Project Drift Chick – Part 3


With multiple problems to solve and the clock running, Team Drift Chick had to move quickly. Here we present some of the team’s solutions and their approach to installing the Aluminator and setting up the drive train once the problems were solved.


The difference in differentials

After some preliminary design work and discussion with Sikky, the rear sub-frame manufacturer, and a consult with the Drive Shaft Shop, a plan for modification of the subframe to re-clock differential was finalized. 

Sikky had no concern in modifying the subframe other than it would place the tail of the differential slightly lower creating more opportunities to scrape it against objects on the track. Unfortunately, to assure proper driveline angles with the placement of the Ford Performance Parts Aluminator, this was a compromise and risk that had to be taken.

Discussions with the Driveshaft Shop confirmed Dan’s math regarding u-joint angle and differential geometry.  Ultimately, while Dan’s approach did drop the tail of the differential by almost an half inch, it did achieve proper driveline alignment and resulted in very usable u-joint angles of 1.9 degrees.

Dan’s plan for modification of the sub-frame  became a major project and involved three steps.

First, the bolt holes in the frame over the top of the differential would be rotated rearward along the bolt circle by 3/8 of an inch which resulted in 3.2 degrees of angle change, with the pinion rotating upward.

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Second, the front mounting bracket would be cut and welded to shorten it by 3/8 of an inch to accommodate the rotation.

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Finally, the rear side mounting brackets would be modified slightly to relocate or elongate the bolt holes.

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To modify the upper subframe mounts, a template was made to locate the centers of the new holes. 

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Small pilot holes were then drilled at each location.  

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To prevent the larger drill from “walking” back into the original and adjacent holes, Dan fabricated quarter inch thick steel tabs.

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Each tab was drilled with a pilot hole. The drill bit used for each pilot hole was then used to locate the tabs on the sub-frame rails while Alberto welded them in place.

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The tabs then became both a drill guide and reinforcement for the new bolt holes given their close proximity to the original holes.

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 With the holes completed, the differential was test fitted to the new holes.

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Dan then obtained measurements to confirm the modification of the front and rear brackets.

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With all modifications complete, the team took advantage and also modified the subframe to slightly change the rear attachment point of the lower control arms. 

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The purpose was to slightly reduce the anti-squat built into the chassis and to slightly improve roll center. New holes were located in the subframe and washers were then welded in to reinforce the new mounting points.

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With the modifications complete it was time for some paint and then reassembly.

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 The modified rear sub-frame and differential assembly was ready to be re-installed in the chassis for final engine fitment.




Alternator Alternatives

Given the lack of available aftermarket alternators to fit the Coyote engine with the capability to meet the power needs of the drift car, Dan needed to develop a plan to make the Ford Boss Racing alternator fit the chassis. The initial solution was to simply notch the frame rail by cutting a five inch wide relief, just over 1/2 inch wide and up to 1″ deep, that would allow the modified rail to clear the alternator. 

frame mod - alternator

Unfortunately, this solution would violate Formula Drift rules so the team had to develop a more innovative approach.  Note: if this swap was to be performed where Formula Drift rules were not a requirement, the notch would be the simple solution.

After some experimentation, the team concluded the alternator could be placed slightly closer to the block if the mounting could be modified. 

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Without significant effort, the alternator mounts on the front cover of the block could not be moved, if even possible, so Dan pursued the alternator itself. Ultimately the Dan came up with a three part solution to fit the alternator.

The lower saddle mounting bolt holes of the alternator frame were both enlarged to 3/4 of an inch. Offset bushings were fabricated to relocate the mounting holes.  A bolt and nut were used to secure the alternator in place of the original bolt and threaded insert.  Together, these modifications gained 3/16 of an inch.

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The upper alternator mount was welded and mounting hole elongated to allow the alternator to move closer to the block. Mazworx did the nice weld job on the alternator.

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The outer case of the alternator was shaved to gain about 1/16 of an inch on each side to provide more clearance to both the block and frame rail.

