. After some research and from recommendations from our friends at Dusold Designs, there were only two billet hood hinge kits we felt appropriate for this 69 Camaro build: The Ring Brothers billet hinge kit or the Billet Specialties version. Both are well-respected companies and have various finishes and CNC work to choose from as well as varying weights of gas-struts to accommodate an aluminum or composite hood.



    I was hoping we could use a single pivot, simpler hood hinge for the Camaro. As you can see, with the cowl hood design (still in play at this point) the hinge needed to be a multi-pivot design - to come up and tilt back at the same time, or the rear section of the raised cowl hood will crash into the fixed portion of the cowl panel, ahead of the windshield. The wiper arms are mounted under this cowl panel, so that panel needed to stay in place. Some of the composite hoods we found incorporated this cowl panel section into the hood itself, which don't work with wiper arms.



    After the Billet Specialties hood hinges came in we realized they are MASSIVE. This video shows the action of these things - very smooth. We mocked them up on the car and they were going to run into the front tires at full bump. That 315mm tire stuffed under stock outer fender contours takes up a LOT of room under the hood, unfortunately. At this point we had figured out that the flat hood was the way to go for venting, so we could go with a simpler, lighter, and easier to mount single-pivot hood hinge... so the Billet Specialties hinges went back. Oh well, they sure were slick to see in person.



    Our second question here related to the windshield wiper system. Because the factory firewall has been moved significantly, it would be an extreme amount of work to use any of the OEM wiper system components. After researching various options, we felt that a synchronized, direct mount wiper motor system is the best option. This eliminates any linkages that would need to be designed, and instead mounts the wiper arm directly onto a degreed sweep style wiper motor. The industries these style of motors are used in are either motorsports or marine applications. We contacted Bosch to receive more information on their programmable Motorsport WDA and found there are currently only 3 available in the U.S. with an asking price of $890 each, and the car would need two.



    The second option we found was a very reasonable wiper motor sold by Marinco. These models have sweeps ranging from 45° to 110° and come in a very compact size. Our plan was to use a three-position switch, giving the driver control of "park", low, and high wiper speed options. With an average price per unit of $150, we could get two of these for less than a third of the price of a single Bosch WDA. Mounting would be straightforward with only one bracket being fabricated for each motor and no linkages needed. Will show more of this after we get a chance to install these parts - we need a windshield and a cowl panel back in the car to design around.

    continued below
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    19 Apr 2016 05:43 PM
    continued from above

    COILOVER SHOCK DISCUSSIONS

    After doing some research into the coilover shocks that had previously been purchased we determined that they wouldn't work for a variety of reasons. The springs were sized with giant coilover springs that wouldn't clear the front control arms, the shock brand and model were not something ever seen on road race cars, and the hose lengths for the remote reservoirs were too short. Now that the steering system components were fabricated and the geometry was checked and rechecked, and we would be taking the Camaro off the fab table in the coming weeks, it was time to look at dampers that would be more appropriate for this build.



    During this coilover discussion Ryan sorted out the eye-to-eye style shock mounts at both ends.



    Ryan fabricated double-sheer mounts for both the front and rear shocks (the final shock brand was yet to be determined). The solid "mock-up shocks" were then able to support the suspension at both ends and the car. We were all eager to set this Camaro back on its wheels for the first time in 10 months.

    There were some lengthy discussions about shock brands, number of adjustments, remote reservoirs, dyno plots, spring sizes and the like. We are known to be shock snobs here at Vorshlag but we have gotten that way after working with 1000+ shock sales and installs over the past dozen years. I will discuss more about the final shocks when they are installed.

    REAR SEAT AREA CROSSMEMBER WORK

    The original rectangular rear crossmember behind the driver needed clearance for the driveshaft and exhaust. Now that the driveshaft had arrived it was time to make the U-shaped clearance section and add some tubing to the top to tie into the 3rd link mount cross bar.



    Ryan laid out the shape he wanted, marked center points for some holes, then hole-sawed two massive holes shown above for the corner radii...



    He then cut out the parts in between....



    Used some flat stock to make the curved section...



    Ground everything smooth and flat....



    Then clamped his pre-bent curved section in place and spot welded it along the edges.



    Then the custom aluminum driveshaft was installed. After that the curved tubes closed the box around the U-shaped section and tied into the rear upper 3rd link mount cross bar. Then the 3-rd link mount on the chassis end was modified.



