Building a roll cage for your vehicle can be an adventure. Whether you are fabricating one for your off-road vehicle or your race car, the same genera
Building a roll cage for your vehicle can be an adventure. Whether you are fabricating one for your off-road vehicle or your race car, the same general steps hold true. Let us look at what is required when building your roll cage.
Determine the Type
Your first question to determine the type should be, “What am I going to use this for?” The sanctioning body you fall under will have specific rules for your race car roll cage. Off-road vehicles need a sturdy structure if you literally rollover on a climb. Make sure you build your roll cage up to the highest spec you can. Tubing material, thickness, size, and materials are critical when it comes to strength and safety. When you build a cage, you will need to make sure to follow all safety precautions. Once the cage is installed, never race without the proper safety gear. Improper welding, cheap materials, and poor design are all things that can end up causing the cage to fail in an accident.
Does a Kit Already Exist for Your Vehicle?
Several companies offer predesigned kits for vehicles and going through this process is far less difficult and time-consuming. Getting a pre-bent cage kit can be a far more reasonable route to go, as their price points are generally comparable to raw materials.
Getting the proper materials for your roll cage will be one of the most critical decisions you will make for your build. Steel is often used because it is less expensive and easy to work with but can be heavy. The added weight may slow down your race car or throw off your off-road vehicle’s center of balance. Chromoly is another commonly used metal. It is lighter and close to the same strength as steel but is more expensive.
Next, you will want to ensure that you have got enough room in the vehicle to install the cage. To make more room, you may need to take the seats and carpet out.
Now it is time to measure the car for the proper fit.
Measure the main hoop area:
- Width of the roof
- Height of car
- Width of car
- Roof to side
The roof bar will go across the roof, so ensure there is enough space for it and the down angles at the ends. The height of the car is from the interior floor to the interior roof. The width determines just how wide the hoop can be. Make sure nothing will be in the way of the sides because they go to the floor. Measure from any obstructions. The roof to the side is the distance from where the roof bar ends, and the sidebars begin.
Measuring the Rear and Door Braces
The rear and door braces are next and are the areas the main hoop will connect to the vehicle body.
- Floor to the main hoop
- Measuring from the seat cross member.
- Inside of the main hoop
- The Base Plates
The floor is where the base plate for the brace will go. The part of the main hoop here is where the brace will attach. Measure in these steps.
- Measure the horizontal distance between the base plate and where the brace will go to the hoop.
- Measure the vertical distance from the base plate and where the brace will connect to the main hoop.
These two measurements will allow you to find the length of the tube needed to go from the main hoop to the baseplate. The base plates themselves are what you will use to attach the roll cage to the floor of the vehicle. The recommended thickness is at least 3mm, though you can go thicker. The door brace plates should be up next to the firewall, while the rear brace plates should be behind the front seats.
Bend the Tubes
The most essential part of bending the tubes is to ensure there are no signs of the tube being deformed. The bend should be completely smooth. Make sure to have extra tubing than you need in case there are errors.
Notch the Tubes
The joint weld is only going to be as strong as the notch. A properly fitting notch should be very tight before welding.
Roll Cage Design
Your cage design depends on the car type. There are some standard rules that apply to all fabrications, though:
- Minimize the bends, and do not add any that are not critical to the overall structure.
- Do not jazz up the structure. Roll cages are for safety, not aesthetics.
- Gusset the corners by welding a piece of tubing into the corner.
Our team at Bradshaw Manufacturing is here to help you with any of your tube bending needs. We have bending machines of all sorts and can make sure you are equipped with the best tools for your roll cage fabrication. Get in touch with us today and have one of our bending machines delivered soon.
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