You can see where Bob attached the rear strut tubes through the rear deck and tied them into the shock crossmember. This increases chassis strength, along with adding support to the Chris Alston's Chassisworks rear clip. The entire cage is tack welded into place and then TIG welded once the builder is satisfied with all points.
The halo portion of the cage was routed tight in toward the A-pillars and up into the roofline to allow for a clean look and maximum space within the cockpit. Also pictured, is the section of the dash that needed to be temporarily removed in order to route the front down bars. This section will eventually be welded, ground smooth and then finished with a small amount of body filler during the paint process. Newer vehicles allow for dashboard removal, however, the deuce's dash is part of the shell.
After tacking in the 10-point custom cage, Bob began to assault the firewall area by removing the pinch-weld from around the upper portion of the cowl, which is a good start to providing a smooth foundation for the firewall to be properly mated. One issue encountered was interference between the current contour of the firewall in relation to our Intro Wheels/Nitto Tire rolling stock and steering radius. Do not fret; we have to remove that portion of the firewall anyway.
To accurately mark where the cut needs to be made in order to square the cowl/firewall area, Bob whipped out this neat little Laser Trac level from Craftsman (model number 320.48251). The level contains a built in bubble for accurate mounting and the added convenience of a magnetic base. Before any cuts were made the laser line was double checked with both a plum bob and a standard bubble-type level.
A word to the wise: Double check within the kick panel area for old leaves and/or any additional flammable debris--it will catch fire as pictured. Once the flames were put out, the front wheel was reinstalled to illustrate the new-found room required to properly steer the Nova. This will additionally allow for a flatter foundation for the firewall to be mated with.
Before the to-be-constructed firewall is fabricated, Bob cut two pieces of sheet metal and drilled 1 5/8-inch holes in them. These were slipped over the front strut tubes and tacked in place to facilitate the tubes exact location for future reference.
The firewall is being constructed via a cold rolled (stronger) sheet of 18-gauge steel. Bob began by cutting it down to a 70x28-inch sheet, which left a few inches of overhang all the way around. Next a template was made in order to discover the location and amount of bend that needed to be made to contour the firewall to the frame. In the end, we were left with a 35-degree bend, made via a sheetmetal brake. Notches needed to be cut into the lower portion of the firewall to fit perfectly around the frame rails.
In order to temporarily fasten the firewall to the cowl area, Cleco fasteners were used. Clecos come most commonly in either 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch sizes (hole size). Bob utilized the 1/8-inch units by drilling a 1/8-inch hole in the locations of choice. Also pictured is the Cleco pliers needed to compress the Cleco for proper installation and removal.
Finally, Bob drilled 1 5/8-inch holes into the firewall via the sheetmetal used to mark where the front strut tubes need to reside. Once both holes were drilled, Bob marked and trimmed the edges via a beverly shear, also pictured. Stay tuned to our next installment as we polish off the firewall and dive into construction of the transmission tunnel, floorboards, and transmission crossmember.