Last month, World Mining Equipment focussed on downhole drilling technology. Inevitably, given our operational time and space limitations, it was not possible to cover all the participants in this market. However, this North American report enables us to make up for one omission by including this submission from the Winnipeg, Manitoba based manufacturer Cubex.
During the past 22 years, Cubex Ltd has been actively engaged in the supply and service of in-the-hole (ITH) drilling equipment to the Canadian mining industry. In responding to domestic customer requests for machine modifications and improvements the company began to move into the design, engineering and eventually the manufacturing of underground ITH drills. The history of Cubex has been one of listening to the customer and then responding with a quality product, followed with an aggressive product support programme. Today, knowledge of the Cubex product is spreading around the world.
The current generation of Megamatic drills incorporates field proven electric/hydraulic componentry which improves operational safety of the drill while giving the operator more tools to increase productivity. These new features have provided Cubex’ customers with a further new and productive option, convertability: certain Megamatic models can easily be converted to either ITH or hydraulic tophammer operation. This feature results in a highly productive drill that is both compact and versatile and can effectively drill holes from 64mm to 813mm diameter.
Megamatic drill components have been successfully assembled to perform a wide variety of drilling functions in both surface and underground applications. Some of these are as follows:
* Exploration drilling, using a helicopter-portable Megamatic drill with all wheel drive floatation tyres to drill holes of up to 165mm diameter to depths of 250m.
* Civil construction drilling, utilising a diesel driven track carrier with extendable boom and capable of drilling holes up to 432mm diameter in any direction.
* Raise drilling, using a two hammer reaming device for the drilling of 762mm diameter holes.
* Reverse circulation drilling in both underground and surface applications.
Cubex is presently actively pursuing opportunities in the international market, through select distributors in various mining regions around the world. Cubex engineering and field service personnel will continue to work closely with both the distributors and end-users so that the Megamatic drill continues to evolve as the safest and most efficient solution for drilling long, straight holes.
(Seeing is believing, they say, and WME can report that the Cubex Megamatic was on show during September at the Electra Mining show in South Africa. The drill attracted much attention on the outside display area of Boart International, the Canadian company’s distributor in Southern Africa, and Cubex personnel were on hand to talk about the product. Cubex told WME that a number of Megamatics had been ordered by ZCCM in Zambia, replacing tophammer rigs.)
When cars were first built, they were raced . . . the two have always gone hand in hand. First there were jalopies, then hot rods, lead sleds, street rods, street machines, “pro” street machines, and now the newest breed of ultra-light street machine, the kit car. They’ve sprung from the same basic thinking that prompted early race car builders: take a production vehicle and put it on such a diet that it goes faster without any more horsepower.
This latest generation of street machine employs a full space frame made from either mild or high-carbon steel, welded together and replacing the original chasis, whether the OEM piece was a unibody or full frame to begin with. By using fiberglass body panels, or a combination of glass and stock panels (often the roof panel is retained to make windshield and backlight mounting easier), it’s possible to take nearly a thousand pounds off most American cars. Combine that with even moderate horsepower, and the performance is absolutely astonishing.
The degree of chassis sophistication for these eye-openers varies according to the budget, or what you intend to do with the car. If your main goal is to build a canyon flyer, you’ll need more torsional rigidity than the guy who wants to hit warp drive between the stoplights. The Mr. Gasket Corvette, shown here for the first time, is a fairly close approximation of a current Trans Am road racer, and it weighs about 2000 pounds with a driver. It flies, and-goes around corners unlike any production car you’ve ever driven.
“Kit” chassis involve less tubing, and are available from chassis builders like Jeg’s, Ness, Hardy, Alston, BRE, and Speedway Motors. They’re spin-offs of the Super Gas and Bracket chassis these guys designed for drag racing; but where a drag racer would want to use strut front suspension for minimum weight, the street versions most commonly use conventional, unequal length control arms. The rear suspension can be built several ways, but the most common setup is a four-link system to locate the axle longitudinally, with a track bar for lateral location. Springing for the rear axle can be coil-over shocks, or separate springs and shocks. Coil-overs are simpler and lighter, but slightly more expensive.
Most of the kit chassis builders have designs for any popular body style, and can accommodate special requests for oddball chassis. If you have a Mustang, Camaro, Corvette, Firebird, or anything related to that type of car, you won’t have to look too hard for a chassis to fill up the body space.
WHAT’S A SPACE FRAME, ANYWAY?
Over a century ago, bridge designers caught on to the fact that by using more than one piece of wood or metal, they could create a structure with far greater load carrying capacity than those materials could manage alone. The first applications were wood, reinforced with either different sizes of lumber, or iron. By running a span, and then another parallel to it (connected by diagonal braces), the bridge loads were distributed along the entire length of the bridge instead of being concentrated at either end. This “triangulation” allowed them to build far lighter bridges, using smaller beams than they had previously needed to build the same length bridge.
These same principles are used in a space frame to get by with thin-walled tubing, and when properly combined, create very light overall weight and high strength. This strength-to-weight ratio is far better than most unibodies. The space frame approach hasn’t been commonly applied in mass produced automobiles until recently, because it typically requires more fabrication skills to assemble–and employs more expensive materials. The Pontiac Fiero is very close to a true space frame, despite its unibody looks. The new Corvette also uses underlying welded panels for strength not available from the body alone.
The reason space frames are becoming more attractive to the car makers in this country is because of the strength-to-weight ratio we just talked about. With the move toward lighter, more fuel efficient cars, there are no other practical solutions.
In space frame design, the principles of triangulation lend needed strength to the chassis assembly. In a proper chassis, each member is placed under either a tension or compression load. These loads may change during operation of the vehicle, depending on the dynamics introduced by cornering, acceleration, and braking. Typically, chassis designed for drag racing don’t have the correct torsional stiffness for severe cornering loads. Road racing chassis, on the other hand, have excellent torsional stiffness in nearly every plane, at a weight sacrifice over the drag chassis.
