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Tyrrell P34 Replica Cockpit

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#1 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Aug 29 2011 - 07:30 PM

Hi guys!

Finally, it’s time to post my simpit project.

It is a 1:1 replica of a Tyrrell P34 6-wheeler tub, as true a copy as I could manage.

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Here’s the dealio.


For a long time I’ve had a desire to build the ultimate simracing cockpit.
I started simracing 14 years ago, moving from games to sims over the years and upgrading my hardware along the way. My first hardware mod was to stick two buttons onto the wheel of my Thrustmaster T2. Back in 2003 I designed and built my own H-shifter in a primordial attempt to enhance realism in my sims. It was quite a success, and an obsession with simracing hardware was born!
Five years ago I built an aluminium raceframe to house my new controls: Logitech G25, custom 3-pedal set with 50KG load cell and a new, custom shifter. The pedal set and all steel shifter were designed by a friend, engineer and simracer Niels Heusinkveld.
I placed the unit in front of a projector screen and established simracing heaven.

While the rig was pretty sweet, I was constantly looking for ways to improve it as I found that working on the rig was almost as much fun as driving it! You know how it is..
Much of my efforts went into creating ever more realistic parameters to work with; more pressure on the brakes, realistic wheel rotation and FF settings, even reversing the H-pattern assignments to better emulate the ZF gearbox on the Lotus 49.
My efforts to achieve maximum realism soon revealed flaws in the raceframe I was using.
50KG on the brake pedal began to weaken the structure, even bending the 28mm MDF base plate! I was looking to increase the brake pressure (GTP cars often required up to 120KG!)
and this frame just wouldn’t cut it anymore. Besides, the €100 ‘racing ‘ seat proved rather uncomfortable and highly unsuitable for endurance efforts.
It was time to get serious.

I decided to get REALLY serious.


Fall 2008 I started researching what I felt was the perfect simracing cockpit: a Tyrrell P34 tub! The iconic 6-wheeler from one of the coolest teams and driven by one of the coolest drivers (Depailler), as featured in one of the coolest onboards ever:

In this endeavour, there would be no compromise. Every single detail was to be perfect.
Talk about setting yourself a challenge   Posted Image
It would involve building the tub, the seat, A-frame, new pedals and a new shifter.
All would have to be made using the correct materials:
Steel subframe, pedals and A-frame, aluminium tub and fibreglass seat.
You must know that I didn’t even know how to weld at this point! But, I had always wanted to learn and this was the perfect opportunity! Again with the challenges   Posted Image

First things first: I converted the bike shed into a DIY heaven. Isolated the walls and floor, threw in laminated floor boards and built wall to wall working surfaces. Dismantled all old electrics, installed fresh ones and added heating, gas-extraction and, of course, a PC with 5.1 sound, Internet and all available P34 reference material.
I threw away all old tools and bought everything new.
Ready to roll!
Posted Image

Edited by ginetto, Feb 05 2015 - 07:13 AM.

#2 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Aug 29 2011 - 07:32 PM


I literally started from scratch:
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Basically, whatever I could find on Google image search was all the reference material I had.
Nevertheless, I thought I had a good grasp on the various dimensions.
Most of the dimensions were derived from the following picture:
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I assumed the steering rod was 20mm and Depailler’s shoe was 100mm in width, loaded the picture into Photoshop and worked from there.

Soon after, I started modelling the seat.
I had extensive experience with fibreglass, but nothing this big.
Here goes nothing   Posted Image

First, I built a fibreboard enclosure with the correct seating angle.
I filled it with construction foam, covered it with plastic and then sat in it while it hardened.
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It was a disaster!
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Do not skimp out like me but buy a decent seat molding kit rather than messing around with PUR foam.
However, I decided to use this monstrocity as a plug for the mold.
It wasn’t pretty.
Posted Image

#3 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Aug 29 2011 - 07:33 PM

After a lot of work, adding sides and shoulder supports and levelling/smoothing with lots of filler, my mold was complete!
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I applied gelcoat and fiberglass and an hour later my seat was born!
It was a beauty! To my surprise, the seat was perfect on the first try. Truly 100%.

