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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,

I am a many months-long browser of this forum who always wanted to build a roadster and finally pulled the trigger a couple of months ago. Honestly, I'm not sure if I would have done it without the wealth of knowledge I have soaked up on this forum. I'd love to thank specific people on here for sharing their experiences, from new to seasoned builders, but I wouldn't do any justice to those who are just as deserving but yet whose names would escape me.

I also considered not starting build thread, since there are so many others on here that are well-detailed. I didn't want to seem old hat by regurgitating what has already been gone over ad nauseum, but then I thought maybe I could inspire someone else in the same way others inspired me. So here is where I am to date:

I borrowed a friend's truck and rented a 16' open trailer for around $115 in total. I drove to FFR super early on a Saturday morning, September 28th, to pick everything up and was home later that afternoon. I had previously built a chassis dolly courtesy of another member's drawing on here, and built the body buck as per the FFR manual. I bought a complete kit but specifically took credits for omitting the J-pipes (I plan on buying those later when I purchase Gas-N pipes) and seats (I'd like something from Cobra). I went with standard brakes, which I intend make power-assisted, and opted for the IRS. I plan on purchasing a Coyote crate engine when it gets to that point.

For those who are unsure about purchasing a kit due to lack of space, my one and one-half garage is definitely spatially challenged because I still wanted to park my daily driver in there. The garage's interior measures 12'8" wide by 22' long, and the height is only 7'6" tall. But as you can see in the photos, I'm still able to hang the body from the ceiling, store the chassis just to the driver's side rear of my daily driver, and also store my motorcycle in there. All of the complete kit's boxes are in the rear of the garage. Yes, I have to pull the car out whenever I want to work on the chassis and yes, half the time I'm walking around hunched over like Quasimodo so I don't hit my head on the body, but I make it work.

I've just finished inventory, which I found to be invaluable in getting to know all of the parts. As monotonous as it was, I actually found it therapeutic checking most everything off on the pack list...or maybe my OCD was just kicking in. So the next step will be removing the rest of the aluminum and starting the build. I'm very excited at what the future holds and look forward to asking many, many questions on here. Thanks for reading...

-George
 

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George. Welcome to the fun, challenges and excitement! Looking forward to your posts.
 

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Hi George,

I am glad that you took up the challenge. When I first looked at the photos of your garage I thought crikey, you are never going to make it happen in that space. Then I walked out into my garage and realised it is exactly the same size! I was fortunate enough to be able to store the body and all the parts at my workplace and just bring them home as I needed to. I can't see a lot of tools, or a workbench in your photos. I have a small, but solid workbench 5 ft by 3 ft fitted with a good quality vice. I was fortunate to already own a tool chest with an excellent complement of hand and power tools. I was able to do everything I needed on the workbench except for the dashboard, which was a bit too wide. I used a portable trestle table covered with an old blanket (to protect the face of the dash). I don't think I could have built it in much smaller space or without a decent workbench. However I did have to fabricate, or modify a lot of parts to meet an extensive list of requirements of our local DOT, or for my personal preferences.
Don't rush into it, take your time and stare at it a lot. Study people's builds. Ask questions. You wouldn't expect that such a small and relatively simple car can be built in so many ways! I would class the build manual as a guide of a minimum standard. Many areas of assembly can be improved upon with just a bit more time and effort.

I look forward to following your build.

Cheers Nigel in South Oz
 

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Congratulations George. I'm happy you decided to start a build log, 'cuz I love reading 'em! You'll have dozens of eyes checking your work, and an invaluable resource for troubleshooting (I can't tell you how many times I've checked my build log to find out how I did something). Don't worry about the size of your work space; my buddy Scott built his Roadster in a garage even smaller than yours!


John
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks, everybody. Yes, a small workbench with a vise will be imported soon into the garage, as well a pretty extensive collection of tools I have. Things may be a little chaotic at times, but I'll make it work.

After removing the panels from the chassis, I plan on powder coating at least the panels in the engine compartment. And now the first of many questions for those who have done the same: do you guys usually powder coat the panels before drilling, or after? I suppose there would be benefits to each.

Thanks,
George
 

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Fit, trim and drill then coat. You may need to pass a bit through the holes to clean out the P.C. but won't have the risk of damaging the coating like you would if you were to drill afterwards. Use a #30 bit rather than 1/8" and the holes will be a couple thousandths over to begin with.

