17 April 2012

DeLorean Shock Tower Bar Installation

I love spending time with my car, whether it is driving it around or just working on it.  And by working on it, I mean doing the simple stuff.  I leave the real work to the folks at DeLorean Motor Company in Garden Grove, or friends like Brendon Vetusky, who actually know how to work on cars.  Last year, Brendon helped me lower the front end, and install the lower control arm brackets.  This time the project is to install a shock tower bar.  I think I can do this one myself, even if it takes me all weekend.

The shock tower bar ties the top of the shock towers together inside the trunk to stiffen the front of the car over the structure/frame.  In a car without this bar, the strength is provided simply by the under body or floor of the trunk.  It just happens that DeLorean Motor Company - Midwest had this kit for sale for a limited time.  I gave Julee Swingle a call and placed an order.  I met Julee (as well as David Swingle and Mike from DMC-Midwest) last year at the DMC Open House, in Humble.  It was great to talk to Julee again and catch up on DeLorean and Hot Wheels happenings, more on that later.

I love getting packages with these labels
A few days later, I get the goods.  Everytime I get boxes with DMC labels on it, it feels like my birthday...oh wait, it was.  The items came a huge box, good thing I did not drive the DeLorean to work that day.  Pretty sure it would not have fit in the trunk, and surely not in the cockpit.

What is in the box?
Along with the shock tower bar, I also ordered a carpet for the trunk floor.  Julee included a surprise for me, the Hot Wheel Boulevard DeLorean.  While on the phone, the conversation turn toward Hot Wheels and my latest projects.  I had mention that I have yet to find my Boulevard DeLorean and Julee said she would give me one.  Thanks, Julee!

Shock tower bar kit, instructions, trunk carpet, Hot Wheels Boulevard DeLorean
Now that I have parts, it is time to install the bar.  I read the instructions, and it seems pretty simple.  Simple enough for me to take on.  It may take me longer, but I should be able to handle this...hopefully.

Yeah, that box would never fit in there.
Obviously, the first thing to do is to clear out the trunk. I keep a few things in the trunk, including a set of workshop manuals, rag and duster, a Hot Wheels DeLorean, and other miscellaneous stuff. In preparation for this project, I also taped the light switch at the bottom of the trunk to keep the light from staying on.

Oh, so that is what is underneath the carpet.
You can see my Hot Wheels DeLorean resting on the fuel filler ledge.  I removed the carpet to locate and removed the two bolts where the shock tower bar will be secured to.
Marking the location of the bolts
I used tape to mark the location of the two bolts.  This will be used to transfer the measurements to the carpet.   The bolts are removed and will be replaced by the posts and longer 17mm bolt.  These bolts also secure the under body tub to the frame.

Tape on carpet marks location of the bolts.
The carpet is placed back in the trunk.  I marked the location of the holes with tape.  This will be transferred to the back for cutting.

Laying out the holes for cutting
I decided to use my original carpet with backing and holding on to the new carpet as a spare.  Plus, it was a good practice piece to work on, you only get one chance to get it right.

Cutting out the hole
I used a rotary tool to cut out the hole.  First, I used a cutting bit to drill holes all around the hole, then punched out the hole.  Kinda like this scene from Underworld:

Kate Beckinsale is HOT!
This step took the longest to do, and not as sexy as Kate Beckinsale did it.  A sanding drum was used to clean up the hole.  Ha, you did not see Kate Beckinsale do that.  Once the backing is cut, I took a blade an made some cuts into the carpet.  This will be for the posts to sit in.

Uprights go through the hole
The carpet goes back into the trunk.  The upright posts go through the hole, peeking out just above the surface for the stock tower bar to sit.  I had to do some trimming of the back board and carpet to get the holes to line up. Good thing I used the beat up original carpet to practice on.

Final touches, tightening the bolts and nuts.
Once I got the everything aligned, the bar gets installed.  This part is tricky and took way longer than it was suppose to.  The trouble is getting the main bolts to 'catch' into the threaded hole in the frame.  After about twenty minutes of 'fishing' for the hole, I finally got it to thread.  Now that the hard part is over, all that needed to be done it to tighten the bolt to 33 foot pounds.

Final step is tighten the shock tower bar.  One side of the bar is reversed threaded, the other normal.  All you have to do is twist it by hand to tighten.  Then snug up the nut so it locks.

Finished installation
It took me about two hours to get this thing in there.  Most of the time was taken with measuring and cutting of the holes in the carpet...and a lot of time was eaten up trying to get the bolts to catch.  I think a normal person can do this in about an hour, easily.  But there you go,  I did it...all by myself.

With the work done to the front end a year ago, the difference from the stock set up was huge.  Stiffening the front end can only make things better.  After a test drive through my normal route to work...yes, there is a noticeable difference.  Going over train tracks and bumps along the way, I could feel that the front end is stiffer.

So, my front end has Ed Uding's lower control arm brackets, Toby Peterson's urethane sway bar bushings, and now, Dave and Julee Swingle's shock tower bar.  My car was originally from Texas, so Stephen Wynne (or his crew) did some work on it, and I get it serviced at Don Steger's shop.  I just need to get something from Tony Ierardi's shop, perhaps in June.

Special thanks to Julee, David, and Mike at DMC-Midwest.  I will see you guys in Orlando.

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