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Old 11-13-2018, 09:18 PM   #726 (permalink)
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Hi Meiser!
Your Tracker/Sidekick set-up is cool and clean. I had the GM Truck Disc rotors and calipers on the shelf already for the front, and swapped in a 71 flanged 44 with 11" drums on the back. The 9" stock drums were kind of a bummer.

On the downside, the GM calipers are chubby enough that I needed to change from the later Jeep Kelsey Hayes wheels to Vintique wheels with more clearance. Out of curiosity, looking at your Rango pics, the Tracker discs look thinner than the Jeep rotors I'm using, and the calipers seem smaller than the GM Truck calipers. Do you know how the wheel clearance of your Tracker set-up compares to the GM disc conversion? I'm wondering if the Tracker discs and calipers would clear the later "3 bump" Kelsey Hayes 15' stock jeep wheels I kept. I also have a rear Dana 44 with Summers Bros full floater that I could also go with. The hubs on it couldn't mount rotors on the back side due to a tapered back profile, but the Tracker rotors that mount on the front of the hub would probably work, along with your brackets. It would be nice to have the same discs at all four corners like you have on Rango, and it might be something I'd switch over to at some point.

Any idea how the wheel clearance compares?
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Old 02-12-2019, 11:02 PM   #727 (permalink)
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Getting back on track...

Getting moving on this project again after several self-created distractions!
I'm thinking I'll alternate between these general areas as next steps:

-Body panel work. I've started layout of floor boardswith cardboard. Will do these, transmission tunnel, wheel tubs first. I figure these will be easier without a cage in the way. Then I can move to tailgate, side panels. etc...
-Miscellaneous fab stuff like shock mounts, brake and clutch pedals...
-Roll cage fab. My first time bending tube....

Preparing for the cage work, I took the plunge and ordered a JD2 Model 32, hydraulic. I felt like the hydraulic was worth the dough since I have a small garage and there's no permanent space that I could bolt a stand down for manual bending... plus I'm getting creaky in my old age.

I just finished mounting the stuff to my "workstation". I need to get some hydraulic fluid to fire it up. I'm going to practice on some scraps of 1.75" seamed tube I have around to get the hang of it, in parallel to working on sheetmetal and other misc fab loose ends. Then get some DOM. For dies, I went with 1.75" and 1.5" round tube, both 180 degree.

Here's some pics of how I set it up:

The hydraulic pump and dies arrived before the bender itself. The unpainted thing in the vice is the mounting/storage set-up I built for my "workstation" to mount the pump and store the two dies I bought:



The post is for die storage:


This end has the mounting holes for the pump. On the left is the start of the bender mount, (bolted to the headstock location of the workstation old lathe bed):


Pump mounted, 2 dies stored:


When the bender arrived, I finished welding up the bender mount. The top plate is from SWAG, and allows the bender position to be rotated by moving one bolt.


Ready to fill with hydro oil, and do some test bends:
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Old 03-06-2019, 06:36 PM   #728 (permalink)
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Removable Cowl

Getting going on the bodywork. I decided to work on the cowl.

I'm going to try a little something different, which is to make the cowl removable to access wiring and stuff behind the dash. The windshield frame will mount to bosses on the cage that come through the cowl panel at it's lower edge, so the panel can lift off when the windshield is down.

The original cowl dash flange was pretty messed up from taking it apart from the dash, so I trimmed it while retaining the factory bend line. I also wanted the flange to be just a little heavier material as it will attach with button head screws to a fixed dash panel that will span between the roll cage A pillars. Without the flange the panel is pretty floppy, so I used a clamp to set the factory width then traced the outline on a piece of 14g cold roll:





I left the panel taller than needed for now. I'll trim the lower end to set the height later on, along with cutting it back to leave just a 3/4" or 1" flange.

