This section basically covers all aspects of preparing the chassis ready for the body to go on.
I would like to point out at this early stage that all of the images found on this site were taken before any of the parts were 'made good'. You will see as the build progresses that dirt/dust/rust etc. can be seen all over the place in various photos. I decided to do this as it is often much easier to see the parts in detail than if the area was freshly painted, which with regards to most parts on this car would be black and hence not show very well. I advise all builders to prep and paint any area that has been drilled, preferably spraying WaxOyl into any drilled holes. Any brackets made also must be be painted. The obvious way to treat the build is to not leave any bare metal anywhere. Longevity and rust control on kitcars will never be as good as on production cars even with careful attention being applied. If you do not take the time to do what you can as regards to rust prevention then your car could be scrap in as little as two years.
I easily came to the conclusion that I would order my chassis in 'rolling' format rather than bare as is an option offered by Parallel. I had no desire to try and source and fit my own brakes, steering rack, steering column, plate all the bulkheads, weld in support brackets for everything, run all the brake piping and god knows what else. As much as anything, I wanted it all to be new anyway. I wasn't going to put secondhand brakes or steering rack on a Diablo replica. It just didn't seem right.
I received my rolling chassis on the 16th April 2002. This was about 11 days later than the original 6 week delay planned. Due to this, Bill at Parallel had kindly fitted some parts for me that would normally come separate. These were: Both radiators and breather piping, cable gearshift assembly, pedal box with reservoirs and servo, throttle cable, brake lines and handbrake assembly. The pictures below show the car exactly how I received it (minus wheels). Note that the chassis was actually finished in time, but it was held up by the wheel supply, which was out of Parallel's control. The amount of effort Parallel put into fitting items that they didn't need to was very well received by myself and certainly made up for the delay in delivery. Top marks. Please note that the following information only takes into account the work that I had to do. Depending on how far built your chassis is when you get it, you may need to do more or less work than I did.
All I had left to do was fit the aircon/blower/heater unit to the front of the car, run the air-con & 2 water pipes to the rear bulkhead, run the copper servo vacuum pipe to the engine bay, fit the water header tank, bond and rivet the front boot/wheelarch liner section and small arch liners, silicone seal the floorpan, go round checking all the nut and bolt tightnesses and because of my 6'1" frame, alter the pedal height.
Copper servo vac pipe
Fitting the servo vac pipe is very simple. All you do is connect a small length of rubber pipe to the servo (a foot or so) just enough so it can go through the bulkhead. Your copper pipe now runs from the front of the cabin (near the throttle pedal cable fitting) all the way down the centre tunnel and out the rear bulkhead. You need to do an immediate 90 degree turn (because the engine will be in the way) so Parallel should have supplied you with a 90 degree copper fitting for this purpose. You will need a small gas-powered pencil blowtorch to fit this as it has solder contained within. Then run the pipe up the offside, following the brake pipe route, and finally connect the rubber section which will house your one-way valve. Make sure the valve is installed the right way, ie you can suck through it from the engine end. Finally, check for air leaks by sucking from the rubber pipe that would attach to the servo. If you cannot hold suction, you have a leak. Find it. You do not want to lose suction to the servo. Once all sorted, tie up the engine end of the rubber pipe out of the way until the engine goes in.
It's probably best to get to grips with the aircon instruction manual before you start fitting it. It's not essential but just knowing how the thing works can only be a bonus in my book. I was pretty clueless when it came to aircon but I now have a fairly good idea. Firstly, get the box mounted in the space just behind the steering rack. It's certainly a snug fit, but will go in there. All credit to Parallel for finding a unit just the right size. You will find that none of the 3 universal steel plate brackets will line up correctly. I just cut, bent and drilled them until they did. I finished up with the unit being supported at 3 different points and is certainly well in there with no movement. Sloppy fit is the one problem with badly built kitcars. Things vibrate in any car more than you think and anything that isn't insulated or fixed properly WILL fail. And it will drives you nuts in the meantime while it rattles and squeaks it's head off. Anyway, heres 2 pics of the unit fitted before it's been 'made nice' so you can see the brackets more clearly. Note that the bulkhead liner has been fitted, and the picture on the far right was taken halfway through the build so theres a bit of rust and even cobwebs, but I thought an under view would be handy.
