Scott Helms prepares to make...
Scott Helms prepares to make another set of measurements for our seat mounting hardware. Everything in the cockpit depends on where you want the driver. Seat placement should be determined before you drill the first hole.
Our front-end suspension is...
Our front-end suspension is complete. Normally, the brake lines drop from the top of the wheelwell, but since we are using Wilwood master cylinders on the floorboard we tried to route all the lines as low as possible. This meant we had to be mindful of staying clear of the tires movements.
Ford makes a camber/caster...
Ford makes a camber/caster adjuster plate that is really helpful when dealing with a strut suspension. Unfortunately, our wheelwell braces interfere with the full travel of the adjuster plates. This probably will call for some time with the hacksaw later on.
Our Wilwood pedals are sitting...
Our Wilwood pedals are sitting on aluminum spacers to give more clearance for the brake lines, which connect in the back. One master cylinder controls the front brakes and connects to a T bulkhead in the firewall. The other controls the rear drums; that line is routed to the side of the driveshaft hump and stays inside the car as much as possible to keep it away from the elements. Because the master cylinders are on the floor, we mounted the reservoirs up on the firewall and made sure they are the highest points in the system. If you dont youll be cussin yourself when it comes time to bleed the brakes.
In the engine compartment...
In the engine compartment the T bulkhead splits the brake lines to the right and left discs. We routed the line to the right front against the inside of the driveshaft tunnel to keep it out of the way. We bent everything to fit and then cut off the extra.
The original brake line ran...
The original brake line ran across the back of the pumpkin. We routed our new lines across the front to make it easier to get to the rear gears. Notice the coiled-wire cover that protects the lines from punctures.
Bradley Helms secures all...
Bradley Helms secures all the new brake lines using C-clips and a Pop rivet gun.
Lowbuck Tools makes a neat...
Lowbuck Tools makes a neat tubing notcher thatsguess whatcheap. We are using it to notch the seat spacers we had to make. The notcher isnt hydraulic, so make sure the piece of tubing you are using for a pullbar is plenty long.
Yours truly using our new...
Yours truly using our new Miller welding outfit to weld up washers to our tubing spacers. Actually, we had to throw these away and use ones Scott fabricated. After taking one look at my handiwork, he said my welds looked like goose poop on a pump handle. I dont know what that means, either.
This shot shows the hardware...
This shot shows the hardware Butler Built provides to attach the back of the seat to the rollcage. One bracket is welded to the horizontal back tube. Another bracket with a 90-degree bend bolts to it and the back of the seat. This allows some flexibility of movement later on. As you can see, at this point we are still double checking placements before we break out the welder.
Before Project Mudslinger had cross-threaded its first nut on a bolt, we spent a lot of time gathering information from everyone we could find with racing experience. What are we going to need? How much time is it going to take to get a car built? What does it take to be competitive? And then there was the one Im sure every racer has asked: How in the world can it cost so much?
In our conversations with other racers and car builders Ive noticed that many of them refer to building a race car as an art. This analogy has merit; the Renoirs and Picassos of the chassis building community are people like Smokey Yunick, Junior Johnson, Eddie Dickerson and Banjo Matthews.
Then there are the builders who are kind of like that guy doing caricatures for 10 bucks down by the mallit looks pretty good, but youre sure theres no way your nose is that big or your hairline that thin.
The Project Mudslinger crew one day hopes to be building the racing equivalent of the Mona Lisa, but sometimes it feels a lot more like a paint-by-numbers Elvis on black velvet. Part of the problem stems from the fact that we are trying to build a shop from scratch at the same time were building the car. That means that more than once our progress has been stopped cold by something as ridiculous as not having the right fastener. That probably wont change until we can build up a decent bolt buckettake a tip from us and dont go racing without one.
Although progress has been slow, we were able to make some headway on the chassis while our engine was being prepared at Johnsons Machine Shop (see Shoehorn, Please! for more details). First on the to-do list was the front suspension. We are replacing the existing A-arms with new ones from Ford Racing Performance Parts. They have all the same angles but are upgraded with low-friction ball joints. But before installing them in the car, we upgraded the bushings with a set of Polygraphite racing bushings from Performance Suspension Technology. We also ordered a brake rebuild kit from PST that keeps us within the rules for stock brakes but replaces just about everything except the rotors and calipers up front and the drums in back.
