Neil Fletcher Racing
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Once or twice while working at my car I have thought it would be a great job if I made myself a frame that I could mount the shell of my Mk1 Escort on. Recently I visited another club member's workshop and he had made himself one, I thought that it would be fairly easy to make something similar and it was fairly obvious that it made working at the shell a lot easier, I have detailed the making of my version of a Spit below.
Looking at his Spit and taking some measurements I spotted two areas that I thought could be improved upon. Firstly his Spit was quite hard to turn, he had to mount a reduction gearbox on the front of the Spit to enable him to turn it on his own. I decided that when I made mine I would try and have it much better balanced for ease of turning. This meant trying to get the shell as well balanced as possible i.e. between chassis and roof. For this I would just have to guess where the balance point was and hope that I had got it near right. The second thing I noticed was that his locking mechanism offered a rather limited number of positions in which the shell could be locked. I wanted something which could be locked in almost any position.
When making this Spit there is one very important thing which needs to be taken into account. The "Pivot Point" of the Spit should be high enough off the ground that you are able to turn the shell right over without it hitting the ground. The part of the shell which gets nearest the ground is just where the rain channel runs above the door opening i.e. somewhere above the B-pillar. I used a combination of the measurements taken from my friends Spit and also some measurements taken off my own shell as I made my Spit to sort out the Pivot Points etc. As you read through the text below you will see that I have given more details on this as I go along.
Box Iron - Size 1½" by 1½", Quantity 2 - 24 Foot Lengths.
Round Bar - About 1½" or 2" diameter, Length 15 Inches.
Pipe or Bush - Tight fit over Round Bar, 2 x 2" Lengths.
Flat Bar - 1½" wide by 3/8" thick, length 4 Feet.
Flat Bar - 1½" wide by ¼" thick, length 3 Feet 6 Inches.
Flat Bar - 2" wide by ¼" thick, length 2 Feet.
Other sundry small scraps lying around the Garage.
Click on any of the images below for a larger photo.
Front Mounting Brackets
The first thing I did was to make two Mounting Brackets for the front of the shell. These would bolt to the chassis rails in place of the front bumper irons and would extend out through the front panel. The front Crossbar would then be bolted to these two mounting brackets.
|First thing was to cut two bits of flat bar. I used 1½" wide by 3/8" thick flat bar. Each piece was 15" long.|
|Two holes are drilled in one end to match the holes in the chassis rails. The other end of each bar is cut at an angle of about XX degrees from the square. It makes it easier if you start off with a piece of flat bar 30" long and make one angled cut in the middle, if you follow my meaning.|
|The idea is that the cut you made above will be vertical once the bar is bolted to the chassis rail.|
|Then cut two 4" long pieces of the same flat bar. Drill two holes in each one about 2½" apart. You will need to drill holes to suit something like a 7/16" or 1/2" bolt.|
|One of these will be welded to the front of each of the other bars as shown.|
|And here we have it welded on. I used a number of runs of weld for these joints. Apart from painting this is the Front Mounting Bracket finished.|
|Here you see the finished article in use (photo from below). Note - there are no mounting brackets for the rear Crossbar as it bolts straight to the shell as you shall see later.|
|Front & Rear Crossbars|
The Front and Rear Crossbars are next. It was at this stage that I needed to consider where the balance point of the shell would be, as this balance point is the place where the shell needs to pivot around to make it easy to turn over. On my friends Spit he has the Pivot Point directly between the Mounting Brackets but I knew that the Pivot Point would be a few inches nearer the roof of the shell. Unfortunately it would just be a guess, read on to discover whether I was correct or not.
|Two bits of 1½" Box Iron are required for the Crossbars, one bit is 33" long for the Front Crossbar and the other is 36" long for the Rear Crossbar. The first thing is to weld on the "Pivot".|
|The Pivot is made from solid round bar, about 1½" diameter or bigger. For the Front Crossbar I used a piece of round bar about 9" long, and one 6" long for the Rear Crossbar. The front being longer to allow for a clamping mechanism. It is best to keep these a bit on the long side and then cut them to size later. These are welded to the middle of each Crossbar. They need also to be welded on as square as possible.|
|They are welded onto what will be the top of the Crossbar, also keep the back of them roughly flush with the back of the Crossbar.|
|I put 3 or 4 runs of weld down each side because these welds will take the full weight of the shell.|
|I then decided to add a couple of small fillet pieces on each side of the round bar. These were made from the 1½" by ¼" flat bar, about 1½" long. Here you see one of them tacked in place.|
|Then these are fully welded also. You may have also noticed that my "Round Bar" is not really round, in actual fact it's round with four small flats on it. It doesn't seem to have made any difference to how it works.|
|The other thing you may notice is that all this welding in the one area has caused a very slight bend in the Crossbar, this doesn't seem to affect how it works either.|
|Both Crossbars should now look like this with the Pivot welded on. The next stage is to weld on the ends or Hangers onto each Crossbar. Here is where the main differences are between the two Crossbars, see below.|
Let's start with the Front Crossbar first, it is the shorter one of the two. You will need to make a Hanger at each end of it that the two Mounting Brackets you made previously will bolt too.