I aligned the outer face of the thicker 14g panel to the outer face of the thinner 18g cowl, so they line up flush on the outside, then tacked it together:



I was originally thinking I'd use the original firewall attachment flange on the cowl and run screws through it to the firewall flange I built, but the cowl flange was pretty marginal width to fit screws, was pretty thin material, and also had lots of irregularities from the original rough spot welds. I decided to make a wider heavier 14g flange and try to fit it to the original cowl.

The blank for this front cowl flange was cut about 2.5" wide, since bending it to form the tapered cowl sides tips the ends relative to the top section, so the blank needed to be wider and then trimmed after forming. I rough formed the blank by clamping it to the firewall flange with a bunch of clamps:



The fit was detailed by hammer and dolly work till I achieved a tight fit.That took a while with my meager skills with a body hammer. Once the fit was good, then I drilled it, mounted some 10-32 PEM nuts in the firewall flange and mounted the cowl flange using some too long button head screws. Will need to get some shorter ones. The PEM nuts worked well on most of the holes but a couple didn't seat well, so I need to figure out how to seat them better. I used a Roper Whitney Jr to set them, but really had to work at it in the 1/8" firewall flange material. A little detail to clean up.



With the flange attached firmly to the firewall, I gradually cut back the original cowl flange to fit it to the new thicker, wider part. To support the cowl while fitting it to the firewall, I clamped two angle iron pieces to the frame rails, at the right height to support the rear of the cowl:




Originally I was going to try to butt fit the cowl flange transition curve to the new thicker flange to make a really smooth transition- but the side taper fit was a problem to get it to work- and getting it aligned evenly the full length was a headache. I thought about using those little rectangular body panel clamps or cleco's but the firewall was in the way for those to be used, and I needed to keep the new cowl flange attached to the firewall flange to keep the fit right between all three parts. I decided to make a lap joint instead, with the cowl sheetmetal overlapping the new flange. This was a lot easier, but still took a lot of time to trim and fit. I didn't want to trim off too much and make big gap!

The lower corners were a little tricky because I wanted the lower side of the panel to be flush with the new flange at the corner- so it will mate well with the body panel that will sit below it. I got this worked out after some pondering. Here it is after fitting:




Once fit, it was tack welded, starting at the center and working outward alternating sides, and clamping next to each tack weld to assure a tight fit at every weld. Here it is all tacked:



After final welding, I intend to try to blend the welds to make a reasonably smooth transition from the flange into the cowl panel.
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Old 03-08-2019, 05:26 PM   #729 (permalink)
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Amazing work man! Always love your updates
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Old 03-09-2019, 06:01 AM   #730 (permalink)
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Outstanding work as always.


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Old 03-09-2019, 07:44 AM   #731 (permalink)
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hah, is that a wood lathe? Nice
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Old 03-09-2019, 09:53 AM   #732 (permalink)
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Thanks guys! Much appreciated. Nice to be making a little progress again.

Daniel, that is indeed a wood lathe bed in the pics. I made it into a workstation that I can mount my vice and other stuff onto. I've also got a working one that was my grandpa's. It's a Delta from the 40's. They had an accessory cross slide and speed reduction pulley set up available for simple, small metal turning. Mine didn't have that, so I hunted the parts down on E-Bay. Here's a pic of the set up with the cross slide and pulleys:



I made the sheet metal tray with hammer formed rolled edges for collecting cutting oil. Before that, cutting oil just dripped all over the place. The lathe can still can be used for wood turning- with some clean up... The set-up works OK for simple turned parts like bosses, and it was cheap to set up since I had the wood lathe already.

While I was looking for the cross slide and pulleys, I bought a lathe bed for the same model for cheap- $40. I set it up with some taller legs and use it as a workstation. I can mount and dismount my vice and other tools and fixtures on the ways. Kind of handy. The aesthetics go well with the ancient Delta table saw I use for a welding table! (It also still works as a saw...)
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Old 03-09-2019, 10:04 AM   #733 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ3BL View Post
Thanks guys! Much appreciated. Nice to be making a little progress again.

