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Discussion Starter #1
I'm threatening to turn my Celica into a stage rally car since I really have no use for it anymore except to have fun in. Does anybody know of a company that sells full cages for them? Or even some pics of caged Celicas I could look at? If possible I would rather buy a loose cage kit and weld it in myself instead of having to send it somewhere to have it all done.
Thanks
 

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Professional Carsmith
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^ I think they built theirs to FIA-cert so it may not be legal for what he's running (nasa or scca rules I'd imagine).
 

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He will have to read the rules but every race organization that I have seen accepts FIA regulations for seats / harnesses / race suits / cages
Autopower does a cage for our Celica ... but you really have to confirm that your race series will accept the cage they have or you will have to modify it and then have it inspected.
http://www.autopowerindustries.com/ApplicationList.aspx

My 2000 GTS is fully caged and is used for stage rally in Canada
I run DMS suspension, DMack rally tires and Enkei rally weels, Peltor intercom, Cobra / OMP seats

Your stock suspension will not hold up to rally conditions on the front and will just suck on the back - don't ask me how I know
You should reinforce your front strut towers by welding
You will need auxiliary lights - the car came with a four light pod that I replaced the 130W halogens with 55W HID's ... I am going to also replace the high beam headlight bulbs with HID's (and maybe the low beam too) to throw more light down the road when it gets really, really dark at night and you are traveling 100 mph with trees only 3 feet away.

I figure, if you are doing it right and building a car that will do well in a production class, you are probably talking about spending $15,000. An OK car (and doing most of the work yourself) will still set you back around $7500.

If you have any questions, send me a PM. I will post some rally car pics (mine is apart for its yearly check up / repair / repaint)
 

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^ Agreed. I only caution him that there are some aspects of a "FIA certified" cage that won't pass in other sanctioning bodies (NASA for instance would want a horizontal in the main hoop plane whereas upon a cursory look into their regulations, FIA doesn't require it be in plane).

I also agree with your recommendation on the suspension pick up points, which leads me to my next point: I don't like the autopower cage.

I realize it's a bolt in solution for a cage; but it has its rearward main hoop supports terminate on the rear wheel wells, its main hoop diagonal doesn't terminate in a node with the rearward main hoop supports and instead of terminating the main hoop itself on the bulkhead where the rear seat bottom ends, they instead terminate on the sheet metal consisting of the "floor" under the rear seat. Now this was all done so a "through bolt" solution could be used and I understand that, but in my mind it is not the best way to utilize one of (if not THE MOST) important safety device in the car.

It sounds like jameseshepherd knows what he's talking about and you should be glad that someone in your intended venue of racing (rally, of which I admittedly have zero experience) has stepped in with some advice on car prep. That being said, here's some basics I try to adhere to when building a cage:

1) It is a safety device. Do not cut corners, do not get lazy. This means FULL welds on EVERY joint. Do everything you can to ensure penetration (fishmouthing tubes, cleaning the weld area, chamfering the edges). Min 80% of your time should be in prepping for the weld. If you run into a spot with a weird junction or have trouble with multiple tubes terminating at one node MOCK IT UP. A favorite trick of mine is to use PVC pipe with the same OD as my working material to perfect muti-tube junctions and offset angles.

2) Plan. Don't weld yourself into a corner or allow a junction where a full weld is not possible (ie: a tube joining another too close to a base plate or too close to the unibody). Also think about where you're going to be once you weld something: are you going to be able to access the welds on the top of the main hoop? Are you going to drop the main hoop through the floor to access them or are you going to cut the roof skin? Remember your P's: Prior Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance :gap:

3) Terminate your tubes into nodes. Google this if you don't understand, but it's the proper way to ensure that you don't have a force transmitted onto a dead load path in the event of an accident. Dead load paths will result in a failure. Instead of the cage transmitting the force of the accident around the driver, you'll end up with only a portion of it taking most of the loading, failing, and then allowing the rest of the cage to fail in short order.

4) Pick your cage hard points carefully. You should always strive to integrate as many suspension pick up points as possible within the confines of the rules. The suspension is THE BIGGEST load on the unibody (barring an accident). By integrating the suspension into the cage, you stiffen the unibody and decrease the deflection it imparts upon loading; essentially making your safety device run double duty as a chassis brace as well. Reinforce the shock mount locations and pick them up with the cage (the rear is easy, the front is more difficult depending on if your sanctioning body will allow through-firewall tubes; though even if they don't there are work-arounds). You should also be trying to maximize the interior of the cage to allow for better driver comfort, seating, ingress and egress, and for the cage to move in the event of an accident. Use cardboard to mock up your mounting plates beforehand and always try to have at least 2 dimensions incorporated into your plate design. If you run into a spot where this won't work, then build a plinth box (google this to see what I mean).

5) Gusset critical junctions to isolate the welds there. Examples of this are on the halo bar and the windshield runners (aka a FIA bar). Use these in areas where failure is absolutely unacceptable. Most racing organizations put a limit on the tubes terminating onto the chassis but not on tubes that terminate in the cage for this exact reason. It is a diminishing return though; in some places the use of a gusset will add weight with only a negligible effect on joint strength. Gusseting to the unibody itself is also often advantageous for overall body stiffness, though to what degree you'll be allowed to do this is up to your racing organization.

There's probably some more that I'm forgetting but those are the big ones. Hope it helps.
 
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