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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:24 pm 
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Rogue

Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 pm
Posts: 82
I've hinted at this in other threads, but it's time to properly show my project car here. I'm in the process of taking an '81 SX4 and stripping it down, to build up as a full stage rally car to run in Rally America. In the interim I'll also be taking it for some time in SCCA Rallycross, in order to get myself experienced in this kind of driving ,as well as work out the needs of the car.

The target class within Rally America is called "open light". There are a lot of safety requirements, such as roll cage and seats. but the general rules requirements are and AWD car, pushrod engines are limitedto 3313cc's and based on a block from the original manufacturer (OHC engines I think are 2600cc limit), minimum weight of 2700lbs, no turbos or giggle juice, and the shell must still be recognizable as the original production car. Otherwise, anything goes for the most part.

So, the SX4 is nicely placed I think with weight that's not too far above the limit and a very stout viscous coupling AWD system. Drivetrain is actually going to be very strong compared to the main competition of 2.5RS Subaru's. Throw in a fairly good front IFS suspension, and I think it's going to work well in modern rally. Later on, in the 'open' class if I decide to go that way, I can go up to 6 liters of naturally aspirated pushrod engine.

The biggest hitch is going to be the engine, but I have a good plan for that.... de-stroke the 258 with a crank from a 199. Not going to be easy, but I do have a workable plan. With a .030 overbore, it hits 3310cc's, only 3 from the limit. This will be a race built engine, all the goodies, and running EFI using the Megasquirt system.

It's going to be built up in stages, according to the following plan.
Stage I: Rust repair, seats, harness and roll cage
This is the bare minimum to get me the 'logbook' to register the car with Rally-America. It won't be ready to compete just yet, due to other rules compliance needs, but will get me into the system. The roll cage is going to be the most critical and expensive part of the project. Rust repair is also important, but not as bad as I feared it would be. It's also the point where a hell of a lot of stuff is coming out, never to go back in.

Stage II: Prep the car for running SCCA RallyCross, and start making it to events.
Here I'll deal with the bare minimum to get the current 258 running well, all new suspension bushings, shocks, and brakes. Not looking at performance parts yet, mainly factory here, as I want to get the car driving on the smaller RallyCross tracks to see what it actually needs. Some obvious things I will handle right away, such as a rear disk conversion, but I need to get some track time before figuring out the big and complicated items. The key is not to get too distracted with these events, and keep focused on the later Rally-America needs. There's a lot of overlap of course, but I have to keep the final results in mind at every turn.

Stage III: Engine and Transmission
As mentioned above, I'll have to build that 199. I'm also looking at swapping in an AX-15. I'll probably also deal with gearing and differentials at this point too.
Then get more track time with SCCA to get a feel for it. This is going to be a time consuming process working out the tuning on the engine, but I do have the advantage in that I've already converted a 258 to EFI using the system I'm planning here.

Stage IV: Prep and run Rally-America
Hopefully, at this point, I'll know what the car needs via suspension needs. So I'll take care of that, get the final requirements taken care of, paint it up all fancy, and start running stage rally.

Misc Work: This is the stuff I'm going to be doing constantly through the whole build, as I work on other stuff.
Mainly this is going to be the weight reduction and seam welding. As I go through various sections of the car, I'll deal with welding up any seams I can access, and reducing weight wherever I can.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:33 pm 
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Rogue

Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 pm
Posts: 82
I'll do stage overview lists as I go along here, and will keep these things updated as I progress.
Since I'm just starting, lets look at the critical list of Stage I:

The priority here is stripping out the interior, and taking care of the roll cage and seating issues. The cage needs to be built to FIA specs, and seats have to be fixed back competition seats. All of this is spelled out clearly in the Rally-America and SCCA Rallycross rule books. Before I can even start the cage, I need to place the seats, and to place the seats I need to take care of the rust. So it's going to be in that order, Rust, Seats, Cage.

