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Installment Number Six: Those forward down bars...

  We use PVC pipe for template

Rolling the car out and setting it level was most important for the next step building the chassis. If you have been following along you have seen the roll cage work. We are ready to install the forward bars now and change the safety factor of this RENEGADE by 2 fold.
I must take a moment to explain that DIRT cars (PURE STOCK - SPECTATOR STOCK - HOBBY STOCK) have had these bars for some time. This is not a new idea that makes this car superior. Far from that...it does, however make it safer for the speeds we reach.. Many tracks in North, East and South have been using this setup for years. Why not in RENEGADES? No one asked for them because, many promoters consider RENEGADES an entry level division, it would only stand to reason that the cars do not go fast. How fast can a 305 CID really go? Pretty damn fast! Do the numbers...a 3.23 rear end at 5600 RPM with an automatic transmission (.98 output) would be running near 68 MPH (if I did my math correctly). That is going to produce a real hard hit on the wall. These cars are STOCK frames with a STOCK body shell. They will shake the driver pretty violently in a crash. Most local dirt tracks(upstate SC and Western NC) allow the front bars, but asphalt tracks such as Greenville Pickens and Anderson do not. Hopefully that will change.

You can use PVC pipe to check dimensions and create templates for the construction of the forward bars. Then, just take the template to a local chassis builder or fabricator, and have them made. You can then bring them back to your shop and put them in yourself.

Hoop Bar should go through the frame horn and gussets added to insure overall weld strength. 
This saves time and eliminates costly mistakes when preparing to weld into the car. The Hoop Bar sets just above the steering box on the left and above the idler arm on the right. The 2 additional bars are welded to the frame horn in front and behind the upper control arm. The bar is extended back to the dash bar intersection with the door bars. This construction should make the roll cage more stable forward in the car. You have 2 bars going to the rear from the main hoop, this should act similar to the front. An additional bar (not seen here) was welded inside the car along the brake pedal area where many accidents have caused foot/ankle injury. The dimensions for the bar are given for the 1978/79 Monte Carlo we built. You must decide where best to put the bar. We did make sure that the bar was level and at a 90 degree angle to the cage.
If installed at any other angle to the cage, there could be a SPEARING effect on the frame or cage. I am not an engineer, but the forces in an accident would be best controlled if the bar is 90 degree to the cage. Do not leave out the two additional bars.

They are there to add stability to the bar under racing conditions. You are not building a static show car; sooner or later you will test your construction.

Now let us examine the firewall problems I ran into.
First there was the brake cylinder issue. We solved that by removing the brake booster and making a plate to cover the existing hole where the booster was mounted. We took the booster apart and used the original pedal rod. There might be clearance for the booster to remain but you should not have it connected anyway, so why not get rid of the weight? Notice in the picture that we used our PVC pipe to check clearance for pedals and brake lines.
The second problem was the battery box on the right side of the car. That area is where we removed the air conditioner from.

(A) Inserted into frame horn (B) Weld into the dash bars. (M) Aprox. 12.75 inches top to bottom at weld.


The battery measures about 9x9 and fits just to the right of the hoop bar. We make the box from 1/16 sheet steel and weld the seams. Aluminum sheet covers the balance of the opening. We used cardboard to make templates before we completed the work.

The total cost to add the Hoop Bar was 55.00 and 4 hours to complete. Not a bad price to pay for such improved safety and security. WE met NASCAR rules that would allow us to compete the car most anywhere in the country and on DIRT or ASPHALT as well.

For your safety...
I have noticed a lot of entry level racers don't want to protect the wheels and tires they run. I say this because it is easy to grab a junk rotor or brake drum from the yard, clean it up, cut it on the lathe and put it on the car without consideration for safety. The one thing most often forgotten are the studs. Many drivers do use 1 inch lug nuts and are required by most all divisions and tracks. During inspection, those stock lug nuts are more often than not over-looked by the tech inspector. The 1 inch nuts will help but are by no means safe when they are wound down on a stock stud.

Because the 1 inch lugs are bigger it becomes much easier to over tighten the stock stud and stretch the stud to a point of weakness. You can also do serious damage to the wheel (taper) at point of lug nut contact.
So how do you remedy this problem and become a safer driver?

You may need to drill out the lug holes on your wheels for the larger studs.

The thread is course, not fine like on stock studs and lugs.

You can easily purchase a lug nut kit for well under $35.00. The kit contains 20 count 5/8 in. studs and 1 inch nuts. They come in 2 or 2 1/2 in. length. These studs are made to be used on a dirt or asphalt racecar.

Installation takes about 2 hours to complete the job. You do not have to remove the rear axle if you do the job with care and use the proper tools. You will need a 43/64 hard steel drill bit for drilling the proper hole size in axle and/or rotor. I used a 21/32 bit to start with. I also used the 21/32 for drilling out the wheels and drums. By using this 2 step drill method you will protect your equipment and save the drill bit life. You should retain the lug nut taper on your racing wheels. Use a 3/4 inch bit and re-taper the hole after you have drilled it to accept the 5/8 stud. The tapered seat allows for proper locking of the lug nut on the wheel. Remember do not over-tighten your lugs. Use a torque wrench set to about 70 LBS. The kit I purchased came from Treadwell's Racing Stuff. You can get the bit from PLANT SUPPLY out of Pittsburgh for about 12 bucks (American made).

In closing I want to advise you that WHEEL safety is something you must think hard about. A broken wheel bouncing around the race track is a missle that can kill or seriously injure you. By taking a few moments to protect your racecar and yourself you also protect others including those fans in the seats. We cannot avoid all problems, but wheels can be made safe.

LUG NUT KIT: Treadwells Racing Stuff

DRILL BITS (43/64, 21/32 for 1/2 inch drive)
Plant Service Co. 412 - 381 - 4664, Pgh. PA.

Disclaimer: The article here was written as reference for novice builders of the RENEGADE division racer only.
No guarantee of success is implied. Racing can be a dangerous sport and safety must be the number one priority of any builder.

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Wayne Clayton
© 2002

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