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    Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard way.
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    Vendor yoshi's Avatar
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    I am starting this topic so that everyone, and I mean everyone, no matter how small you think you are, can post anything you have learned that could help someone out that is getting started. *Everything from removing stubborn bolts, to welding tricks, to jig fixtures, to figuring out how to set stuff up like suspension, tackling bumpsteer, toe change, *setting up proper rack location, etc.. .

    I am by no means an expert, I have almost 4 years experience building my own rails now, and have evolved my building technique, as well as figured out quicker ways to do things in that time, so I will start by posting some of what I know. *I say some, because there are so many little things I have learned, I don't think I can get them all in on this post, so I will update as I start remembering. *This is not the only way to do things, I am just saying my way, and you can take it or leave it compared to what others may post. *This is just info for people to have for different options to possibly suit their needs.




    Couple things I learned the hard way. In no particular order:

    Always tack everything up first, then go back and start welding your tubes up in 1/4, or 1/2 tube sections at a time.

    Weld all your suspension, seat, radiator, etc. tabs on last, that way, even if the frame does tweak a bit, you can still have all your points being in the correct place, and if you have a fixture like me, doing the tabs last makes sure the bolts come out a lot easier to remove it.

    Same thing with the motor tabs, if you run tubes to the motor mounts, weld the tubes up first, let them fully cool, then tack around the motor mounts in 1/4" sections so they don't pull. Nothing sucks more than having to use a crowbar to get your motor in and out.

    Also, on your motor mounts, have the motor attach to one side of the frame, but make some aluminum spacer to attach the other. This way, you can snug them up really tight to keep the holes centered, then you can have a hair taken off the length of the spacer so it slides back in when you assemble it. OR, you can put spacers on both sides, so you can adjust side to side if needed by machining different spacers.

    A little trick I use for getting the right spacing on tabs for suspension and shocks was to have a bunch of aluminum spacers machined that are a hair longer than my heim with the misalignment spacers, same thing with the shock tabs. You could technically get by with one spacer for each component that is repeated, but we weld everything up at once, so we have about 20 spacers per frame so all the tabs are done together

    Rubber mount your radiator and gas tank.

    When setting up your roof, make sure you have at least 6" above your head, and that goes for any side tubes like b-pillars or x-bracing.

    Make sure the seat belt that attaches in the back is just below your shoulder, any longer and the belts can stretch too much, too high and they aren't pulling you down into your seat, same thing with the crotch belt, best to have it mount back toward your butt a bit, the goal is to have the seat belts pull you into your seat, but as short as possible to avoid stretching..

    Ground your batter directly to the frame by the battery, then ground it to the motor, and ground it to the frame by the motor somewhere that is a focal point for all the grounds of the motor, also ground the frame to the motor. *Make sure grind the inside of the motor mounts on the frame where the frame and motor make contact. *I lost hours and hours of time trouble shooting ground issues, so overkill it, and if you run a long wire to the back from the battery, don't use small wire..


    When installing a rear center carrier of some sort, bolt on the rear suspension. *Have some sort of simple, square tubes motor stand to hold the motor at the height you want it in the rail (which in my case has the oil drain 1/2" above the frame), slide the motor where you want it forward wise, set up the rear carrier, and weld the carrier setup in first making sure it is centered between the rear suspension. *Then line the motor up off the sprockets. *I bought an aftermarket motor sprocket, the biggest one I could find. *Then I bolt on the rear drive sprocket, and I use a straight piece of 2x2, 1/4" angle that I then clamp to the front sprocket and the rear sprocket with vise grips.

    If possible, have a removable subframe and drop the motor out the bottom, this makes design, removal, and installation so much easier as well as not having to remove everything on the top to get the motor out. *I undo 4 subframe bolts, unhook the harness, both the motor to a cradle, lay it flat on the table, unbolt the motor, and lift the frame off the motor, very simple..


    When building front a-arms, build one side first, upper and lower so you are happy with the the numbers as it cycles, then build a fixture *that connects the pivot points of each a-arm so you can reproduce them easily and exactly. *A fixture is very simple, just some square tube to make the outline of the a-arm, then a couple tabs welded. *Or for a one time or quick fixture, a sheet of particle, mdf, or plywood, and some 2x4's with screws holding the outline works great.