    The upper bracketry was changed to add multiple pick-up points for the upper control arm, just like you can see on the lower arms at the chassis side, for additional rear suspension geometry adjustability. The 3 rear control arms are all adjustable for length as well.

    ADDITIONAL SPLITTER & SUPPORT WORK



    This is a big section of this build that started back in September, went through November, and was mostly wrapped up in December. Another major visual and functional piece that will be a signature part of this build.



    There were several aspects of the splitter, lower valance and front wheel flare sections that were finalized, modified, smoothed and welded in November.



    Above you can see the lower section of the valance/splitter structure, which we're calling the "air dam" here. It was more upright on the first go around (see images above), but the customer wanted something sleeker. Here is version 2.0, where so Ryan re-made this lower section and parts of the splitter stricture to have a more flowing, receding line that matches the factory lower valance shape. Making this somewhat simple change involved considerable rework of existing structures and panels, but it does look better this way.



    The wheel spats or forward flare sections were also finalized in this round of work and they are looking pretty nice at this point.



    As the final shape was taking form Ryan could go ahead and make the splitter strut mounts, most of which will be hidden behind the aluminum front OEM style bumper.



    Once the look was pleasing to the customer and still had the airflow shapes and openings we needed to cool and duct airflow, Ryan started finalizing some ducting. Here are the 4" front brake duct inlets, which fit inside the dual plane splitter structure.



    Lots of trimming, shaping, TIG welding, sanding, and blending went into the final splitter design late in November.



    Some of this is creeping into December work so I will stop there...



    WHAT'S NEXT?

    I will show the final stages of the dual plane splitter in the December work update, including the canards and the modified lower valance work. The custom ordered ATL fuel cell finally arrived in January and I will show that work as well.



    As I'm writing this on April 19th, 2016, the Camaro chassis just arrived here after our painter sprayed the upper portion of the cage and the lower frame rails - which are about to be hidden under parts of the body - which arrived last week after the inside of the unibody was painted. I'll get to the "chassis comes off the frame table" steps and more caught up with real time on this forum build thread soon.

    Until next time, thanks for reading.
    __________________
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    03 Dec 2016 03:44 PM
    Project Update December 1st, 2016: We've been plugging away on the 69 Camaro track car - a project that still doesn't have a name yet - throughout 2016, at a pace dictated by the owner. My last post was in April that caught us up to December 2015 work, but I've been scrambling to keep up with forum project threads, as we have about a dozen threads for cars we're tracking, updating, and working on. We also just wrapped up our best month of November ever, inside of our best year (to date) in 12 years of business, so its been bonkers around here



    The picture above shows the Camaro a bit beyond where this build thread update ended, but only by a few weeks - pic was shot in May 2016. This 2-part forum update covers work completed from January through April 2016. I'm writing these updates pretty fast and furious, but still trying to avoid mistakes like I had made time (see my 'mea culpa', below). There is lot to cover, so let's get started where we left off last time - the front end.

    MORE FRONT SPLITTER & VALENCE WORK

    This front/splitter section is the "business end" of this Camaro, and a place where a considerable number of hours have been spent getting both the aero and aesthetics "right". Last time I showed some of the fabrication work on the dual plane aluminum front splitter and valance.



    The lower valance panel (above) was based on an OEM piece but stamped in aluminum. It had to be heavily modified to incorporate the lower grill openings and cooler inlets for both the oil and p/s coolers as well as brake cooler inlet ducting. This modified panel and the custom parts below were both tack welded and now needed lots of final welding, sanding, and finish work.



    The front splitter assembly was built in stages and the lower valance and cooler inlets are joined together above and below the upper splitter plane. Almost everything here is made in aluminum and bolts together with discretely placed hardware, including the canard sections shown below.



    These canards will help direct air spilling off the upper plane where we want, and complete the "lines" of the splitter. Admittedly these parts are part downforce, part styling, but without dozens of hours in a wind tunnel I cannot tell you if these are perfected or not - but this ain't an F1 car. We will do some aero tests in our initial track testing with the customer, of course.



    Ryan spent hours and hours final welding the initially tacked aluminum structures of the lower valance and grill openings.



    Then he spent hours and hours grinding, sanding, welding, and sanding some more. These components are 100% metal worked, no bondo or putty tricks.