I'm also going to be starting the LONG process of seam welding at this point. Most of the body is assembled at the factory with various spot welds. Seam welding takes it much further, and fully welds the length of every body seam you can possibly do. This increases strength and rigidity of the body, both of which aid in safety and handling performance. This is a LOT of welding, and eventually means I'll be exposing and welding just about every panel in the car.

Lots of weight reduction taking place in this stage too. Seats, carpet, headliner, trim pieces, carpet padding, rustproofing. It all adds up very quickly.

To Do:
Roll cage
Rocker panel rust repair
Seats and bases
safety harness
helmet
paint interior
Remove and plug sunroof

In Progress:
Strip interior components
Strip interior paint and rustproofing
seam welding
weight reduction when possible

Done:
Hood Pins (Hood latch was broke, of course, so did this early)


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:37 pm 
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Rogue

Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 pm
Posts: 82
This is the starting photos in Stage I.

Sitting in a field, rusting away slowly, with a trashed interior. The previous owner had started working to restore it, but got sick and then interest turned away from the project. Lots of rotted stuff was piled up in the back, and some of the interior was already partially disassembled. All 4 tires were flat, and it was 'interesting' to get it loaded on the trailer to haul home.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 4:43 pm 
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Rogue

Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 pm
Posts: 82
Now, as it sits today, in my garage.

I've taken out the seats and everything else in the interior, other than the dashboard. At this point I'm doing the awful work of grinding out the original paint, seam sealer, and rustproofing. I knew the rockers were rusted, but I want to get everything down to bare steel. Part of this is to expose any rust work that needs to be done, part of it is in order to give me good metal to start working on roll cage mounts, and I also need to get all the seams exposed for the seam welding.

Here's also a good view of the typical rocker rust. If you're buying an Eagle, this is the first place to check for rot. Thankfully it's not too bad in this case, I've dealt with worse while having less tools and ability.

The rustproofing is the worst part of this. I don't have access to a blaster big enough to handle this, so I'm using a knotted brush on an angle grinder. Takes the paint right off and leaves good steel, but the rustproofing takes a lot of effort to remove. It just kinda mushes around at first, and I have to go over it many times before it really comes off all the way. I'm going to try some mineral spirits tomorrow, to see if that makes things easier.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:29 pm 
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Eagle

Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:43 pm
Posts: 2030
are you out west river? im in east river

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1985 eagle wagon - 258
1987 :amc: Jeep Comanche - 4.0


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:41 pm 
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Rogue

Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 pm
Posts: 82
East River actually, about halfway between Brookings and Watertown.

-Hans


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 5:50 pm 
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Eagle

Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:43 pm
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im in between Sioux falls and yankton on us 81

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1985 eagle wagon - 258
1987 :amc: Jeep Comanche - 4.0


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:35 pm 
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 2:58 pm 
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Rogue

Joined: Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:11 pm
Posts: 82
As usual, the hood latch cable was busted at the handle. Rules require hood pins, and also require the interior handle to be removed/disabled, so I skipped ahead a bit and put some hood pins in. At the moment, I have the whole factory latch mechanism removed, but I will probably modify it in the future to remove the latch for the under-dash cable but keep the secondary safety latch.

I also spent the day yesterday pricing various tubing benders and getting local prices on DOM tubing. Tubing prices are actually better than I expected, at $66 per 22ft tube. Most people quote $5/ft, so I am quite happy to see $3/ft available. Still trying to decide if I'll be doing the cage myself, or outsourcing it. No cost savings doing it myself, due to the huge tool costs, but I will come out ahead in that I'd have a nice new tube bender for future projects.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 20, 2013 3:03 pm 
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Eagle

Joined: Thu Feb 07, 2013 6:43 pm
Posts: 2030
did you pick this car up down by canton?

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1985 eagle wagon - 258
1987 :amc: Jeep Comanche - 4.0


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