In one of my previous posts about installing the full hydro steering I mentioned that I had picked up a brand new JD2 Bender and fabbed up a mount so I could bend all the pipe for my rig in the drive way. Of course being Canada I got to bend a bunch of pipe in the snow, as you do! Some of you will notice I said pipe and not tube, I built my exo out of Schd 40 pipe and bought the appropriate 1.8 Pipe die for my JD. I know pipe is "for plumbing" and "super heavy" etc etc. I have also seen countless hard rollovers with pipe built cages with zero problems and I am confident in its strength for what we do. Also huge thanks to Alex for spending countless hours helping me bend up this cage, couldn't have done it without out you, trying to hold up all those pieces and figure out all the copes without help would have been a nightmare!
I quickly learned that a WD21 Nissan is a very "round" vehicle and with my goal to keep the cage 1/2" or less from the body I was going to have my work cut out for me! To follow the body lines nice and tight the main hoop ended up with 13 individual bends. Its not perfect but I'm happy how tight it is, I hate when you see an exo-cage 6" away from the body!
Of course with how high I cut my rear wheel well, and how I want the rear cage to run the fuel door ended up covered. Nothing that a little cut with an angle grinder and some love with the welder couldn't solve!
Doing all of the coping with an angle grinder sucks and is a ton of work, but if you take your time you can get some great tight joins. Heres one of the angled bars running between the windows, 4 bends and a couple crazy copes to make it work.
Some nice tight seams and the cross on the roof. (I have since gone and added two more pipes above the driver and passenger to tie the entire roof together)
Cage starting to come together, if you look close you'll see the sleeved pipe near the front of the door, that is going to be for a swinging door bar that I'll explain further down. Nice big long welds on the cage make me happy!
Then it was time to pull it out into the sunshine for the first time in 2 years! Those are some loaner rims and tires from the EMB project just to get it moving. It still needs the front fender bars as well as the swinging door bars and rear hatch but its getting closer!
One thing I learned backing it up the driveway, is that the front square tube driveshaft was hitting the frame just a tiny big as it spun. Of course its not optimal to have to cut a chunk out of the frame but at this point there was no other real options so I used a chunk of 5/16" plate to fill the hole, as well as took a large piece of plate and made a fishplate on the outside of the frame with numerous plug welds (7 years later and its showing no stress at all and there has been no issues with my driveshaft hitting the frame, or with flexing in the notched out section)
Time for more bends, front fender bars, you can also see a little peek of the York that I installed off the stock AC pully, set up with an oil filter and return line, as well as a pressure switch, to fill my rear bumper with air and use air tools on the trail.
On to the door bars. What I did was buy some 2" schd 40 which slips nicely overtop of the 1 1/5" schd 40, and make some sleeves out of it. Welding in the top and bottom sleeve while leaving the middle one able to spin, allowing me to weld my door bar to it and swing in and out. I can keep my doors on but also keep them protected from the never ending trees on our local trails. (I ended up pulling the doors off and adding a large pin latch to the door bar, its so much easier to see with no doors as well, but at this point in the project I was planning on keeping the doors on.)
You can also see my "meat hooks" as my friends call them, the way the door bar latches into the main hoop and keeps it from sliding up and down.
Her's a shot of the door pin I found and welded to the bar. The 3/4" shank is nice and thick for all the stress it'll take.
After the cage was all tacked I let loose Alex on the thing to burn in all the welds as a treat (all the grinding and cutting is worth it once you just get to spend hours burning wire). I also had to take some pics just to show the effort my buddy made on working on my rig in my tiny shop! I've since returned the favour by spending countless hours in his gravel driveway working on the EMB project (blog still to come!)
Quick shot of the rear hatch that I bent up. It uses the same sleeve technique up on the roof bar, with the same sort of "meat hooks" on either side. A couple of bumpstops attached inside the pipe allow me to lift up the hatch and have it push the cage up and out of the way. The stock rear hatch lifters arn't liking the extra weight so I'll have to add a prop for it. (Not too long later I smashed out the rear window on a tree and the need to open the hatch became a lot less! I started out with some wing nuts made from wrenches to hold the rear hatch shut, but as I smashed the rear cage up the bolts didn't line up so I went to the same pins as I used on the doors).
Also a shot of my fab table with a few off cuts and copes, I think I'm still blowing black stuff out of my nose 7 years later!
In the next post I get a chance to do a little "finished" driveway photoshoot, before taking it out in the hoods for a maiden voyage, which turns into a blown up D300!
Check out Part 11 in the next blog post here: Part 11 - Shakedown Run
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