    Yes, if there is a major crash it will take work to repair. But so would any custom metal creation built by any other shop. Does it make sense to pull molds off of these finished parts to make "easier to replace" composites? Mold making and composite work is not our specialty, but I have asked others who specialty this is - and they say "expensive". Such is the way of custom car building.

    FUEL CELL + MOUNTING

    After discussions with the customer about safety, we decided to move from an aftermarket fuel tank to a proper fuel cell. This had a lot to do with the projected track speed and capabilities this car will have, and the customer wanted a SAFE car in the end. A fuel cell also just fits a build of this scale and magnitude.



    Ryan mapped out the space allocated for the cell and we ordered this custom aluminum ATL cell can and bladder. This was spec'd with the internal surge tank and pumps for ease of plumbing. The surge tank is crucial to keep the fuel pump inlet submerged at all times, even at low fuel levels and 1.5 g or higher loads.



    After waiting a number of weeks, the fuel cell was built and shipped to us at "Vorshilang", then we began discussing rear diffuser shapes and placement of the cell with the owner.



    Ryan then laid out this fuel cell "cage" that he built out of square tubing. This will act as both a stable mount and a protective structure for the fuel cell. He even custom machined threaded bungs that are welded into the upper perimeter of the "fuel cell cage" which the upper lid of the fuel cell bolts into.



    The fuel cell "cage" and the cell were both then installed into the trunk area between the frame rails. The lower valance panel even ties into this structure, replacing the structure normally in the spare tire well and factory trunk floor.



    Gratuitous underskirt shot... 345mm Hoosiers are BIG.

    BODY REMOVED & CHASSIS WELDED

    After the fuel cell was added the body was removed from the chassis, which was still tack welded to the welding table.



    Removing the body was fairly easy, and involved cutting a few tack welds, then 4 people to spread and lift the flimsy shell off of the chassis and around the cage.



    The scooped out section of unibody above is all that was left of the original 1969 Camaro, and of that the rear fenders & taillight panel had already been replaced with new steel. The roof was looking pretty sketchy but we left it to our paint & body experts to tell us what else needed to be replaced.



    After some minor work on the nearly-finished chassis while it was on the table, it was time to break it all down. The wheels, brakes and suspension came off. Then the drivetrain was removed and the the Ford 9" dropped out of the back. Last the seat, steering column, and coolers came out.



    With all of the geometry of the frame components checked and rechecked, and now everything out of the way, many hours were spent final welding the main chassis and cage. First Ryan started welding with the chassis still on the table (above).



    Then the chassis came off the table and he spent more hours welding, grinding, and finishing the bare chassis. It was both light and rigid enough to move around on its side to get to all of the hard-to-reach places, to finish weld every joint without having to do overhead welding on your back (which is hard).



    The main chassis was then weighed. I mean come on, its Vorshlag - you would expect this. We will show the merged body-chassis weight in the next forum update. Speaking of weights, I need to right a wrong...

    FACT CHECKING MY POSTS - MEA CULPA!

    I've been doing forum write-ups like this for 16+ years, and have been fanatic about keeping my posts as factual and honest as humanly possible. I have also been a freak about weighing automotive components for over 20 years, and had an extensive "weights page" on my first automotive website starting in 1996. This was full of weight data, pictures of parts on digital scales, etc. So much "bad tech" about weights gets thrown around on the interwebs that it makes me a little nuts about "fixing the internet" wrongs sometimes.



    In my previous update to this thread I mentioned something that was "non-factual" about the replacement tubular steering arms. Ryan built these to replace the solid steel units that came on the car (which were heavier, had some sketchy welds, and incorrect bump steer geometry for the steering rack we chose). I felt them both in my hands, spit-balled a number, and actually wrote "these new steering arms save 12 pounds." Oh boy, I'm now well on my way to becoming a politician.



    Of course several of you sharp eyed readers called my bluff, and I had to go weigh these parts. Then eat some crow when proven wrong. I "eyeballed" the weights and threw out a number that was nonsense. I thought I remembered weighing these arms, but I "mis-remembered" that fact. These tubular steering arms saved all of 1.8 pounds for the pair, not 12 pounds. So this is me admitting my mistake, showing the proof, and promising to try to never making that kind of error again. I'm sorry folks! #NotFakeNews

    UNIBODY THEN CHASSIS BLASTED, REPAIRED, PRIMED AND PARTIALLY PAINTED

    Our crew reassembled the naked Camaro chassis with the drivetrain, wheels, and suspension for the next phase of work. It would also look more presentable for our 2016 Open House we had on Feb 27th. Lots of people came to this event to see the shop, eat the food, get their free SCCA annual tech.... but many said they came just to see the Camaro. It was "naked and afraid" but didn't disappoint.



