Monday, January 2, 2017

Now that the metal work is done on my control arms, I decided to work on some other suspension parts.  I am disassembling the brake calipers so I can strip the original paint, smooth out the castings, and have them powdercoated satin black.

In the front I'm running an 11" rotor upgrade with Girling 60 calipers, and in the rear I'm using 10.1" vented MK3 front rotors (on a MK3 front spindle) with VW MK4 GLI/20th/337 rear calipers and a modified carrier.

The fronts came apart easily, I just blew out the pistons with compressed air.  They were brand new, so nothing was worn or rusted.

The rears were a bit more difficult.  After twisting the piston out, I had to remove the internal parking brake mechanism.

This required a new tool!  Not many companies make these, and I couldn't find the Hazet version in stock, so I settled for these Motion Pro extra long retaining ring pliers to remove the retaining ring down at the bottom of the parking brake mechanism.

Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the disassembly, my hands were covered in brake fluid and it required my full attention to get them apart without ruining anything.

I also had to remove the seals at the rear of the caliper, thankfully they came out without tearing because I'm not sure these are easy to get.

Next I had to remove this bronze bushing that guides the parking brake actuator rod.

I fired up the lathe and made this removal tool.

I set it up in the press...

... and it popped right out!

Now the caliper are completely stripped to bare metal so I don't have to worry about ruining anything inside during the next steps.

Next step: remove all the original paint. I think these were powder coated red, it didn't come off very easily even with multiple rounds of Aircraft Remover.

I started by removing some of the raised casting marks, including the "Lucas" and "VW / Audi" symbols.

I'm using bluing to see where each curve ends, there are a lot of complex shapes in these caliper castings and I'm trying to make everything as smooth, uniform, and symmetric as possible before powdercoat.

I still have a lot of work left, but I've made good progress recently!

In other garage news, I stopped to check out my Uncle Rich's garage over the holidays.  He's just about ready to start laying tubing for the floor heat, then it's time to pour the slab!

I helped him choose a spot and make a sketch for the location of his 2-post lift.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

After a few months away from blogging, I'm back!  Check the next page, I made a few updates tonight.

Back to my lower control arms, I finally got the metal work finished!  Some of this work has been done for weeks and I'm just getting around to posting it, but I busted my ass this weekend and finally got them finished.

When I left off, I had just finished the jig to form the curve around the swaybar mounting points on the rear lower control arms.

After a considerable amount of fuckery with the air hammer, they were roughed in to shape.

Not perfect, but they're close enough to tweak into final position by hand with hammers.

After adjustments and trimming, I MIG welded it in place.  I TIG welded some of the rear arms to get some practice, but I decided to MIG these to save a bit of time.

Here is a nice step-by-step of the process.  The 'before' arm on the right, the hammerformed piece, the hammerform itself, and the finished product on the left!

Another angle to show the compound curvature.

Instagram angle

At this point I took a break to TIG weld the remaining portions of the 2nd front arm.

Not perfect by any means, but this was the perfect opportunity to get a few feet of practice welding in.

I also finished welding and blending some unused holes in the front arms.

Grinding forever.

And with that, the front arms were finished!

Back to the rears, I'm reusing the hammerform I used on the front arms to make the curved filler around the pancake bushing.  I modified it slightly, I added two screw holes to hold it together better.  The original design, with one screw, moved a bit while hammering.

The arms I'm using for the rear, which are actually MK2 Golf/Jetta front lower control arms, had a lot of random notches formed in the edges.  I decided to hammer them all smooth before forming filler panels.  .

Here you can see them a little more clearly...

...And here you can't!

Here was another spot before...

And a little before/after for comparison.

Pro tip: keep the worn down cutting discs around, sometimes they come in handy to make cuts in tight areas.

I skipped a few photos, but I followed the same steps as the front: bending 1-1/4" tubing, cutting it to fit each curve, and trimming away the excess.

Welding forever.

The curve on the leading edge of the arms is more subtle, so sharp bends from a bender wouldn't work.  I cut the edge of a tube to weaken it, then formed it with hammers to match the gentle curvature.

Metabo Super Slicers are the best.

Trimmed and ready for welding

I also followed the same procedure as the fronts on filling the subframe bolt access holes: open up the bore with a carbide burr, trim a piece of 2" tubing to length, and welded in place.

All welded up!

I had the full arsenal out in force to finish all these welds.

A few hours of grinding later, and the metal work is complete!  I pressed out the aluminum plugs I was using to keep the holes round and snapped a few photos.  They're not perfectly metal finished, they will require some bodywork before paint, but I'm happy with the results.

And with that they're off! I'm having them re-blasted and coated in epoxy primer by a local shop.