Project Fun Buggy: Three steps forward, one step back
If you've been reading this publication over the past two years you've seen the random installments of my Fun Buggy project vehicle. Built out of 300-some feet of DOM tubing, chromoly plate, and a rugged drivetrain, this buggy is destined to be an all-around dirt-chopper. Of course a project like this isn't all perfect weld beads and 90-degree bends. In fact along the way it's had more than a handful of speed bumps and about-faces. To put it simply, building a vehicle from scratch is exciting, challenging, frustrating, and downright exhausting. But it's also great insight on the amount of work the OEMs must go through to build a vehicle that is safe, performs, passes all our governmental regulations, is easily assembled and (if need be) repaired, and most importantly is both sellable and profitable. Hats off to those hundreds of thousands of folks in the auto and truck industry. You've got a tough job.
Since my last installment we not only installed the drivetrain and axles, but also had to cut off and redesign a large portion of the chassis so the best combination of suspension movement and steering geometry within a durable package could be achieved.
There is plenty more work to be done, but here is an update of the current progress.
This is where I left off on the buggy in the previous installment (Feb. '07). The substructure of heat-treated chromoly steel plate was made to attach the suspension links and house the transmission and transfer case, while the main chassis, built of mostly 131/44-inch by 0.120-wall DOM tubing, was growing up off of the substructure. The seating arrangement is leaned back at about 20 degrees for a comfortable ride and a low-slung roofline. Overall height should be around 70 inches with a 19- to 20-inch-high belly.
The next step was the installation of the Dynatrac ProRock 60 axles, but first we had to prepare the suspension links. Poly Performance is now offering 1 3/4x0.188 chromoly links. The tubing is first cut to length and then the ends are swedged to a smaller diameter. These ends are then threaded internally to 1 1/4-12. Next the links are sent out to be heat-treated to a Rockwell hardness of 35. The heat-treat should make them twice as strong against bending as an identical mild steel link, 150,000-psi ultimate tensile strength to be exact. Into these links are threaded two massive 1 1/4 shank by 1-inch bore FK Bearing rod ends, one end lefthand thread and the other righthand thread for easy adjustment. The high-strength joints are rated to 100,000 pounds of force and are assembled with Teflon liners for long lasting strength and slop-free use. Each joint is also fitted with special high-misalignment spacers to allow for a wider range of motion.