Interior & Sheetmetal for Our Tracker Project - Part 5Posted in Project Vehicles on April 17, 2016
Anyone who has undertaken a project as large as our Tracker knows that you spend half of your time and money completing the last 10 percent. That is where we are now. Multiple trips to the hardware store and daily orders from Summit Racing Equipment have become the norm in our effort to complete the interior and fuel system . All the products we have chosen fit our goal of being as light as possible while making no compromises.
After gutting the interior and cutting a generous amount of the sheetmetal on the Tracker, we were able to get the weight down to a mere 2,200 pounds. Unfortunately we had to add weight back in to make the Tracker a functional trail machine. Jesse Haines built a lightweight rollcage that ties into the frame, rock sliders, and rear shock mounts.
Next we took the Tracker to CR Fabrication, where Jon Conner and Thomas David Robinson built a new dash over the cage with spots for all of our Auto Meter instrumentation. They also formed sheetmetal to enclose the rear of the Tracker that pushes the envelope for what is simply too nice to dent up on the trail.
Once back from CR Fab we plumbed up a fuel system with components from Summit that will feed the factory 2.0L engine. The only remaining items are the wiring, brakes, exhaust, and cooling system. We will wrap those up in our next installment, then it is time to hit the trail and see if all of that hard work pays off.
We ditched the factory dash along with the heater and stereo in an effort to shed weight. CR Fabrication built us a new aluminum dash set up to accept Auto Meter gauges and toggle switches for functions like the CJK controls for our Toyota electric lockers and the heated MasterCraft seats.
Nothing makes a rig look like a race car quite like a dash full of Auto Meter gauges. We used the Ultra-Lite line to monitor speed, RPM, water temperature, oil pressure, voltage, and fuel level. Weighing well under a pound each for the smaller 2 1/16-inch gauges, there was no reason not to keep tabs on all these functions.
Since we ditched the factory instrumentation and added a Samurai transfer case to the back of our 2WD transmission, the easiest way to get our speed was Auto Meter’s innovative GPS speedometer. These use GPS satellites and sample at 10 times per second for an accurate speed reading, along with a trip meter and odometer using the included Trimble GPS antenna.
Our factory gauge cluster did not include oil pressure, but there was a boss on the block where we were able to add the Auto Meter sending unit with common brass fittings that we sourced locally. The easy installation means that we can strip more wires out of the factory harness to save more weight.
Jesse Haines knew that we were planning to wheel the Tracker hard, so he built a rollcage to keep us safe in any situation. The main structure is built from 1.75x0.090-wall DOM tubing that ties into the rock sliders and the frame rails, with 1.50x0.090-wall supports.
The factory seats were replaced with MasterCraft Safety PWR Sport seats intended for a UTV. Only 16 pounds each, these seats are 10 pounds less than the stockers, even when loaded with optional features such as the rear map pockets to store tools and seat heaters. Seat heaters added far less weight than the 15-pound heater core that we removed.
To accommodate drivers of various sizes, we bolted Chassis Unlimited’s billet aluminum seat sliders to the bottom of our MasterCraft seats. The mounting for UTV seats is different from standard suspension seats. If we had this to do over again we would have ordered low-back MasterCraft Original seats to ease the installation.
To save weight, we replaced the stock battery in our Tracker with a Braille battery from Summit Racing Equipment. This compact AGM battery cranks out 831 cranking amps while weighing only 9 pounds.
To package the rear ADS air shocks and 37-inch Maxxis Trepadors while keeping the ride height low, much of the rear sheetmetal was removed on the Tracker. We hadn’t originally planned on this, but too many compromises in ride height and wheelbase would have been required to retain the rear sheetmetal. Fortunately CR Fabrication had a solution for us.
When he isn’t battling Terminators, Jon Conner turns normal aluminum sheet into artwork. Conner is one half of CR Fabrication, with partner Thomas David Robinson. Old-timers who are concerned about a generation of kids more interested in cellphones and video games can take comfort knowing that these two young guys are full of talent and enthusiasm.
No we didn’t accidently include a photo of an airplane in this story. That is the Tracker! CR Fab crafted the rear sheetmetal from 0.040-inch aluminum with over 600 bucking rivets holding the panels together. The bead-rolled panels not only look sharp, but the 3D shape adds strength as well.
We hate popup ads on the internet, but we love the popups on the storage compartments CR Fabrication built into the fenders of the Tracker. Access is via Quik-Latch pushbutton latches for a smooth surface and clean installation. Between these compartments and the pockets on the back of our MasterCraft seats, we should have plenty of storage space.
The sheetmetal houses a 12-gallon fuel cell from Summit (PN SUM-290102). Summit carries a huge selection of fuel cells in a wide variety of shapes and sizes to fit just about any project. Quarter-turn fasteners hold the cover on, and there is enough room behind the cell to hold a fullsize spare tire.
Since we ditched the stock fuel tank we needed to build a new fuel system. Once again we turned to Summit for a pump, a filter, and Russell push-lock hose and fittings. Jesse Haines has run similar configurations on multiple buggies without issue.
Fuel pumps are more efficient at pushing fuel than pulling it, so we mounted the Summit pump (PN SUM-251002) on the framerail near the cell. The compact pump is rated at 155 liters per hour, which should be plenty to power our naturally aspirated 2.0L four-cylinder engine.