Now it was time to start welding the steel subframe.
As said, I had never welded anything in my life. I just bought a stick welder, a mountain of steel and gave it my best shot. How hard can it be?
The answer: pretty hard, but not impossible to master.
After a bit of practice, I felt confident I could handle the frame.
Within no-time, I had a basic frame.
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Then came Goodwood 2010. This year marked my 6th visit to the Goodwood Festival of Speed. It was to provide an absolute breakthrough in the Tyrrell project.

Early 2010, Roger Wills got the opportunity to obtain ownership of a very special racecar: Tyrrell P34/2, the 6-wheeler chassis raced by Depailler in 1976 and shortly into 1977..
This is the most authentic P34 in existence, literally living out it’s retirement in the Donington Collection in the exact same shape it was put there in 1977. But Roger had other plans for this beauty. He bought the car and after making sure it ran (which amazingly it did after a few splashes of fuel and a couple of coughs), he took it to FOS 2010.
There, the WDK guys were working constantly to get the car in good enough shape to run each of it’s runs. It sat in the paddock all day every day with all it’s covers off, for everyone to admire. For mé to admire!
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By some form of miracle, I’d brought along a measuring tool and over 100 shades of blue, just to be ready in case a P34 should make an appearance. The responsible mechanic, although he probably thought I was a bit off, kindly allowed me to take all the pictures and measurements I wanted. It was an amazing opportunity for me to learn everything about this fantastic race car.
Just as amazing, by the way, was the fact that nearly all the measurements I had gestimated using old photographs and Photoshop proved to be accurate to within half an inch! Only the A-frame deviated more, being a whole inch shorter than I had thought. Imagine my delight!
This torrent of first-hand intel  reinforced both my ability to build a more genuine replica and my desire to do just that: to build thé perfect replica!


Back from Goodwood I set about creating a very recognisable part of the P34: the A-frame that holds the steering wheel, steering rod, shifter and switches. This is a complicated part and hard to duplicate as it is rounded and tilted. It looks different from every angle!
After a few trials I felt I had found the correct shape. The company that provides my steel agreed to bend the 1” steel tubes for me, the only part of the job I was unable to perform myself. I did micromanage the operation though, and the result couldn’t have been better.
See this lay-over comparison:
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With the basic A-frame and seat in place, the frame finally started to look like a P34.
Posted Image

After completing the steering assembly, I came to the sad conclusion that the G25 had significant trouble getting up to speed with the ball bearings and u-joint thrown into the equation.
For a project like this, only the best is good enough of course. That is why I have called in a few favours and have managed to order one of Leo Bodnar's FF wheels not normally available.
It is basically a CNC mill motor which Leo has converted to a 1080deg 300W powered FF wheel. Nothing comes close. Nothing.

#4 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Aug 29 2011 - 07:35 PM


The time came for me to really prove my worth: welding the pedals!
Had I previously discarded the P34’s intricate pedals as too complicated for the rookie welder I still was, the success of the other parts urged me to carry on my pursuit of perfection.
The welding I had done on the subframe and A-frame yielded much experience and I had a lot of fun building all three pedals one by one. At random, I started with the clutch, then moved on to the brake and saved the throttle for last. All are constructed from steel tube and many small steel strips making up the pedal heads. The brake pedal head for instance consists of eight bits of steel, all individually shaped and welded together under precise angles.
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All pedals have ball bearing fittings and the brake pedal has a faux brake balancer.
I’m very proud of this pedal set as it turned out very nice indeed.
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All pedals will interface with the PC via load cells. The brake has got a 200KG load cell calibrated to about half that and the clutch and throttle have 5KG load cells attached via springs. The clutch features a very stiff preloaded spring which is detachable as a whole unit.
Both clutch and brake pedal are position-adjustable by altering the length of their pushrods.
The throttle has an otherwise variable stop and has a throttle cable running back through the tub to the load cell behind the seat.