    Meanwhile I had delivered the unibody to our paint and body experts at Heritage in Sherman, Texas. I am usually delivering or picking up cars there a couple of times a month.



    With the unibody sculpted down to the bare minimum needed there were now exposed areas that were pretty rusty. Some of these are normally not painted when the car was built, so that's to be expected. The underside of the roof was pretty nasty, with headliner residue and some light rust. Other sections were clearly rusted and needed replacement. Of course it was raining when we loaded the semi-bare metal tub into our trailer...



    Sadly we never weighed the stripped unibody, but two people could move it easily. I took the pictures below at Heritage after the body had been bead blasted on all of the sections I asked them to (everything but the rear fenders), but before any primer or paint went back on. This car will be painted in 2 stages - some sections that the cage/frame cover up on the unibody needed final paint now.

    continued below
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    --
    03 Dec 2016 03:53 PM
    continued from above



    They left the E-coat on the new rear fenders and tail panel, but everything else that was original steel was mostly in raw steel form, from work done by a previous shop who blasted some sections. Heritage concentrated heavier blasting around some areas on the tub that had a bit of "tin worm" or which had visible body filler - like on the front and rear window frames and A-pillars.



    After blasting it was worse than we had feared, and both the front and rear window header sections (the structure in the roof under the outer roof skin, which helps hold the shape of the opening) were rotten. They had been slathered in big globs of body filler, which was all that was holding them together. Blasting exposed this cheap trick done by a previous shop. Heritage said the roof was toast - but they they would find a new roof panel and replace it before the next time we stopped by with the chassis.



    Having the rolling chassis together was handy in that it allowed us to transport it to a nearby shop who has a 4 wheel laser alignment rack - which we borrow/rent often. Alignment racks are expensive and are a "net money loser" unless you can keep it loaded up with dozens of "regular alignments" every week. We just don't have the space, manpower, or customers for that. With the rolling chassis on the rack, Ryan and Brad were able to check the gross camber & caster up front, and axle squareness out back before everything on the front suspension was burned in.



    The rolling chassis came right back to Vorshlag. With the laser alignment numbers matching our digitally measured settings and calculations, Ryan then got to work and final welded the front suspension mount sections.



    In case the caster or camber settings were way off, we could have more easily moved the front-to-back placements of the control arm mounts. Now that the numbers were proven to be where we planned, the double-shear mounting plates were added to the Lower Control Arms and final welded in place. A bolt-in rear crossmember brace will be added at a later date, to bridge the opening at the rear - making that brace removable allows for easy oil pan access with the engine still in the car.



    Heritage had a new OEM roof panel sourced, added tubing to the unibody to keep it square, cut out the rotten roof, and welded the new structure in place. To keep the blasted raw metal of much of the unibody from flash rusting, Heritage sprayed the entire unibody with a white sealer/primer, inside and out. The underside of the roof was sanded and smoothed, primed, blocked, then painted with the glossy base & clear finish coats in GM Arctic White - which is a pure white with no pigment.



    We had Heritage bodywork our 1992 Corvette race car (which is for sale!) and paint it with this same GM Arctic White base/clear over the summer. Like we plan to do on the 1969 Camaro, they shot our C4 inside and out with this paint, and it looks great. Its brighter than any other hue - its brighter than the sun! - well, almost.



    The partially painted unibody waited back at the shop while Heritage sprayed some sections of the chassis. At this point the chassis was final welded and 95% of the cage was in place, including all sections near the roof, A-pillar, or C-pillars. Basically everything except the door bars and harness bar. The harness bar will be added to the cage once the final seating position is in place and we measure the owner's shoulder heights in those seats (more on that below). The door bars in place make it tough to get into and out of the cabin, so even though those have been built they will be final welded in towards the end of the build - to make the next phases of construction easier.



