This morning, I picked up the VW chassis with the new floor pans. I wasn’t very happy with the quality of the work I received. First of all, the restoration company installed a set of floor pans that they had in stock. Theses were the flimsy Brazilian ones. They didn’t seem to want to go to the effort of ordering the heavy duty pans that I asked for. “We use these all the time and they work out just fine,” was what I was told. Perhaps they’re fine for them, but I wanted the heavier ones. If they want to earn repeat business, they need to listen to their customers.
I took some measurements of the holes in the old floor pans to determine the locations of the seat positioners. The dimensions might be useful when designing the new sub-frame. Perhaps I can add brackets to the sub-frame to tie in the seat positioners and seat-belt anchor points, rather than just bolting them thru the floor pans.
The restoration company then charged me for labor to remove the jacking points, seat rails and other fixtures that I didn’t want on the flimsey floor pans. If they had ordered the pans I asked for, I wouldn’t have needed to pay this charge. You can order pans with most (if not all) of this stuff having never been installed in the first place. If they had used the proper pans, they wouldn’t have needed to have a bunch of holes (from drilled-out spot welds) welded shut. They missed some of the holes too and, when I got the chassis back to my shop, wound up spending about 2 hours with a brazing torch closing them off.
Then, they had the audacity to charge me more than double for these inferior pans. I could have picked them up from Chirco (Tucson, AZ) for less than half of what they charged me.
The quality of the welding was mediocre. The restorer figured that they’d look just fine when the chassis was powder coated. I figured that a poor welding job – with a lot of blobs, spatter, drips and grinder marks — would only look like a powder coated poor welding job.
The final insult occurred when the restorer gave me a lecture on how he hated it when people tried to get him to do the job “inexpensively” and then never came back. He insisted that he treats his REGULAR customers very well. Uh-huh. I asked him for a quote on a set of EMPI disc brakes for the rear of the car and his price was about $150.00 more than Chirco charges. I also asked him for a quote on rebuilding the transaxle and his price was about double what I can get from Chirco for a rebuilt unit. I don’t mind paying Cadillac prices for Cadillac work but I do mind paying Rolls-Royce prices for Ford Pinto work.
While I was there, I asked them to press out the ball joints in my four trailing arms. The owner said that he’d be happy to do it, now that he had his hydraulic press fixed. Right. What did I find when he took me back into his shop? — two guys wailing on my trailing arms with a pair of sledge hammers. That’ll be great for the castings. What do you think the odds are that this company will be getting any more of my work? The owner probably thinks that his work is outstanding and would point to his wall full of trophies (from many years back). My opinion is somewhat different. I bet I know why he doesn’t get a lot of repeat business.
In the afternoon, I spent about 4 hours grinding off poor welds, brazing holes on the floor pans shut and doing a bunch of filling (with brass) to make the bottom of the floor pans look at least marginally acceptable. I managed to complete the work on the bottom of the floor pan. In a few days, I’ll need to flip it over and correct the damage to the top. There’s probably another 12-15 hours of work that needs to be done. It won’t be perfect, but it will be serviceable. The top of the floor pans will be covered with carpet, so the poor welding job won’t show. Perhaps if I undercoat the bottom with a sound deadening material, it won’t show either. My main concern is that I leave no holes in the pan unfilled — where rust could take hold.
I checked out the data plate on the G.E. motor. Interestingly, there is no G.E. data plate – only a Bradley one that gives the Part Number (G125000-1) and Serial Number (JS88-436-JS). Rats! Now I have no way of knowing if the motor I have is a G.E. 5BT1346B50 or not.
The data plate on the Lester Charger was a bit more useful…
DC Volts: 12/96
Type: 12/96 LCR25-8ET
AC Volts: 115/208-230
AC Amps: 19
Freq.: 60 Hz.
DC Amps: 25
No work on the car today, but I did receive a set of drawings from Mike Brown of Electro Automotive that showed details of a set of battery boxes and support frames for a Bradley GT II conversion that he had performed back in 1982. These will be very interesting to study and perhaps use as a model for my new sub-frame. Thanks Mike!
I rode the Red Rock Loop twice (bicycle), along with a trip down to SR 160, solo, on Saturday. This was a 68-mile ride with about 5400 feet of climbing. It was the first time I had ever ridden the red Rock Loop Road twice in one day. I chose to do this instead of riding in the Tour de Summerlin which was also held today. the Summerlin ride has gotten just too expensive ($50-$60) and, as far as I can tell, the money doesn’t support a charity — it just goes to the race promotor and the Homeowners Association. Sunday was sort of a recovery day.
Mark sent me an e-mail this morning with our new web address (www.electricar.us) and instructions on how to log on to administrate my own blog for the rebuild of the Bradley. I spent about two hours becoming familiar with the blog software and set up about half a dozen entries – with progress photos. This is going to be neat and it will probably wind up being – mostly – an on-line version of my (Microsoft Word) building log.
This afternoon and evening, I continued with cleaning and sorting parts. The master cylinder was examined and discarded. The tie rods had their ends removed and discarded; the hardware was saved for cleaning. I cleaned up the remaining of the (probably never to be used) rear brake hardware; I want to substitute disc brakes for the rear drum brakes. I also cleaned the bolts, washers and clamping plates that hold the half-shafts to the transaxle and rear stub axles. I cleaned up all of the hardware that mounts the transaxle to its rubber mounts. I removed the old rubber bushings from the spring plates. These will need to be replaced with new urethane ones. The spring plates went in the pile to be steam cleaned, as did the rear brake drums. I also picked up some small wire cone brushes for my Dremel and started removing the grime from the front brake caliper halves. I got two of the four halves done before I decided to call it a night. I ordered some straight wire brushes for the Dremel on line (not carried by my local Home Depot) and also received a set of pickle forks from Northern Tool today to be used in removing the ball joints from the front axle spiders.