Once the evaporator is in place connect power up to the unit. This is important as you will see later. You will need to connect various wires and remember there are 3 earths. Connect the servo for the water valve as well. Make sure the fan switch is OFF. You can do the power hook-up with an in-line fuse if required but for the purposes of making sure the unit works I didn't bother. Also remember that nothing will happen at all unless the fan switch is on. The unit is designed to only be operational if you are actually asking it to blow something. Once you are happy that your power feed is OK (I used a spare car battery) turn the fan switch on to position '1'. You should hear the fan start. Next, try moving the screen, centre and floor duct lever to check that the servos are working OK. You can check the right air is coming out of the right holes too. Next, slide the heater lever back and foward. You should see the heater servo valve move as you do so. MINE DIDN'T. Worried that I might have a duff servo I then removed it from the pipework and had a better look at it. Upon closer inspection all was revealed. The alloy operating arm was catching on the gold coloured steel housing and preventing it from moving either way. Careful use of a Dremel to grind away some metal cured the problem and it worked fine. I'm just glad I checked the electrics of the system before the car was fully built as the last thing I would have wanted to do is rip out the dashboard and centre console to get to a faulty heater servo. Note that you won't be able to check the operation of the aircon system as you probably won't have an engine in to run the pump. You just have to hope it will be OK...
The pic below highlights the problem area with the servo.
Aircon and heater pipes
After the aircon unit (evaporator) is fitted, you can then 'dummy run' your 2 aircon and 2 heater pipes. I say 'dummy' because you should NEVER fully affix anything on a kitcar until you are sure that they do not need to be removed again for any reason. The aircon/heater pipes are a good example because they all need to go through the front bulkhead liner which you probably haven't fitted yet. So, run everything as you want it, noting where you will fix the pipes, which side of the tunnel you will use for what pipes etc. I found that the smaller of the aircon pipes was far too long by about 2 feet but as the pipe is pre-fitted with crimped ends I just made a coil at the front end and tied it up. I decided that it shouldn't affect it's operation. When you do eventually come to fit the aircon pipes you may want to find a suitably sized washer for the engine bulkhead end. I found the pre-cut bulkhead holes were a little too big and without a washer the pipe wanted to 'pull through' when the large nuts were fitted to the other side. When you are happy with how all the pipes will sit, leave them be and move on to fitting the front bulkhead liner. The pics below show the pipes fitted after the liner has gone in. For good measure I put silicone sealant around the rubber gromments too. Doesn't look too pretty but is effective and should mean that absolutely no chaffage occurs. Finally, check that none of the pipes are touched by the gearlever assembly. Go through all the gears to do this. If you ran all your pipes down either side of the tunnel as I did then you should be OK.
Front bulkhead liner
Parallel supply the bulkhead liner cut in half at the pedal box area to make fitting easier. It doesn't really matter which half you fit first but I did the longer section first as I wanted to get the pipework holes cut and run through. Fitting the liner is simply a matter of offering it up, trimming a little, offering it up again, seeing where it's tight, trimming a little, offering it up again and so on. DO NOT just go hacking large chunks out of it as you will make life difficult for yourself later because you need to seal/fill/glassfibre any gaps between it and the outside world (unless you want wet feet and/or a noisy cabin) and the more you have to patch it up the more aggro it will be. And it won't look nice either, which may not bother you as you won't see it but it doesn't look good when a prospective buyer goes over your car with a fine-toothed comb and sees that anything beneath the suface has been botched.
Once you are happy with the fit, drill through the bottom lip of the liner whilst it is in place into the square section of the chassis underneath. It's your call as to how many points you fix it at, but I was happy with the strength 9 would offer. Using SikaFlex (horrible stuff-wear hand protection), put a bead along the mounting suface and, using large headed rivets, rivet the liner down. For good measure, I also put a line of SikaFlex along the front AND rear edge of the liner mounting surface just to make sure that no nasties could get through and that it was well and firmly fixed down.
The same procedure of offering up/trimming/offering up again applies to the other, smaller liner too. Trim to fit around the pedal box and chassis, then, and only once happy, bond and rivet down. I used 5 rivets on this smaller section. Pictures below show the liners fitted before making good by filling large gaps and repainting with underseal as it makes it easier to see the rivet location and general fitting. Glassfibre/fill any gaps left where the panel meets the chassis and/or pedal box. Drill holes for the aircon, heater and servo pipes to go through and line them with rubber grommets. Finally, paint the liner with underseal both (better than black paint as it has better sound absorbtion) front and back then feed all your aircon, heater and servo pipes through. Attach all the ends of pipes to where they should be and make sure the pipework itself is secure from one end to the other. It's not too important how you do this- either 'P' clips or simply cable ties are good enough, but make sure you do it. The last thing you want is pipes getting chaffed and either dumping refrigerant, boiling hot water or god forbid loss of servo vacuum. Push and pull all pipes along their entire length and side to side. If there is excessive movement or the possiblilty of it rattling against the chassis then secure it. Being over-cautious on securing stuff is much better than not enough.
