Chassis Construction
Post-Paint Re-assembly (Driver Controls - shifter and turning brake)

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Now that the driver's seat is mounted, we can move on to the design and fabrication of shifter and turning brake mounts.  We intend to mount the shifter on top of the sheet metal "tunnel" and that will require that we fabricate a support structure that will be mounted to the chassis inside the tunnel.  That support structure will provide a secure mounting location for the shifter and the reverse lever (we're not relying on the tunnel itself for support).  We chose to use a Fortin sequential shifter - we liked the look and feel much better than the usual "Hargett" 2-lever shifter.  Our choice complicates the installation a bit; we'll need to fabricate and mount a reverse lever in addition to reversing the direction of shifter operation (the Weddle S5 transaxle we plan to use requires a "push" from the shifter to "up-shift" and the Fortin shifter "pulls" in the up-shift direction.....).  We'll solve both problems with the shifter support assembly - we'll add a lever for reverse and a "bell-crank" to reverse the shift direction.


Milling the shift direction changing "bell crank" to shape


Bell crank bearing ready to be riveted in place
We opted to use a commercially available bell crank bearing (aircraft part) for longevity, freedom of movement and minimum slop - we fabricated the remainder.  We'll rivet the bearing to the bell crank arm - all the holes will be filled with rivets.  The bell crank converts a shifter "pull" to a "push" in order to have correct shifter operation (shift lever knob rearward for up-shifts and forward for down-shifts).


Reverse Lever Fabrication
We fabricated the reverse lever from 2024 aluminum and again used a bell-crank bearing for smooth operation.  We're fortunate to have the proper riveting tools to make a secure connection! 


Shifter support structure with shifter, reverse lever and bell-crank
Here, we're fitting the shifter support assembly to the chassis.  We need the assembly to nestle tightly up against the sheet metal tunnel when everything is mounted; rather than weld the support structure to the chassis, we chose to weld tabs and bolt the support in place.  That made it easy to get a perfect fit.


Shifter support assembly installed
Here you can see how the bell crank converts an up-shift "pull" on the shift knob to a "push" at the shift cable attachment point.  The reverse lever is configured to require a pull on the handle to select reverse.  We'll need to build a support structure for the "push-pull" cables; they may be part of the turning brake mount - we need to be careful to leave room for them once the turning brake assembly is mounted and it'll probably end up near where the cables will need to be mounted.  This support assembly will be housed inside the sheet metal "tunnel" and will not be visible except for the shifter itself, the reverse lever and a small amount of the upper bell crank and the push rod.


Sheet metal tunnel installed
We've done an initial trim of the tunnel for the reverse lever and the bell-crank; we'll refine the fit once we determine exactly how much "throw" we need to get (we think the shifter throw is sufficient now).  Once everything is finalized, we'll make a cover for the bell-crank and push rod - just to keep things from jamming it up.  We'll be adding a small "knob" to the reverse lever; it'll give us a more convenient grip that should eliminate the possibility of scraped knuckles.....


Fabricating the reverse lever knob


Knob painted and installed on reverse lever


Hopefully, the knob will save us a few "busted knuckles" down the road.....


Turning brake mounted
We spent a fair amount of time finding the best location for our turning brake assembly; we wanted it to be easy to access/operate but didn't want there to be any interference with the shifter or reverse lever.  We settled on this location after trying several different spots.  We've angled the turning brake lever away from the driver and towards the co-driver just a little - it gives us a little more space between the shifter and the turning brake handle and everything is readily accessible.


Shifter cable brackets and cables installed
The shifter cables straddle the turning brake assembly; our decision to angle the turning brake towards the passenger side required us to offset the reverse selector cable mount a small amount for clearance, resulting in a small amount of misalignment of the cable end.  Note: the forward portion of the tunnel is visible in this photo - it is not attached or in its correct location.....


Reverse lever cable mount and cable
Here, you can see the misalignment of the reverse selector cable end - it operates smoothly but we may add a spacer under the rod end to ensure that it continues to do so.  Another option is to open up the mount hole so that we can reposition the cable inboard enough to eliminate the misalignment.



Forward gears selector cable and mount installed
This mount is simply "sandwiched" between the turning brake and its' mount.  Easy installation with no modifications needed.  The cables are not yet attached at the transaxle end or in-between.  We'll keep the cables as straight as possible while still mating to the transaxle at appropriate angles to minimize any "free-play" in the shifter linkage.  We don't have our transaxle yet; that's a "big ticket" item that we need to budget for so the aft ends of our cables will remain unattached until then....



Center tunnel partially installed
Here you can see how everything fits inside the center tunnel - we're thinking about our options for closing up the turning brake handle slot in a way that allows free movement but keeps foreign objects out - a rubber seal or a "brush" type device are two of the options. 



Brake and Clutch master cylinders and lines
Here you can see all three master cylinders and the beginnings of their respective lines.  The topmost cylinder is for the clutch - no residual valve or light switch needed.  The middle cylinder is for the front brakes - only a brake light switch needed before going to a firewall "T" then flex lines to each front brake.  The bottom cylinder is for the rear brakes - a brake light switch and a residual valve before the line connects to the turning brake assembly.  All these lines will be properly secured once complete.  The power steering lines will not be routed as seen here- they're just hanging this way to keep them out of the way while we fabricate the brake and clutch lines.




Turning brake lines
The turning brake unit is installed between the brake master cylinder and the individual rear brakes - a single line in from the pedal master cylinder and two lines out, one to each rear brake.  We've set up the lines so that we get both brakes at the same time with pedal pressure, right brake with a pull on the turning brake handle and left brake with a push.


Residual valves installed after the turning brake unit
We added these residual valves to the lines after the turning brakes to help "firm them up".  We may need to remove the previously installed single valve near the brake pedal master cylinder if there's too much "residual pressure" now...


Parking brake "line lock" valve
We wanted to include some sort of parking brake capability, knowing that we wouldn't use it often but that it would be useful at some point.....  This is a simple stainless steel ball valve that will allow us to trap brake pressure to the rear wheels, thereby acting as a parking brake.  The valve mounts to the inside of the tunnel sheet metal within reach of the driver - the handle is outside the sheet metal while the body of the valve will be inside.


Steering control valve to rack lines fabricated and installed
The steering control valve and power rack hydraulic lines fabricated and installed temporarily.  Rather than creating a new penetration of the foot well area sheet metal, we chose to route the hoses along structure that already passes through the area.  There is plenty of clearance for them there and this routing permits us to easily install/remove them without disturbing the foot well area - it also allows us to remove the sheet metal without removing the hoses....


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