Daniel, that is indeed a wood lathe bed in the pics. I made it into a workstation that I can mount my vice and other stuff onto. I've also got a working one that was my grandpa's. It's a Delta from the 40's. They had an accessory cross slide and speed reduction pulley set up available for simple, small metal turning. Mine didn't have that, so I hunted the parts down on E-Bay. Here's a pic of the set up with the cross slide and pulleys:



I made the sheet metal tray with hammer formed rolled edges for collecting cutting oil. Before that, cutting oil just dripped all over the place. The lathe can still can be used for wood turning- with some clean up... The set-up works OK for simple turned parts like bosses, and it was cheap to set up since I had the wood lathe already.

While I was looking for the cross slide and pulleys, I bought a lathe bed for the same model for cheap- $40. I set it up with some taller legs and use it as a workstation. I can mount and dismount my vice and other tools and fixtures on the ways. Kind of handy. The aesthetics go well with the ancient Delta table saw I use for a welding table! (It also still works as a saw...)

This is cool as shit. So much better karma than buying new HF/Jet/Eastwood/whatever crap.
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Old 03-11-2019, 01:11 AM   #734 (permalink)
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I'm with you plym49. I dig older tools. I've got a HF 20 ton press though, and the SWAG stuff makes it pretty handy. I wish I could find a better quality jack for it though- the HF one always seeps hydraulic oil. The 40 year old US made bottle jack I use for lifting doesn't leak a drop.

Back to the project...

Continuing towards body work, I've been playing craft project with cardboard to plan the floor area. I've been re-reading posts for trans tunnel ideas. Meiser's second tunnel, Fixxer's Kubota 3B, Danielbuck's, many others...The ideas are coming together. Overall, I had been weighing Al vs steel, and have decided to go with 18g steel. This makes it easy to just weld the front floors and wheel tubs to the frame rails and/or outriggers with rosette spot welds. There's little need to remove them for access/ replacement. Floor areas that need access will have removable panels. The body side panels will also screw on for easy replacement, since they are more likely to be crunched.

On the tunnel, it will be detachable from the floor so the trans and t-case can be pulled with a cherry picker, leaving the engine in place. I'll also include some removable sections for easy access. Will attempt radiused corners so it's relatively smooth. It's going to be a pain, but hopefully i can pull it off. I plan to make the front floor sections first as a base, then work on the tunnel.

As I puzzled on the floors and trans tunnel, there's some other stuff that I think I'll revise. The clutch arrangement is an issue. I've got my drivetrain pushed up for a flat bottom, and I also pushed the firewall/ floor bend line down to gain more brake and clutch pedal clearance. I'm happy with those decisions, but laying out the floor has made it pretty clear that a conventional clutch fork ain't lookin' too likely!



Moving the firewall bend line down and retaining the same floor angle in the footwell moves the angled section of the floor forward. (You can see the stock bend line marked on the cardboard floor for reference). This is going to be great for brake and clutch pedal clearance, but worsens the clutch fork clearance. The fork hits the floor without being engaged. I think the internal throw-out is the best bet even though I was trying to avoid it. Will have to convert.

You can also see in the above pic that I cut off the additional upper driver's side boss on the AA bell housing to allow the tunnel to fit a little tighter for gas pedal room.

The other thing that wasn't working too well is the overdrive shift linkage that I made previously. It's located at the back of the trans, rather than the conventional Warn location ahead of the t-case shifters. Thinking through the tunnel layout, I decided that the conventional location is a better bet- since the area above the front drive shaft can't really be used for anything and moving it up there will allow the tunnel to fit tighter over the t-case. Here's the first mount I had built:



I took the plunge and moved it forward. The pivot pin and clevis pieces I built before were recycled by turning the welds off in my lathe. I also retained the D-18 shift lever, but revised the lower section to fit the new location. Here's some pics of it coming apart and going back together:













The shift lever was also bent to align it better in the shifter forrest:





With the transmission mounted so high in the chassis, the shifter is really high- makes me feel like Ed Big Daddy Roth's "Mr Gasser" in his 57 chevy, or "Mother's Worry". I plan to cut it down once the seats are in. That will bring it closer to the OD shifter. Overall, I'm much happier with how the OD shifter fits in the layout.

