Tigges Talk - Pipe Dreams

Discussion in 'Pit Buzz' started by MaineAlkyFan, Sep 25, 2016.

  1. MaineAlkyFan

    MaineAlkyFan Active Member

    Oct 8, 2006
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    Last week I got an education. We have been waiting all year for our new Murf McKinney chassis to arrive and I have been hopeful to hit at least one race this year. Indy - strike one, no chassis. Charlotte - strike two, not enough time. Reading…

    McKinney chassis #121-0424 showed up at the Holbrook shop Monday 9/12 at 9:46AM EST (not that we had been waiting for it or anything… LOL). That gave us 15 days to assemble the new car & tow out to Reading. Certainly that was possible! I took four vacation days to help start the effort. The shop was all prepped with three coats of epoxy floor paint; the plan was in place for offloading the new chassis from the 18 wheeler to the shop, my apartment in the RV was all set for the duration. We were ready!

    The trip down from Maine felt like going to a race, anticipation was building. It was even difficult to get to sleep Sunday night, feeling all jacked up with adrenaline for the next day's shipment. I was really looking forward to the nuts & bolts aspect of the team effort. Seeing all the details of how the car goes together really helps you understand how things work and recognize if something isn't right at the track.

    The trailer doors creaked open, and there it was, 250 pounds of MIL-T-6736B 4130 Pro-Moly tubing, beautifully formed black anodized aluminum and a Trick Titanium box full of miscellaneous hardware & carbon fiber bits. The dually got backed up to the trailer and we walked the rear of the new pipe into the hauler bed. The rear of the chassis was heavy enough to balance it in the bed & within minutes the truck was gone & the dually was backed into the driveway.

    The first order of business was to spray WD-40 on all the thirsty tubing to arrest any rust. Race car chassis are delivered in mill-black (as supplied) tubing, with no paint or plating. They are left that way for the life of the car to allow for crack inspection & repair. Fresh tubing is like a sponge, we applied at least five full rubdowns of WD-40 over the next four days.

    With the tin removed, we transferred the chassis to the shop, got it up on jack stands & spent time looking at all the special little details McKinney builds into his cars. All of the parts are numbered & databased in the McKinney build sheet. If any part is damaged during racing, he knows exactly how it was fabricated for your specific chassis & can supply an exact replacement quickly. From the removable rear body tree to the Dzus fasteners all being the same length, the attention to detail was fantastic. Features like the vertical chassis brace on the oil pump side being oval tubing for additional clearance to the front spindle corner weight offset being built in from the factory are really appreciated at the shop or the track.

    McKinney is certified to weld on the titanium clutch can, and his work adding the clutch pedal pivot & tabs for the for the cool adjustable swing-away blowback struts was great. Features like this make between round servicing easier. Everywhere you looked there were pencil marks for tube placement, bend angles, measurements… even a little heart!

    Our old chassis was still all assembled, so a component at a time could be transferred to the new pipe. The rear axel was the first part to go in. Each step required disassembly, inspection, cleaning & fitting. The spindle spacers needed to be machined to fit properly outside the new rear frame plates. Fred made short work of that on the lathe. Between the disassembly, cleaning, modification, test fitting & final assembly, day one was over. The next day the chassis would go into the chassis jig.

    Mark & Fred designed & built the old chassis, so the shop had the original fabrication jig stored away in the rafters. We pulled it down, wizzed off all the old pipe stands, welded on the extension legs & made some adjustable feet so the rails could easily be leveled. Between three guys, two electronic levels, two carpentry levels, three tie down straps & a few hours the jig had replaced the chassis in the shop & was level.

    The chassis jig is a tool used to hold all the pipes in proper alignment during fabrication. Since the new chassis fabrication was completed by McKinney, we were using the jig to establish existing geometry & take reference measurements relative to the ground. The top of the jig represents the racing surface. We lifted the chassis up onto the jig, setting the rear axel spindles in the rear jig stands, then set the front chassis height & re-fabricated the pipe stands & collars to fit the McKinney chassis.

    Eddie Parker has a saying - "Everybody loves to come to the racetrack." The hardest work isn't at the track, it's at the shop. Mechanical work at the track is limited, the tasks are the same between every round. Occasionally there is a problem or thrash, but the work is more focused on doing the routine without mistakes.

    The shop is a different world, a place where design, experimentation and nuts & bolts work is at a heightened level. You get to figure out how to do things the best way, then make stuff to attain your goals. The shop is a place to work hard and learn. I love this environment. Cutting & grinding, welding & machining, knowing how tight a bolt should be are all ways to show talents while building team confidence. Watching Mark teach young Cora to weld on the jig stands was precious… A fused TIG bead brought the exclamation "That's like one of the best things I've ever done!" Generational skills being transferred, building a car and a talent.

    My day two education came with the realization of what a pipe dream I was living thinking the car could be done in time for Reading. Strike three on me! What was I thinking?

    The next two days saw the front spindles, brakes, master cylinders & lines transfer from the old to the new. Each step had its challenges… a diameter that was too tight, a seat support that needed to be cut out & reworked so that the rear chuck could be installed, sharp edges that needed to be dressed. Between playing with all the eye candy machined parts, rainbow copper welds, 2024 aluminum & carbon fiber there were long periods of "We can't do that until we figure out this", "Did you order the tabs, or collars, or fittings?" or just staring at a solution in your head before trying it out on the car. Do we use the old fuel & oil tanks or buy new ones? If we sell the old SFI legal body & chassis what other bits can we justify buying?

    Building a car is a lot more than just bolting stuff together. I certainly struck out on my perception of how much work it would be, but there are more innings in the game. Mark & Fred will be doing a bunch of detail fabrication of stuff that will not add much weight to the car then I'll be back down to the plant to get the chassis off the jig & get the body fitted. Once that is done, the heavy stuff can start to go in. We won't be out at the track this season, but we will be ready for 2017!

    Detailed pictures of the build here:

    Tigges New Car - Round One

    Chris Saulnier - Team Tigges
    Mechanic Falls, Maine
    madcow likes this.
  2. Unlimitedaero

    Unlimitedaero Member

    Oct 26, 2014
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    Good Luck guys! I know it will be a winner...
  3. Cdn526

    Cdn526 Member

    Dec 12, 2006
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    Really enjoyed going thru all the pics, it's shaping up to be a real bad-ass ride.
  4. wkdivr

    wkdivr Member

    Jun 6, 2003
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    REALLY like reading your blogs, Chris. Most people don't realize how much work there is to do once the car is "finished" at the chassis shop. Tons, and tons of little, but important details.

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