Front boot/wheelarch liner
The first thing to do with the boot is offer it up as usual. You will probably find that the copper pipe from the brake cylinder sticks out too far for the boot to fit properly. This won't be a problem as the next job is to cut out the 2 access holes, one for the brake reservoir access and the other for general access to the aircon unit. You will see that the boot mould is 'stepped' where the access holes are. I decided to cut the smaller rear-most section so that the edge of the opening would have a lip left. Do the same with the other hole then pre-fit before finally fixing with Sikaflex and rivets. It's now entirely up to you what you do with the access holes you have left but I decided to use the now cut-off plates as 'doors'. After trimming to fit the hole better, I riveted a pair of small hinges down one side which was then riveted to the boot. To finish it off I used a little hook to keep the door shut although when the boot is lined with carpet the door won't be flapping about anyway. Finally, don't be tempted to trim any more of the boot liner until the body is ready to be fitted.
Altering pedal distance
One thing I did check was the seating position whilst the chassis was all exposed. Fortunately I had my seats and steering wheel already as I ordered them as part of a bulk order so I could check them in advance. Once I had laid the seat in the position I wanted (basically as far back as it can go!) I sat in it and felt that the pedals were still way too close for my liking. After looking at the setup I decided I could make a good extra 1.5" legroom which would help no end. The clutch pedal was simple- I just adjusted the clevis (I had to cut a bit of the threaded section off) right in which still gave me full cylinder travel but with the pedal now sitting much further down. The throttle pedal was nearly as easy- I just had to bend the arm slightly, in combination with altering the throttle stop height by using a self-tapper near the original stop. You can't just change the throttle stop height because you will not have enough travel before the pedal hits the chassis. Even once bent, I think I will find that I will not be able to board up the small area where the pedal is because the pedal itself enters into the area made by the box-section. Oh well, such is the price of getting more legroom. At least I can carpet it. Be careful when doing the throttle pedal as you might run out of throttle travel. Set up fully once the engine is in by seeing if you can get full throttle. For the brake pedal things were a fair bit more involved. There wasn't any way to adjust the pedal height via the clevis and you certainly won't be able to bend the pedal so I realised I had to re-design the angle of the pedal by cutting most of the way down with an angle grinder. I say most of the way down because it is much easier to adjust the pedal height just right if you don't cut the thing right off. Once I cut through enough to bend it, I set the height to match the clutch pedal then cut up 2 rectangle pieces of 4mm steel plate. With a plate each side of the original pedal I drilled holes through and bolted the whole thing through with 6mm bolts. This may sound a bit Heath Robinson but believe me the pedal is solid. I wouldn't take risks with braking and I am more than happy that something else will fail before I manage to bend/snap the securely trussed-up pedal. With all three pedals now at the same height the extra distance to the pedals really is noticeable and I'm glad I spent a few hours doing it. The extra pleasure gained from driving it will more than make up for the amount of grief in doing it. NOTE: the pictures below only show 2 bolts on the brake pedal clamp- there are actually 4, as this is the only way you can guarantee that the lower part of the pedal will not move.
Header tank *UPDATE* scrap this idea- the body hit the tank!! Will update at time of re-fitting tank.
This is a fairly simple one. The hardest bit was deciding how high to mount it as I presumed that it would need to go at least as high as the top of the rads to enable effective expansion and drainback. Being as the rads are fairly damn high anyway the decision for mounting is no easy feat. This is made harder by not having the body available as you don't really know how high you can go. I settled on a location that looked just high enough for the tank to work properly, but not as high where it looked like it could foul the body. I wasn't sure whether one mounting point would be enough to support it but I gave it a go and 2 self-tapping bolts were used. If it looks to be too floppy once full with water and heat-soaked I'll have to make up an additional bracket.
Aircon rad, cooling fan & drier
This job can be done after the body is fitted, but I have included it here because there is no reason why you cannot fit it before, and to be honest it's actually easier because you can get to all the supporting area without clambering through the wheelarch or quarterlight. The rad is mounted on it's side, just above the horizontal chassis rails. I did this because I felt that if the rad was actually touching the rails it would suffer more vibration and possibly cause damage. I didn't want anything in contact with the fragile fins, neither would it do the cooling any good if the air throughput was totally blocked by a rail. I made up 3 right angle brackets to hold the rad, 2 being attached to the bulkhead and 1 to the chassis rail. Even with the fan attached, there is very little movement with the 3 brackets but if I see any signs of stress once up and running I will make up a 4th bracket. This will have to be quite long though as there is nothing in the vicinity to attach one to. The fan itself was affixed at one end directly to the side of the rad. The other end was secured by using 'Kenlowe' rad mounts. These things are brilliant. They pass right through the fins of the rad and mean that you can attach a fan directly to the core, without having to make up any brackets. I could have done the same to mount the other side of the fan but it is in fact actually stronger the way I did it, plus it means that the fan is as close to the edge of the rad as possible. This is desirable because the air vent in the body above is closer to the rear of the rad, thus the fan being at the rear of the core means getting a better cold air feed.