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Finally, the engine was re-positioned in the chassis to move it 1/8 of an inch to the passenger side. Unfortunately such movement was limited as the team still had to deal with exhaust manifolds that did not clear the frame and a power steering pump, that would be mounted to the passenger side of the block, also had to clear the frame rail.

Collectively, just over 3/8 of an inch clearance was gained to allow the alternator to just barely clear the frame rail. In the photo to the left you can see the alternator is now mounted  closer to the block. With solid engine mounts and no engine movement, this would solve the problem.

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A Canton pan than can

While it might have been possible to go slightly lower with the engine in the chassis, the team felt the height chosen provided a good balance between a number of factors, particularly given the space needed for exhaust manifolds.  In any case, the seven quart Canton Racing Products oil pan Sump still hung lower than desired. Given the oiling needs of the engine, modifying the sump was out of the question. Ultimately Dan decided it would be possible to remove 5/8 of an inch from the upper pan, preserving sump capacity and clearance for engine internals while providing increased ground clearance and room for steering rack removal. The OEM oil filter mount with integrated cooler would be discarded for a remote system.

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A few measurements to help determine pan depth and clearance. In this view you can see the OEM internal pan baffle which was retained.

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The pan was cut at the flange and then below to remove a 5/8 inch strip. The pan was then TIG welded around the entire perimeter of the upper pan. The pan was secured while welding to help minimized distortion of the flange.

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The oil pick-up tube was then shortened to match the new pan height and to provide use of the existing pickup tube mounts. The existing pickup tube support bracket was bent in a new location to accommodate the height change. To accommodate the change to the pick-up tube, the internal oil pan baffling was ground down slightly to provide clearance. 

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To accommodate the front sump oil pan in place of the rear sump, a few internal modifications were also required to install the new pickup tube through the engine’s internal oil baffle.  These were also completed as part of the pan installation.

All components were assembled, test fitted and all worked as planned.




A Drive Train that Delivers – final installation and alignment

With modifications now completed to allow placement of the engine with proper driveline angle, the team proceeded with final fitting and installation such that engine and transmission mounts could be fabricated.

The team first reinstalled the now modified rear subframe and differential assembly.

Dan also prepared plates for the engine mounts which would be joined together with 1.5 inch tube. The nuts were welded to the plates. To aid in engine installation, locating pins were added to the plates and bolts used to secure the mount to the chassis. Below are the chassis plates. the shank of a bolt was used as a locating dowel.

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 While perhaps rather robust, the team left little room for failure. 

Below are the engine plates. The completed plates were mounted to the block and cross member, ready for installation.

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The engine and transmission, as an assembly, were again installed in the car. The engine was centered and aligned 1/8 inch left, leveled left to right and then set to a down angle of 3.2 degrees to match the differential.

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Note the use of aluminum beer cans for supports of the level. The team found the cans matched perfectly and were an inexpensive but effective option to calibrated hunks of metal.

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To obtain proper 1/8 inch to the left alignment, the team used the reference measurements obtained during the trial installation.

With the engine placed and tied down, 1.5 inch tube was measured and cut to connect the plates installed for engine mounts. The tubes were set in place and tack welded by Alberto. In the photo below you can see the Ford Boss power steering pump bracket mounted to the engine.

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A custom transmission mount was then fabricated by Dan and Fello to lock down the engine and transmission position.

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The engine and transmission mounts were then removed for final welding.

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The engine was positioned fairly low in the chassis while still retaining room for the exhaust manifolds as well as providing reasonable clearance for the oil pan. 

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Rearward placement was as tight as possible to the firewall while still allowing clearance for cam sensors, supercharger clearance and serviceability access. 

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The engine and drivetrain assembly was then removed so the team could complete chassis fabrication work. In part 4, the team begins assembly work. Click below for part 4.


Go to Part 4


Return to the Crew Chief’s Garage

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