With the steering and pedals sorted, one more element was still to be realised: the gear lever.
I saved the hardest for last; it was quite a challenge to emulate the P34’s gateless shifter by copying it’s looks and mechanics. Playtime was over, this thing had to look and work like the real thing. It had to bé real!
Posted Image

A few uninspiring prototypes came and went before the ever present subconscious process spontaneously spawned the final design. The experience gained throughout the whole project made work on the shifter a joy and the result is something to behold if I do say so myself.
Posted Image

More importantly, the shifter’s action is very positive and ultra smooth. There is no better!

The all-steel H-shifter I’ve been using over the past years is now bolted behind the seat, attached to the new lever via the stainless tube in accordance with the design on the real car.
The P34 has a reversed 5-speed gearbox, with reverse in the position normally associated with 1st gear, 1st gear opposite that and 2nd to 5th in a convenient H-pattern.
My shifter allows that configuration, though there is also a 7th gate in case I have to use 6 forward gears on cars that have them.

#5 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Aug 29 2011 - 07:36 PM


Time to revert attention back to the tub itself. Basically, it was still just a subframe at this point. My subframe is more extensive than the real one, because that one has a tub made from very thick aluminium which I cannot bend in the shed. My extended subframe allows me to use thinner alu which I can shape at my own leisure. This was the next step.
I devised a method of bending aluminium plates in the shed without damaging them. The required precision of this task meant I spent a lot of time getting it right in one attempt, mainly because the base material costs €25 per unit of 1000x500mm and I need at least 10 of those.
Posted Image

At this time, the inner tub is done. The outer skin will come last, so the exposed frame gives me something to grasp while I’m still working on it. The footwell bulkhead and various other cross-sections are due next. Adding the aluminium has given the whole unit a nice, solid look and feel. Just like it’s supposed to be. The pedals and foot rest are in and they look awesome.
Posted Image


To achieve total believability, the addition of Tyrrell blue bodywork is a must.
While the original cowling will not be a feature of this replica (as it was inspired by the onboard video showing the car without the bodywork), only the right shade of blue will make it recognisable as a Tyrrell. Remember how I brought those 100+ samples to Goodwood just in case? Well, it allowed me to determine the correct shade of blue. In every photograph, the colour of the Tyrrells looks different, so this hands-on approach was absolutely crucial.
I meticulously recreated the blue top plate that strectches all around the tub and the end result is a very cool piece of kit that really looks as though it came from the Tyrrell factory.
It gives the whole cockpit a truly authentic look.
Posted Image

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That was a small overview of my ambitious project. It is still a WIP of course, some bodywork is still not done and for now you have to imagine it with the seat painted blue   Posted Image

I hope you guys like it  :wave:

#6 Paddy the Irishman

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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 01:53 AM

YOU LEAVE ME SPEECHLESS  (that explains the long space at the beginning of the line)

Seriously, what a wonderful achievement, congratulations  :clap2: :clap2: :clap2: :clap2:

Edit:-  Sorry, it would not allow me to leave tne long open space !

Edited by Paddy the Irishman, Aug 30 2011 - 01:55 AM.

#7 Jens C. Lindblad

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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 02:04 AM

Wow! Total awesomeness! As a fellow Tyrrell fan I'm blue with envy! Well done and congrats with your awsome rig :D

#8 tjc


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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 03:16 AM

That`s an amazing project Remco...

Totally awesome.

Looks like a lot of time and effort being used up there too but what a brilliant rig you`ll have at the end of it.

I`m also blue with envy lol.

Can`t wait to see it all finished up with you sitting behind the wheel.


#9 FloP


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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 03:18 AM

Now that was an enjoyable read! Your skills and determination are amazing, making your project even moreso! Way to go, master Remco! :hat-tip:

#10 sky


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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 03:54 AM

amazing stiff. not blue with envy, but very much envy you (not that i would have the space to put up a setup like that. now my pipe dream is (and not pricy at all at +20k) is to get a used old brabham f2 car (roller) and wire up the pedals with load cells and rig the gearlever and add the wheel (somehow)... yea pipedream, but still :)

ok remco, so the shifter... how'd you do it? just did a solid conection from the shifter backwards and there basically do the same as before (niels' shifter i believe?)

really incredible stuff, love it!



