Current progress so far
Links to parts and information websites
Where I will be building my diablo
Where most of the important bits come from
The stuff it all bolts to
What makes it go
What makes it pretty
The cars nervous system
Where you sit
The gubberment bit
Who really cares?
Stuff that will not fit anywhere else
Other diablo replica websites


I intend to build a rolling chassis up first. The reason for this is because of the complexity of this engine. I want to make sure that the engine operates correctly before I start on the bodywork. Its a lot easier to fix engine problems, especially if the engine needs to be removed, when there is no body to get in the way.

This is the chassis as it arrived today.
The only things fitted to it at present are the suspension, brake discs, calipers and steering components. Naz also very kindly supplied a set of steel wheels and a rather dodgy steering wheel to get me by while I work on the chassis.
Here is a picture of myself and a bitch I picked up in my new bling diablo. Unfortunately she had halitosis and seems somewhat hairer than the type I usually go for.

I have quite a long winding path from my driveway, so a significant amount of pushing was required. This was made significantly easier after I released the handbrake. The handbrake on these cars is of the drop down variety. This is to make entry and exit over the handbrake much easier. I checked to see if the handbrake was down (as would be the case in a normal car), and commenced the fruitless task of pushing the car. After realising my diablo faux pas, and releasing the handbake, the chassis was in the workshop in no time at all.

The build quality of the chassis is of a very good standard. The welds are consistent and the metal used in the construction of the chassis is of a good heavy gauge.

I ordered the powder coated option and the bracket upgrade. The bracket upgrade is supposed to make it easier to mount various parts of the car. Powder coating the chassis makes for a durable high quality plastic-like covering that will protect the chassis from corrosion far better than paint alone.

And here it is, in its new home for the meanwhile. First job is to run the brake lines, coolant and vacuum line for the brake servo.

Next is to fit the engine and gearbox together and install them onto the chassis. At this stage it will be possible to begin hooking up the engine electrical systems and computers to begin basic system diagnostics.

The engine mounting on the drivers side is slightly offset from that on the passenger side. This is not a problem until it comes to fitting the engine mount. It will not fit flush against the mounting plate, so a small section needs to be cut from the engine mount to make it fit correctly. This was a thirty second job with my angle grinder.

I have fitted the pedals here. I am not sure as to the correct height, they are difficult to set without a seat to sit in. I can adjust them later on should they not be right.
I always thought I had small feet until it came to setting these pedals. There is not a lot of space to fit your feet, and even less to operate the pedals. With the pedals too high, my feet would foul the steering column, too low, and it felt tlike there would be insufficient travel to operate the pedals properly. I think I have them in the right place, only time will tell.
Putting the pedal box together looked easier then it turned out to be. The shaft that carries the pedals had a poor weld at one end which I corrected with my TIG welder. Also the powder coating process the chassis has undergone, required me to clean excess paint from all the threaded components and trime the insides of the holes to get everything to fit.
The last problem I had was with the end stop for the accelerator. A nut is welded on the pedal box so you can insert a nut and adjust the pedals top position. The weld had entered the threaded portion of the nut, making it difficult to insert the bolt. I retapped the nut, and although the bolt is stiff, at least it wont shake loose anytime soon.

The radiators for the engine have been fitted here. They are secured by means of two bolts. The radiators end up being at a slight angle to the rear of the vehicle, which I presume is to adhere to the shape of the body.
The pipes run towards the front of the engine at a much sharper angle than would be the case with a rover V8 engine. I decided against installing the brackets on the longer lengths of pipe until the engine is in so I can get all the angles correct.

Began to run the fixed copper alloy brake lines today. These take the hydraulic pressure generated when you put your foot on the pedal, and cause pistons attached to front and rear wheels to squeeze friction elements against the rotating disks, thereby causing you to stop!
The brake lines must be secured against chaffing and abrasion, this is an SVA requirement, so it is worth taking your time over it and making it a good job. I borrowed a brake flaring tool from my friend Terry to prepare the pipe ends for fitting. Its worth noting that the maximum distance between fixing clips on a brake line is 225mm. Check it now, so you dont have to do it at the SVA test centre.
I have used rubber coated, stainless steel p-clips to hold the pipes securely to the chassis. I have used 'wurth' brand self tapping screws to hold these clamps. They really are excellent quality and seem to be really tough. Be sure to drill the right size pilot hole and you will have no problems screwing them in.

