Topcoat part 1

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This morning I cleaned up the rear subframe and primered it. Then on to the topcoats. Not much to say about it except the product I’m using goes on very easily and I’m pleased with the results.

On to the pictures, which is probably why you’re here.

Painting tube frame is kind of a pain. It’s really easy to miss a strip, and when working on the underneath parts, looking up at the shop lights makes it hard to see. A rotisserie that can completely rotate the car would help. But I likely won’t do this again, so it’s a moot point.

Primer and sealer part 1

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Tonight I was able to get the sealer coat on the front clamshell. This is now ready for topcoat, although that’s probably quite a few months away. But the sealer is ok to sit for as long as necessary, and will stop humidity from absorbing into the primer underneath.

Here are some shots after the first of two coats were put on, while waiting for it to flash off.

Yes I am painting outside, but for coats that will require sanding, that’s fine. Before the topcoat can go on, this has to be scuffed with 600 grit. Conditions were favorable, low humidity, no wind. It was pretty hot, however, this being Texas in June.

While waiting for that to dry, I turned my attention to the front subframe. It needed a good cleaning and sanding, and where the rust had broken through the rattle can primer, some new primer. Then the parts that should not get sprayed were taped and masked, and the epoxy primer was mixed. Being able to rotate the car on the rotisserie was crucial to getting the front subframe into primer.

I was originally thinking that I would use my small touch-up gun to shoot the subframes, thinking that it could get in between the tubes easier. I’m glad I gave the big gun a try though, the little gun would have been a pain with constant refilling, and I’m not sure I would have gained that much in maneuverability. The big gun was able to shoot it far enough that I really didn’t need to reach into the tubes.

Here’s a couple of shots of the front in primer.

Tomorrow I will probably topcoat it. This epoxy primer also acts as a sealer, so no separate sealer coat is needed, the finish coat can go right on top of it. I’m looking forward to seeing something in the red the entire car will eventually be done in.

Cartisserie. And more front clamshell work.

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Over the past week I have been putting together a car rotisserie, which will help with prepping and painting the tube chassis. I took some seriously heavy box and angle steel, and fashioned a frame at each end of the car that fixes to the suspension pickup points. It had to attach to the car in a way that would not get in the way of the painting too much, so it took some thought.

For the rotisserie itself, I used a couple of Harbor Freight 1000lb engine stands. These happened to be on clearance and I got both for about $140, not too shabby considering the ridiculous price of steel right now.

Getting the car raised up high enough to get it onto the rotisserie was approaching sketch level 8+ at times, but I got it all done.

She bled a little, but it had to be done.

I wasn’t sure how tippy the whole arrangement was going to be, so for safety I made some outriggers for the engine stands to make sure they couldn’t tip over. But so far they have not made contact.

The car can’t rotate completely upside down or anything, that was not the intent. It goes over about 45 degrees each way, which is enough to access the underside for painting.

With that task complete, I went back to work on the front clamshell, filling some small holes and smoothing some areas. I got to the point where I felt I had done everything I could with conventional filler, so I got out some polyester primer. This is basically sprayable body filler. It should fill any remaining pinholes, but more importantly, it would make the clamshell one single flat color. That would be useful for identifying any problem areas that still needed major work. Two heavy coats later and here it is.

It’s better than I thought it would be, but there are still some problem areas to work out. Definitely a worthwhile exercise though.

Bare Bones

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Today I attacked the back of the car. Here was the starting point.

I had already removed the rear clamshell, parts of the air intake and exhaust systems, and the support for the rear clamshell. Next to go was the rest of the exhaust, the chassis wiring harness, and the X-brace. That left me here.
From there I could hook up the engine hoist and begin the extraction.

Separation complete.

From there, it was just a matter of stripping out everything else – brake and clutch lines, charcoal canister, fuel tank, lines, pump and filter, and so on.

At this point everything is out but the throttle cable – I can’t find the right allen wrench to get it apart, but I’ll keep looking. The shop needs reorganization really badly at this point.

Primer and paint are ordered, so now begins the slow process of finishing everything. I’m going to powdercoat as much as I can, that will mostly be for the smaller parts that will fit in my oven. For larger parts, it will either be professional powdercoating or painting, I will decide on a piece-by-piece basis.

Today’s Carnage

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Got all the front end stuff packed away in a large tub. Everything is bagged and tagged.

Then got to work on today’s project, the interior teardown. Starting with the steering wheel, then the instrument cluster, center console, dashboard, and finally the HVAC stuff behind it. Once all that was out of the way, the monster interior wiring harness could be removed.

The steering wheel, wiring harness, and instrument cluster filled another tub.

And this is what was left of the interior.

Tomorrow I am going to start on the engine compartment. I need more tubs!

Tearing it up

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Well after a few months of inactivity on the project, I am working on the build again. Only now, it’s not a build, it’s a tear-down. With only small exceptions, from this point forward it is final finishing of all components. This morning I started on the front, and in about 3 hours time, took this:

To this:

Still a bit to come off before it’s completely torn down, but I am spending the weekend on that task to I hope to have it blown completely apart very soon.

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.