More interior work

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I’ve been working on the sides of the center console. They probably don’t look like much, but they turned out to be a bit of a pain to engineer. I tried several different materials in several different shapes and thicknesses. What I ultimately ended up with was welding studs to the central tunnel forward of the center console, with an aluminum frame bolted to that. The aluminum is channeled in cross-section so that the material that forms the console side can sit down in it. That material is more of the .031″ plastic that I made the headlight surrounds out of. The channel is way bigger than that, I think it’s .250″ or so. So I slipped some rubber U-shape over it, so a tight fit was provided for both the sheet and the channel.

Finally, I saw on an episode of Project Binky that they were using something called Flexform carpet, which is good for going around contours. I bought a couple yards off eBay, but when it arrived, I didn’t really see how it was going to work very well. It is advertised as “stretchable and moldable”, but trying to stretch it did not seem to be working well. I finally figured out that it does not really stretch where it needs to be larger, but rather it scrunches up where it needs to be smaller. I got out the spray glue and went to work on the passenger side, molding the carpet around the .031″ sheet, which had some fiberglass reinforcing the contours where it was not flat. Here is where that ended up.

Note the correct map lamp, thanks to my friend Nial in the UK, who has his own 037 project going on.

Then a test fit in position. Passenger side.

Driver side:

I’m pretty well pleased with how those came out. I’m currently working on the center tunnel cover, rearward of the center console – the part that covers the e-brake and shifter. Once that is complete, I’m going to create the fascia for the kick panel areas. And when that is complete, I am going to declare construction complete, and blow the whole thing apart for final finishing.

Door Cards

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I decided I needed a break from bodywork, so I turned to interior work. First I wanted to seal up the interior better, so I added some polycarbonate wing windows, which should prevent some of the bodywork dust from getting in there. I didn’t bother with new window fuzzies at this point, though. Then some X1/9 mirrors to plug the holes. It’s amazing how much the addition of the mirrors made the car look more complete.

Then I turned my attention to the door cards. I had the seats done a few years ago, and had a couple yards of leftover corduroy fabric from that. I used this picture of a real 037 as my model.

Not really an over-complicated piece of upholstery. The door cards as removed from the Scorpion were finished in a black velour, here was my starting point.
The two lower holes are covered by the Scorpion arm rest, which is not present in the 037 version, so those had to be closed, as well as a corner in the top left hole. I had some wood stock that was the right thickness, and combined that with some .031″ plastic to form a backing. Here are those, about to be epoxied in.

Another item that needed mending was a break in the drivers side card near the lock hole.

So a small fiberglass patch was installed.
Finally the upholstery fun could commence. In the model picture (near top of post) there is a black border, possibly of plastic, around the piece of carpet that forms the lower part of the panel. I decided to leave the black velour in place to play that role. One has to remember here that I am building a tribute car (a visually similar creation) rather than a replica, which in my mind implies the prefixing adjective “exact”. Anyhow, I stripped the velour off the top part of the card and left it on the lower part.
The foam was in good shape, so no point in replacing it. When this picture was taken, the fillers for the lower holes were not yet installed. Then, using the front side of the door (to the right in the photo above) as a vertical guide, I installed the corduroy over the top. I didn’t really get any pictures of that process, as I was working with sticky adhesives that were on a time clock. Here is where it landed when all the gluing was done.

The fabric is stretched properly but still has some fold lines in it, which I am hoping will relax out over time. Off to the car for a test fit.

Having never done upholstery work before, I’m pleased enough with that result.

Passenger side was simply a repeat of this work, except with less mistakes along the way. Then the cards were sealed in plastic to keep the seats company while they wait for their eventual final installation.

More front clamshell work II

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I don’t even know what to call these posts anymore, I will be working on this clamshell for a long time. I could just wait until it’s in primer, then post that, but I don’t want there to be long periods of time with no updates, so here we are.

I have filled and sanded on this thing til I’m blue. It has so many contours and curves, and they all need to be perfect. I’ve heard you should expect a thousand or more hours of bodywork when you take on a project like this, and at this point I would easily believe that.