Here is a not much clearer image of the brake pipes. The air-conditioning & heater box sit in the gap left between the front bulkhead and luggage area. It cannot sit as far down as some of the systems I have seen in other replicas of the same type as my steering rack is more towards the bulkhead than earlier chassis.
The pipe feeding the rear brakes has a reasonably long unsupported length, I may make a small bracket to support it, although it doesnt seem to wobble very much. I will fit the air-con box and decide later.

Normally when you make brake pipes up, you measure with a piece of string, and assemble the pipe with the correct ends off of the vehicle. With the rear brake pipe you do not have this option as the pipe with the ends installed will not feed through the holes provided in the chassis. I measured as best I could, flared one end of the pipe and ran it backwards through the bulkheads towards the rear.
I used a portable vice to clamp my brake flaring tool to the chassis to complete the flared end on the now routed pipe. You need considerable force to flare a copper pipe correctly, so it is worth making sure you have clamped the flaring tool properly to prevent anything falling off. Make sure you also put something between the chassis and the clamp to stop it scratching it.

Here you can see the way I have routed the brake pipe. I have also made a small stainless steel clamp to hold the rear T-piece. I still have to run the brake vacuum hose and the clutch lines. I can then think about routing the heater pipes before installing the engine.
The vacuum lines are 10mm pipe of the same type used for central heating. It is more commonly known as micro-bore in the UK. I need to get a 10mm right angle to route it correctly so that it does not foul the engine pulleys.

Here the 10mm pipe that carries the vacuum to the brake servo is fitted. This bore of copper pipe is a bitch to work with. It isnt technically pure copper, but an alloy which resists corrosion better than cooper alone. It has the unfortunate quality of rapidly work hardening. What this means is that its quite easy to straighten the pipe out, and even to form the initial bends, but is an absolute bear to straighten out should you make an error.
The technique to use is to use a piece of string to figure out the exact length, and then fit and bend your correctly cut length of pipe.

The air conditioning radiator is shown installed here. I fabricated two brackets to support the radiator from stainless steel angle iron, which I welded up using my tig welder. The brackets are installed to the chassis using wurth self tapping screws again.
The silver cylinder shown underneath is the oil filter. My particular filter is an older design which is taller than those usually used by parallel designs. The trick is to place the air-con radiator high enough that you can easily remove the filter from its housing. As my filter is so tall, the radiator would need to mount at an unacceptable height, so I will be making a quick release bracket to mount the oil filter so it can be accessed easily.

This is the air-con condensor/heater box mounted in its final resting place. It is secured in three places using 3mm aluminium strip bent to hold the unit securely. When it is mounted correctly, there is no movement whatsoever.
The blower motor has a shroud which needs to be modified so that it clears the brake servo. Earlier chassis from parallel had the steering rack further forward, allowing the air-con box to drop further down into the chassis, and thus not requiring this shroud modification.

Here you can see a close up image of the heater box complete with the air conditioning hoses installed. When making the connections to the condensor unit, you will be supplied with a small packet of rubber 'o' rings. You must lubricate the washers before tightening the connections. If you dont have the correct a/c lubrication, you can substitute vaseline.
The brake vacuum hose has a piece of heater hose pipe split down its length and wrapped around it to protect it from the brake master mounting bolts it is reasonably close to. You should make every effort that where things are likely to vibrate, move or shift around, that they are protected from sharp edges and abrasive materials such as fibreglass. If things even move the slightest amount, you need to make sure any surface the object could potentially touch is protected with rubber. Because if something can move or vibrate, it will, and drive you crazy as you go down the road. Plus if something is wobbling about and making a noise, you can be certain that whatever it is, it will eventually fall off...

