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Author Topic:   How much damage is too much?
Dirt Forum Champ
Total posts: 569
posted May 10, 2004 07:50 AM  
OK, here's the short version - I got turned on the 1st lap of a "make-up" feature and was T-boned in the passenger side. The impact broke the right frame rail and pushed it in about 18". The door bars are trashed below the centerline of the door and the brace bars running parralell to the frame are trashed.

Here are my questions -

First, what methods do you guys use to determine whether front suspension points have moved after a major wreck? I plan to take measurements between the rear trailing arm and lower front a-arm mounts. I want to measure the distance on each side from front to back and the X measurements from RF to RR mounting points, ect. Am I on the right track in determining whether the RF wheel has moved?

Second, has anyone ever replaced a frame rail or is this past the point of repair? My thinking is that the chassis is now probably garbage, but I wonder, if the RF wheel is still straight, should I repair the frame. If I cut the right frame rail out and replace it, the car will be just like a camaro with the subframes tied together, correct?

Just for reference, the car is a Cox Racing Chassis, so it has a full cage from the front to back of the car with an "X" brace underneath, so we're not talking about a 4 point cage sitting on a frame. I have to give a big thumbs up to the guys who built this car. It was a big wreck and I was lucky to not be hurt at all.

Should I attempt to repair what was a pretty good 2 year old race car or have I just aquired a lot of s**** metal?

Dirt Forum Champ
Total posts: 521
posted May 10, 2004 10:01 AM  
Sorry to hear about the bad crash, glad you are OK.

It would be helpfull if you had couple of pictures (with sheetmetal removed) to see how much the cage is compromised.

measuring straight back and then in an X is a good place to start.

You can also find and project the front suspension's centerline, by dropping a plumb bob from 4 points (the lower A innner pivots) to the floor .... then make a mark at the center of a line projected through the two front pivots and similarly mark the center point between the 2 rear pivots. Drawing a line through these two points (to the rear of the car) will give a good idea of where the car is pointed.

small amounts of correction can be made by massaging the lower A mounting hole locations then welding a thick washer to the frame.

you will want to check for twisting as well by taken measurements to the floor (while the frame is on stands).

I have a very close relationship with my car and would be hard pressed to give-up too easily, however, there is a point where it doesn't make sense (from both a safety and practicality standpoint) to save everything.

Your cage is probably holding alot of tension still which should be relieved where practical.


Dirt Forum Champ
Total posts: 640
posted May 10, 2004 10:46 AM  
I would not be afraid to make the repair firts take your measurements and see wherer you are at then I would cut the frame rail off and any ataching braces ger your points where you want them and measure where the frame rail was cut some 2x6 tubing and weld it back into place then reattach all the braces and door braces but as c21 said it would be nice to see excatly what is damaged then we can help you threw this rapair I have fixed much worce than what you are describing and the car was better than it was befor the wreck get us some pic and we can help you


Dirt Forum Champ
Total posts: 635
posted May 10, 2004 10:47 AM  
If it was just a T-bone hit (not multiple in other places) I'd fix it without hesitation.

My partner's new car last year was rolled twice it's 6th week out. He came out of turn 4, got T-boned, drove into the walled and rolled twice. The pass. frame rail (door area) was pushed in about 10"-12" and the front horns bent. We straightened the front horns and he ran it twice more before hitting the wall and bending the horns again. He then replaced half of the frame. It was cut on the pass. side right in front of the rear wheel on the factory weld and on the dr. side right behind the front wheel again on the factory weld. Then all the cage bars were cut out (cut the frame off then trimmed the frame away until the bar was clear). He ordered a few new doors bars for the cage and grafted everything back in.

Once the bent frame and door bars were cut out, it wasn't much to tweak the cage back into position. Then the new frame section (basically front dr. rail, k member and pass rail from front back to the rear wheel)was lifted into place and everything welded back up. Having the cage posts through the frame and welded on top and bottom helped strength, but added to the PIA factor.

On mine, last year I lost it in turn 4 and got broadsided on the dr. side of the front end, spun up the track and tagged on the pass. front, spun around and hit head on. 3 hits at full race speed. We cut all the cage bars off just in front of the firewall and cut the front frame horns off at the K member. Welded new horns on and rebuilt the cage (special attention to butting the bars at the firewall). After all that, my frame heights and wheelbase are within 1/8" of being perfect.

Soooo... it's all a matter of how much you wanna save the car. Don't be afraid to cut farther back than what you think you HAVE too. It's better to cut a weld or 2 back from what actually bent to relieve stress, grind the welds and reweld/gusset the joints.

Call the builders/cage manufacturer and see if they'll send you new door bars. It shouldn't be more than a couple $$ to get just the bars for the door.

Oh.. and for the alignment thing. Find symetrical holes in the bottom of the frame and X measure it. From the front lower control arm mount/bolt/area to the rear lower control arm mount/bolt/area on the otherside will give you the best measurement. If it's shorter LR-RF, then the right rail pulled the RF wheel back. Also measure frame heights before cutting anything to see if it pulled one corner up.

If all else fails... shim it!!! I use to work in a body shop and we X measure everything when something was in a front end hit. Get it within 1/16" or so and put a shim or 2 in a fender here.... shim in a header panel there... Never tell the difference. Although, late model street cars are like trying to straighten wet kleenex. The 'frame' on most cars is a couple pieces of 18 gauge steel stamped in a box and tack welded. Pretty scary once you see one stripped down.

[This message has been edited by Raz_900 (edited May 10, 2004).]

neil rucker
Dirt Forum Champ
Total posts: 799
posted May 10, 2004 05:32 PM  
what does "COX" say? ive never met these guys, but ive talked with them before ( on the phone)and seen there work. it looks good! (im asuming your talking about COX RACING CHASSIS in northern TENN) right?

Dirt Forum Champ
Total posts: 569
posted May 11, 2004 07:57 AM  
Yes, I am talking about Cox Racing Chassis' and, no, I haven't talked to them. I live in central Illinois and they're in Tennesse. If I were closer, I would haul it over to them and see if they could help me get this bad boy is straight.

I have no complaints about their work. They built me a good chassis.

Dirt Roller

Total posts: 11
posted May 12, 2004 07:13 AM  
This guy is in Ames, Iowa and is very reputable. Still quite a little pull from Illinois but I would want to make sure the car is safe.



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