    Building frames with cheap jigs:
    Build a good, flat table, I prefer a couple layers of 3/4" MDF board for my top, try to make it at least as big as the frame and suspension components, but doesn't have to have the wheels. *Just the widest and longest point without wheels, plus a little extra room around. *I like MDF cause I can't set it on fire, and you can draw on it. *Draw a center line down the middle of the table, then grid it in 6" increments, verticle and lateral, or as close as you want, could be every inch if you have the time, but a long, 2" ruler works great for 2" increments..

    You can use 2x4's to build a fixture to hold the frame layers, if you make an "L" shape on the bottom of the 2x4 with another 2x4, you can screw it to the table so it doesn't move.. *

    Make sure the table is level, and when you have a horizontal tube, mark the center, and maybe drop a little nick in the center, then drop a plum line down to keep the tube centered on the table. *You can drop a straight line down on the ends to make sure it is parallel to the horizontal lines on the table.

    Cover the edge of the table with some kind of metal material like angle. *I used some 3/4" aluminum c-channel angle that clips onto the edge of the MDF board and pressed on nice and tight. *This gives you a straight edge to measure off of when wood will start to roll over and you loose the crisp edge..

    level all the horizontal tubes, and makes sure they are square on the table by dropping plum lines down each side. *Everything else will fall into place easier if you do this.

    Write down everything you do. Make a half ass drawing of the rail if you have to, and write down the length you cut each tube as well as the notch(s) or any bending you do. That way, if you cut a tube too long or bend to far short, you can add whatever you need to the drawing to make it right. You may think you will remember what you cut it at, but I have cut too many tubes that had lengths, bends, and notches to know that you forget pretty quick what you just did. Also, if a tube is too long, short, has too much or little of a bend, etc, mark on the tube what it was and set it aside. When I am building, I am constantly changing my design as I build it, I do a lot of looking at it before I weld stuff, and I can grab a tube that has been cut and bent, set it in a spot, step back and see if I like it. If I do, or if I need to make it longer or shorter, or maybe a little more or less bend, I can look at the tube with the numbers, and adjust them a bit to reproduce the tube how I want it. *It's hard measuring a tube with a bend, and figuring out where to mark for a bend at a certain degree, so a physical reference helps and I use them all the time in my shop. *I can't tell you how many times a piece of tube was cut and bent perfect for the spot, even if it's not what I had in mind, sometimes it looks better, and that's the cool part, getting ideas that you wouldn't have thought of...


    Even if you plan on only building one rail, instead of taking forever to build a perfect chassis, just to wish you changed a bunch of stuff (like everyone, including myself) buy some cheap tubing of the same diameter that is from a scrap yard, and build a full scale mockup, writing down everything as you go and just slap it together. *Then step back, look at it, and if you need to change stuff for looks, or if a tube needs to be an inch higher to use the shock you want, you can make the adjustment to the final design, which will go a lot smoother after the first one. *I actually build my first rough prototype different from side to side, so I can decide what i liked better and use it for the final, since I won't be using the frame, it doesn't matter if it's different. I will lay a B pillar back an inch or so on one side, and have one side rail at a little more angle or higher, just so I can see a couple different possibilities. I *build a rough prototype first outta tubing, then I build my final, just like on the SXS and 4 seater I have logs running on, I won't be using the frame I am building, just using them as a rough draft, and there are quite a few things I will be changing.

    You can also build a full scale mockup outta wooden downs as a visual aid. I set the motor and seats on the table, then move dowels around with 2x4's as a fixture, then modify that to get my rough draft, then the final. I use quick set glue to join the dowels, and tape to hold them until the glue hardens. I've done that on every frame I have prototyped..



    There is more, but i'll update later after others get there comments about what they do in, and I will also post pictures off all my fixtures, tables and tooling to show how I cut, notch, bend, and jig everything up. *Even they way I have my tubing racked in relation to my saw, the placement of my notcher and the rail I am assembling, are direct results of 4 years *figuring out what is quickest, and most efficient for me to build rails.


