Saturday, September 1, 2007

Rear Rack Installed

Today was a busy day for the engine compartment. In addition to the pot box, I mounted the rear racks. This was much more involved than one might think. If you remember, when I test fit the rack, there was interference between the rack and the rear suspension console:

I debated for days about what to do - hammer in the console? That would weaken it, introduce stress fractures, and possibly leave me with a non-functional car. Ignore it? A non-level rack would lead to non-level boxes, which might lead to battery acid spills. I ultimately decided to grind away a sliver from each side of the rack. The metal is thick enough that I would not need to fully penetrate it, just "thin" it a bit, and it should not reduce its strength too much.

Based on the test fit, I marked my first guess at how much to grind. I went conservative, because it's easy to grind more, but hard to ungrind:

And here is my first test grind (the other side looks substantially the same):

As I suspected, I did not grind off enough the first time - it still interferes:

So I ground more off based on my observation of the remaining interference (that dark spot in the middle is not penetration, it's just oxidation from the heat of grinding):

This time, it fit like a charm. Snugged right in against the console, and did not fully penetrate the rack. Everybody should have an angle grinder, it's possibly the most fun tool in the world. Until you grind into your leg, that is...

I painted it black to match (and to prevent rust):

As you can see, it is now level left-to-right:

And level front-to-back:

Finally, there are 11 15/16 inches of depth now (compared to 11 5/16 before - a gain of 5/8 inch, which is substantial):

There is one more problem to solve. All this fitting and grinding etc. has been done with the motor mounts removed. In its "final" position, there is about 3/4 inch clearance between the motor and the rack:

However, the standard motor mounts add about twice that, nearly 1 1/2 inch:

I dissected one of the mounts (in hopes that I could just grind out the excess 3/4 inch of rubber) but found that the bolt does not go all the way through. So, it's off to the hardware store, where I got 6 neoprene washers (3 for each side) and 2 steel fender washers, along with 2 M8 100mm threaded rods, to build a new motor mount - probably not nearly as good at vibration damping as the old ones, but a whole lot better than nothing:

Solve one problem, create a new one, I always say. With the new washers in, the bolts on the motor-to-transmission housing interfere ever so slightly. So, back to the grinders. Here is the area that needs to be ground down (not as big as the suspension console interference):

And here is the final grind, all painted pretty (and, of course, more immune to rust):

As you can see, there is now adequate clearance between the bolt heads and the battery rack:

After much drilling, ratcheting, banging my head on things, hammering, cursing, etc., I got the rear posts installed as well as the front mounting points. Here is everything connected and tightened down:

Here is the final position of the rack above the motor (it's hard to see, but the lip of the transmission adaptor/bell housing is actually higher than the rack):

And here is the view from inside the cabin:

I can put the seats back in now, I think.

I also test-fit the rear battery box, and I now find that the torsion bar for the trunk hinge interferes with the battery box. I really wanted to go with Camp 914 hydraulic lifters, now I have a good excuse (I hate those torsion bars...). But that is work for another day.

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