Will firm up the floor panel shape, and then cut some cold rolled.

Last edited by CJ3BL; 03-11-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 03-11-2019, 06:02 PM   #735 (permalink)
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Good work! It's nice to see this one going again.
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Old 03-11-2019, 09:36 PM   #736 (permalink)
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Thanks Meiser! Feels good to get moving on it again!
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Old 03-24-2019, 06:26 PM   #737 (permalink)
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Front Floors

Cut and fit the front floors:



I sprung for a bead roller, because I want to make some beads on the rear floor and wheel tubs, but also thought I'd try rolling the inside edges of the floors to stiffen them up a bit. It did make the panel more rigid, but I may still need a support under the driver's side- where it overhangs beyond the frame rail towards the transmission- it's pretty far inboard of the rail, and flexes a fair amount. Might be OK once a tunnel is attached. Will see... First time using a roller. Kind of fun.

Here's some details I sorted out along the way on my first attempt at sheet metal work:

I used a Ron Covell 5/16" roll over die on the free edges. It worked OK as long as you keep the panel pushed hard against the die guide to keep it from drifting out of the die. I couldn't use the roller on the radiused inside corners, so worked those with a t-bar and nylon hammer, with a flat dolly to keep the panel from deforming next to the rolled edge. Here's the corner before and after:





The firewall had a little issue that needed to be addressed. I had these little open corners that were a result of my not planning ahead well enough, and from the width of the material I had when I made it, and I needed to get them sorted out so the trans tunnel cover would work the way I want it to. I made a little patch piece to fix the driver's side. Will do similar on the passenger side:

Here's the problem spot:



Here's the patch piece, a 1/8" thick little slice on the bottom, welded to a 14g piece I formed to match the curved vertical section- ready to weld in:



Welding it in with TIG was challenging - a vertical inside corner, hard to see and reach with the filler rod with the firewall panel in the way. Smoothed it out afterwards, so the floor panel and tunnel panel will fit over it. Then trimmed off some of the lower edge of the firewall bulge to provide more clearance for pulling the trans with engine in place. Will still have to lower the rear of the engine a little, but I think it will work out. Here it is with the floor fitted:



This shot of the passenger side floor shows the back edge, which faces the rear tire. It's got a bent 3/4" flange - facing down, and the lower edge is also rolled to make a smooth transition. Instead of a stock style wheel well "box", I plan round tubs that follow the rear wheel arches of the frame. The front edge of the wheel tub will attach to the floor near this formed flange.



Next up I think I'm going to try to tackle the trans/xfer case tunnel. Planning it out is making my head spin a bit...

Last edited by CJ3BL; 03-24-2019 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 03-25-2019, 08:07 PM   #738 (permalink)
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Good stuff! Keep up the momentum.

The tunnel is always a challenge. The biggest pain in the rear is that it WILL move with lots of welding. I'm still not sure the best way to make one. I like a removable tunnel other than it will spring more when you weld it. It is very nice to be able to work on stuff from the top. I would also try and give yourself enough extra tunnel length, even if it is removable, to pull the transfer case from below if needed. The engine and trans will move move around on the mounts. I think being able to fit your fingers around everything is about the right amount of minimum space. The space for the drivers right foot gets tight quick.
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Old 03-26-2019, 04:08 PM   #739 (permalink)
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Thanks for the pointers Meiser! I've studied your tunnel variants and appreciate all the ideas from those, as well as your additional thoughts.

Weld warpage is always a challenge for me, and I can see the tunnel has all the ingredients to be real trouble. I'll really have to pay attention to it in the design and making the welds.

