Front Clamshell Work


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


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.



And the drivers side.



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.



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



From back to front


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.


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.


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.



Meanwhile, here is my fiberglass kit.


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.


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.


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.


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


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




Rear clamshell work


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.


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).


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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!




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.


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


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.


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


Repeat for other side.


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.


Some paint and then they were test fit.



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

Dashing. Simply Dashing.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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


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


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.



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


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



Consoling news part two


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.

IMG_2511 with arrows

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.


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.

Consoling news


I’ve been working on the center console, which includes (top to bottom) hazard switch and possibly power window switches (or ashtray instead), circuit breaker panel, HVAC controls, clock and a couple of switches. Here is a shot of a real 037 center console, this one with an ashtray (from the X1/9, also the clock is from the X1/9).


And here is the center console I have been working on. Mine will have only the hazard switch, and if I ever install power windows those will go on either side of that switch.


I’ve also been working on the surround for the console. 037s have either the suede look dashboard, or something that resembles fiberglass weave. I’m told this is actually a neoprene-like foam, but I have never seen a real 037 in the metal. Here is what the foam type dash/center console look like.


So I set about making the surround out of PVC tubing. Yes, there will be plumbing supplies on board my car. I started with a tube frame, then added PVC sheets to fill in the sides. Lightweight body filler was used to cover and smooth everything.


Some filling, sanding and time brought me here.


Then I used some spray adhesive to apply a layer of fiberglass, to provide the texture.


And when finished, it looked like this.


On the back side, there is aluminum angle with bolts protruding, to mount it to the circuit breaker, switch and HVAC panel. A light coat of fiberglass resin was applied, then gray paint. It was then all mounted together and test fit into the car.


I have to say at this point that I am not satisfied with the texture treatment, it seems way too lumpy. The substrate was meticulously smoothed, so I’m not sure where that comes from. I am thinking about ways to re-smooth and reapply the texture, but for now it is what it is. It kind of reminds me of that gray foam they pack things in. Not good, it will have to change, but that’s for another day.

One clever thing I added was a re-purpose of the clock. The upper dash already has a clock, and I wanted to keep this area as authentic as possible. So I used the proper X1/9 clock, but gutted it and mounted my old PLX Devices wideband A/F gauge behind it instead.


I have some finishing work left, to be sure. But aside from the texture issue, I like the way it has turned out so far.


Face and butt


One of the sidebars of trying to get the electricals working is that everything that needs juice has to be in place so a wire can be run to it. So headlights, fog lights and blinkers had to be put in place. The car looked kind of toothless without the grill, so I made up mounting points for it and got that in place as well.


Then on to the rear. Fiberglass pods were constructed to mount the taillights to, and they were put in place. Then I created the rear grill out of 1″ x 1/8″ aluminum. Here’s where that’s at right now.


The left taillight looks like it’s sagging a bit because the nuts holding it in are not tightened yet. Still lots of finishing work to do back here, and more fiberglassing to give the grill better mounting points but still be removable.

I also played around with a modified X1/9 rear valance grill, just to see what that would look like.


I really like the look of that in flat black instead of body color. I might run that when I feel like running the alternative taillights I made for the car when it was a Scorpion.


At this point, the electricals are very close to being done. I still need to finish the rear harness, install the license plate light, wire the hazard switch, and wire/install the front side marker lights.


Front wiring harness done


The harness forward of the bulkhead has all the wires in place and tested. I haven’t bundled/wrapped the wires yet, that will be the last thing I do. The front harness supports the wipers, blinkers/hazards, parking lights, headlights, fog lights, and horn. Oh, and the wiper fluid bag motor.

These circuits all come through this bulkhead connector.


They split and run down the left and right chassis tubing.


The wiper circuitry is not in its final home yet, that’s the bundle of wires making their way over the scuttle trough. The will be routed through the scuttle wall eventually.

The front harness was all ready to deliver electrons, but had nothing to send them to.  So I started on making a place for the front lighting. I built fiberglass boxes for the lights to mount to, a larger one on top for the headlights and a smaller one below for the fog lights. The blinker is light enough to just hang on the front fiberglass with no extra reinforcement.


With that stuff done, I could create the mounting points for the lighting. Hey, this thing is starting to look like it has a face!


Well, half a face. I need to duplicate for the other side. And the grill is just sitting there, it’s not mounted yet either.


Bored of wiring yet?


I might get there soon, this is a time-consuming activity. Yet I find it somehow enjoyable. Being a software engineer by trade, I find it somewhat akin to programming.

I have a secondary relay panel started and mocked into place so I can determine wire run lengths. This panel contains the relays for:

  • Headlights
  • Fog lights
  • Radiator fans
  • Blinkers/Hazards

The backside will house the relays for:

  • Horn
  • Wipers
  • Blower motor

Although currently only the horn relay is back there. Again, the purpose of all these relays is to keep the high-amperage current off of the 40+ year old switch gear.

Here is where the panel mounts, high on the passenger side kick panel.


Most of the circuits that connect to this run to either the switch gear or the front of the vehicle, although a couple circuits (blinkers for example) run to the rear of the car.

The front bulkhead connector both brings power in from the battery (for the “load” side of the relays – headlights etc.), and carries the power back out. It is just to the left of the relay panel, high up in the passenger footwell area.


There are a few more circuits to add to this side. Nothing has been added to the front side yet except the main power in.


So you can see the front harness is not even started yet. First I’m going to work on the switch gear harness. This will interface the driver controls to the fuse box and the secondary relay panel. It will include circuits for the blinkers, lights, horn, and eventually for the wipers and blower motor.