One small detour I took from the endless sanding was to create some panels around the headlights. They are made of thin plastic, I think it’s something like .031″ thick. They will hide the adjusting screws and other headlight guts. One good thing that came out of that is that I now know the headlight placement and openings are symmetrical side to side, they interchange if you flip them around.

Painted and test-fit with grill.

With all the shaping and sanding I have done, I wanted to find out how close I was to the final shape by spraying a guide coat. I happened to have some blue paint laying around, so I shot the right side fender and the front spoiler area. Then I switched from the 80-grit sandpaper I had been using, to some 180-grit, and block sanded it back to see where things were at. The fender wasn’t that bad, and the act of sanding back the guide coat brought it very close to final dimensions, since it showed where the highs and lows were. Here is the fender in the middle of that process.

Areas that remained bright blue just need to be filled, like that slash to the upper right of the wheel well. Areas that are mostly sanded back, like the small horizontal to the left of the wheel well above the crease, are close enough that high build primer will take care of it.

The front spoiler area was a different story, I should have done more filling on it before I attempted a guide coat. This is not an area that I have placed filler in much, it’s still got the original gel-coat as it came out of the mold. There are many imperfections that will require sanding back the gel-coat and filling. These are pretty obvious here.

So, you guessed it, more fill and sand. I’m going to be at this for a long time, so blog updates will be slow, because the work is slow. But stay tuned, it’s getting there.

More front clamshell work

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It’s been a while since I posted, I know. A house project had moved to the forefront of my attention, but it is complete now, so I can turn my attention back to the car. The general shape of the front clamshell has been established, and at this point it is refinement rather than major construction.

When I was able to turn my attention from the house project, the first thing that confronted me was an enormous mess in my shop. I was tripping over everything and nothing was in its place, it was pretty much a safety hazard. So I spent about a week just organizing the shop and cleaning it. I also did some projects to improve the working conditions, such as replacing the fluorescent tube lights with LED strips. This made a huge difference in the lighting, and guaranteed that I will never be up on a ladder again to change a bulb or a ballast. At my age, those are both welcome things.

A major part of the cleaning involved sweeping and vacuuming up the fiberglass body filler dust that had worked its way into every nook and cranny. I don’t really want to do that again, so I constructed a crude cart that I can mount the front or rear clamshell on, and take it outside when I have to sand on those. It’s visible in the shots below. It’s getting close to being ready for primer.

Front Clamshell Work

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In my previous post, I showed the work being started on my straight-as-an-arrow front clamshell. Here was my starting point.

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No curves at all… sad. But I have been working on it daily to pump it up, and while it’s not complete, I am creeping up on the final shape. Here is where it’s at now.

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And the drivers side.

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It looks better in person than in those photos, I think the different shades of filler trick the camera into seeing areas of flatness or unevenness that are not there. But of course I will double check by shooting a temporary flat color onto it.

I debated leaving out the line that separates the front “bumper” from the clamshell, but something just looks missing without it so I cut it into the passenger side with a deathwheel and sanded the edges a bit. I definitely like it better with the line. I have not done the drivers side yet, so here is a comparison.

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Still a long ways to go, but the general shape is starting to emerge.

 

 

From back to front

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The work on the rear clamshell is essentially completed for now. Aside from a few spots in the vertical slats on the lower rear bumper that need to be filled, it is ready for primer. The plexiglass window has been cut to shape, fitted with trim, and test fit.

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The clamshell was then refitted to the car. I got curious about how straight the fiberglass was in general, so I gave the tail end a guide coat so I could sand it back and see where the high and low spots are. And I had some red laying around, which seemed like the obvious color choice.

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As you can see from the sanding marks just below the spoiler lip, there is some waviness in the fiberglass. This will be addressed with high build primer and block sanding prior to finish coating.

With the rear mostly squared away, I turned my attention to the front. Speaking of square, the front was. The front hood of an 037 has a bulging, muscular curve along the top of the fender, which is widest near the wheel opening, and then curves in more sharply as it approaches the headlight area. Here are a couple shots that illustrate that.