Man, you guys who tackle these in the tiny garages sure get my respect for your resourcefulness and perseverance. I'm fortunate to be working in a 30'X48' shop and still feel cramped at times!

Good luck with your build :)

Jeff
 

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George,
I drilled all my panels prior to powder coat ( I coated all of them). This allows you to install and remove without scratching the life out of your beautiful panels. Once you've drilled them, send them out and work on something else. You'll have plenty to do. When you finally install them, they puzzle looks great coming together. If you're buying any of the vendor offered enhancements (Russ Thompson drop trunk, for example, get it before you start drilling panels, as you will have some cutting and fitting to do. Another tool to think about is a rivet spacing tool from aircraft spruce.com. This device lets you evenly space rivets between two points, or over a long distance.

Scott

P.S. If it gets overwhelming, step back, work on something else and know in the back of your mind you will have a kick a$$ car when you get done. Welcome to the madness.
 
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...I bought a complete kit but specifically took credits for omitting the J-pipes (I plan on buying those later when I purchase Gas-N pipes)...

...I went with standard brakes, which I intend make power-assisted...
Congrats on your kit purchase. You're in for an exciting adventure. Will be interested to follow along. Comments about each of those two quotes:

I highly recommend not doing J-pipes. Long tube headers are better in many ways, including performance and durability. Gas-N side pipes are an excellent choice. I've used them several times. Gas-N can also provide straight tube headers, which I've used and are also excellent. Another choice is the new design straight tube headers from Factory Five with a ball flange to (hopefully) improve alignment. Discussed in this video https://youtu.be/zxdKAniNNhw?t=349.

Hopefully you've done your homework on adding power brakes to the supplied Wilwood pedal box setup. If not, it means not using the supplied front and back master cylinders and balance bar setup. Instead the pedal box needs to be modded with a pushrod and a conventional dual master cylinder plus booster mounted on front of the footbox. Mike Forte is one vendor who can do the mod. Another option is a kit from Whitby Motorcars in NC. If a vacuum booster is used, likely would need to do a minor frame mod. Hydroboost, using the same hydraulic pump as power steering, is another choice. Nothing about this is particularly complicated or difficult. But it's not insignificant. Plus eliminates the balance bar which can be very useful for adjusting the proper front/rear brake bias. I've done power brakes on a couple builds and agree it's nice. But last two have been manual. Once you get used to the heavier pedal, it's fine IMO. You'll get lots of opinions on this topic.

Good luck with your build.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the powder coating info, guys...much appreciated.

Sorry, Paul...I should have been more clear in the sense that I eventually want to install headers and I therefore chose to eschew the J-pipes. I also planned on the Hydroboost brake addition, but I'll definitely give some thought and research time to your suggestions. Btw, you are like the Alan Trammell of builders on here. Being from MI, I'm sure you get the reference...

-George
 
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Discussion Starter #11
So far, so good in the garage...but I must say it was more enjoyable marking and removing the body panels outside on my driveway before the rain arrived! Before and after photos attached...

I also drilled the F-panels and will take them to be powder coated in a few days...moved on to the lower control arms after that. The passenger side went in super quick, and the nominal gaps between the bushings on both sets of front and rear tabs were filled in handsomely by the spacers. I torqued the bolts down as per spec and LCA was stiff but entirely moveable with very little effort. The driver's side front tabs, however, were about 3/16" more narrow than the passenger's side front tabs and required widening to get the control arm between them. This took quite a while.

Thanks to egchewy for posting about this, and thank you to all those who replied with explanations. I was about to try to the 1/2" threaded rod/washer/nut trick but I was able to wedge a 3" wide chisel in between the tabs, so it was at a little more than a 45 degree angle against the tabs, and hammer one side of the chisel so it was pretty much 90 degrees with the tabs. This widened the tabs and gave me enough room to insert the control arm. Suffice it to say that I didn't need a spacer in the front set of tabs.

Two questions before I proceed: Is it everyone's preference to use blue thread locker on every bolt that doesn't involve a nylon nut or which specifically requires red thread locker, like the upcoming ball joints? I'm currently using it on everything, including the grease fittings. I read on a previous thread that it's a good idea to use blue thread locker everywhere due to the nature of these cars' rides, and I'm inclined to agree.

Second, I've read a few posts about how it is required to manipulate/reassemble the upper control arms to orient them exactly as required. I've stared at mine to the point my significant other was questioning my behavior, and they look like they are oriented perfectly. Maybe FFR has corrected this in the recent months? My UCAs also look slightly different and all of the metal is black, with the exception of the nuts and bolts, instead of what appears to be silver/brass in the manual's photographs. I've attached a photo of them as well.

