Made progress today.
Got after the spare tire holder today, beginning with the saddle piece (to the right in the photo above). On the originals, this part is bolted to a bracket that is bolted to the transaxle’s spine, and that supports the front of the spare tire and holds the two leather straps that secure it up top. Like this:
Since my car has this brace across the shock towers, I’ll use that as the bottom support for the tire. But I want the “saddle” part to look authentic. I estimated the size and rooted around the scrap pile…
Now I almost wish I hadn’t cut a chunk out of this old frying pan for the clam stay reinforcement. But what’s left of it should do just fine.
First we grind off the non-stick coating, then hit it with a hammer.
…and bend it in a vice…
And use the spare tire as a sort of buck to check the shape.
Bend and hammer a bit more
And then reinforce and set it up for a bracket.
I brazed on this bit of angle aluminum. Then popped a couple rivets in it for good measure. I’ll pretty it up later.
Next order of business was the shallow U-shaped frame member that, on the original 550s, holds the transaxle’s rear mount and juts up under the spare wheel.
On my car it doesn’t exist: the trans mount is on a straight-across bar.
So I’ve got to make a bent one.
I got some 2-inch PVC to bend-up a dummy. Cut 32 inches off the end and hit it with a heat gun.
Then notched it to fit over the existing, functional frame piece.
Checked for fit with the tire.
And checked the other tires to make sure everything would still clear. It did. Then it was off to see Mike at the muffler shop to bend a proper bit of pipe likewise.
He charged me $10, but I only had $8, and he wouldn’t take one of the ciders I’d just bought from the liquor store next door. So I guess I owe Mike $2.
Notched these like the plastic, et voila.
The tube is just a hair short, so to make it look real I’m going to have to collar it on the bottom, but that shouldn’t be too big a deal. I also need to weld a box in the slots so that the tube can be bolted neatly through the real crossmember. And I still have to make those thick, foot-long braces that tie the tube to the main rails going forward. All of this has to be easily disassembled so the engine and trans can be put in and taken out without a plasma cutter.
But that’s all for tomorrow (or the day after that).
Today I finished up with the spindly little braces going to the rear. Since I already had the right sized tube to do that.
Again with the thick tire to test the fit.
Pukka. Ordered some inch-wide leather strips to make the tie-downs. I’ll still need a buckle and a little bit of hardware, but I think we’re looking good so far.
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