Project Muscrate

They call me…the tin man!

Hi everyone and welcome back! Isn’t this time of the year the best?! All of the holiday merriment is behind us, it’s a new year that follows what could possibly have been one of the worst in history for many people, AND we get to go racing again in a matter of weeks! Well, many weeks for some of us Midwest people but nonetheless, weeks. Guess what? I do believe I will actually get to share in the fun this year! Damn, I am tired of not racing. On to the taters.

This is a Cleco fastener holding tightly on the wheel tub inner panel. These are a must have for sheetmetal fabrication.
Here you can see the mocked up cardboard wheel tub. By transferring the cut line of the cardboard onto the steel version you will be very close to final fit.

In the last articleI extensively covered the process of building your own rear housing narrowing fixture from generally available scrap steel. Then we covered the actual narrowing operation and added a few chassis stiffening braces. Since then I have done a little more finish welding of the housing brackets with the Tig welder, (you know those BIG pictures we use now at DRO really show the details), and set upon the tasks I will cover this month. Namely, installing the interior sheet metal.

First off I must say that this particular facet of building a race car has never been and will never be one of the jobs I look forward to. It’s not that it’s that hard to do but it just seems to take SO much time to make all the pieces and it isn’t until you are 75% done that it begins to look like you have made any progress. But, it has to be done and I guess I’m the man to do it. Actually, once I get rolling it isn’t that bad of a job.

Unfortunately, I let my dad get rid of an old sheet metal break we used years ago and the nice air shears got loaned out to someone, a friend of course, and never returned. So, I did everything the old fashioned way, by hand. I remember a few years ago the vaunted Boss man of DRO, Jeff Burk, said that he wanted to do projects that could be done by anyone with a reasonable amount of tools and a real world budget. Well, if constructing an entire rear floor with a hand sheer and bending metal over a bench isn’t low buck I don’t know what is! The surprising part to some of you may be just how nice the result can be.

The very first part of any “back half” style sheet metal installation is locating the wheel tubs. If you followed along in previous articles you know that at some point I made a couple of lines on the outside of the rear frame rails indicating the axle centerline. Using these marks easily locates the center of each wheel tub front to rear. In my case the tubs and entire floor must be made of steel according to NHRA Super Stock rules.