    Ryan marked the chassis with tape and arrows showing which areas of the cage were close to the body and that we wanted finish sanded, painted and clear coated. The top of the cage and anything that comes close to the unibody skin.



    They did exactly as we asked and painted just the sections of the cage and chassis that we marked. As you can see the lower, outer frame sections were also primed and painted. These will be hidden inside of the outer skin of the rockers on the unibody. The lower rockers were "pocketed" to fit around the frame rails earlier, and those pockets on the unibody were finish painted as well. Nobody will ever see those areas, but they won't be bare metal dripping rust later, either.



    At this point I had picked up the semi-painted rolling chassis and it and the unibody were ready to go back together for the last time. Once these were joined they wouldn't be coming apart again. I will wait and show that chassis-to-body merge next time.

    NEW SEAT ORDERED

    Choosing an appropriate, safe, and good fitting racing seat is one of the most critical choices in a race car build. This is where 90% of your tactile feedback with the car comes from - when you are strapped into a form fitting, fixed back racing seat. A good seat reduces driver fatigue greatly - after doing a hard track session in any car with OEM seats and 3-point belts I'm always tired just from holding on. You have to use your arms, legs, back, and shoulders to support your body in a flat seat with no harnesses. Even the best sports cars with OEM seats are a poor substitute for proper racing seats. Fixed back race seats even MAKE YOU FASTER on track. Allow me to explain.



    On a track test day in September I drove 3 separate cars over 3 twenty minute sessions. One was the 5th Gen Camaro above, which had Cobra Suzuka racing seats and Scroth harnesses. They held me in easily and it made driving this 3800 pound Pony Car around track a breeze. I got out after that session with a blisteringly fast lap time, which shocked all of us. The car was quick but more importantly, the seats and harnesses let me push the car more easily, so I could wring out more potential from the car. I had more fast laps within a tighter range of time, and exited the car with little wear and tear on my body. Granted this Camaro is not stock, but it is still much heavier and on narrower (305mm Hankook RS3) tires than the two "super cars" below.



    On that same day I also drove these two Corvettes above, both on similar compound but wider tires (285F/335R MPSS) than the Camaro. All three cars made 1.2 to 1.25 g lateral and 1.0 to 1.1 g under braking. The C6 Z06 was a nightmare to drive compared to the Camaro, and I was flailing around in the cockpit like a rag doll. It has one of the worst stock seats I can remember, and my lap times suffered (even 600 pounds lighter and with an LS7 under hood, my Z06 lap times were almost a second slower than the Camaro) with inconsistency. The C7 Grand Sport had optional factory seats that were "better" than the C6 bits, and even has proper shoulder harness holes, but still a 3-point belt. I once again was flopping around and left a lot on the table (according to predictive lap timer), and only had a few laps quicker than the Camaro.

    Why? I think it was all in the seats. Good racing seats and harnesses make driving more consistent and easier. I was exhausted after both Corvette stints, and pretty sore the next day. Try putting in "time trial" laps in cars that pull 1.25 g with crap seats and belts, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

    Seat mounting to the chassis is also critical to safety. The positioning of the seat determines your sight lines, comfort, and safety. We can handle all of that, but what about the seat itself?


    If you have the grip levels of massive Hoosiers (left), you better have appropriate seats to deal with that (right)

    I wouldn't think about running a car with big Hoosiers (1.3 to 1.5 g) on a stock seat. We needed to pick a better seat for this Camaro, as the capabilities and grip levels would likely be higher than any modern super car and even most race cars. 345mm Hoosiers make a boat load of grip, and I know from running these in the past, you better be strapped into a GOOD seat if you want to be in complete control. High leg bolsters, shoulder support, and a halo around your helmet.



    This LaJoie seat was one of 3 seats provided by the customer when he brought the car to us. It is an aluminum, 2-piece seat marketed largely to the circle track crowd. We all felt that while the better versions of these look beautiful, works of art, they fell short. As an aside, it just didn't fit the theme the customer requested, a serious track car using modern sports racing components, drivetrain, tires and aero. There's very little circle track influence here. Also, this car had to have a second seat in it that was somewhat similar to the driver's seat - and buying another LaJoie was not in the cards.



    The build also came with a pair of brand new Sparco EVO II and EVO III seats. The EVO III is huge, and was too big for the owner. The EVO II fit him well, and we sell and install a lot of these (and just put one in my NASA TTD prepped BMW E46), but this project needed something more serious. The lack of lateral shoulder and head support was a deal breaker on this level of build.