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Meanwhile, here is my fiberglass kit.

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As boxy as a Fridgidaire. Oh well, I knew this fiberglass was only a starting point anyway. The amount of shape change that needs to take place here is way too much to just cake on body filler, that would be very heavy and prone to cracking. I considered different methods to build the fenders into the shape they needed to be. Ultimately I decided on this approach. I had a bunch of that 3/4″ thick foamboard insulation laying around, so I started playing with cutting shapes out of it. Here is an early test.

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In the end, this piece was extended back along the top of the wheel well more. Once the shape was established, some 5-minute epoxy was used to bond it to the fender. First, of course, the gray gelcoat was sanded back to expose the underlying fiberglass. This would be a crucial step for what was to come, which was to encase the foam ridges in fiberglass and tie it back to the body.

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Once the ridges were established to carry the general shape, they were tied together with fiberglass, leaving a hollow in between the ridges. I found this easiest to do in vertical strips. Trying to work with one big sheet was not working well at this point. Overlapping the strips slightly allowed for the general shape to be formed.

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After that had set up, it could be covered with continuous sheets to build strength.

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From here, it’s a lot of fill, sand, repeat. Fun!

 

 

 

Rear clamshell work

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I have mentioned in the past that bodywork is not terribly exciting because you can work at it for hours and hours, and end up not very far from where you started. That is the hell I’m stuck in now. I am addressing a bunch of issues with the rear clamshell, many of which are a product of the way it was manufactured. Namely, that it is a bunch of different pieces that have been bonded together. It is also pretty flimsy. The work I am doing now is addressing both of those issues.

Some specific examples – here, the segment just over the roll hoop that covers the back of the roof has been bonded to the rest of the piece. That is no big deal, but it is an overlap bond, so there is a step there.

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There is a glob of light gray bonding material where the step is. It drops around 0.1 inches. At the other end of this piece, the slope where the rear window mounts has an abrupt curve at the end (this is the other side).

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That curve down at the end is a problem because the plexiglass is not going to bend like that. So this end has to be raised and straightened. In addition, notice the “channel” that runs under the scoop and is glopped with more bonding agent. This all needs to be filled and smoothed.

Another problem is the rear window opening. It has square corners, which is not what a real 037 would have. It also presents a problem with the window trim I will use – a squareish corner would require cutting it at an angle and having multiple pieces.

So the lower corners nearest the rear of the car were the areas that required the most amount of work. In order to keep the rear window following the same line all the way down the car, I had to cut the window opening larger, longitudinally. This was not a big deal since a real 037 also appears to have a rear deck about the size that was left after the cutting was done. The clamshell had 2 layers of fiberglass, separated by corrugated cardboard, of all things, in this area. So I removed only the top layer of fiberglass, and corrected the curve on the window frame. That came out looking like this.

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You can see that the channel under the scoop has also been filled. This was repeated for the other side.

Next would be the ability to mount the plexiglass. What I chose to do here was weld 2 pieces of aluminum flat bar together, with the longer piece on bottom. They were different widths, and offset from each other. This was then bonded to the underside of the edge of the window opening. This shot gives you some idea of what I am talking about – this shot is from the underside of the clamshell, which is standing up on its tail end. It has already been bonded in place. The “bottom” piece of aluminum (closest to the camera) provides a ledge on the other side for the plexiglass to lie on. The aluminum will also have holes drilled/tapped in it to fasten the plexiglass to the clamshell.

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The aluminum was then encased in more fiberglass, for stiffness.

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Here is the view from the top. Ignore the messy body filler on the aluminum.

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A piece of aluminum angle was used at the top end to provide the same ledge, visible in the lower right of that shot. It was also bonded to the clamshell.

With that work done, I could determine the final shape of the plexiglass. I used some 1/8″ hardboard and whittled away at it until it fit in the channels. Here is an early test, before I made the radius of the corners more gentle.

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The hardboard will later be used as a template for cutting the plexiglass.

