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Upcoming roll cage job

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  • Upcoming roll cage job

    My friend called last night about installing a cage in his 98 camaro in January. Went to the track with his new motor on Black Friday & he turned a 10.48 @ 134 mph. Not to shabby for not being dialed in yet. He's looking at an eight or ten point cage kit from Midwest chassis. Undecided on mild steel or chromemolly.

    He's going to strip the interior & I'll fit & weld. Assuming I tig everything about how much time should it take? This will be my first cage but no worries as I'm confident in my welding & fitting skills. In general is there a lot of fitting on the cage kits or are they cut really close with only minor adjustments needed?

    Video link of one pass.

  • #2
    I put a 8-point roll bar kit from S&W in my '94 Thunderbird last winter and it took me about a month of evenings and weekends.

    Things that suprised me how much time it took were........
    • Removing seam sealer and spray on sound insulation from floor boards. This stuff needed to be cleaned off so you could weld in the base plates.
    • Modifying the floor boards so they were relatively flat in the areas where the base plates mount.
    • Repair and replace of paint, seam sealer and undercoating in areas below the floor where this stuff was cooked off when welding above.
    • Removal reinstallation and modification of interior panels and headliner.
    • My kit came with notched tubes but location of the cross brace behind the seat needed to be modified because I am taller than the kit was set up for.
    • Are you going to put in a rear firewall....fitting that up and closing all the little holes took alot of time.
    • My kit was chromoly so I Tigged all the bars but the base plate to floorboard welds I used Mig. Just because some of them were in tough to reach places like up under the dash. Those welds were a little finiky mostly due to welding the 1/8" plate to the paper thin floorboards.....Mix in a little rust and I spent a fair amount time welding up holes I burned through.

    Your a good friend....this was a big project.

    Have fun


    • #3
      I'll be doing this as if it was any other job in my shop. He always pays me for the work I do. I never expect anything but he knows what stuff is worth & he comes up with the price.

      I'm sure it won't go as smooth as he thinks. Things like this never do unless you have done it a few times. We have about 6 weeks to plan for it.


      • #4
        Sandblast where you need to weld only. It will save hours.


        • #5
          "Those welds were a little finiky mostly due to welding the 1/8" plate to the paper thin floorboards.....Mix in a little rust and I spent a fair amount time welding up holes I burned through."

          I have seen the 1/8" plate punch right though the floor board sheet metal (more precisely the body spot welds in proximity to the loaded floor gave way, and there was some tearing of body sheet metal at the roll cage foot). This was in a 4x4 vehicle rollover at slow speed but hard roll down a boulder field.... driver was lucky that he wasn't injured by the roll bar dropping down in relation to his seat.

          This was a roll bar (tied in to the body at only 4 points) and not a full cage, and this was a certainly a factor.. the more attachment points to spread the load, the better. I did a 6 point cage on a 4x4 vehicle and insisted that the roll cage plates be supported by additions from the frame providing a matching plate on the underside of the body sheet metal.. Rubber Isolated plates (to allow for some frame movement in relation to the body and designed in a fail safe (rubber donut will allow movement, but steel prevents separation) similar to a good engine mount) are available for this purpose.

          Jeep got sued decades ago over this same problem in their factory equipped vehicle roll bar design.

          Something to consider .....
          Last edited by dandeman; 12-06-2012, 06:05 AM.


          • #6
            Upcoming roll cage job

            What ever happened with this interested to see how it turned out. Full roll cages are tied into the vehicle suspension and almost all sanctioning bodies are outlawing chromoly cages and switching to DOM


            • #7
              I'm still waiting to do it. My friend/customer ordered a kit from Mid West chassis about 2 months ago. Bent, notched & with door swing outs. Paid in full & been getting the run around ever since. Every week it's something different. They have every excuse in the book. So now he told them to just ship it without being notched as that was the latest excuse. We shall see.


              • #8
                If it is a frame car most sanctioning bodies require the cage terminate on the frame members. If its a monobody, just weld plates down and go from there. The base plate sizes are on spec based of sanctioning body, type of racing, class. I would definitely read the entire rule section discussing the parameters to be met of the sanctioning body.

                The couple kits I have helped friends install we're largely overpriced and more of a hassle than just starting from scratch. You will be much happier with the fit and finish if you do all the machining. Also, consider what the car will be used for, as many stripped out race cars actually end up blasting up to weight to race, ie not worth spending big money on cromo if your just gonna bolt in weight.


                • #9
                  No frame, it's a 98 camaro. Floor plates are supposed to come with the kit so we'll see. He's getting it from Mid West as theirs is supposed to be one of the best fitting kits.

                  He was getting it notched because it was an option offered by the company & it would help me out time wise as I'm always busy.

                  The cost was not much more for cromo vs. mild. No adding weight, it's a drag car.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BELLBOYMOTORSPORTS View Post
                    What ever happened with this interested to see how it turned out. Full roll cages are tied into the vehicle suspension and almost all sanctioning bodies are outlawing chromoly cages and switching to DOM
                    Ron Fournier's book is one of the best guides for race car fabrication.....

                    His perspective on the use of chrome-moly...

                    "One final comment about using chrome moly DON'T. There are few applications that warrant the use of chrome-moly unless you're building an airplane, a Formulia-1 car, or an Indy Car. Unfortunately, chrome-moly steel has become trick. It literally falls in the category of "a little bit of knowledge can be dangerous." Yes, it is stronger than mild steel. It also is less tough as described on page 46. Under impact, as in a crash, a chrome-moly steel part is much more likely to break rather than bend, as would a mild steel part. Not only does a part, such as a roll bar or cage absorb energy as it bends, it remains intact and protects."
                    END QUOTE

                    Perhaps the above statement of why almost all sanctioning bodies are outlawing chrome moly cages and switching to DOM.
                    Last edited by dandeman; 03-19-2013, 08:15 AM.


                    • #11
                      Based on my experience with a small Brit coupe racer I'd advise building a Halo style cage. The top hoop can be prefabbed and lifted into place while most of the vertical bars can be welded from below. I only learnt that from looking back at my cage and how it could be improved.....


                      • #12
                        Speaking of Camaro cages, friend of mine's brother in law runs a Camaro at the Texas Mile. He recently upgraded his cage and he's glad he did.
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                        That is what happens when you flip at 240.
                        Last edited by dallas_; 04-03-2013, 07:33 AM.


                        • #13
                          What caused the flip?


                          • #14
                            This car finally showed up last night complete with a whole laundry list of things to do besides the cage. I really don't need any more work at this point but it's here so I'll post some pics when I start.


                            • #15
                              Started yesterday. Got the main hoop & rear down bars fitted. Formed & welded the floor plates for them both. Going to tack the bars, remove & weld them, reinstall. Then I will fit the halo bar after bending correctly since one bend is wrong & front down tubes.
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