    Yes, we sell all manner of racing seats, and I keep about a dozen in my showroom for "test sitting". Nothing beats sitting in a seat to see how you fit. One of the most respected names in racing seats is Racetech, but we had never bought a seat from them before. They do some of the best tests and their "crash test" share videos like this side impact test rig video. That seat back movement in a side impact made us look at their 119 series of seats.



    I'm trying not to be sales-y here, and if you look on our website you won't even see Racetech listed, but the features are hard to ignore. They make an unprecedented FOUR sizes of the 119 seat - combining normal and tall heights, plus normal and wider widths.



    For the owner of this car we had him test sit in some seats, send in several body measurements as dictated by Racetech, and then looked at the sizing chart and determined he needed the normal width in the tall height - the 4119THR.



    These 119 series seats are a bit pricey, and the carbon fiber versions (9119) are extremely expensive, so we went with the 4119 composite seat range for the driver's side seat. The passenger will get one of the Sparco EVO seats, but there won't likely be too many laps with a right seat filled at 10/10ths pace.

    WHAT'S NEXT?

    This 2-part write-up took us from January through April. A lot of time was spent with the chassis or body at the painters, and any of you that have built a project like this would understand how long paint work takes - even partial paint or priming work.



    Next time I will show the body going back into the frame, then the aluminum flat bottom undertray panels and floors being built, the exhaust routing through the tunnel, the dash and cowl work, then firewall and sheet metal fab up front. Lots to cover, hopefully I'll have time this weekend to write another segment to catch us up closer to real time.

    Cheers,
    __________________
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    07 Feb 2017 09:54 AM
    Project Update February 6th, 2017: I have been pretty busy with running Vorshlag, adding content to the new website, starting a second business, and remodeling my house that is about to go on the market. So the spare time I used to use to write these build thread updates has been in short supply. Work on the 69 Camaro has been moving along at a steady pace (dictated by the owner) and I needed to catch up, a lot. While my wife was watching Superbowl 51 last night I broke out my laptop and put this together.



    Lots of good work to show on the Camaro - the body went back on the chassis and it was off the fab table for good! This time we show the body going back into the frame, the dual 3" exhaust routing through the tunnel and to mufflers out back, and finally aluminum flat bottom undertray panels being built.

    BODY ONTO CHASSIS, DRIVETRAIN INSTALLED

    This was exciting - reunification of body and chassis! At this point the unibody was so trimmed away and light that it was really easy for 2 people to lift it. Using 4 people it could be spread apart and fit around the roll cage structure and frame rails in half a minute. Once this was tack welded to the frame rails it wasn't ever coming off the frame again - this isn't that kind of body. A composite body is usually made to be removable, but this steel unibody will need to be welded to the frame - hence the reason for painting the areas we did.



    Now it was time to put the engine and transmission together for the last time before it is fired up. Now we didn't spec or supply any of the drivetrain bits outside of the innards of the ford 9", so Ryan went over every detail to double-check what was brought to us.



    There are normally two dowels in the back of the block on an LS3 crate engine like this. But these had been man handled in a previous life and were mangled beyond repair, so they were removed and replaced. You don't want to forget to fix something like this after the drivetrain is assembled and back in the car.



    I didn't get any close-up pictures of the clutch, but its a 5.5" triple disc setup that uses a hydraulic throw out bearing/slave cylinder and a unique bell housing for the g-force transmission. A very small diameter clutch with limited engagement range and a transmission without synchros means this is a setup best suited for track use - and little else. But those things also mean it will be light and strong.



    Just a shot of the engine bay with mounts in place but the motor out (above left) then with the LS3 engine back back in there. Up to this point in the build the fabricated transmission crossmember was only tack welded together and held in with some clamps. The reason for the unusual shape of the transmission crossmember will be apparent below, when we go over exhaust routing.



    Now it was time to final weld that crossmember and add the threaded bungs for it's mounting bolts to the chassis. These bungs were created from some steel round bar in the lathe - machined with a face to butt up to the tubing, threaded through a hole. Then a hole was drilled in the tubular chassis member and these were welded in place, on both sides of the tube. Now the bolts for the crossmember had somewhere to thread into. A bolt and nut would simply crush the square tubing, and welding in an anti-crush sleeve was not a whole lot less work than making these threaded bungs. These bolted connections can now be done into a blind area where accessing the nut would be difficult.



    the custom ordered 3.5" diameter aluminum driveshaft arrived while the body was at paint and could now be installed. Up until now we had only seen a PVC pipe mocked up in place.

