The Social Climber

Race Magazine’s Unofficial Project!

The Social Climber

Recent difficulty in moving bulky parts for the car projects (Social Climber and Godiva) prompted a new purchase. Despite some strong advice to the contrary, I purchased a VW transporter dual cab…. an old 1997 one with high km and 4WD no less. It was perhaps most aptly described by Daniel, my mechanic, as having even more things that could go wrong than a regular Tansporter! The advice not to buy one was given by a service manager of a major VW dealership, as service costs and parts are notably expensive from dealers. The issue I had was that at the end of the day it was the only vehicle that met my needs for interior room in a dual cab Ute (yes, I’m very tall), purchase price and a reasonable amount of safety. Now, I have to be honest and note that the deciding factor in making this purchase happen, was some basic research on the internet. In doing so I found out that the prices for some service parts from overseas, such as head gaskets, power steering pumps and dampers were far, far cheaper. Parts information and servicing information came from the relevant enthusiast forums, which is one of the great strengths of a good internet forums. Having mentioned the overseas suppliers, I should note that I did find a local supplier of VW parts that was within 10 – 15% of the overseas price and he got the orders for everything he could supply.

I know some readers will have picked up on the mention of a head gasket set – yes this was why it was a ‘cheap’ purchase. The spanners had to come out for what turned into a much harder job than was expected!

In one respect it was satisfying to have a long held belief reinforced. The belief that every design engineer involved in a car should be forced to spend a month servicing the parts of the car they designed! You know what? After working on the VW I have to say that Toyota know their stuff!

How does all of this mucking around relate to the Social Climber? Well the VW’s tray is big enough to take the hill climber on ramps with a bit of overhang at the back. The idea came from Dande Volks, who run a later model VW dual cab Ute with their Formula Vee on the back. I admit that it might not work as well as I hope, but it was clear that another vehicle was required for family harmony and I suspect that I will find a multitude of uses for a Ute as time goes by.

As for the rest of the Social Climber project, my side of things has paused for a bit, with Race Magazine business requiring more attention in a tightening market.

Work has continued on the seat construction, but I could not finalise the mixtures prior to publication. I can reveal that around one and a half litres of resin will be required to make a full seat. Immersion tests into water have indicated a pleasing resistance to soaking up water. Which realistically is only an issue if the car is transported or run in the rain. It’s not just an issue of a wet bum in a race suit – an unpleasant enough thing – as keeping the car dry is good for limiting corrosion too. Anyway the test was not too scientific – a sample about the size of a soft drink can was weighed and then held down to the bottom of a bucket of water with a couple of bricks. The same was done for expanding resin foam. After 24 hours they were taken out, excess water shaken off and weighed. The epoxy / bead sample was 1-2% heavier and the expanded resin foam was 5% heavier. The epoxy sample had taken on less water. The samples were then left to dry for a few days and then they were reweighed. The epoxy bead mix was back to normal and the expanding foam was still a little over weight. In normal usage I would expect both materials to be covered in some way, with the traditional material being a water resistant tape. Such covering will reduce any water take up by either material, so perhaps the difference between materials is not that important.

The front upper A-arm mounts have been completed and the vertical tubes slotted. The actual bearing mounts are machined from solid and have the bearing pressed into them. As discussed previously the idea is to have the top A-arm mount easily and quickly adjustable by having a sliding mount. This is simply an experiment that had the side benefit of being easy to make in-house.

Dave and Jasko have done the wishbones for Dave’s car, but more on this next issue.

About Neil Roshier

Neil is the editor in chief of Race Magazine.
View all posts by Neil Roshier

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