The soapbox car has reached a state of completion. It isn’t pretty but it is fun and functional. I feel as though I need to reiterate that this was a quick, dirty, and unplanned project made from scrap. In the end it all worked out and with about 2 months left until the snow flies it will still give us some enjoyment this season.
Previously the rolling chassis was complete and the skeleton was in need of a body. Disclaimer; I am not a body man. I admit it but have not accepted it. Someday I would like to learn some basic skills. I spend some time on the MetalMeet.com forum and read, in amazement, what some of the members are capable of. Shrinking, stretching, bending, and cutting are 4 components whose intertwined relationships I have not figured out yet. So the gravity racer got outfitted with a 20 gauge sheet metal skin. Nothing fancy. All the metal was plasma cut to fit. The nose and tail bends were done on a 2 inch piece of pipe therefore all I had to do was weld 2 seams on the left and right sides. The top was plasma cut out and I guessed at the cockpit opening. I think it was cut a bit on the big size but oh well…quick and dirty.
I knew that the metal was going to warp when it all got welded together. I was prepared to accept any warpage that would occur before I began running beads. In the end the body wave was not as bad as I thought it would be but it was still significant. The hood has got a huge wave through it, the sides turned out not bad. It is what it is and it’s not getting fixed.
Next came the high quality paint job. No sense in spraying it when a brush works just as well :). The paint theme was created by the 5 year old designer which consisted of a red base coat with yellow lightening bolts on the sides topped with a couple of stripes on the hood. The red Tremcald was laid down in 2 coats. Lightening bolt templates were created and the yellow highlights were taped off. Next 3 coats of Tremclad gloss yellow were applied. The exterior visible steering and axle components were brushed with semi-gloss black. The interior was left completely unfinished, too much work at this stage.
With the paint job complete and dry it was time for reassembly. The steering knuckles were installed and an alignment was performed. Zero degrees of camber, approximately 10 degrees of positive caster and toe was set straight ahead. The rear brake was installed and adjusted as well as the rear wheels.
The cockpit had sharp edges on it from the 20 gauge sheet metal. I wanted to ensure there would be no injuries upon entry and exit so the hole was ringed with a chunk of flock lined automotive weather-stripping I had laying around. I had made a trip down to a local automotive parts store to pick up some hardware when I stumbled upon a set of plastic fake exhaust pipes for $2.99, smoking deal! The pipes were backed with adhesive and just stuck on, they were the perfect addition to the racer. The nose got decaled up NASCAR style advertising everything that the car is not equipped with.
Since this is not an anti-gravity racer I needed to come up with a tow system. I have no problem towing the car and driver up hills behind my hardtail. I decided to use another seatbelt from the seat project and custom build it into a tow rope. I built a couple of metal tabs that allowed me to rivet a loop into the belt in order for it to slide onto my seat post. The other end was outfitted with a quick clip to allow for easy hook up to the vehicles tow hook.
With on the finishing touches in place it was time for a few test runs. Other then a minor brake rotor adjustment the car ran flawless. The steering is responsive, the straight line stability is great and the braking performance is fantastic with great modulation. The designer appears to be quite pleased with the build. Although this car will never run a soapbox race nor will it win any competitions it has managed to fulfill its original intent. It gave my 5 year old daughter some joy. Time for me to get back on schedule with completing some half finished projects.