Thanks,
George
 

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There has been a change to the UCAs again and yours are indeed oriented correctly so that the ball joints angle outward. Before attempting to install the upper ball joints use a wire or nylon wheel and clean the corrosion protectant from the threads of the joints and they will go in much easier. I use blue thread locker on them.

Jeff
 

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Agree with Jeff 100%. Blue Loctite on the ball joints. Make sure they're threaded all the way down, and use some witness marks so you can monitor as part of regular maintenance. Doubt very much you'll have any issue. I personally use red Loctite very sparingly and only when it's specifically direct to use. Wilwood, for example, often calls it out. It's incredibly strong and typically won't let go without heat. For smaller size threads, will even twist bolts off before letting go. Asking me how I know that.

Highly recommend using the threaded bolt technique to spread the suspension tabs if needed. Works very well and will easily handle even the largest ones. I used to use a large adjustable (aka Crescent) wrench. If the jaws are clean and unmarked, and tight on the tab, also bends them pretty easily and without doing damage. I'd leave the chisel in the toolbox for this task. Way too easy to mess up the nice powder coat.

For your suspension bolts, I don't recall any that require Loctite. They either have nylon inserts, where Loctite should never be used (will damage the inserts), or they're distorted-thread style locknuts. In either case, along with the provided torque settings, you shouldn't have any trouble with them loosening. I check all the suspension bolts as part of my annual maintenance, and have yet to find any that have loosened when assembled as directed with the supplied hardware.

Regarding your comment "...the nature of these cars' rides..." Have you actually ridden in one? If not, I think you'll be surprised. Yes, it's a race style suspension and no, doesn't ride like your father's Oldsmobile. But they are relatively compliant and IMO and experience, don't inherently vibrate or cause things to loosen. Again, if assembled per instructions. Just my observation after thousands of miles.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks, Jeff...I planned on using a wire wheel on the ball joint threads after reading about them on here, so thank you for the heads up! Paul, I've never ridden in one, to be honest...but some roads here in New York are akin to driving on the moon. I just figured that using a drop of blue thread locker on all bolts would be better safe than sorry. Appreciate the info on the other items and I'll pick up a threaded rod, washers, and screws on my next of many, many, many trips to Home Depot/Lowes. Btw, I'm thinking I should begin each of my next posts with "what I bought this weekend" instead of "what I did this weekend"...
 

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Second, I've read a few posts about how it is required to manipulate/reassemble the upper control arms to orient them exactly as required. I've stared at mine to the point my significant other was questioning my behavior, and they look like they are oriented perfectly.
I can relate to this. Congrats on getting your build started!

Foster
 

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Paul, I've never ridden in one, to be honest...but some roads here in New York are akin to driving on the moon. I just figured that using a drop of blue thread locker on all bolts would be better safe than sorry...
Seriously doubt they're any worse than our Michigan cobblestone roads, and I've never had any issues with the suspension bolts as mentioned. With the caveat they're torqued as specified. But do whatever you're comfortable with. Just don't use on the the nylon lock nuts. It will destroy the nylon. Documented in multiple places including Henkel (mfg of Loctite products).
 

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Welcome to the madness
 
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Discussion Starter #18
After reading the replies on this thread, as well as a few others, I installed a 48" wall mounted work bench which can easily fold down to make room for my daily driver. It supposedly supports 400 pounds, which I'm cynical of, but it's worked great for everything I've needed so far. I'll use some vertical 2x4's on the front corners for extra support if I really need to lay into something. And since the installation manual has been on back order since I picked up the car on September 28th, I installed a computer so I could at least use the .PDF installation file to follow the instructions. Ok, enough about the workspace...

I had the F panels powder coated gun metal grey, which I plan on doing with the rest of the panels that are visible within the engine compartment. I bought a pneumatic rivet gun, which may be unnecessary in many people's opinion, but I think it does a great job. Lower and upper control arms are installed, as are the shocks, spindles, hubs, and steering arms. Brakes next...which I would have gotten to today if I didn't waste my time watching my favorite waste of a football team called the NY Jets.
 

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I think the pneumatic rivet gun was one of the best tools I bought for the build.
 

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When you’re staring at 100 rivets in a short time, that pneumatic riveter will be worth its weight in gold. Still have mine.
 
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