Fabrication and Your SL-C


It's normal to wonder just how much fabrication is actually needed when building an SL-C.  

The short version is that you will need to make lots of small brackets to hold stuff, drill holes, tap holes, and use hand tools.  But you don't need a machine shop behind you, or a 3D printer, or anything exotic.  Everything you need to do a basic build of the SL-C can be done with just basic hand tools (like hammers, drills, jigsaws, hacksaws, files, a tap-and-die set, metric and SAE wrenches, etc).

Except for the exhaust system, there is no welding required.  You'll have to take the car to an AC shop to crimp lines and fill the AC system with refrigerant (or buy or rent your own AC line crimper and get certified to manage refrigerant).

The rest is basic stuff that anyone with some training and sensitivity can do, with basic hand tools.

But I keep reading about all the fabrication people have to do...

Some of that is because of varying definitions of what "fabrication" actually means.  But most of it is because many builders go beyond a basic build, and do things that aren't strictly necessary to build a car, but do them anyway because they want to.  For some people, personalizing the car and making it their own is a key part of the build process, and building the car "by the book" wouldn't be as fun!

Most builders will need very little or no external assistance (as from a weldor or machine shop), even if they make small personalizations. 

You'll probably add to your tool collection as you build the car, but new tools that are actually required should be relatively inexpensive, and of the hand tool variety.

Well, what tools do I need?

You'll need a set of basic hand tools, to begin.  That should include 1/4" and 3/8" ratchets, a set of wrenches and sockets (the car uses both SAE and metric fasteners, like most domestic cars), a hammer or two, hand files, an assortment of saws (hacksaw, jigsaw, etc), a tap and die set, a drill bit assortment (buy extra 1/8" drills- you'll need them), etc.

Here's a chart with a list of tools you'll find handy.  You may not need all of these, but over time, builders have found these useful:

Tool Name  Comment 
Drill  Corded or cordless, you'll find yourself drilling lots of holes.  The latest brushless drills are great, and easy to use as well as having long life. 
Drill bit set  A basic set will get you started, and odd-size drills can be picked up as needed.   
Hammers  Occasionally parts need to be persuaded to fit.  The right hammer can do that- but don't abuse either the part or the tool! 
Tap and die set  You'll want to secure hoses, pipes, wire bundles in the car.  The easiest way is to use P clamps or similar.  A small set with 1/4-20 taps will do fine for a start.
Saws  A jigsaw and a hacksaw are the genesis of a lot of bracket building tasks.  Make sure you have fine-tooth blades for metal work. 
Level  This is useful for making sure parts are level when you mount them, as well as helpful when you do a initial rough alignment on the car.  A couple of inexpensive ones will be useful. 
Pliers, wire cutters, etc.  A set of basic pliers, including wire cutters will be helpful. 
Wire Crimper  The SL-C comes with a pretty complete harness, and most of it is plug-and play. But occasionally you will find a need to do minor wiring tasks, and an inexpensive cutter/crimper is invaluable.  These are under $10 at most stores. 
Trouble light or DVM  An inexpensive trouble light is very helpful to understand electrical issues, and to check your work.  But a digital volt meter (DVM), available in the $10-200 range, is invaluable when working on cars generally, and the SL-C in particular.
Clamps and a vise "C" clamps, and a set of inexpensive plastic clamps are often useful to hold parts in place when you are testing out potential locations.   And of course, every shop should have a good 4" vise.  Get a good one if you can afford it- this is an area where the traditional American suppliers still outperform the offshore foundries.
Hex wrench sets  Get a set of metric and SAE hex or Allen wrenches.  Most builders attach things using 1/4-20 stainless steel button heads, and these require allen wrenches.  There are some other uses on the car as well, so get a complete set. 
Screwdrivers  Everyone already has these, right?  You'll need a couple of the common sizes.  Getting a set of regular and phillips style is the least expensive way to go. 
Coil Over wrench  To adjust the suspension, these wrenches are usually required.  You can use water pump pliers, but they will destroy the aluminum coil over adjusters in short order.  Check with Jegs or similar. 
Torque wrench  Every critical fastener needs to be tightened to the correct torque.  Don't follow the German method of "Guten Tight"- especially for suspension and brake fasteners!  3/8" and 1/2" wrenches are enough. 
Grinder  Not strictly needed (hey- you can use files if you have the time), but a grinder makes quick work of smoothing out brackets, etc.  4 1/2" grinders are all you need, and they can be bought for under $20 on sale. 
Ratchets and sockets  You'll need 1/4" and 3/8" ratchets.  If you are just starting out, get one of the popular sets with a large assortment of sockets in 1/4" and 3/8" drive.  Standard and deep sockets are both useful.  You probably don't need 1/2" sets, except for a 1/2" breaker bar for the wheel nuts.   Long and standard (short) sockets are both useful.

There are many more specialty tools that make life easier, but these are the basics.  If you have found that other tools are needed, or are just really helpful, let one of the admins know so they can add them to the list!