Carl's FFR Mk4 Roadster Build

Discussion in 'Everything Else' started by Carlewms, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member


    Since I was a young driver I have dreamed about building my own car. I got the bug for sports cars when my Dad would take me down to the local VW/Porsche. While he was buying a green 68 bug, I was admiring the international orange Porsche. Back then these cars were simple and pure; a light car with no frills and lots of power for the weight.

    When in high school, it was to take my 64 VW Beetle and turn it into a dune buggy. Well as we all know family, life and job all had a higher priority so my daily drivers were "store bought" as we say down south. First it was a 1972 Triumph Spitfire I had in college; a fun driving car but painful to maintain on a college kid's budget. After being fed up by the reliability of the Spitfire, I purchased a Toyota Corolla SR5 which had no virtues in the way of sportiness but was Number 1 in Consumer Reports. My next venture into the sports car world was a Datsun 280Z. The last of the original body "z" cars, it was a blast to drive. After that car I went into the dark side driving a 1973 VW camper and Volvo sedan until buying and restoring a 1981 MGB and a Volvo sedan before buying and restoring a 1981 MGB. Although a typically British car to maintain, it served me well making 2 transcontinental trips. After a few years in Cadillacs, I finally got back into a car that provided the comforts and handling I really enjoyed; a BMW 330 CI convertible. In 2007, I bought a new BMW 335I which is now my daily driver. Now I am starting my ultimate dream of building a car by putting together a Factory Five Racing Mark 4 Roadster.

  2. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    Build Specifications

    My strategy is to try to stay as true as possible to the original look of the later versions of the "Originals" while still keeping the details of the modern systems hidden out of plain sight.

    Basic Mk 4 Kit upgraded with FFR upper and lower control arms and Independent Rear Suspension (IRS)

    Front Suspension: FFR upper and lower control arms with new spindles Koni shocks and upgraded coils.

    Rear Suspension: FFR upper and lower control arms with FFR supplied IRS kit which comes with a 3.27 gear ratio.

    Brakes: Manual with upgraded Wilwood front and rear with Wilwood pedal box

    Levy Built Ford Small Block 302 stroked to 347 with 425-450 bhp at the flywheel
    EZ EFI
    Single Wire Alternator
    Engine compartment aluminum cleaned and treated with Sharkhide Metal Cleanet and Protectant (engine side)
    Mechanical Throttle Linkage with Russ Thompson Accelerator Kit
    427 Style Burp Tank

    Transmission: Super Alloy Tremec 5 speed with the following gearing:

    First Gear Ratio: 3.27:1
    Second Gear Ratio: 1.98:1
    Third Gear Ratio: 1.34:1
    Fourth Gear Ratio: 1.00:1
    Fifth Gear Ratio: 0.68:1

    Hydraulic Clutch

    Steering: Manual FFR with bump steer kit to be added if needed.

    Electrical: Power distribution is currently planned to use the FFR Ron Francis wiring harnesses for the main, front, rear and dashboard. I am considering using the ISIS(tm) Multiplex System as an alternative power management and distribution system.

    • Russ Thompson Turn Signal
    • Whitby Air Conditioner with heating and defroster with controls in the shallow glove compartment
    • Leather FFR seats with seat warmers
    • Leather or Vinyl dash with SC instrument layout and shallow glove compartment
    • Carpet with edge treatment as in the original cars
    • The cockpit aluminum will be treated with LizardSkin(r) Sound Control and Ceramic Insulation if the overall budget permits. My second choice will be a matting material for the interior surfaces.

      Wheels: FFR 17" x 9" and 17" x 10.5" Vintage Halibrand Replica Wheels

      Body: The underside of the body will be treated with LizardSkin(r) Sound Control or similar material with additional treatments in the wheel wells to protect the body from rocks thrown up by the tires. Additional spray on material will be applied to the completed aluminum in the wheel well areas. Other Items:
      • Soft Top
      • Modified Roll Bar probably Breeze or the FFR version modified to provide slight rake and lower profile

        Paint: My current thoughts are to paint the car silver with a ghosted anthracite stripe but I may go with one of the original colors with a clearcoat finish.

