SFI Approved Cage Install|
When I originally entered my car for the Hot Rod Magazine Pump-Gas Drags I had no idea how much work was going to be involved in getting my cage finished. My Mustang is primarily a street car that I drive very regularly and is NOT a race car. I know I needed a cage as a convertible needs a full cage for anything faster than an 11.00 second quarter mile - I just never got around to building one. When I started I had no idea that the cage even needed o be NHRA certified. I learned a lot over the past few months!
The first thing I found was no shops were willing to build the cage the way I wanted to build it. I ended up buying my own bender (which is for sale now) for around $600 (best money I have spent in a long time). I then called my local NHRA inspector and had him do a pre-inspection of my existing cage and explained my plan for building the cage. That is where we ran into a little problem. You see I insist on allowing passengers access to the rear seat as I carry people in the rear seat more often than you may expect. The problem is the NHRA rule book has pictures of the rear seat support bar running from one side of the main hoop to the other side - which puts it directly in the way of the rear seat. My plan was to put the bar down lower along the front of the rear seat so as to allow passengers to simply put their legs over the bar. I already have a rear seat support bar and was adding the lower bar to comply with the design element that showed a full horizontal bar between the main hoop supports.
After much work contacting senior NHRA inspectors we did finally get approval for my design. It does meet all the requirements of the NHRA rules. I now have the only NHRA certified cage legal to 8.50's that still allows open access to the rear seat!
With the cage installed I can still put my top up normally and everything still works just as before. I didn't have to remove my air conditioning vents and everything still works great. The nice part about the convertible is the halo bar is actually higher than the entry into the car with the top up so you don't even know its there when you get in. In fact when my wife got in the first time I asked - did you even notice the cage? She said she didn't. She drove most of the first trip with the car and said you don't even notice the cage - which is exactly what I was looking for. As a passenger it is nice to have the front upright bar as it give you something to hang on to!
The design process was long. The build process was even longer. I went through two CO2/Argon tanks for my welder, 3 spools of wire, around 15 grinding disks, and have been hacking up iron dust for a month now. After all was said and done I only have around 15 feet of pipe that I wasted with bad bends (actually the bends are good, I just put them in the wrong spot - LOL).
I have had people ask me for advice on how to get a cage approved that is not exactly per the drawings - my only advice is read the rule book and make sure you understand every little rule and how it applies. After that take an honest look at your design and ask yourself if it really is legal. If you think it is call your local inspector and explain your design and why you think it is legal. Ask the inspector for the people to contact to ask for approval. Be ready to spend hours on the phone and composing emails explaining your position . Make sure you argue facts - not opinion. Know the rules and explain why your design complies - not why you think it should comply. It is a lot of work.
Others have asked how hard it was to build my own cage - the answer is VERY hard. I like building stuff myself and designing this cage took more work and patience than I thought I had. I spent a lot more than I could have had to have a generic cage installed - and I have hundreds of hours of work involved. I would do it again but I don't claim to be normal. I hope that helps.
My next stop is the upholstery shop to have the cage wrapped in leather for the finished look - remember, I said it was a street car!
Pictures: (click a picture to enlarge)
-----------------> Archived information - some of this was used to show the NHRA inspectors what my design was. It was a hidden page I used for a few things.......
Here are pictures of the new cage partially completed. It looks great and will work great! All I have left to finish are the two front pillar bars. The halo is not welded in yet as I need to build the pillar bars first.
DSC01575.JPG - driver side wide
DSC01576.JPG - driver side tall
DSC01577.JPG - passenger side wide
DSC01579.JPG - passenger side tall
DSC01580.JPG - halo held in place
DSC01581.JPG - halo held in place (picture 2)
I had a crazy thought today and actually mocked up the cage with coat hangers welded together. Here is what it looks like:
driver-side.jpg - driver side view
driver-rear.jpg - driver side rear view
front.jpg - front view
passenger-rear.jpg - passenger rear view
passenger-front.jpg - passenger front view
Pictures of existing roll bar:
DSC01562.JPG - driver side tall view
DSC01563.JPG - driver side wide view
DSC01564.JPG - passenger side tall view
DSC01565.JPG - passenger side - close-up of center bar
DSC01566.JPG - driver side wide (far view)
DSC01567.JPG - driver side rear view
Very crude modifications of pictures to show how the rear horizontal bar could look:
The vertical bars would be welded to the new 2x2x.081 mild steel frame rail (sub frame connectors).
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