|To make these Hangers you will need some 2" wide by ¼" thick flat bar. Cut two pieces 5" long.|
|I also made a couple of little fillet pieces to weld onto the ends of the Crossbar and Hangers you have just made. Start with a 5" long piece of 1½" by ¼" flat bar.|
|If you then cut it in the middle like this, you will make two fillet pieces from it.|
|The first two bits of flat bar are welded to the two ends of the Crossbar as shown. Remember your Round Bar is welded to the top of the Crossbar and these bits of flat are welded to the bottom of the Crossbar.|
|Also the Round Bar points away from the shell and the Flat Bar is welded to the shell side of the Crossbar, if you follow my meaning.|
|The little fillet pieces are then welded onto each end of the Crossbar, supporting the hanging part as shown.|
|The next stage involves drilling the holes for the mounting brackets that you have bolted to the chassis rails, you can either just measure them with a tape measure. Or offer the Crossbar up to the Mounting Brackets on the shell and mark the position of the four holes.|
|If you look closely you will see that the white marks for the holes are offset slightly towards the bottom of the flat bar. This is because I lined the bottom of the flat bar with the bottom edge of the Mounting Brackets.|
|The Front Crossbar should end up looking something like this. Once you are happy that everything will line up OK then you can finish off the welding and drill the four holes. The only other things are the clamping mechanism and something to keep the Crossbar firmly attach to the A-frame but we shall leave this to later.|
|Now for the rear Crossbar. The Hangers on it will bolt directly to the shell using the Two main mounting points for the rear bumper. That's the two holes directly above the ends of the Chassis Rails.|
|Start off by cutting another two pieces of 2" by 1/4" Flat Bar, these need to be 4" in length.|
|Next drill a hole in each bit of Flat Bar. The hole should be about 3/4" from one end and should be the same diameter as the hole in the rear panel of the shell, about 1/2" or so.|
|At this point the Back Panel is at a slight angle so your Flat Bar will need a bend in it to bring it to the vertical. Make the bend about 1½" from the opposite end as your drilled hole as shown by the white line. Then its just a matter of putting it in the vice and hitting it a whack with the hammer.|
|Offer up the Flat Bars to the Back Panel as shown here, the upper end of them needs to be vertical. Trial and error should get it right. This one needs a slight bit more of a bend.|
|The next thing I did was make a couple of small bits of Bar to spread the load inside the shell. You should have 9" or 10" of the 1½" by 3/8" Flat Bar left, cut it in two and drill a hole in the middle of each bit.|
|You will need to shape a couple of V's in each of these to fit over the bracing pieces inside the boot. When fitted they should look like this.|
|With these pieces inside the boot you can now bolt those shaped pieces onto the out side of the back panel. If you look closely you will see that I have fitted some thick rubber between the back panel and the bit of flat bar.|
|Now offer up the rear Crossbar as shown here, the Pivot Bar should end up being horizontal. Therefore remove and bend the Flat Bars until the the bends are correct.|
|Once you are happy then tack weld the Flat Bar in place, offer it all up to the Back Panel again to ensure that the holes all line up OK.|
|Next cut two pieces of 1½" by ¼" Flat Bar about 4½" long, these will make little fillet pieces for the ends of the Crossbar.|
|They will need a little bit of shaping to get them looking tidy, once you are happy with everything then weld them up.|
|I was going to drill a hole in the end of the pivot bar to keep it attached to the A-frame. Instead I just welded a little bit of box to the end of it.|
|Then I was able to put a bolt through it, this will stop it parting company with the A-frame once it is all put together.|
|The finished article, mounted on the rear panel should look something like this.|
Now the making of the part I call "The A Frame". The measurements taken above (details to follow) will give you an idea of how high the top or "Pivot Point" of the A-frame needs to be above the ground.
