BAR HOPPER

PROJECT HILLCLIMBER ROLL-CAGE INSTALLATION

WORDS & PHOTOS DAVE MORLEY

GARAGE GURUS OUR SHED, OUR CARS, OUR STORIES

PROJECT HILLCLIMBER ROLL-CAGE INSTALLATION

SO NOW I have a rollcage for my hillclimb car.

Actually, what I really have is an anagram of a roll-cage, because itís still in about four major pieces, as it came from Brown Davis. The first thing I did was unpack it and then do a rough assembly beside the car. And as Iím looking at it, Iím wondering how the hell what looks like a kilometre of powder-coated steel tube is ever gonna fit in the VC Commodore.

The thing is, the cage was made on a jig, so unless the car is twisted or bent in some major way, it really will fit.

Itís just a question of faith.

And a fair bit of wriggling and jiggling to get the pieces inside the Commodore and then bolt them all together using Brown Davisí patented joining system that allows a bolt-in cage to be more or less as safe as a weld-in job.

Iím not sure if this is the best way to tackle the job, but my method consisted of getting all the bits and pieces inside the car and loosely bolted to each other. From there, I could drill the holes in the floor to accept the mounting bolts and loosely bolt the cage down. A bit of lube made the Unbrako bolts for the patented joins go in a bit easier, and a second pair of hands made nipping up the under-floor nuts and spring-washers much, much easier. Thanks little bro.

You also need to include a metal plate of a particular minimum size under each nut and washer, too, so that the fasteners canít simply tear through the floor should the big one occur.

And those plates also have to have radiussed corners

to make them less likely to tear the metal themselves.

The nice part is that when you buy a cage brand-new from somebody like Brown Davis, all that hardware Ė in the correct grade and size Ė comes with it.

The only really tricky bit came when I went to bolt in the front (A-pillar) downtubes of the cage. The holes I drilled lined up fairly inconveniently with the edge of the factory front jackingpoint, meaning the metal plate had nowhere flat to sit. So, I stuck a cutting disc in the die-grinder and cut myself a slot in the jackingpoint, thick enough to let the plate slip under the jackingpoint and snuggle up against the flat floor. Not sure if thatís how the pros do it, but thatís how I did it. And if the nice man from CAMS doesnít like it, I can always weld up the slot to make the jackingpoint, floor and metal plate all one piece and restore the original integrity. Actually, I might do that anyway.

The other thing I specified when ordering the cage was a footwell-intrusion bar on each side. The Brown Davis design cleverly incorporates these into the side-intrusion bar, so instead of the sideintrusion bar attaching to the A-pillar leg, it continues into the footwell and bolts to the front inner-guard. Clever.

Now that the cage is in, I can finally get around to mounting the seat, harness and the million or so other little bits and pieces that a race-car needs. For the seat, I plan to use the factory mounting points (because theyíre reinforced and probably the strongest part of the whole car) but Iíll chuck away the original runners. I donít need the seat to be adjustable, and I reckon the runners only increase the chances of the seat coming loose in a big shunt. Also, making my own seat mount means I can mount the chair nice and low to keep the C of G down as well as to allow clearance between the roll-cage and my big, boofhead.

ďTHE SIDE INTRUSION BAR CONTINUES INTO THE FOOTWELL AND BOLTS TO THE FRONT INNER-GUARD. CLEVER.Ē