I have connected the air conditioning pipes to the bulkhead here and routed the pipes through to the radiator and the drier or dessicator as it is sometimes called. You should not fit the pipes to the drier, or remove the caps from the drier until you are ready to charge the system, as water vapour from air will be drawn into the filter and will poison the special chemicals contained within.
I have not secured the air-con pipes to the bulkhead yet. This is another job to do.

You can fit the special bi-mode protection switch at this point if you want, be sure to lubricate the 'o' ring before you fit it, and make sure it goes on nice and tight. The switch is a protection device that detects two of the following conditions and prevents the compressor from operating.

1) Compressor pressure too low.
2) Compressor pressure too high.

In short, when the refrigerant pressure reaches a set point, the switch triggers and the compressor clutch cut outs, preventing an over pressure condition. Also if a hose is holed or breaks down, the compressor clutch is also disengaged so that the lubricant is not pumped out and the compressor runs dry. If the compressor does run dry of lubricant, it will wear prematurely and fail.

The drier is located at the top of this picture towards the middle-left. The pipes are simply tied up here with zip-ties so that I could figure out the pipe lengths.

I have fitted the battery tray in this image. The battery for these replicas is a little on the small side when compared with a modern production car. But most high-end production cars now have four electric windows, power & heated seats, gas discharge lights, electric front and rear demisters and individual air condition fans/consoles. Our replicas have a smallish air conditioning units, and perhaps two electric windows. So the need for a big battery is reduced. If, however, you are thinking of installing large ICE systems or any other power hungry appliances, I suggest you upgrade to a much larger battery.
You should also be thinking of making up a set of jumps leads with a remote power feed so that if the battery goes flat, you can easily jump start it again. The battery is in such a difficult location to get to, you will have problems getting convential jump leads onto its terminals.
The remote oil filter is still not installed at this point as I need to make a quick release bracket before fitting it, to make oil changes simpler in the future.

The front bulkheads are dry-fitted here. They are not secured in place fully yet. The panels come in two sections. I fitted the shorter section first, and this is the most difficult as you need to notch three sections out of it in order to fit it correctly. This panel requires a fair amount 'manipulation' to get it into place, and it is helpful if you have NOT fitted the clutch master cylinder at this point as its actuator gets in the way. You need to be careful about how much material you remove, as if you remove too much, you will only end up having to do more filling.
The second panel is a lot easier to fit and only has two cutouts to make. It requires trimming and a slot cutout to accomodate the air-con and heater pipes as well as the electrical cables which will pass through this slot. You can be fairly generous with the slot because once all the cables and pipes have been routed, the gaps will be filled with expanding foam. This insulates noise and prevents water ingress.
Before the panel is insulated, the holes for the demist and heater hoses will need to be cut first.

You can see the inside view of the fibreglass panels. Take a tip from me and wear gloves when handling/cutting these panels. A face mask probably woudnt be a bad idea either as a lot of glass dust is thrown up and this stuff is probably not good to breathe. The glass strands these panels are made from can cut your hands or can 'insert' difficult to remove splinters.
The panels are secured to the chassis at the bottom, in my case using wurth self tappers. You can use pop rivets if you want, but I have an aversion to these as once you have installed them, they require drilling to remove. If you make a mistake fitting the panels, you will have problems.
The panels are not a perfect fit, and will creak and groan as you tighten the screws to the chassis. You will need to bend the panels and use clamps to hold them in place as the glue dries. Also the longer panel had in my case, a much narrower bottom mounting flange, meaning that the screws are fitted pretty close to the edge. The edge was not cut straight, so I presume that whoever made the panel, was a little over zealous trimming this particular one.
The panels will be secured to the top rail and the bottom using a high strength polyurethane sealant known as either silkaflex or tiger-seal. Once this has dried, and it dries very fast, you can use one of two methods to insulate the fibreglass panels. You can line them with a high density bitumen based sheet material, or you can run repeated beads of expanding foam from the bottom rail up to the top tubular chassis rail. Sheet material is probably more expensive, and will certainly take longer to do but would result in a neater job. The panel will not be seen however, so I will be using expanding foam.

