Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Where's the (Roll) Bar?

The next problem was another tricky one and it was critical in several areas.

Before we get into it too far let me make something clear. First, this car is actually a little bit too small for me. Remember I had purchased it sight unseen and had not had a chance to try it on long distance. I had been depending on measurements supplied by the seller and a little bit of wishful thinking.

It is not unusual for this kind of thing to happen in this class. When it does you just have to adjust the car to the driver as well as possible or get another car. (I couldn’t afford to do that) The cars are not large to begin with and as we have already established I am a full sized driver.

What we are talking about here is the roll over protection bar. It is usually just called the “roll bar” but when you give it its full name the importance of its function clarifies. It is there to protect the driver in the case that the car goes upside down. Remember we do all sorts of things to make it as safe as possible to tool one of these things around. The roll bar and its braces are basic to that cause.

In our case the roll bar was high enough but the braces cut across my arms in such a way as to pin my elbows in. I had limited use of my forearms and could steer but only by moving my hands from the wrist down but not my arms. Also it was difficult to move my arm enough to reach the gear shift. The only way I could change gears was to twist my right hand to the side and move the lever with my fingertips. Try that a dozen times a lap.

The ideal solution would be to move the roll bar brace from where it is to another location and free up my arms. But how do you do that and keep the roll bar braced as solidly as possible.
The perfect place for the brace would be for it to start at the upper point where it currently contacted the roll bar and connect at the junction there the dash hoop hit’s the side frame. This would provide good triangulation and at the same time clear my elbows and free up my arms a bit. Unfortunately it would not clear the bodywork.

I didn’t want to rebuild the whole body so I came up with another solution.

I would increase the size of the brace and tie it in behind where my shoulders were. That would give me as much freedom of movement as possible and still protect my noggin.

Since I am not a welder I had to find someone who could handle the job. The person who came to mind was Brandon Jeffers.

He has a small fabrication shop in Reserve, a little town close by, where he builds Hot Rods, Drag Race cars, and most any thing you want constructed out of metal. He does good work. He ain’t cheap, but he does good work.

I had done several sketches of what I had in mind. I do that a lot. I think better with a pencil in my hand. It is also easier to explain what I want with a drawing than it is to try to get a point across by talking and waving my hands in the air. It’s the sort of thing architects do.

I stuck my drawings in a folder, loaded the car on the trailer (stern first), and headed for Brandon’s shop.

We talked, looked at the drawings, waved out hands anyway for the sake of ritual, and agreed on a price. He would order the material, wait for its delivery, do the job and call me in a few weeks. He did. He got it almost right. Close enough that I could live with it rather than make him tear it all out and do it over.

Now I could bend my elbows a little, move my arms a bit more and could reach the shift lever with out being a contortionist. It wasn’t going to be comfortable but it would work. For a smaller driver it would be wonderful.

The only bad part of all this is that every time I have to farm out work on the car it eats up my budget. My budget is not a fat one. I have to find ways around having other people do things.

Well anyway. Another task done and another three weeks shot.


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