    I am hoping this will turn into a really big topic full of every possible situation for people to reference, hopefully a sticky when it gets enough good info in it. *There is a lot of info on this site, and a lot of questions that get asked a lot, as well as some questions that don't get asked because people may be embarrassed, so having lots of info in one topic may really help some people out...

    This is just a topic for everyone to share anything they have learned, and hopefully help out people that are just getting started, so feel free to make any suggestions you have, and lets try to keep everything to a technical aspect and not have any off topic or BS for people to read through, lets keep every post informational, or with questions people would like to have answered or elaborated on...thank ya much.....
    Last edited by yoshi; 11-19-2008 at 07:44 AM.
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    why does everyone solid mount their engines in rails? *i can understand rubber would cause to much flexing and could fracture when jumping but what about delrin? *thanks *good info there yoshi
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    Vendor yoshi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by s_c_engineering\";p=\"40792
    why does everyone solid mount their engines in rails? *i can understand rubber would cause to much flexing and could fracture when jumping but what about delrin? *thanks *good info there yoshi
    Short answer, it's easier. *

    I have been told never to solid mount a mc powerplant, there is just too much vibration, but to my knowledge, I have never seen a mc motor mounted any other way. It's not a new trend, they have been solid mounted since the mc rail was first presented, and every builder I know of solid mounts them. *Not saying it's right, just saying it's what's been done forever, *and i've never heard any problems, so it's prob. the "if it aint broke, don't fix it" kinda thought process?.

    I am in the process of designing a non solid mount a subframe that has the motor and drive assemble solid mounted to the subframe, but IMO, Delrin, or any other hard material, wouldn't do much good, it would need to be a rubber or poly type busing that has some shock absorption ability. Delerin and teflon stuff is great for bushings, but I don't think there would be much of a difference vs hard mounting. *Altho I could be wrong..
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    the only reason i suggested acetal is you would still get the stiff solid mounting without so much vibration and noise transmitted to the frame. *poly would also be good like you said. *thanks for the info yoshi.
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    The Wizard bdkw1's Avatar
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    Poly would be better. I'm using My motor as a stressed member in the frame. If it was good enough for the Wing, it's good enough for Me. It also cuts down on wieght and tubing in the back.
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    Thanks for the tips Yoshi. Another few I might add.

    Expect to pay twice what you think you will.

    Try to use as many off the shelf items as possible. (getting parts from NAPA or AUTOZONE is a lot easier than waiting on custom parts)

    The best engineered buggy in the world CANNOT protect you head or body completely/properly....keep a few hundred bucks in reserve for good safety equipment such as a helmet and harness...don't skimp on quality here....Ask me how I know

    HAVE FUN! Building buggies is just a means to an end. If you don't have fun with the build you are wasting your time.
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    I hope rorty doesnt mind. sure he wont but i think this page and the rest of his site in general should be included. he has alot of tips, calcs and other things that a builder should read IMO. *might make someones life alot easier..... i better rephrase that before i get rousted...... i mean might make someones life a lot easier.... for all you spell checkers out there.

    [url=http://www.rorty-design.com/content/tech.htm:1lz4g9ig]Rorty tech page[/url:1lz4g9ig]
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    Senior Member Jet09's Avatar
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    Yoshi, What Type of Rubber Mounts would you use to mount the fuel tank and radiator?
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    Vendor yoshi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jet09\";p=\"40820
    Yoshi, What Type of Rubber Mounts would you use to mount the fuel tank and radiator?
    I buy a rubber grommet from the local plastic shop. *They are donut shapped, and fit in a 5/8" hole cut in my tabs, they have a 1/4" id for my bolt to go through, or the nipples on the bottom of the radiator. *I use the same rubber gromets for all my panels which are not touching the frame anywhere to avoid vibration...
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    Re: Sandrail build tips, tricks, and stuff learned the hard
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    Senior Member Jet09's Avatar
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    Thanks, Would you be able to get a Picture/s ?
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