|First start off with 2 bits of Box Iron about 44" long.|
|One end of each piece of box iron should be cut at an angle of approximately 25 degrees from the square. These will form the first 2 Legs of the "A".|
|Cut another piece of Box Iron "The Foot", about 5 or 6 feet long. This will be the bottom of the "A". The first 2 pieces will be joined on as shown in this photo. The bottom of the Legs should be about 36" apart.|
|Here you see why we cut one end of those first 2 pieces at an angle.|
|Set the bit of pipe or Bush in place at the top of the "A". Measure from the bottom of the Foot up to the centre of the Bush, it needs to be 42". This can be raised or lowered if required by moving the bottom of the legs closer together or further apart.|
|Start off by tack welding the pieces together, at this stage you should be able to stand it up.|
|Once I am sure everything is both square and straight I weld right round the bottom of the legs etc.|
|Now put the Bush back in place, put a couple of small tack welds on the Bush. As this Bush is the "Pivot Point" its best to measure from the ground up to the centre of your Bush and check that it is the required 42" again.|
|Then I put the Crossbar in place, swing it round until each side of the Crossbar is close to each Leg of the A-frame. Make sure there is the same clearance between each Leg of the A-frame and each side of the Crossbar as it is turned around.|
|There is less than ½" clearance on my Spit, as the finger stuck in between the Crossbar and Leg shows, so the clearance needs to be fairly well done. Grind off the tacks, reposition the Bush and re-weld if required.|
|Once everything checks out, I then go ahead and weld the Bush more firmly in place. I then cut and weld in a little Fillet piece between the two Legs of the A-frame. This little Fillet piece will be used for the third bracing Leg.|
|Here are both the front and rear A-frames. On the rear A-frame the Fillet piece is welded in very near the top of the "A". Whereas on the front A-frame it is placed about 5" lower. This is because I shall be putting a clamping mechanism on the front A-frame and I shall need clearance for this.|
|Now for the third Leg. Start off and cut the Foot pieces first, they should be about 16" long. Set this Foot on the ground behind the A-frame and measure up to the top edge of the fillet piece to get the length for the Leg. Remember the Legs for the front and rear A-frame will be a different length.|
|Cut a notch like this in the upper end of the Leg. This will fit up against the Fillet piece.|
|And cut the other end at an angle similar to the first two Legs you made.|
|Here the upper end of the Leg is fitted in against the Fillet piece.|
|Tack these to the A-frame. Check that everything is square etc then the Leg and Foot can be welded in place.|
|Next I get a piece of flat bar, 1½" wide by ¼" thick and 9" long. This is to be used as a strap over the Bush to hold it in place.|
|Start and weld one side and then bend the flat bar over the top of the Bush. If you have Oxyacetylene gear, you will be able to heat it, this will make it easier to bend, otherwise a few good blows with a big hammer should do the job.|
|Once it is bent right over, I then weld down the other side to firmly hold the Bush in place.|
|And here it is with the welding completed.|
|At this stage I tried the Crossbar in position to check that everything was OK.|
|Having been very careful with my use of the box iron I am left with one piece about 5 feet long. I then cut this in two and make a fourth Foot for the A-frame.|
|Here that last Foot is welded in place. Note that there is no Leg for this Foot as clearance is required to allow the shell to turn.|
|I then cut a few small pieces of flat sheet steel about 1½" square.|
|These are welded onto the open end of each Foot, just to make a real tidy job.|
At this stage the rear A-frame is finished and ready for painting. The front A-frame needs a clamping mechanism attached to it. The first one I designed was not 100% successful, I hope to remake it and details of the new version will follow soon.
Fitting it all together.
|The rear stand is the easiest to put together, it should fit in place something like this.|
|The rubbers look as if they have been glued in place, they are really just stuck to the still damp paint.|
|Here it is all ready to be bolted up to the rear of the shell.|
|And the finished article in use.|
|More details on the front stand to follow soon.|
|After using the spit for a while I decided to make another and incorporate a few improvements. These included putting on a better clamping mechanism, moving the pivot point slightly nearer the roof of the car for perfect balance and finally lower the complete spit.|
|Here are details of the new clamp. Basically it is a flywheel bolted to the Pivot Bar of the front crossbar and a little bit of box iron which slides in between the teeth to lock it in position.|
|The first thing you need is two bits of small box iron which will slide inside each other. Something like 1" box and ¾" box.|
|I then got a bolt about 2" long and welded the head of this to one end of the smaller piece of box iron.|
|I ground down the rough bits of welding and spatter so that the bit of box iron with the bolt attached would slide the whole way into the larger bit. Make sure that it all slides nice and freely.|
|The extra piece of flat iron that you see will be used as a spacer piece. This locking mechanism will be fixed to one leg of the front A-frame. The spacer piece will go between the leg and the box iron to ensure that the inner box iron will align properly with the teeth in the flywheel.|
|The spacer piece is welded to the bigger bit of box iron. My flywheel is very close to the leg of the A-frame so I only needed a thin spacer piece.|
|Tack weld the bigger box iron and spacer piece onto the leg of the A-frame close to the flywheel. Slide the smaller piece of box iron up inside the bigger piece and ensure that it locates properly into the teeth of the flywheel. Once you are happy with it you can weld the bigger piece on properly.|
|Further down the leg I used a few pieces to scrap iron to make a little anchor point. It has a hole drilled in it which the threaded end of the bolt will slide through.|
|Here is a clearer picture of that anchor point. As you screw the nut down against the anchor point it forces the smaller piece of box iron further up inside the bigger piece.|
|The other end of the box iron is then forced into mesh with the flywheel. As seen here.|
|And a final picture of the locking mechanism in action before final painting. Now that I have used this locking mechanism for a while I have discovered that most of the time I don't even need to tighten the nut down with a spanner. If it is just done up finger tight it will hold the shell quite steady.|
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