    HEADER FINAL WELDING, TRANS TUNNEL, EXHAUST

    The headers needed a little final welding so the ends were capped, the interior was flooded with an insert gas (Argon) and Ryan TIG welded all the remaining joints. The headers were then installed onto the engine



    Another batch of parts the customer supplied included the Aviad external, belt driven oil pump, which came with some bracket parts and pulleys to fit an LS3. With the now narrower frame encroaching on that space it needed to be re-mounted so the adjustable bracket turn buckle was machined and built to tuck the pump in between the frame rail and block.



    With the transmission and driveshaft in place, now it was time to start building the inner transmission tunnel. Due to the very low ride height and flat bottom undertray design planned, we routed the exhaust up inside the transmission tunnel next to the driveshaft.



    This seems like a controversial part of this build, but we have a plan, and we do this all the time on cars like BMWs. The E36 M3 above has dual 3" exhaust into a 4" oval exhaust, up in the tunnel, and the E46 M3 on the right has dual 2.5" into a 3.5", also above the bottom of the floor. This is one of the reasons we elected not to use a carbon fiber driveshaft on the 69 Camaro. The yokes are always bonded to the CF tube and exhaust heat could be an issue there.



    The partial tunnel structure shown is made from tubular steel and will later be skinned in aluminum. It will be a bit taller than stock but no taller than some more modern chassis we work with. This tunnel structure gives room to stuff the twin 3" exhaust pipes above the bottom of the floor. And before the arm chair quarterbacks chime in - the tunnel will have ample insulation to the driver/passenger, to keep exhaust heat at bay. All of this is being done to make the bottom of this car truly flat. The payoff will be worth the effort.



    Magnaflow stepped up with a sponsorship for this build, without much prompting, and supplied the various tubing, bends and mufflers.



    The Long shifter assembly was modified and installed, then the shift handle and shifter assembly were mocked up on top of the tunnel structure. Ryan then quickly built the driver's side collector extension around the shift rods and added a 3" V-band connector. Then he built the passenger side collector extension and V-band, with some bends and turns to get that side of the exhaust to "crossover" to the driver's side of the tunnel - which has more room.



    Back to the driver's side now, where the exhaust is routed under the arch on the transmission tunnel, then turns up. At right you can see Ryan welding up a lot of bends...

    continued below
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    07 Feb 2017 10:15 AM
    continued from above

    This is one of my favorite pictures on this entire build...



    This shows the complex routing going on within a handful of inches. First, a crossover to get both 3" exhaust tubes on the same side. This is turned into an X-merge of both pipes, but not the traditional type. Admittedly space constraints made this all look pretty compact but it will be worth it when the flat bottom panels are built.



    The shot from underneath shows how critical each of these bends had to be calculated, measured, marked, cut and tack welded.



    Here you can see the clearance to to the shift rods as well as to the driveshaft yoke. What may not be evident is that the drivetrain is shifted off center in this chassis, away from the driver. This designed in drivetrain offset is normally done to give additional clearance from the steering shaft to the exhaust and to counter the driver's weight. In this case it made additional room to route the exhaust on the driver's side, buried up in the transmission tunnel.



    These two round Magnaflow mufflers were mounted in the back seat area, above the axle housing. These will eventually be hidden under panels but are still visible during construction. Ryan built the stainless steel double saddle mounts for both the front and rear of each mufflers. These will be secured to the saddle mounts with a spring on the top side.



    The shot above shows the routing for the exhaust from the headers, collectors, to the crossover and X-merge.



    Now it was time to connect the X-merge section of the exhaust to the mufflers. A pair of V-band clamps were added, to allow the center section of the exhaust to be disconnected from the muffler end.



    Some of the last steps of the exhaust were done after the flat bottom panels were added (see below), but the picture above shows the extent of the exhaust fabrication at this stage. The exit of the two mufflers was later routed into the rear diffuser, which I will show in a future post.

