Welding the custom firewall and making a custom transmission tunnel

In the last update I had finally made the firewall a 3 dimensional part and I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel for this part of the project. Since then I've decided it would be a good time to tackle the first part of the transmission tunnel. I made it a bit tough on myself with how I "framed" the engine with the set back in the firewall. It looks great mounted up, but the shape was much different than what the transmission tunnel or hump needed to be. It took me a lot of head scratching, sketching, and standing around staring at the firewall to figure out how I was going to connect these parts. Below is the way that ended up working for me.

I knew I needed some shape in the hump and I wasn't going to be happy with angular transitions. I'm also no Ron Covell, Gene Winfield, or any of the other wizards of metal shaping, so I decided to make the hump out of 3 major parts. I pulled out our Panel Beater Bag and Plastic Metal Shaping Mallets to rough-in the shape I wanted. This is a scary process if you've never done it before. Even though I've done this a few times before, I'm still a bit apprehensive when I start beating the crap out of a helpless piece of flat metal to get the "shape" (and I use that word loosely) I want. I start by drawing out a pattern in the area where I need the most shape and choose a mallet that suits the amount of shaping I need to do.

The key is to keep your hits very close together as you work around in the pattern you've drawn. Depending on the hammer you use and the pattern you've hit the metal in, it should start curve or crown rather quickly.

After the 3 pieces sort of resembled the shape I was going for, I moved over to our new prototype Bench Mount English Wheel (watch your June/July catalog and Emails!) and rolled the hammer marks smooth. After a few passes through the english wheel the hammer marks and irregularities quickly disappear and the panel started to take shape.

I worked the panels a little more in the wheel until I had three pieces that would make up the transmission hump. I also made a few small transitional pieces to connect the firewall recess and the transmission hump in the corners to connect everything together and welded it all together.

With the firewall and transmission hump all one piece I reinstalled it for the final mockup. I had one of our tech guys Ed O. help me get everything in place and make the final adjustments. You can see below that there were some raised areas in the original firewall that wrapped up over the cowl and remnants were left after cutting the old firewall out. These raised sections stuck out and didn't match up with my new, flat firewall. Ed took a set of Eastwood Aviation Metal Snips and cut on either side of the raised area. He then took a Fairmount Body Hammer and Heel Dolly to flatten out the raised area and shape it to match the new firewall.

Once we got all of our gaps correct, I used the Eastwood MIG 175 to stitch weld the firewall in place. After the panel was welded in place I took the Angle Grinder and a 60 Grit Flap Disc and blended all of my welds.

Now with the firewall welded in place the cab is much more solid and the engine bay is a million times cleaner. Next I need to tackle making a custom steering column and building some floors for Pilehouse. It's a great feeling putting clean metal in place of weathered, rusty metal! Thanks for watching, hopefully you can come see it in person at the Eastwood Summer Classic this July 13th!

-Matt/EW

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