WHO’S GOT WHAT?
MR GASKET The car pictured on our cover and in the lead shot of this article was developed by Triad Services, Inc., in Warren, Michigan, for Mr. Gasket. Although production plans aren’t solidly formulated at the time of this writing, they are tentatively scheduled to go into production near the end of summer ’85. The car’s chassis will be sold as a kit, and it utilizes a novel construction technique.
The normal assembly technique for tube frames requires “fish mouthing” the tubing ends to ensure maximum contact for welding. The Gasket approach uses fittings designed as castings to allow the use of tubing cut squarely on the ends. The casting technique used is described in a sidebar.
According to Jim Browning, Mr. Gasket’s vice president of administration, you’ll be able to either purchase kits including pre-bent tubing and the fittings you’ll need, or select from a variety of fittings packaged individually so you can engineer your own structure.
To correctly weld most chassis together, it’s best if you are an experienced welder, equipped with either a MIG, TIG, or gas welding outfit up to the chore. Although gas welding is acceptable, it’s painfully slow compared to MIG (wire) welding. Machines such as Hobart’s smallest MIG setup are available for under a grand, or about what you’d pay to have one of the chassis builders assemble your chassis.
The Mr. Gasket approach is aimed at the less experienced welder, and despite the greater number of welds it requires, the area of the welds is increased, reducing the likelihood of weld failures from overstress. The fittings will be available in mild steel as well as the stainless, shown here.
JEG’S The “Jegster” is the epitome of the kit racer for the street. It utilizes a combination of square and round cross-section tubing, conventional front suspension, a choice of rear suspension, and comes in three stages of assembly: completely unwelded (except for the front crossmember, which is jig-welded to assure alignment of front suspension components); welded frame rails with roll cage unwelded; and completely assembled.
Jeg’s Alston, and BRE all have interior tinwork kits available for most popular cars, although you’ll need to trim them to size prior to installation. In addition to tinwork, you’ll find pedal assemblies, steering columns, fuel cell mounts, battery mounts, Lenco trans mounts, crossmembers, and all the various rear suspension parts you might need, right in their catalog.
ALSTON The Alston program is similar to Jeg’s; these guys are the leaders in the type of cars we’re talking about. The primary difference between the Alston and Jeg’s chassis is in the basic frame rail design. The Jegster has a three-piece lower rail, and Alston uses a mandrel bent monorail construction. Provided your welding is up to snuff, the difference in strength is minimal.
Alston also offers a wide variety of modular frame components, including the usual frame connectors for unibody cars with subframes, ladder bar kits, roll bars and cages, and details like pedal assemblies. Both the Alston and Jeg’s chassis catalogs are interesting and comprehensive overviews of what’s available for this kind of kit car.
DON NESS, DON HARDY, BRE, and all the rest. The list is long, but they all are really involved in giving you the best chassis or parts for your specific application. Ness and Hardy cater to the Pro Stock crowd, as does Willy Rells, but that doesn’t mean they won’t give you a hand if you need it. Business is business, after all.
WIRING AND PLUMBING
If you’re doing a custom interior, probably the best route to follow would be to utilize one of the pre-fabbed switch panels from Auto Rod Controls or Electric Systems. The main difference is that the ARC panel uses fuses and the ES panel employs circuit breakers. There are also major differences in appearance and construction.
Instruments can be mounted in a custom-built panel, or in some cases can be installed in the stock panel with only minor rework.
Plumbing for you car will include brake lines, cooling system lines, heater lines (if you use a heater), and oil cooler lines. For the flexible lines, Earl’s, Russell’s and Aeroquip are the one-stop places to go. If you want to use conventional hoses instead of AN-style plumbing, you could wrap them with nylon or steel braiding from Specter, or nylon from Mr. Gasket’s new line.
Hard lines for brakes should be stainless or seamless steel line designed for brake systems. It should be bent using the proper tools and flared with the proper angles for the fittings you use. Whenever you run a very long length of hard line, bend some kind of stress relief into it at about the halfway point. This could be either a full loop, or (more commonly) a “U” shaped bend. In either case, the bend should be below the main length of tubing to avoid trapping a bubble in the fluid.
As we mentioned before, the easiest way to build one of these cars is to utilize the roof and door pillar section from a stock vehicle. This way, mounting the glass will be far easier, and if you use the stock dash, you’ll save yourself a heap o’ fabricatin’.
On the other hand, if you’re a purist, several companies make complete bodies in fiberglass. Diversified Glass, for example, will make you an IROC Z body in not only glass, but if you wanted to step up for it, they’d lay it up in Kevlar or carbon fiber. They also make Fiero and Trans Am Firebird bodies, Corvettes, and late-model mid-size GM cars. Although the bodies are intended for drag racing or SCCA’s Trans Am Series, they could be utilized in your kit car build.
HOW MUCH FABRICATION?
Any project of this scope will require a lot of fabrication. There’ll be pattern making, brackets to build, wiring and plumbing to hang, and body mounts to construct. Companies like Jeg’s Alston, Hardy, and Ness have dealt with every fabricator’s worst nightmares enough to be excellent sources for information. As these cars become more common, the kits will get so complete you’ll be able to build them with a minimum of metalworking skills. Until then, if you want one of these rides, and don’t care to build it yourself, they can be built for you by most of the race car builders in the source list.
If you’re a stand-up kinda’ person, and really want to experience car building at its most formidable, look through the classifieds for a used MIG welder, a drill press, and a grinder or two, and start burning the midnight oil. What you’ll wind up with will be an ultra-light screamer . . . a new breed of street machine.