Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Sorting The Front Sway Bar

First and foremost, I have to thank my friend Peter Ward for the donation of this fluro light fitting; while ideally I'd love four of these, even just one has made a dramatic difference to the "engine bay" area of the garage.

I've installed it in this orientation to allow light to get around each side of the engine; if it was centered to the car this would be a little harder. It's only held up with a couple of screws so will be easy enough to move if required.

I put the car up on ramps and thought I should take the opportunity to show this view of the new extractors 

The swaybar in the E21 is also the front caster arms and basically very important in maintaining the geometry of the front wheels while driving. I had to cut it to fit the motor and have been very aware of this fact when briefly test driving the vehicle as it puts a lot of load on the mounts when the bar is not connected.

The photo above shows a 6mm thick bracket I found at Bunnings. Being a public holiday, nothing else was open today and they didn't have any other flat steel, so hopefully this does the job.

It was already drilled with 100mm center spacing so I just made use of those since it still looked like it would clear ok under the car (originally I was going to go for 80mm)

This set of shelves in the back shed is always ready with some spares or donor parts; last month it was the spare head to bolt the extractor flange to while building them - this time they offered up a second hand Ford Laser KC TX3 long side CV shaft as suitably sized donor bar

Stripped shortly after of their CV joints. Conveniently, the CV shaft has an OD of 25mm, while the original bar has an OD of 23mm. The CV shaft is tapered slightly to hold the boots on where I cut; this comes into play later.

Corners of the plate rounded for neatness.

Test piece welded to check compatibility, strength and welder settings.

Seems to be ok. Ultimately if it breaks in the car it won't cause a catastrophic failure, I'll notice it acting strangely pretty quick and will also be checking these parts every time I use them to see how it's wearing.

Took it out and put in the vice and beat the hell out of it with a hammer. Was more in danger of damaging the bench than the weld. 

Car on ramp showing well lit bonnet.

This is what I needed fluro's to solve - extremely harsh shadows making it impossible to see what you're doing when leaning over the top of your work.

Here's what difference the fluro makes.

Tim Knowles tracked down a 15/16" which he graciously lent to me to allow me to complete this job. I only have 1/2" in my own collection.

Because I don't have intermediate drills, the bit chattered quite a bit but ultimately because the material is so thick, made a round hole despite being a bit rough on one side. The roughness on the initial side actually helped when fitting the CV shaft bar as it is slightly broader and allows the CV shaft tapers to fit just a touch better (initially I just wanted a 25mm hole so both CV shaft and original sway bar would fit through entirely)

Here's a hole part-way drilled, you can see the out-of-round chatter results at the top of the hole but also that further down it's rounded out nicely. It's good enough for mig welding anyway ;)

Hole drilled.

One plate finished.

Pushed in until it could go no further, conveniently the taper stops it falling further, and it's in the perfect location. Right angle magnet used to hold for initial tacking on bar side.

Then fully welded on the ends. This means if a weld fails at one end, the bar should actually still stay encapsulated in the flat section.

Hung over the remains of the factory sway bar.

Tied to serpentine belt at desired height. As the car hits bumps evenly, the whole swaybar will turn slightly so I needed to ensure the bar wouldn't hit the ground or the belt assembly/sump in normal suspension travel.

Both ends of the swaybar have 6mm flat steel jammed in the suspension side between the chassis rail and bar, this is to level the bar out as it would have been prior to cutting - the rubber bushes was quite deformed prior to this step.

The test piece came in handy as a lever 

Done as per the other side, tacked on the bar side and welded on the ends. It's not fully seam welded on the bar side as if the weld creates a weakness then it's possible to break off just before the weld. The tacks will not suffer this problem.

Done! I'll have to take it for another quick drive to see it if improves the steering feel somewhat; I imagine the big difference will be the noise I had on turning in the test drive video.

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