The drier is easy to mount. This goes just behind the rear of the rad, mounted to the off-vertical chassis rail. I used 2 large hex-headed self-tappers (as I did with the rad & fan). the location is just right for both the pipe to fit on as well as getting access to the bleed screw. Also, it doesn't protude into the engine bay area, meaning that if and when I panel the two sides of the engine bay I won't have to worry about moving the drier.
Make sure that you seal any ends of the aircon pipes, drier and rad. You want to keep moisture from getting in, as well as any other debris.
Above left: the dryer. Centre: view of rad & fan from top. Above right: view from below.
Yes, bleeding brakes indeed. Having ordered my chassis complete with them I assumed that they would be ready to go (apart from needing bleeding of course). This wasn't quite the case. I had a lot of leaks in the system that I only really found after one and a half days of trying to bleed the buggers. Not only were the 'T' pieces leaking on all joints even the connections to the braided brake lines were leaking too. I wouldn't have minded if they were all finger tight but whoever fitted them had clearly done them up tight, just not tight enough. In the case of the 'T' pieces (one on the front for the brake light pressure switch, one on the rear where it splits for each caliper) they were not the right ones, and no amount of tightening would have made them any better because the male pipe fittings were bottomed out on their hex heads. You could even pull the copper pipe in and out of the supposedly tight joint. The option was to buy new 'T' pieces or machine the original ones down as I did. An annoying scenario simply because whoever fitted the lines and fittings should have easily seen the problem. After going round the whole car doing everything up and re-fitting the modified T pieces we managed to get the air out and now have something resembling brakes. I say resembling because until they have all bedded in there will be some extra pedal travel. Given a few hundred miles use and bled again I'm sure then they should be fine. It might seem odd that bleeding the brakes is carried out so early on in the build but once the body goes on it's harder to get to the brake reservoir, which can be a right pain to fill up if you need 5 litres of brake fluid to bleed the system as I did. Even if the whole lot needs a quick flush (which should take a litre or so) when the build is complete I'm glad I carried out this job before the body went on. NOTE: bleeding a previously bone-dry system is made much easier if you can get hold of a small hand-held vacuum pump such as the excellent 'Mityvac' one. I was able to literally suck the fluid through to the caliper- god knows how long this job would've taken without one.
If you order your chassis with the column fitted make sure you specify that you wish to use genuine Lambo parts around it such as upper and lower steering cowlings, rubber gaitor and steering lock/ignition barrel set. I wasn't informed of this option when I placed my order and so it wasn't until I came to ordering the above parts that I was told I'd need to remove my column and send it back to Parallel for modification as in it's current state the ignition barrel would fall in the wrong place. A bit of a pain but there you go. I can't imagine anyone not using original parts as not only would it spoil the car but the parts prices aren't exactly outrageous considering the overall cost of the car. It's a bizarre option I feel.
Although not really necessary until you actually want to move the car to the bodyshop, you will at some point need to fit a towing eye as once the front boot is fitted (which MUST be done before fitting a tow eye) theres nothing to attach a hook to. I did find some pre-made tow eyes but at around £35.00 including postage I thought it was one of those things that I could do myself and save some money on. The pre-made eyes were simply a piece of 5mm steel plate with a big 35mm diameter tow hole cut into it, with 2 smaller 10mm holes with which to mount it. Hardly rocket science. I found some 6mm steel plate and cut it on the bandsaw to the right shape. I drilled the two 10mm holes then wondered how on earth I would cut a 35mm hole in 6mm steel plate...
I tried machining it out on a lathe but didn't really get anywhere. It could be done but it just took forever to cut even halfway through. In the end I decided to fire up the 'gas axe' and cut a hole through the bastard with oxy-acetelene. My advice, unless you have a simple way of cutting the 35mm hole, is to buy one. It must have taken me 2 hours at least to make one. Make sure you use some extra-large diameter washers under the bolt-heads so as not to crush the chassis rail.
Go over the entire floorpan inside the car and silicone seal every external seam. I say external because the floorpan is one single piece and unless you manage to put a hole in it for whatever reason the only place water can get in is around the edge. For good measure I also put a bead of silicone around the edge of the floorpan underneath the car as well, so there is effectively a double seal. If you didn't build your chassis, go round checking every single nut and bolt for tightness. I found that both my front wishbone upper inner nuts were undone. Don't worry about any areas where you have chipped paint off the chassis (and you will have) as you will be undersealing the whole lot inside and out anyway when you come to fit the interior. Now sit back, have a cuppa (or Stella Artois as I did) and wait for the body to arrive. Then move onto the section 'EXTERIOR'.