The engine and gearbox now present in the chassis. This job requires a good few helpers and a decent engine hoist. The little noddy engine hoists you can buy from clarke for lifting fiesta engines in and out will not be sufficient here. If you do not have access to a decent one, hire it, as you will either damage your engine, chassis or worse, yourself.
I had three people help me get the engine in. One to hold the engine steady, one to operate the lift, and drop, One more to actually manhandle the hoist, and myself who guided the engine down onto the waiting engine mounts. Thanks to Danny and Frank.
The gearbox is not secured at this point as the mounting plate requires modification as it is designed for the Audi six speed gearbox.

I didnt think I would need to start working on the chassis again at this stage of the build. However, to use the newer Fiat Coupe steering column, a number of changes to the whole steering setup need to be accomodated.

First thing to do is to strip as much of the shafts and universal joints from the supplied column as is possible. The lower part of the column is a collapsible shaft with a UJ at each end. The shaft can only deform by about an inch so I assume this part is more to ease manufacturing than an aid to safety. There is a set of bellows mounted higher in the column which look like they deform by a much more useful amount in the event of an accident.

The upper UJ couples to a splined shaft which fits inside the bellows and needs to be retained. The lower UJ is not the same size as the shaft on the steering box so must be removed. The easiest way to do this is to file off the small retaining lug, and separate the shafts using a hammer. Not very much force is required for this, so dont go mad.

A new shaft will be constructed and the UJ from the old shaft fitted to the end. You can assemble new steering shafts as required, but simply cutting two different shafts apart and welding them together will result in SVA failure. The shafts must be structurally sound and constructed to a high standard. This cannot be a cut and shut!

Here are the various components from both the old and new steering columns. At the bottom left is the new Fiat column and splined shaft, taped to the shaft is a sprung keyway which you dont want to loose unless you want the tilt and slide really sloppy.

Above the Fiat column is the old Fiat Chroma based column. Its not a very pretty item but it comes from a different era of vehicle manufacturing. To the right of this column is the unneeded steering box UJ from the Coupe column, and just below this is the unneeded upper column linkage.

At the top right of the picture is the 'goal posts' that hold the original steering column in place. I think I now know why the 6.0 style dashboards on many replicas are not curved. If the dash is curved correctly, the mounting points that hold steering columns in place are visible and so must be changed. Its therefore a lot easier for them to have the dash flat and retain one standard mount for both types of column. I need to move my mounts back so the 'goal posts' have to come off.

At the bottom centre right is the steering box UJ from the old column linkage. I had to cut this off and then tidy it up as it had been bolted and then welded to the shaft. Again continuous shafts are OK, so I can resuse this UJ after cleaning it up a little.

I have made part of the frame to hold the new steering column in place here. I have reused the top brace which drops into the right sort of position.

Its difficult to get the measurements correct with everything balanced on my knees, but I managed to get it almost right here. Taking your time and being careful are the key points here. If its wrong it will have a knock on effect to the rest of the interior. The tilt and slide mechanism is positioned into the middle of its up and down as well as in and out setting. The steering wheel should come out into the same position as the original column, making careful measurements before you begin this stage pays dividends at this point.

The shaft does not come out at right angles to the dashboard but is offset towards the kerbside to give a more ergonomic driving position. At right angles it would be difficult to steer as the steering wheel would be offset to the seating position.

Once everything is tacked up and in round about the right position, welding can begin in earnest.

The steering column is almost completely welded into position here. I really need to get a hoover into the car soon as its looking pretty dusty.

There is a slight amount of 'wobble' if I really give the column some stick, but this is to be expected as it protrudes out a lot further from the cross braced position it was originally in.

Now the preliminary welds are completed, all that remains is to complete these before work can begin again on the dashboard.
Here is the modified steering shaft. Its longer than the original, I had a local engineering works turn this part up for me as my lathe is not capable of handling material this size.

The two universal joints are tig welded to the shaft with the steering box end also being clamped for tidyness.

Its important to ensure that when welding UJ's on to make sure they are correctly aligned or undue stress will be placed on the bearings as they rotate.