Right, folks who know me will know there has been a bit of a radical change of direction on this project, brought about by the aquisition of an unbelievably sound shell (Cheers Alun) It's apparently never been welded and still has its original sills, rear arches, front chassis legs, boot floor and everything else. Ziebart is wonderful stuff! It came to me devoid of front subframe and running gear, both front doors, the bonnet, n/s/f wing, front bumper, headlamps etc. It also showed signs of light accident damage in the vicinity of the n/s/f inner headlight.
Nothing being as easy as it looks, I immediately set about fitting a known straight front subframe (with all suspension) which duly picked up on the mounting points exactly and looked ok in place. (Sigh of relief!)
So I set about cutting off the damaged front panel and half the inner front panel and straightened up the n/s flitch which was also a bit twisted at the front end. Then I cut the missing half of the inner front panel from a spare front end I had lying around and offered it up to the shell.
This is where the sigh of relief became a bit premature, as, with the new bit exactly in place on the n/s leg, it overlapped the original section still on the o/s leg by about 10mm. Slightly confused I offered a bonnet up to the car and with the back edge flush with the scuttle there was a 10mm gap to the wing at the screen end and a 2mm overlap at the headlamp end. Further measuring and examination showed the n/s strut tower 5mm further back than the o/s one and, once the bulkhead sound deadening pads were removed, crush damage to the n/s leg just behind the rear n/s subframe mount.
My inescapable conclusion is that the impact the car suffered was taken mainly by the front subframe and this item, much thicker and stronger than the shell transmitted the shock into the body and bent it rather badly.
All is not lost however, as I have fitted all the doors and they line up very nicely with the shell and the shuts. The shut lines are as good as a Dolly ever is and the swages line up perfectly, also the screen is still in place, uncracked and looking unaffected, leading me to believe that the damage is confined to the area forward of the "A" pillars.
I HAVE been offered a pair of flitches and legs for sensible money and with those and a pair of club chassis rails, I could probably make a fair go of repairing the shell and getting it more or less straight. More or less, however, is not good enough, so I have elected to have it jig straightened for about the same money as the new panels would have cost me and KNOW that it will be spot on. I have taken it to a specialist shop not too far away from me, on the recommendation of a good friend, who had his MGB done there. He has 3 of the latest and finest jigs money can buy, but also access to data on classics including, thankfully, Dolomites! When I arrived, one jig was empty (for the Dolly) one had a Ferrari on it and the third had an Audi R8, so I am in good company!
More on this, as and when stuff happens, but in the meantime I am taking advantage of the Dolomite sized space in the garage to have a play with my newly modified front subframe and the engine I will be using and the results are most encouraging! Readers will recall me having doubts about the viability of the big wing sump, these have proved groundless, sump and subframe could have been designed to match!
At the moment, the engine is just resting (lightly and supported by the crane) on the rack, in service it will have a little clearance, this is one of the "critical" measurements of this conversion where clearance is tightest.
By comparing points with the Carledo, it is apparent that I can safely mount this motor about an inch further forward than the Carledo's 8 valver is, the position of the Carledo's engine was largely determined by the exhaust downpipe, a convoluted device with very long secondaries that I had to thread round the subframe. The Omega motor has short secondaries that meet forward of the bellhousing joint making a single big bore downpipe that I can fabricate without bother. Bringing the engine forward that single inch will allow me to sit it lower in the car and leave more room at the back for the EGR valve and heater outlet hose necks. And I have space to spare at the front of the engine anyway. I don't think it will have a massive effect on weight distribution since the autobox is 20cms longer and MUCH heavier than the Carledo's manual 5 speed.
Having used a Sprint subframe this time instead of an OHV one, I have not even had to modify the rear crossmember at all, which is a bonus, all that is needed is a slight reshaping of the metal trans oil cooler pipes to clear the subframe in the vicinty of the bellhousing joint.
That's enough for now, keep watching this space!