Assembly Spring 2008

Well it's now May 2008 and the build has been lying untouched over the winter once again. Oh, for a double garage.

So where did I get before winter set in last year?

I had a rolling chassis; engine and gear box in, steering, gear lever and handbrake roughed in place. I painted the rocker covers and wheels the colour I thought 'Josephine' would suit - a nice mellow yellow. I've named her Josephine Postlethwaite, as she'll be a mixture of French and Yorkshire engineering / tinkering).

As the next job to do on my build was to get the floor and bulkheads in position I set about making a sheet metal break to bend the Aluminium panels. I made this out of a fencing rail, a chipboard attic flooring panel and an old piano hinge. The break is fixed into a workmate, then a panel is place on the break and a fence post placed on top and clamped down at the bend line. The front bit / surface / lever (call it what you will) of the break is then lifed and the sheet is bent. Whilst simple to construct it did the job admirably, bending long runs neatly and easily.

My homemade sheet metal break.

The edges of the panels were all to be bent using a wooden bending tool (a slot in a piece of wood) as described in the build manual. This simple little tool really does the job easily and efficiently. Nice one Phil!

I cut the panels from the sheets using a grinder. The burr's on the edges being filed safe after cutting. Once cut and bent the panels were then bedded to the frame, on BnQ's finest black guttering silicon, and pop riveted down to the frame.

I fixed my foot wells into place before fitting the floor. Then found that the right well fouled the suspension damper, so I had to remove and adjust before fitting. No biggey really. It took about 40 minutes to put right, but I wasn't pleased at the time.

The footwells.

The front bulhead panel prooved to be a bit trickey. The paper template gives positions for the slots and holes needed to through fit the foot controls and clutch cable. I took these as accurate as the floor template had been 'bob on'. So I cut them into my sheet before fitting. Big mistake! The template, or rather, the hole / slot positions were way out. The bulkhead panel itself was fine, it just had the slot's and hole no where near. This required a little bodging, so I cut out the offending section of the bulkhead and fitted a seperate panel with the correctly positioned slots and holes. Getting this right meant many trial fittings with lots of filing in between, until eventually the controls fit through correctly. So I guess I should have used the old adage of 'measure twice, cut once', or even measuring once might have done the job :o)

The front bulkhead.

The rear floor panel has an access hole to the top of the petrol tank, directly above the fuel sender. This will allow easy access when running the electics for the sender, as well as in the future should I have problems with the sender unit.

Access panel to the fuel sender unit.

One thing I forgot to mention, I ran my brake and fuel lines along the chassis rails before fitting the floor. This was much easier than doing the job afterwards, as Tony, my neighbour, can attest to (I mentioned elsewhere that Tony is also building a 'hopper!).

I had toyed with the idea of running the brake and fuel lines through the chassis rails. However, after talking with Phil, the Pembelton designer, about this he stated that in the 10 years or so that he'd had his on the road he hadn't had any problems with the pipes running under the chassis rails. In fact the suspension brackets would touch down well before the pipes came into contact with the road. Plus, drilling straight through the rails would obviously compromise the integrity and strength of the chassis. So I thought "if it ain't broke, don't fix it!" and stuck by my motto of "why make more work for yourself?".

The brake line kit came from Bonaparte's and was excellent. The kit is nicely packaged with everything needed to fit and get the brakes working. That is, it contains the brake lines needed for my long wheel base 3 wheeled grasshopper, p-clips, brake pipe nipple seals, a small packet of copper grease and a bottle Citroen Hydraulic Brake fluid - all for (I think) £60. Good value if you ask me, and as a Yorkshireman you know how much I appreciate a bargain!

In the workshop.

I initially ran the brake line straight out of the end of the rear axle, down the rear left hand chassis rail, then back over to and down the right chassis rail. This left me about 1/2 a metre short of being able to reach the brake cylinder!??! After some swearing, a bit of head scratching and finally a chinwag with Tony next door, I realised where I'd gone wrong in my routing. So after drilling out the p-clip rivets and re-routing the line - exit the axle and turn immediately back towards the right chassis rail and then run down the right chassis rail - I eventually had more than enough brake line to reach the brake cylinder.

The fuel line was 1/4" copper tubing from Europa, which I used on a recommendation from the Pembleton builder's forum. Some 8mm ID rubber hose was used as a protective sleeve at the point where the pipe runs under the chassis rails.

As an asside, I can't stress enough how brilliant the Pembleton builder's forum is. The forum members are so knowledgeable, friendly and forthcoming with help and advice. Without the forum and its members the build would be a much more daunting task.

The brake and fuel lines, petrol tank, floor, bulkhead and glove box panels, steering column, underslung gear lever and handbrake are now all installed. I'd taken a week off work, working every day bar the last Sunday, to get to this stage.

Very satisfying to see the car take shape. Plus, with the brake lines in place, I charged the system with fluid and got the brakes working :o)

Josephine seems so much more 'alive' now she's wearing some clothes and has had some life blood pumped into her veins. As Doctor Frankenstein might say, "She's alive!" - well nearly!

The car taking shape with its first panels in place.

So at the time of writing - 4th June 2008 - the next job on my list is to get the engine started and running; this means mounting the carb's, put oil filler and breather lines in, then run electrics and control cables. Once that's done hopefully it won't be too long before I can take a quick jaunt up and down the road. 
"What's that? Road Tax? Insurance? Sorry officer!"*.

* This statement is in no way meant to encourage nor condone the breaking of any of the laws of the land. It's simply meant as a cheap joke. 'onest Me'lud!

The above progress photo shows that I've now fitted the oil filler / breather pipes. I've also roughly placed the carb's and fuel lines.

Work has bought a 3D printer. It takes digital 3D object files / CAD files and prints them out. This has allowed me to design and make my own 'Grasshopper Super Sport' badge for the car. The end restult is a little larger than I'd like, but they come out of the printer in a delicate state, only hardening up once resin is applied / impregnated. Anyway, I'm not sure where I'll mount the badge(s), but I think it looks quite good.

My 'Grasshopper Super Sports' badge design.