    Denny Hulme

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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 04:27 AM

You'll have to redo the gear-lever. The grain on the knob doesn't quite match the original.....;) Just kidding!

This is by far the best and most authentic cockpit I've ever seen :clap2::clap2::clap2:. Congrats!:hat-tip:

Even Ken would have been impressed.


#12 svenvangent


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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 05:15 AM

Waw well done Remco  :thumbup:  :hat-tip:

#13 John Woods

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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 07:42 AM

Very glad to see this, Remco. Really inspiring actually.
This thread is now linked on...gpllinks.org
in the Technical Stuff section.
Thanks for setting a new standard for all of us.
Amazing work and effort.

#14 twinpotter


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Posted Aug 30 2011 - 02:11 PM

WELL DONE REMCO :thumbup: Truly awesome achievement you should be proud!!!!!!Keep us all up to date with the project :D WELL DONE :clap2:  :clap2:  :clap2:  :clap2:  :wave:

#15 Stefan Roess

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Posted Aug 31 2011 - 05:16 AM

Really amazing!
Thx for posting so detailed!


#16 ginetto


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Posted Sep 03 2011 - 03:50 AM

Really impressed by your work  :shock:
I always wanted to start something like that but never thought about it seriously.
I built my gym benches when I was a kid and that's all my welding skills :P
Now, seeing what you got there, makes me realize even more what passion can do. Bravo!

#17 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Sep 05 2011 - 02:21 PM

Thanks lads, great to see how you all dig my rig  :yeah:

It was early 2008 when I first mentioned this project on RSC, before I had even started.
People were intrigued but not convinced  :lol:

Reading back the whole story makes me realise what a great time it's been, learning new skills and seeing my project turning slowly from concept to P34.

"Do or do not! There is no try." as Yoda would say  :P

View Postsky, on Aug 30 2011 - 03:54 AM, said:

ok remco, so the shifter... how'd you do it? just did a solid conection from the shifter backwards and there basically do the same as before (niels' shifter i believe?)

Yeah, pretty much. The P34 shifter rotates and slides the steel rod. The rod has an attachment which moves the USB shifter's lever as I change gear.
The shifter module provides the buttons, H-pattern and resistance.

Attached Files

Edited by Remco Hitman, Sep 05 2011 - 02:25 PM.

#18 Saiph


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Posted Sep 05 2011 - 04:26 PM

Remco, did you have access to the Tamiya 1/12th scale Tyrrell P34 kit during the development at all? I remember building that kit in about 1980 when I was 20, and it seemed very detailed and accurate to me. The photos of your rig remind me a lot of the cockpit framework, gearchange and seating arrangements. If you did see the kit, how accurate do you think it was?

#19 Remco Hitman - guest

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Posted Sep 05 2011 - 04:59 PM

View PostSaiph, on Sep 05 2011 - 04:26 PM, said:

Remco, did you have access to the Tamiya 1/12th scale Tyrrell P34 kit during the development at all? I remember building that kit in about 1980 when I was 20, and it seemed very detailed and accurate to me. The photos of your rig remind me a lot of the cockpit framework, gearchange and seating arrangements. If you did see the kit, how accurate do you think it was?

No, I haven't seen the Tamiya model. It's probably much more accurate than mine, if indeed that's even possible taking into account that mine is life size..

1/12th scale means it's 91.5% off!  :lol:

Edited by Remco Hitman, Sep 05 2011 - 05:00 PM.

#20 dbell84


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Posted Sep 06 2011 - 05:46 PM

Very impressive Remco.  As someone who did a fair amount of welding 20 years ago, I must say you did a superb job.  A frame like you constructed is not easy first project for someone who is learning to weld.  I look forward to more pics as you finish your project.

You are either not married or have one of the world's most understanding wife.  I thinking you're a bachelor as women that understanding are in short supply.  :lol:

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