We are using Bilsteins shocks and struts because it is one of the few companies that produces a circle track racing-quality unit for a stock Mustang. Both the struts up front and the shocks in back are a mono-tube design, which helps ensure consistency lap after lap. We ordered ours with the companys in-house valving specs, but Bilstein can produce shocks with almost any damping and rebound numbers you can dream up. The only problem we encountered is the struts are made to late model specs, and our 93 spindles were a quarter-inch too large for the mounting bracket. We had to take the spindles to a machinist to get the strut tabs shaved down to the correct thickness. To make sure we didnt alter any of the steering geometries and wind up crabwalking down the track, we cut an eighth-inch off of each side instead of taking the easy way out and lopping a quarter-inch off either the front or back. The shocks are matched with Blue Coil racing springs. We are starting off with a 750-pound spring in the right front, 650 in the left front and 175 on both sides in the back. Just to make sure, we tested all four on a friends spring checker, and each one checked out exactly at the marked spring rate.
One of Project Mudslingers design goals with the car is to move the drivers position nearly into the back seat. That means moving the pedals back as well. To do that we scrapped the existing hardware and ordered up a set of Wilwood floor-mount brake and clutch pedals. The brake pedals feature two master cylinders to separate the front and back brake systems. A secondary advantage is getting rid of the very heavy and badly positioned (for racing) stock power-assisted master cylinder. Wilwoods units are much lighter, located down low on the floorboard and make it easy to adjust the brake bias front to back.
Because replacing the stock master cylinder with floor units meant re-routing a lot of the brake lines, we decided to go ahead and replace all the lines just in case there was any trash in there from years in the junkyard. As soon as it was too late we began having second thoughts. Trying to get the multiple bends in the steel lines so that they follow the contours of the carand arent hanging out in spaceis about as easy as giving a cat a bath. Also, a brake line flange tool is an expensive little gadget; if you know somebody who has one, make friends quick and ask to borrow it.
Finally, we mounted the pedals where they felt comfortable in relation to the seat, but that didnt leave room to attach the brake lines at the back of the master cylinders. The cylinders were coming into contact with the floorboard where it begins sloping up to meet the firewall. Instead of cutting a hole in the sheetmetal and exposing the brakes to the elements, we raised the pedal assemblies up approximately a half-inch by cutting spacers out of aluminum. Not pretty, but it works.
It was about this time we began noticing all types of odds and ends that we either had forgotten or didnt know we needed. Mail-order racing warehouses are a great idea and can save regular folks a lot of money, but its hard to replace the value of the local race shop. Bradley Auto Parts is our local shop, and we are very fortunate it has taken us under its wing with a lot of good information. It also supplied us with brake line, a coiled-wire cover to protect the lines from punctures, fittings and everything else we needed at the last minute.
Overall, we are happy with how the brake system turned out. Racing is all about getting advantages, and we hope the lightweight Wilwood components will give us better weight distribution when the car is complete. The extra work was a bit of a pain considering many racers in this class use the stock pedals, master cylinder and brake lines, but its like the old farmer says, If you want the field plowed, sometimes you gotta look at a mules butt.
Once the front end was complete, we temporarily mounted a set of wheels and tires to make sure none of the brake lines would interfere with the tires, either through suspension travel or steering (most of our lines are nowhere near where the originals were located). We ordered up six 13x7 inch spun-steel wheels from Diamond Wheel and two sets of American Racer dirt tires from Butlers Inc. (one set of soft compound and one set of medium), which should give us some flexibility in setups.
Finally, we are also beginning the process of mounting our Butler Built racing seat. Butler Built offers several different types of mounting hardware for its seats. Thats what we are using to secure the back, but our seat hoop is a little too short to match up with Butler Builts hardware. We are making our own mounting hardware with one-inch tubing and heavy-duty washers. The tubing is actually only a spacer to hold the seat at the right height; its notched to fit the seat hoop, the washer is welded on top and then the seat is bolted directly to the seat hoop with the piece of tubing in between. Miller Electric sent us a Millermatic 185 welder, and this was our first chance to try it out.