        As I learn more I am sure this will change. Carl
  3. Fred K

    Fred K Member

    Middletown, MD

    It sounds like you have given this build a lot of thought, you know what you want, but I'd suggest giving some more thought too or talking directly with some of the more experienced people in the club about your engine and transmission choices if it's not to late.

  4. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member


    The engine and transmission choice was debated on several forums and vendors. Although a 427 would have been more authentic felt the headaches associated with the big blocks was something I did not want to deal with in a car I want to drive a lot. I considered a 390 but after all the debate decided that was not the one for me either. I even put a pole out on another forum which as it turned out based on my driving plans favored a SB solution.

    I have already placed the order for the engine/transmission so I cannot change at this point.

  5. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    I have created an album in the gallery of my build photos. Not much posted yet except pics of the dolly I am building.
  6. Scott Harrison

    Scott Harrison "Growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional" Staff Member Contributing Member Member

  7. SchmidtAl

    SchmidtAl Contributing Member Member

    Lake Ridge, Va
    You may want to think about lowering your roll bar too much...
  8. bill3422

    bill3422 Member

    Bowie, MD
    Hey Carl, I just started a build as well on Feb 23. (see "New Build Tread") I have almost the same set up as you.

    Let me know if I can help in anyway.

    By the way I have a burp tank as well but cannot figure how to use it on the small block.
  9. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

  10. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    Today I finally finished my rolling frame dolly which I can adjust in height. The photos show it in the high position. When I complete all the work required under the car I can lower the dolly (after removal of the centerline supports). AC Bill suggested I add additional bracing strengthen the upper cross member so I added a 2 by 6 in the center which I can remove when I lower. Please note the different versions with the later version more appropriately equipped.

    If all goes right, tomorrow the body comes off.

  11. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    For all those that are (not my words) "lazy, computer challenged" folks, I added the link in my signature line so it will always be there for you.

    For those of you that like photos of stuff that is not strictly automobile related check out my photo website at


  12. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    :D Finally I got to touch the car and started removing the body. I removed the doors, trunk lid and hood and started on the front end bolts.

    I have some help coming by on Saturday to get the body off and then finish out the day getting the photos taken, panels marked and then removed.

    This is Fun!

    Carl O0
  13. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member


    Here is the first questions: are you using FFR headers and if so how much room is there to expand the foot boxes on the inside?

  14. bill3422

    bill3422 Member

    Bowie, MD
    If you are speaking of the 4 into 4, B&K headers, there is very little. On the driver's side I have seen other's install a Tepee shaped bump out at the accelerator pedal. There has also been discussion on the Darkwater's dead pedal bump out on the other side. I have seen pictures of both on the Mark IV. I plan on doing the dead pedal mod.

    On the passenger's side there is plenty of room to expand. I have paper templates I printed out if you want them.
  15. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    Bill, I have to reorder my headers because I initially ordered the wrong ones. I would definitely like a copy of the templates for the PS if you can email them to me. Carl
  16. bill3422

    bill3422 Member

    Bowie, MD
    You Got Mail
  17. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    Here is what I got done this weekend:

    After finishing the removal of remaining quick jack bolts and two body screws, the body was ready to remove. I documented the locations in the build manual and took a photo of the locations. I then tagged each bolt set as well.

    I took a lot of photos of the aluminum panels with the body in place and will repeat when I get the body off.

    I broke out the differential and rear spindles and started painting them with POR 15. This stuff produces a really nice coating on the parts. This stuff puts off some powerful fumes so make sure to read and head the directions. Here is a photo of the differential which still needs some touch up.

    Next, while waiting for my help to remove the body, I started the assembly of the front suspension upper A arms and shocks with the 600 pound rated Eibach coil springs I purchased from Levy Racing.

    I ran into the same problems others have had when assembling the upper A arms. The rubber boot simply will not fit on to the ball joint. I checked with another builder who provided me with the replacement part number for the upper boot. I ordered the part from Summit Racing (Energy Suspension part# 5.13102G) so that this can be completed by Tuesday (see attached photos).

