27 LITRES....


texas mongrel

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
May 3, 2009
1,454
Houston Texas
We just spent fun times with Chip, Peggy, and Charley over Thanksgiving. One of the days, they visited our house so that Chip could see my latest build project. Chip has now badgered me sufficiently and talked me into starting this thread that shows the build history of my Roll Royce Merlin-powered car. These engines were designed in the 30s but are absolute works of art by even today's standards; V-12, 27 litres (1656 cu.in), all-alloy construction, overhead cams, 4 valves per cylinder, twin plugs per cylinder. There were many variants produced and they powered the Spitfires, Hurricanes, P-38s, P-51 and many other awesome planes, plus tanks and motor torpedo boats. Thousands and thousands were built but after the war, many were scrapped for their alloy. I found mine in the Australian outback and had it shipped to Texas in 2016 (coincidentally by the same company that later shipped our GTs to Europe for Le Mans.

Rather than adapting an existing chassis as folk like Jay Leno have done, I opted to go for construction from scratch: I bought a bunch of 6"x2" and 4"x2" tubing and had it bent to my specifications. I welded it up to form the basic frame. The pictures should be self-explanatory. The front end is a 1947 Ford F1 truck beam axle withF-250 springs. Rear suspension is early-Mustang leaf springs with extra leaves. The friction shocks are brand-new Andre Hartford units, identical to those used back in the 20s - crazy that you can call them up and order a set of shock absorbers from over 90 years ago! The rear end was a challenge because the engine red-lines at 2650RPM and I couldn't find an axle with a low-enough ratio to give a decent top speed. Eventually I went with an LSR quick-change rear end with 2.2:1 straight-cut quick-change gears. A 60's Chevy steering box turns the wheels (no power steering) and the chassis is rounded-out by Corvette boosted master cylinder, 40 gallon fuel tank and 10 gallon oil tank. I had the 21" wheels custom-built in the UK and the tyres are 35" diameter by 7" wide, rated (amazingly enough) for speeds up to 135mph.

Making this engine work in a vehicle meant dumping the 24V front-mounted starter so I could fit an accessory belt with alternator - machined adaptors did the trick. At the other end of the engine I made a 1" billet adaptor plate that allows a built C-6 to mate up, along with flex plate and big block Ford starter motor (yes, it has the balls to crank the motor no problem). The combined trans/engine unit sits on a subframe that's isolate from the chassis by poly bushings. This lets the frame flex without throwing stresses into the engine. Amazingly enough, everything fitted perfectly! I had a local engine builder machine a billet intake manifold to take six weber 48-IDA carbs. I'm still screwing with their jetting and setting, although I got a lot of help from Jay Leno's Big Dog garage with this. I fabricated the exhaust manifolds and system, including adding cut-outs so I can let the neighbours know I'm around when I feel like it! I reckon the engine is putting out around 850 hp and 1650 ft-lbs torque.

I got to drive the running chassis a couple of months ago (can't figure out how to embed a big video of this) and everything worked perfectly. The only issue I had was that the new starter wouldn't spin the engine fast enough for the magnetos to kick-in, so eventually I fitted a crank trigger, coil packs and twin ECUs which made the thing start instantly. I made all the wiring harnesses myself using old-school fittings, and the dash is engine-turned stainless with Classic instruments and vintage switches.

The current effort is the body. A couple of months ago I took classes in California to learn the English Wheel and other body tools. I made up a 'skeleton' of 3/4" tubing formed over a series of plywood formers, and am now well into wheeling up the panels. The body is roughly based on a 1928 Rolls Phantom 16EX that was in the Simeone museum last time I checked. Bodywork is going much faster than anticipated, and I hope to be 100% finished and driving before the end of 2020. I'll post updates of progress as I make it.RR-1.JPGRR-4B.JPGRR-7.jpgRR-21.jpgRR-13.JPG
 

texas mongrel

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
May 3, 2009
1,454
Houston Texas
RR-14.jpgRR-26.jpgRR-28.JPGRR-38.jpgRR-43.JPG
 

texas mongrel

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
May 3, 2009
1,454
Houston Texas
RR-77.jpgRR-76.jpgRR-80.jpgRR-79.jpgRR-78.jpg
 

DG1

GT Owner
Sep 21, 2016
77
Toronto
Wow! That is seriously cool! Nice work:)
 

Empty Pockets

ex-GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Oct 18, 2006
1,292
Washington State
'SWEET!

'Wouldn't surprise me a bit if Jay were to 'make you an offer you couldn't refuse' once that car is finished. ;-)


(Edit)
"Thousands and thousands were built but after the war, many were scrapped for their alloy."

...and 99% of the rest were 'used up' in unlimited hydros.)
 
