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Neil O'Shea - Metal Guru
Just to refresh your memory, here's what the car looked like in June
In June of this year we heard about Neil O'Shea and his one-off roadster project being pieced together in a purpose-built workshop in Cambridgeshire. In fact, we were so fascinated by the innovative engineering behind this project that we brought you an in-progress report ('Neil at the Altar of Hot Rod innovation').
Since then, Neil has moved on, but as every component is being hand-made, you could say progress has been steady. The latest items to emerge for the car are individually machined engine mounts turned from solid blocks of aluminium "They only took three days to machine," jokes Neil. It sounds like a long time to us, but when you end up with items as beautifully finished as these, then you could say it's time (and money) well spent. The other thing to consider is that at £50 (the price of the metal) you couldn't get anything custom-built to this standard for that sort of outlay.
Below is a step-by-step guide as to how these essential components have been made. The added complication is that the oil lines flow through one engine mount on the BMW V8 engine Neil has chosen to power his roadster, creating an added problem in the design of one engine mount.
As mentioned previously, if this is the standard Neil is applying to the whole car, then it's sure to be a knockout when it finally hits the street. And if further proof was needed, check out the steering and front wishbone arrangement (at the bottom of the page) to see how Neil is using modern race car design to achieve his desired effect.
Before and .........
First of all though, we had to ask Neil, why not use the standard engine mounts? Here's his response.
"They were a bit short and I would have had to make some fairly long brackets off the chassis rails to reach them. This would have looked tacky and I am also concerned with structural rigidity."
"Secondly, the original mounts use little rubber donuts with a stud on each end ( a bit like Mini exhaust mounts ) and I would rather run with poly bushes. Thirdly, the right hand engine mount is a huge ugly casting that also incorporates the mounting for the air conditioning pump - which I have done away with. I would have had to cut this mounting up and then try and make it look good. It is easier to just make a new mount."
"In addition, I was absolutely desperate to get rid of the hideous wart on the front of the engine that BMW call an oil filter housing. The hoses for this housing attach to the top of the left hand engine mount. The oil pressure switch is also located on the filter housing. To remove the filter housing I have made a new engine mounting with the oil pipes moved to the underneath of the mounting and threaded to accept 1/2" BSP pipe fittings so that I can run a Mocal remote filter head with a standard spin on oil filter and connect it to the engine mount via Aeroquip style hoses. I have also added another oil gallery to the engine mount, which is threaded to relocate the oil pressure switch."
"Finally, the idea of this car is to manufacture as much stuff myself as I can. More to see what I CAN do as opposed to what I need to do. If you don't push yourself to try things you will never know if you can. I shall probably replace quite a lot of stuff that really doesn't NEED to be re manufactured but these are the things that will set this car apart from all of the other hot rods out there. I don't have a problem with people assembling cars with standard or off the shelf parts, it's just not for me, and I am fortunate enough to have enough equipment to be able to make my own parts."
Initial concept drawings for N/S engine mount
"I did the initial design for the engine mount on AutoCAD to make sure that all the oil galleries would line up and that I wouldn't break through when machining the outside profile. The finished article looks slightly different but this is due to a couple of clearance issues when I fitted the mount to the engine and attached the hose fittings."
Early stages of machining saw steady progress as Neil became familiar with the depth of cut and cutter speed
Here you can see the raised sections where ii mounts to the engine block, the grooves for the O-ring seals and the drilling for one of the oil ways
The hardest part was machining in the correct order to leave two square faces so the metal could still be clamped securely for drilling/shaping
The grooves are purely cosmetic
Here you can see the two oil galleries for the remote filter housing and the pocket necessary for the lower centre mounting bolt
The engine mount is now complete except for rounding off the corners and final polishing
"It fits like a glove, now I just need to decide where to put the remote oil filter housing. The Red and Blue Aeroquip fittings for the filter housing are just for mock up. Earls America do these fittings in black with stainless steel hose in keeping with the black or polished theme of the car. As usual Earls UK don't do black so I will have to order them in special. I was quite suprised with the cost of the ally, I bought a piece 6" square by 7.5" long (most of which is now all over the floor of my workshop) and it cost £50. I know I have spent a bit of time machining it, but I doubt I would of been able to buy any sort of engine mount for that money, let alone one with oil galleries for a remote filter housing and an oil pressure switch."
Front suspension & steering
Since the last article, the front cross-member has been fabricated and the steering rack installed
The front wishbones have been fabricated from 4130 chromoly
The front suspension installed - minus push rods for inboard shocks/springs
Story: Neil O'Shea & Andy Kirk
Photos: Neil O'Shea