I think the major bodywork is close to done on the clamshell. I need to cut the vents out of the rear bumper, address some other minor issues, then sand and smooth the entire piece and prep it for a guide coat so I can see where it still needs work. As I said, this is a slow process, so it may be awhile before another post, but that doesn’t mean I’m not working on the project. Stay tuned!

 

Armrestling

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Continuing with the interior, I decided to emulate the arm rests of the 037. Actually they are more like door pulls, there’s not really any place to rest your arm. Here is a photo of the stock 037 units for reference.

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The stock Scorpion units I started with are similar but different, they look like this.

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The upper piece is similar, but the door pull/armrest is a separate piece. So starting with these pieces, I removed most of the armrest portion, leaving the forward mounting screw location. Then I determined a new angle for the door pull, since these pieces have the door pull angling downward too much to clear the side bar of the roll cage. The two pieces were then epoxied together, and covered with a couple layers of fiberglass.

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This was smoothed out a bit where needed with sanding and putty epoxy, then covered in lightweight body filler to arrive at this point.

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Repeat for other side.

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Then a new mounting location for the lower part of the door pull was added to each door. The original mounting point is the caged nut below and to the right.

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Some paint and then they were test fit.

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I just need to get the proper allen headed screws for the lower mounting point, and these are done.

Dashing. Simply Dashing.

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Work lately has been focused on the dashboard. With the center console complete and in place, I could design and locate the dashboard. I started with an aluminum T-bar frame.

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The small piece of split PVC tube is there to simulate the curve the lower part of the dash has, and get the spacing to the center console correct.

After the distance outward from the windshield was established, the legs that tie the “face” back to the car could be created and tacked in.

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My aluminum TIG skills are, uh, limited, so I used a spool gun feeding aluminum wire. Messy but effective. Here is the final frame, complete with the tabs that will mount the instrument cluster.

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Then PVC sheeting was used to cover the top of the dash. It was sheet metal screwed in and epoxied.

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Also visible in the above shot are the PVC tubes which have been split lengthwise and are epoxied onto the stem of the T-bar. The cluster was mounted and the entire thing test-fit in the car.

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With that all looking good, the whole thing was covered in a skim coat of lightweight body filler.

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That was then test fit back into the car. I must have taken things apart and put them together dozens of times.

I found the ends of the dash needed some extra pieces to cover an area near the windshield where there was a gaping hole so I added those.

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The area in between those wings is covered by part of the HVAC system, where the air is directed to the windshield.

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Finally the entire thing was assembled and plugged in for a test.

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All good! Some small vents were added to the holes at the ends of the dash and it is complete. Pardon the grainy, odd lighting, I was using the flash on my phone.

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Not a bad imitation of a real 037 dash, shown below for reference.

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I do need to create a glovebox area next. And look into getting the whole thing wrapped in suede.

 

 

Consoling news part two

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So the more I looked at the console, the less I liked a couple things about it. One was what I mentioned in the previous post, which was that the texture treatment did not come out to my liking. Another was that the “reveal” around the upper two plates (hazard switch plate and circuit breaker plate) was not to my liking. I’m talking about here.

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So I pulled the surround back off and removed the fiberglass, then sanded it back smooth and painted it. That’s how it sits now while I contemplate options. Ultimately I think I like the suede trim in the first picture of the previous post the best, so I think I’m going to talk to an upholsterer to see what it would cost to trim this surround and the dash that way.

The other thing I did was work on the metal frame that houses all the things in the console. I brought the metal further out to the upper two plates to fill the gap better. Here is how it sits now.

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I think the time spent was worth it. I also tried my hand at creating the ideogram lens for the right side climate controls, which control fan and the windshield/vent air flow. I used some dry transfer decals intended for model railroad stuff on some polycarbonate sheet. The decals are actually sandwiched between 2 sheets of polycarbonate, epoxied together at the sides, so they can’t get scratched up or dirty. I’m pretty pleased with how they came out.

I can’t do them for the other side yet, because I have not determined how the cables will operate. Once I know whether top and bottom represent heat or cold, fresh or recirculated air, I can create those. Next up for these is modifying the stock Scorpion fiber optic lighting harness to illuminate these lenses.