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rnkma4

GT Owner
Jun 9, 2014
38
Santa Clarita
Amazing!!
 

ChipBeck

GT Owner
Staff member
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Feb 13, 2006
5,569
Scottsdale, Arizona
Gentlemen,

Some of our members know I have an interest in aviation and this project has had my attention since I first heard about it. But when I finally walked into Dave's garage and saw the scope and magnitude of what he was doing I was gobsmacked. Who on God's green earth can do this BY HIMSELF IN HIS HOME GARAGE!!!! Even assembling a team of people in specialized shops that could do this would be a real challenge. I literally can't get over this car. The two most beautiful aircraft ever built (Supermarine Spitfire and North American P-51D Mustang) used the Rolls Royce Merlin engine and a ton of them were built but, as Dave mentioned a lot of them were melted down for their aluminum and most of the survivors were blown up in hydroplane Thunderboat races. Parts are so hard to find today that Jack Roush has started producing new components to keep his own P-51D flying.

So I start asking Dave questions.

Where did that frame come from?........"I built it myself" (Well, OK)
Who designed the car?......."I did" (Seriously?)
Who is making the body panels and welding them together?......"I am" (WTF!!!!)
Where did you get these exhaust manifolds?........."I hand-cast them myself" (Who the hell does that?!!)
Electrical system?........"Did it all myself" (You're shitting me?!!!)

You are designing, fabricating, welding, metalworking sheet steel into body panels, wiring, and assembling an entire car you conceived from scratch by yourself in your home garage as well as engineering and modifying a Rolls Royce Merlin aircraft engine to power it?......."Yes"

Ah......OK. I literally didn't know what to say. I was blown away, and that's an understatement.

The engineering and design problems involved in getting a fuel injected, supercharged aviation engine designed to turn a propeller at a constant RPM of 2200 to 2650 RPM and converting it to a normally aspirated auto engine that can be operated from idle to redline are immense. Everything about getting a Merlin to work in a car is bitchy hard. I know it's been done a few times before but like Leno's car the motor is usually put into an existing chassis modified to accept it. But that would be too easy for Dave.

I know many really talented aircraft engine techs, great designers, body men, welders, electrical engineers, fabricators, and so on. Becoming proficient in any one of those disciplines is impressive. But I've never met anybody that had all of those skills and the tools necessary to tackle this alone and at home, until now. Unreal.

So yeah I bludgeoned him to start this thread.

Chip
 
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GTMD

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Jan 4, 2011
721
NorCal
That is beautiful! You have mad skills my friend. Nice work!
 

GKW05GT

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
May 28, 2011
2,526
Fayetteville, Ga.
Impressive Dave!!!
 

spartan

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Feb 11, 2017
995
Bloomfield Hills MI
Thanks for sharing and please keep us updated on your masterpiece. More photos!
 

BAT

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Oct 11, 2012
919
Central Mitten
So basically the polar opposite of a Tesla Model S. Got it.
 

DakotaGT

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Dec 9, 2012
1,339
Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Fricking incredible! This will be a fun thread to watch over time. So glad Chip's badgering was successful! Very impressive work.
 

twobjshelbys

GT Owner
Jul 26, 2010
5,255
Las Vegas, NV
Wow, that's some power plant!
 

The Grey Ghost

GT Owner
Mar 13, 2009
582
Kansas City
David, I remember when you bought the engine and was working on getting it shipped home.
Everything was an idea in your head at that time.
It's great to see how far it has come!
Can't wait to see it going down the road.
 

fjpikul

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Jan 4, 2006
10,280
Belleville, IL
I think you guys are not giving enough credit to the real brains behind it - Roz
 

JOETWINT

FORD GT OWNER
Mark IV Lifetime
Jan 22, 2008
319
Brooklyn N.Y.
wow that is a pretty epic !Much respect!
 

GTJack

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Oct 1, 2006
1,679
Saddlebrooke, MO
Good for you Chip to get Mongrel to start a thread on the Forum. I have been following it with interest on Facebook, but you got him to tell the story with pics in one post. Dave, you are amazing! I love it that you have "projects" that are cool and somewhat insane at the same time. Hope it all turns out as you envisioned it when you started, and I hope to see you and the Beast featured on Jay Leno's garage.
 

Gene Cassone

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Dec 3, 2005
778
way upstate NY
Incredible! Amazing talent and imagination! Thanks for sharing!
 

07XL0027

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
May 20, 2012
1,303
Austin TX
You’re a true Renaissance Man Dave and the Beast is a true Texas Mongrel.
 

Apollo

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Aug 5, 2006
2,432
Pahrump, NV
Incredible Dave! Get some young kid to help you post a video, I bet it sounds epic! (y)