Last weekend we took the BatBerry out to a local car show (more on that later). In order to get the car there, we had to do a few things to get it into shape. These were namely getting the hood to line up with the lower body lines, installing the front air springs, connecting the steering and creating some kind of tow hook connection for the flat bed truck.
First off was getting the body lines to match up with the hood. When the hood was cut free from the rear body section, the front of the rear body section started to sag. So I needed to prop it back up into position
I then created some braces that bolt onto the 30cal machine gun sliders. I made sure that these were bolt on, because the sagging section of the body scoops back in towards the frame and I wouldn’t be able to get the body back off again if I connected things permanently at this point.
This let me then drill and bolt the outside panel to the braces. I’ll end up welding the braces to the 30cal sliders and then fiberglass in the body to the brace once I permanently fasten the body to the chassis.
Next was the front air suspension. I started off by disassembling both front suspension pieces and removing the hub from the top and bottom ball joints. I’ll end up replacing the top and bottom A-arms with replacements that I have waiting in my basement when I do the final assembly and mount the front shocks.
I also needed to clean up the steel around the front area where the air spring goes. I wanted to clean this all up and also provide me with a decent surface to mark the area which I needed to trim.
The front air springs are bigger than the usual stock springs, so you need to trim some of the metal from the frame rails to ensure that there’s no rubbing on the air bag at any point in the suspension travel. A good way of testing this out is placing your jack under the lower A-arm and raise it all the way up to the bump stop to ensure that there’s no rubbing on the air bag going up and down.
After everything was tested, I put the hub assembly back on, ran the air lines to a little T-fitting so that I could inflate/deflate the front air bags, and put the wheels back on. Then repeat steps 1-n for the passenger side. Drivers side took me 3 hours, but the passenger side took me 2 hours. It makes a difference once you’ve figured it out 🙂
Next up was the steering mechanism. I went out and bought myself some U-joints, steering shaft and supports for the steering. The Hot Rod shop was great getting me matched up on spline counts and hardware. Once you go more than one section between your U-joints, you need to add a support for each additional section you add. The tricky part was that I needed to go up and over the cross member and then back down to where my new steering column comes through the firewall. I also bolted up the new steering box, and re-connected my freshly painted pitman arm so we could test everything out.
We welded on a support for the steering shaft once I positioned the angle with just the right amount of clearance on the upper A-arm throughout all points in the suspension travel. I needed to test this out because the shaft was coming pretty close to the A-arm.
Of course while this all looked good, I had some binding on the U-joint connected to the steering column. The angle needed was more than the recommended 30 degrees for the U-joint. But I needed these angles in order to clear both the A-arm and the headers. This would work out for the sake of the car show (steering the car on/off the flat bed) but I was going to have to rip it all apart and start over again by adding a 3rd section of steering shaft. More on that coming up in another blog post.
Last on the agenda was creating a towing mechanism for the car. Since this sucker was going to be pulled up onto a flat bed, I needed something for the truck straps to grab onto. We decided to make a little bumper beam that sat right behind where the back of the nose of the car came in. There are two sections that scoop back in on both sides of the turbine. We used these as our reference points to weld on tow hooks. This would allow straps to come up on an angle but not rub against any of part of the nose of the car.
This was really tricky because we needed to be back far enough behind those scoops to allow us to place the hooks, but we also needed ground clearance when the air suspension was fully down. This took a couple of tries but ended up pretty darn good. The towing guy said that they were absolutely perfect. So that’s good enough for me 🙂
Final touches for getting ready for the show was to cut out the fuel filler caps openings so that I could fasten the caps to the car and not have someone walk away with one of my lemans style filler caps.