Half-Cage Install

A roll bar is an essential part of a track car. There are many bolt-in roll bars available which satisfy the elemental requirements for a DE/TT car. But after conferring with experts who's opinions I greatly respect, I decided to have a "half-cage" fabricated into the car. I shifted budget into safety items to do it right.

The dilemma is the sunroof. Since my long-term plan is to have a full-cage in the car should I enter W2W racing, it does not make sense to fabricate anything with the sunroof mechanism in the roof. You want the bar as far away from you as possible, and when you put in a cage, you would always remove the sunroof. But I was not ready to cut the roof out and start serious bodywork. Fortunately, I was referred to a great fabricator, Rolf Samulewicz of Rolf by Design. Rolf is a certified welder and a real craftsman. We talked about my short and long term goals, along with my budget, and we came up with a good solution. I was well on my way to having the interior removed, he had ideas about how to tack in the sunroof, so off we went. Or off went parts out the car!

I finished gutting the interior and cleaned out the messy glue:

Removed the headliner and started cutting the supports:

Then off to Rolf's it went.

A day and a half later (!) it was done! Here it is at Rolf's shop at Sears Point:

This is a serious piece of steel fabrication. 1.75" x 0.095" DOM tubing. Notice how tight it sits against the B-pillars and the roof:

This is a textbook TIG Weld, done by a real craftsman:

The main hoop is tied into the B-Pillar for additional stiffness. We'll tie into the intersection of the roof and the main hoop after we bring in the front-half of the cage:

And the sunroof panel tacked into place:

And here is Rolf and me:

I rented a trailer and brought her home:

Let me know if you need Rolf's contact info - I've placed my safety in his hands, there is no higher recommendation.

 

Time for paint. First I cleaned the welding and grinding junk out of the car. Then sanded and cleaned the cage:

 

Then masked off everything:

 

Applied a few coats of self etching primer:

 

It was a painful chore to get in behind the cage, without touching it, multiple times, to spray the coats of primer, sandable primer, color and clear.

 

With daylight fading (and temperature dropping!), I got the last coats of clear on. I rushed those coats because of the falling temperature, but they needed to be applied either then, or wait seven days for the color coat to cure.

 

It rained today (good thing I got it done yesterday!), so I pulled off all the masking tape to show the finished product:

 

Whew! That was a lot of work. Given how close the main hoop is to the body, it's essentially impossible to get a reasonable amount of paint on the very edge of the bar you can't see. Now I understand why the guys that have a full cage fabbed in usually are doing a glass out repaint at the same time. I don't plan on doing that much interior masking again for some time.

Although the back looks very "Cup Car" like with the wires out and sheet metal showing, I plan to cover some yet unknown amount of it with an RS carpet kit. I also plan to tack up a simple headliner - just to cut down the noise and clean up the raw welded bits around the sunroof.

Next: Fire Supression, seal the sunroof gap, create a headliner and replace carpet.

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