On the clearance amount , I'm thinking along the same lines- about 1/2' to 3/4' at the closest spots.

Interesting point about the t-case removal. The tunnel needs to stay pretty tall over the t-case to remove it easily with the tunnel on. I had been thinking about making the tunnel more tightly form fitting over the t-case, reducing it's height and with more side slopes - but making it too form fitting could make it tough to access the upper t-case bolts, and to slide it back with the tunnel on. You make a good point that it would be nice to be able to pull it from top or bottom, and I think I'll go in that direction and leave more room. Thanks!

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Old 03-26-2019, 04:36 PM   #740 (permalink)
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Radius bender

I want to have some radiused corners on the tunnel to make it somewhat smooth. I think this fits with the overall flat fender body design- flat surfaces with some curves to smooth the edges- a good example being the flat fenders themselves. I settled on a 1/2" radius. I am thinking I'll make the radius corners with a combination of bead roller rounding (45 degrees on mating panels welded mid-corner for a 90 degree bend - mid corner should reduce weld warp a little) , and also full formed on some corners using a 1"diameter bar on my cheap sheet metal brake. Ron Covell has a video on You Tube on making a simple radius corner bending brake. I used the idea from that to make a similar bar attachment on the simple brake I've got.

I took the upper hold down off the brake, and welded guide tubes to a 1" diameter cold rolled bar to position it on the top in place of the original hold down. Bending a small sample of 18g showed that the bar by itself flexed too much to get a decent bend. Amazing how flexible a 1" bar of steel is! So I ran down to a metal supplier and got a chunk of 1" x 1.5" X 0.120" from the cuts bin to reinforce it. This helped a lot, and it makes a decent bend. Hopefully it will do OK on a larger sheet. Here's some pics (When I use the brake, it's bolted on to the lathe bed "workstation" discussed earlier, as shown in the first pic).






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Old 03-29-2019, 07:25 AM   #741 (permalink)
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very nice work!
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Old 03-29-2019, 09:19 AM   #742 (permalink)
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I really enjoy seeing your work. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 03-30-2019, 08:55 PM   #743 (permalink)
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This thread is proof that the most important tool is what's between your ears.
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Old 04-10-2019, 01:12 PM   #744 (permalink)
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Tunnel Progress

Thanks for your nice comments CSP, GTOffroader, and oldtimingman! Very much appreciated! CSP, the transmission tunnel is testing the space between my ears big time! It's really a puzzle to figure out!

After playing with cardboard to figure out some ideas, I got the general game plan together. The overall plan is to have three sections. Primary transmission tunnel, a transmission access panel on passenger side, and a transfer case cover. All are removable.

Since I'm going for some radiused bends, the cardboard mock up is a little challenging since the cardboard doesn't hold a bend, and springs back. Hard to mock up the whole thing at once. I roughed out the overall idea. and figure I'll make final cardboard templates for each piece as I go along - fitting the cardboard template for each part to fit previously completed steel pieces as I go.

Here's some progress pics:

The first part I made was a ramp for under the accelerator pedal. It's got a 1/2"radius bend made with the radius bending set up described previously. Then I hand bent the flanges on the edge of my table saw top, with some clamping cauls I made to fit the part. The inside edge that's too close to the bell housing will get trimmed later:







Next I made a final cardboard template for the main transmission tunnel, and bent it up using the same 1/2" radius forming set-up on my brake:





Getting the radius bends positioned accurately and with the right angles was pretty important to get the transmission clearances I wanted. Here's a couple of things I worked out. I'm sure pro sheet metal folks have this all figured out, but it's new to me so had to puzzle it out a bit. The bend angles I chose are 58 and 32 degrees, summing to 90 on each side. These gave it a balanced look with the desired clearance over the worst bumps around the shift tower.