    Sunday, with help of my wife and a friend we created three piles so to speak:

    The body; The Aluminum: now all photographed, labelled and marked; And the frame (now on the frame dolly)

    I prepared the lower control arms and test fitted them to the chassis. I will have to spread the distance between the mounting arms on the driver side forward mount. The others look fine.

    I put some photos in the gallery at the link below.

  18. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    Lessons Learned Today

    While waiting for some suspension parts to arrive, i took a shot at the first F-panel drilling the holes for the rivets and making two mistakes. I then proceeded to fix these holes with metal repair material. The lesson learned here is to check fit up and interference with the rivet gun prior to drilling the holes and to check the location where the rivets are going to make sure they are not going into the side of the tube or in a weld area.

    I also used this panel to experiment with the cleaning and then applying the SharkHide. What I found is the acetone cleaner does not always clean off the markings from the aluminum production but does easily take the marker ink off applied to mark the panels for riveting. I used a 180 grit sanding block to put some grain on the inside of the panel and then put a coat of SharkHide. It looks pretty good.

    I learned the value of mocking up prior to assembly. The UCAs arrive assembled (except the ball joint components). All bolts are loose including the ones holding the arms to the base. As delivered there was not sufficient gap between with the panel and the nut and would have caused damage to the panel. I tightened them down using a vice to hold the UCA and will have plenty of room to check final torque once mounted.

    The photo (below from one of e forums) shows the black bolt and nut on the forward mount and what looks like a cadmium version on the rear mount. After picking up the free body buck I tried to find the "brassy" looking bolts shown in the photo but cannot find in the box where I inventoried them, so I either misplaced them or did not identify them correctly in during the inventory. While a flanged nut does not fit, a standard nut of the same size and thread pitch does with enough room to get a socket on the nut. The basic manual is silent on the subject. The net shows both versions on a Mk 4.

    I also picked a body buck today which saved a lot of time and effort.

  19. Carlewms

    Carlewms The Rivet Man Contributing Member Member

    More Lessons Learned and Skills Gained

    I am having "fun" learning and the curve is steep!

    After purchasing my third rivet gun (I know I put the first two somewhere) and a 36mm socket to torque on the bolt for the front hubs, I did my first set of panels on the car. I installed the F panels. Wow what a way to learn about drilling, riveting and finishing all in one panel. While I marked all panels before they came off the vehicle, I found that I needed to remount the panels to make sure that the locations I selected for the rivets would work on the square tube (in one case the hole went through the tube edge vice the center of the tube or I could not get the rivet gun in position).

    I also found that great care must be taken with the bead of adhesive that goes between the panel and the square tube. It can get pretty messy if you are not careful with positioning of the panel and as you rivet the panels the gooey stuff comes out the edges. I found cleaning with acetone immediately got the stuff of the face of the panel and I left the stuff on the edges to dry and then cut it off. What is the best way to clean this stuff?

    I also learned some important lessons and suggestions from my brother, a certified aircraft mechanic. First was to make sure the hole drilled is as close to the diameter of the rivet being used in order to get the rivet to set correctly. In his experience he says they work best when the rivet has a very tight fit when inserted in the hole before applying the tool to the rivet. Practice first before actually doing it on a real panel.

    I re sprayed the undercoating again after installation and cleaning which improved the appearance. I am not totally satisfied but in the case "better is the enemy of good enough" since most of this area is well hidden. The glare of the flash does make it look worse than it is.

    I am still awaiting parts from Grainger which should arrive Friday to finish the upper A arm installation. The parts for the installation of the remaining front suspension are now ready for installation. The front spindles are already powder coated so I will not paint with POR.

    The differential and rear spindles have been painted with POR 15. It took longer than I planned to get a full coat on all parts but they are now fully protected.

    If it were not for the forum and others this list of lessons learned would be much longer.

  20. Fred K

    Fred K Member

    Middletown, MD
    POR is great stuff and super tough, but it does oxidize and look pretty crappy quickly. I slap a coat of semigloss rustoleum over it and it stays nice. It's a lot easier to do it sooner rather than later.

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