    FLAT BOTTOM PANELS

    A flat bottom undertray is a modern aerodynamic device that is used to lower drag under the car as well as feed air to a rear mounted diffuser, which we are adding (I tease that at the very end of this post). Below is the complete set of flat undertray panels built for this 69 Camaro, which are unique to this custom tube framed chassis. The chassis structure was built with flat panels in mind, so there weren't any weird mounts that had to be made - the flat panels fit right to the underside of the square structural tubing of the floor and frame rails.



    Unlike some home built undertray panels which use flimsy materials like Alumalite or plastic, we are using 1/8" thick 6061-T6 aluminum sheet. This is slightly heavier but is MUCH stronger than materials you can buy at a sign shop. These will also make the chassis stiffer. After seeing Alumalite panels rip off at speed, we went with stronger material that can withstand the aero forces we expect to see.



    Ryan started the first 4x8' sheet by cutting it longways, to make the two main panels that travel fore aft under the cabin. Our sheer isn't long enough to make an 8' cut, nor is the throat on our bandsaw big enough, so he made that cut with a jig saw and a steady hand. Then he laid out the shapes needed from templates made using craft board.



    The panels were then cut, clamped to the chassis, and mounting holes drilled through the panel and into the tubing. Many of these will have blind rivets, and the main outer panels shown will also be bonded to the (painted) chassis before they are riveted in place. Some panels will be removable for service and have threaded fasteners with flush heads on the bottom. During fabrication the panels are all held in place by removable Cleco clamps - which you can see hanging under the car, and look like bullet casings.



    Once the two main fore-aft outer panels were added the center panel was added at the back between them. Then a removable panel needed to be built for the transmission area. To mount this a set of "doubler plates" was added to the outer panels. These then house threaded mounts for the transmission panel to bolt onto, and the whole seam remains flush.



    This transmission is another piece that had been bought for the car long before we were enlisted. This transmission was ordered in the "straight up" configuration which causes the bottom of the housing to hand down much lower than the dry sump pan or bellhousing. Most racing transmissions like this can be ordered in a "sideways" configuration that allows the "bottom" (or side, depending on how you look at it) of the trans to align with the bottom of a short dry sump oil pan. Yes, in this configuration it is the lowest part of the car. We will make a partial skid plate at the front of the trans at a later date, but Ryan kept pushing forward with the flat panels for now and let the casing poke through as shown.



    You can see from the image above how much higher the bottom of the dry sump oil pan sits than the bottom of the G-Force transmission. Sometimes you have to work with what you have, and this is still a great transmission. A little skid plate at the front won't totally disrupt the airflow, and exposing part of the trans to the under car air stream will help with cooling the fluid inside.



    Between the transmission panel and the lower panel of the front splitter was a gap that needed one more panel, a removable piece under the engine oil pan. There are some areas shown that allow for suspension travel and tire turning, which we cannot cover up, but otherwise the assembly of undertray panels make for a seamless flat surface from the tip of the splitter to the rear axle area.



    Again, most of the panels can be unbolted for service - which is visible above with the trans and oil pan panels removed.



    After seeing the exhaust boxed in above the undertray panels, even more will ask: will the exhaust heat trapped inside all of these panels make the cabin hotter?? We have planned (see above right) for ways to get some of that heat out of this tunnel as well as shielding between exhaust and the driver. Normally on a tube framed flat bottom car (think: GT1, Trans Am, etc) the exhaust takes up the passenger side door area and exits out the side, but on this car - made for 2 occupants, a blown diffuser, and no "wide body" - that's a little tougher. We are planning a track test before final paint that will allow us to test and monitor temps in several areas.

    WHAT'S NEXT?

    Next time I will show the dozens of panels designed and built for the interior - to cover the transmission tunnel, to build a firewall, to enclose the dry sump tank, and more.



    We will also show the mounting of the defroster, wiper motors, dash, and some much needed "false floor" panels to rest your feet on - and stand on as you enter/exit the cage. The undertray panels are NOT the floor you will see from the inside, that's another set of panels. So we spent the next few weeks in "panel making hell", which isn't exactly the sexiest fab work. It is all very necessary to keep fire, heat, and fluids away from the passenger cabin - and I'll show that next time.



    Here's a tease of the rear diffuser, which was recently completed. The flat bottom floor feeds smooth air to the diffuser, which should make some downforce.

    Until next time,
    __________________
    Terry Fair - www.vorshlag.com
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