To get the bend placed along the sheet at the right location, I first marked the centerline of the bend - ie half of the radius bend would be on each side of the line once formed. I then calculated the circumference length spanned by the length of the bend through the targeted angle, then from that, calculated how far back from the front edge of the 1" bar of the brake that the bend centerline would need to be to have the line end up at the center of the bend once formed. I made a second mark on the part at that distance to align the part in the brake. Then I lined up the part in the brake with that mark aligned to the front of the bar, as shown in the pic.

When bending, I used a protractor set to the desired angle and eye balled the protractor against the flat top of the forming bar on the brake ... and crept up on the angle as I got close.

Worked out pretty good.





Fit the accelerator pedal ramp to the main tunnel, then clamped to the table saw top to assure right angle alignment of the part surfaces, and tacked in place:



Here's the tacked parts back on the rig. (The hole for the shift tower is cut close to the tower, as it makes it easy to see if the tunnel is positioned consistently while I'm making it. I'll open up the hole later for more clearance). :



Next will make an end cap for the back of the tunnel...

Last edited by CJ3BL; 04-12-2019 at 12:05 AM.
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Old 04-10-2019, 02:16 PM   #745 (permalink)
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Tunnel continued

To close up the back of the transmission tunnel, I hammer formed an end cap. I wanted the same 1/2" corner bend radius as the tunnel part at the sides, but a larger radius at the top. There's lots of room under that back area, and I think a larger radius looks less boxy. Part of the idea I had was to emulate the original 3B cover that has a larger radius at the back and tighter radius at the side corners. I went for a 1.125" radius in the top back area.

The hammer form is made from two pieces of 3/4" MDF glued together, and shaped with a wood plane. To get the edges square, I clamped the rough cut form on the table saw top and used a hand wood plane on it's side to keep the cut at 90 degrees to the face of the form. It's also elevated by putting the 1/2' clamping caul piece under it on the table top - so the plane blade makes full contact.





Formed the cap with a slapper. The first part I made was a dud. I didn't have the pie cuts at the corners worked out very well- it got pretty crumpled. I marked that first one up with what I thought would be better pie cuts , flattened it out with a hammer, and used it as a guide to make a second blank. Got it better the second time around. I made the cuts a little small, and opened them up as I formed it. The second part is in the pics and is a lot better.






The T-Case cover will attach to a flange all the way around the back edge of the transmission tunnel. I cut and hand formed the start of this flange at the back of the end cap. At the driver's side of the transmission tunnel, I wanted to have a stepped edge, to allow the transfer case cover to fit flush with the side of the transmission tunnel, and to have this make a larger radius curve into the tunnel end cap.

I didn't extend the step in this flange edge all the way along the rear of the tunnel end cap, as the top area of the t-case attachment flange is an inside corner so a raised edge from the attached t-case cover isn't a rough exposed edge, and to make a step in this area would make the flange width need to be wider- reducing access to the t-case bolts. So the radiused top of this little part below doesn't have the step. The step will resume on the passenger side where the t-case cover joint will be more exposed, like on the driver's side of the tunnel.

I made a little part that accomplishes this stuff. I might have been able to do this on the bent tunnel itself rather than with a separate piece - eliminating a weld seam - if I had left more material in place on the tunnel. In the end though I think it would have been too difficult to make that work, so I'm glad I didn't try that. The separate piece I made makes it a lot easier to transition the step ledge with the lower mounting flange, and upper radiused corners. Here's the part:



The step was formed with a bead roller (new toy!) I left the panel flat at each end to then form a flat mounting flange to mate to the floor, and a radiused upper transfer case cover flange.



The upper radius was formed by hand over a 1.75" diameter tube held in a vice.

The flat floor flange was formed in the brake. A little trick here is that I used little pieces of sheet metal on each side of the formed step so that the brake clamp wouldn't smash the step while bending the flange.