This was mostly a parts cleaning day. I spent most of the day cleaning hardware, including the bolts, nuts and washers that attach the spring plates to the diagonal arms, the one diagonal arm king pin (and two washers) that I have, the hardware that mounts the bearing retainers over the stubs axle on the rear of the diagonal arms, and the hardware that mounts the spring plate retaining plate to the chassis. The bearing retainers and the spring plate retaining plates went in the pile to be media blasted. I disassembled the emergency brake cables from the rear brake backing plates and set all of the hardware aside for cleaning. The backing plates wint into the pile for the steam cleaner. I also discarded certain parts, including the pair of old half shafts, the accelerator and clutch cables and the emergency brake cables.
A big chunk of today was spent removing the bushings from the inboard ends of the diagonal arms. These were the original rubber bushings and they were a pain to get out. Despite the fact that the rubber bushings are pressed in in two parts and the metal bushings are also installed in two parts, they couldn’t be pounded out with a mallet. The rubber had to be cut out and the metal parts had to be pried out with a vice grip. Eventually, they did come out clean but it took a bunch of time. I’ll be replacing these with urethane bushings.
More time was spent removing the roller and ball bearings from the outboard ends to the diagonal arms. I’m going to replace the bearings, but the spacers all look good. The stub axles were wiped clean and were put in the pile to go to the pressure washer. I also removed the three rubber mounts from the transaxle and discarded them – keeping the mounting hardware. I disassembled the throw-out bearing and clutch fork assembly from the transaxle. I’ll get a rebuild kit for these parts but they didn’t look bad at all.
One thing that did look bad was the nose cone on the transaxle. The very tip of the nose cone snapped off. The part is easy to replace when the transaxle is rebuilt, but it seems to echo the idea that the transaxle is taking a lot of abuse – probably from the motor bouncing up and down. That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me though. A VW internal combustion engine certainly weighs more than the G.E. electric motor. The only thing I can think of is that, because the aft battery racks bent the center portion of the sub-chassis (under the aft transaxle mounts) upward, this may have forced the rear of the transaxle up and snapped off the piece of the nose cone. In partial confirmation, I noticed that the shifter rod – the one that runs inside the tunnel – had a nice bow in it. It will need to be replaced and it seems to be providing testimony that the transaxle has been abused by the design of the rear battery mounting system. I’m not only going to need to redesign this portion of the chassis, I amy want to give some consideration to figuring out a way to support the electric motor instead of just hanging it off the transaxle.
Today, I began by measuring up and sketching the main part of the sub-chassis and then drafting it up on the computer. I now have three detail drawings (forward battery tray, rear battery trays and frame) and one assembly drawing that shows the whole thing. I converted the DesignCAD (my drafting program) files over to pdf files and e-mailed them off to Mark for peer review.
This morning, I continued measuring and drafting the sub-chassis. I spent most of the day measuring and sketching the aft battery trays and drafting them up on the computer.
This morning, I picked up the VW chassis at Plastic Media Stripping. They did an amazingly good job of removing all of the crud that was on the chassis. To my surprise, the floor pans were a lot worse off than I thought. Not only had they been drilled in many places for various seat-mount configurations, they also had hundreds of pinholes. What was surprising was that I figured, with that may pinholes, the metal in the floor pans would probably be thin enough to put my foot thru. This turned out not to be the case – the metal was solid – it was just shot full of holes! It looks like the decision to replace the floor pans is going to be a no-brainer.
I trucked the chassis over to a local Volkswagen restoration company and asked them to replace the floor pans and also see if they could straighten out the threads where the rear right diagonal arm’s kingpin threads into the chassis. They said that they didn’t think that they’d have any problems with this. I asked them to use the heavy duty floor pans and not the run-of-the-mill ones from Brazil. I suspect that I won’t get them though, as they seem to feel that the Brazilians floor pans are just fine. I also asked them to remove any seat rails, seat towers, jacking points, battery hold-downs, etc and to weld up any holes that they create in removing these parts. It will be interesting to see what I wind up with. On a previous trip, the owner noted that he could get floor pans with all of the stuff removed already. His son, who took the order today, seemed to want to use a pair of floor pans that he had on hand. Hopefully, the owner will override the son’s decision when he gets back. They did comment that the media blasting job was one of the nicest that they had ever seen.
This morning, I loaded the chassis up into the pick-up and ran it over to Plastic Media Stripping, to have them strip off all of the old rust, paint and rubber. Then, I went home, assembled my pair of metal saw horses and positioned the Bradley sub-chassis on the saw horses. I started measuring and making sketches of the sub-chassis for Mark and managed to get the front battery box drafted up on the computer. Actually, I shouldn’t say that it’s just for Mark. I‘m going to be using the drawings as a basis for designing a new sub-chassis.
Once home, I disassembled all of the parts remaining on the VW chassis. This, for the most part, consisted of removing stuff from the rear end including the transaxle, the brake drums, the brake shoes and all parts mounted on the rear brake backing plates, the rear stub axles, the diagonal arms and the spring plates.
This morning, I disassembled the front end of the chassis along with the shifter, pedal cluster and brake lines.
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