Once this part was done, the tunnel, cap, and side stepped pieces were all trimmed to fit closely together:



Then tack welded everything together, with each tack clamped to get the alignment of the butt fit joints as close as I could get it. I won't final weld it until all pieces of the tunnel are in place to provide some structural integrity to minimize warping.




Last edited by CJ3BL; 04-12-2019 at 12:04 AM.
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Old 04-12-2019, 09:34 AM   #746 (permalink)
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That was a pretty weak explanation in the last tunnel posts of how I lined up the radius bends using the radius bar brake... Here's a cleaned up sketch from my shop scribbles. I made the sketch so I could remember what I did in the future. Figured I'd post it, should anyone be able to use the info to do something similar. The goofy 52 and 38 degree angle examples shown are what I was using on the tunnel with a 1" diameter bar. The 45 and 90 degree examples with the 1" are pretty handy. Hopefully it's readable.

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Old 04-22-2019, 12:32 AM   #747 (permalink)
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Tunnel Torture

Worked on the passenger side of the tunnel. It will have a removable panel for access. (Thanks to many folks - Meiser, Fixxer Kubota 3B, DanielBuck... for the great idea to steal!)

I made another larger bend radius tool to match the larger radius I hand formed on the driver side t-case cover flange corner. That little part was easy to bend by hand, but these panels are bigger, so best to use the brake. Made the brake radius form with a piece of 1.75" dia. tube and a square tube stiffener. To position it right on my brake, I needed to notch the 1.75" tube to inset and weld two smaller tubes to slide over the alignment/clamping bolts. I had bought a tube notcher in preparation for roll cage work, and it worked perfect to make the cuts to inset the guide tubes. Nice to use the notcher for the first time!

One thing leads to another... the stock front bar on my cheap brake was only 1" high and wouldn't make a full 90 degree bend around the 1.75 diameter forming tube, so I cut up the front of the brake and made a taller front section using the original handles & hinge pins but with a new section of 2" x 1.5" heavy angle I had around, and added some reinforcement gussets. Works much better. Here's the larger radius set-up:



Cardboard templates were not working too well to figure out bend line positions with radius bends, so I cut some strips of the sheetmetal to mock up the bend positions to get the profile/fit I wanted. I marked the center line distances as I worked with the strip, and then used those bend center line distances when laying out the panel itself. The pic below is the first passenger side panel clamped in place. Planning the bends using the test strip worked out well to get the clearances over the t-case where I wanted them. There's plenty of clearance for operational movement, but I kept it as low as I could while still allowing for the t-case shift housing to clear when pulling the t-case rearward with the transmission cover left in place.



The panel has a step formed with a bead roller on each side. The rear facing step is for flush attachment of the t-case cover. The step towards the front is for attachment of the removable side access panel. I bead rolled the steps first, then the made the large radius bends, then hand formed the lower mounting flange bends. I found that rolling the step first and then making the large radius bend through it kept the step sharper than if I made the radius bend first. When making the radius bend on the stepped panel, I used small scraps of sheet metal to support the steps in the brake.

In the above shot, there's also the beginning of a raised tower for the shift boots. I'm using a stock Willys wagon boot for the t-case. It's a more flexible design than the stock CJ part, bit still low profile. For the Overdrive shifter, I'm using a stock Willys PTO boot. I kind of like the small profile. Got 'em both from Walck's.

To the right in the above pic is the small strip of sheetmetal I used to work out the bends for the next part that will go at the front. It really helped to set the bends so that the upper face of the two adjacent panels are co-planar, to support the removable panel that will sit in the center.

Here's a shot with the front panel formed and both tacked in place. The lower side of the center cover section will have a hammer formed panel at the rear corner to transition inward in front of the t-case housing, for little more foot room.

Took a while to get to this point. Had to make the front and rear side panels twice to get them worked out close to the way I wanted them. Yikes, these tunnels are hard!



One little fit detail that I worked out on the front panel was getting the lower mounting flange to fit well at the bend in the floor at the foot well.

The floor panel bend has a small radius, and the side panel has a sharp corner from bending the adjacent flanges. On the first one I made, the sharp corner where the flange sections met caused the panel to high center and rock on the floor panel radius. I also screwed up the angle of the flanges on that one, so the second time around I was more careful and tried to get a better fit. In addition to planning the bend angle and position better, After the flange forming, I radiused the joint where the two flange sections meet, using a body hammer and a small t-dolly:



Here's another shot of where it's at so far. I'm planning to do the side cover and shifter area next, then the area over the bell housing. The flange I formed in the firewall has some fit issues and in fixing that I plan to open it up a bit more (again!) to make it easier to pull the transmission from above. Steady progress....

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Old 04-24-2019, 07:15 PM   #748 (permalink)
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Great stuff. Keep it up.

Do you think you have at least 'fingers' clearance around everything?
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Old 04-25-2019, 12:43 AM   #749 (permalink)
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Thanks Meiser! The tunnel is trying my patience, but I'm gettin' there.

I've been keeping your "finger clearance" guidance in mind, and while I have some tight spots I think it's OK. That's an easy way to check clearances as it comes together. Thanks!

The openings around all of the shifters are currently too tight- on purpose. I plan to open them up as I get farther along. Having the opening clearance tight around the T-18 shift tower is serving as a quick visual alignment reference. Makes it very easy to see if the thing has moved. On the t-case and overdrive sticks, I kept the openings small until I get other parts fitted, as I didn't want to cut too much off before I check how the boot mounting works out. Once I'm confident in where they will be positioned, then I'll open up the holes. In general I'm leaving a little extra material until I know for sure how far I can trim it. Stuff moves around a bit, and also I've had to change my ideas a little.

I'll be glad when this part is done!
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Old 05-07-2019, 08:31 PM   #750 (permalink)
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Tunnel continued...

Slugging it out on the transmission tunnel. Quite the time consuming little thing! Here's some progress pics on the passenger side details.

This is the start of the removable side access panel. The "cap" at lower left has a hammer formed 1/2" radius corner and will weld into the panel to cover the front corner of the t-case.



Here it is with the cap attached. There's a bead rolled step at each end of the lower mounting flange to overlap the adjacent panel flange.



Next came the shift tower section. In an earlier photo I had a flat topped 1/8" plate that the shift boots would mount to. This didn't work out because the t-case shifters and O/D shifter height difference at their pivot points caused a problem with the original low style Willys Wagon t-case boot I want to use. When mounted well above the pivot, the boot was stretched too much by the shifter throw. So I made a staggered height plate to mount the boots on. It's also angled to get the t-case boot down closer to the pivot points. It would have been simpler to use big accordion boots that can support a longer throw, but I wanted to see if I could keep things more compact. This decision made the tower/access cover more complicated though.

The 1/8" plate is drilled and tapped for 10-32 button head screws to mount the shifter boot rings. There's also one PEM nut in the sheet metal tunnel panel, which I punched after fitting the plate. The second pic shows the t-case boot ring tightened down with some shims under it to simulate the boot thickness so I can get the upper hole position right to punch and mount the PEM nut.

Along the lower edge of the boot mounting plate is an 18g piece that acts as a seal surface for the side cover to mate to. It's welded on from the inside so there's a relatively clean recessed edge for the access cover to nestle into.





With the shift tower section welded to the tunnel and lower access panel ready, I made the upper panel piece for the access cover.



Here's the welded access cover. The inside corner joint was tough - hard to get the TIG electrode and filler rod in the corner and still see anything! Overall, my welding on the 18g with all the corners and angles is not as steady as I would have liked, but I didn't mess anything up too bad.





Here's a posed shot with the boots in place to show how it all works:



The access panel will attach with 10-32 button head screws into PEM nuts in the adjacent panels. I may set these now to stabilize the assembly more before fitting and welding the bell housing/ firewall section.
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