30 Oct 2011

Today was the big day to bend the front “hood”, in quotes because of course there’s no engine up there. “Boot” maybe? Anyway, it went okay; 0.040″ 3003 is about as thick as I’d want to go free-hand. As you can see I made due with what I had as far as bending tools go, a welding bottle, several heavy cardboard tubes, and I-beams.

It came out okay but the real work lies ahead, very carefully determining where the final trim cuts go. There’ll be 1/8″ rubber padding along the cowl and down the sides, and there’ll be locking pins that’ll apply some tension. There’ll be tubes or angle material down the sides; it’s just too critical to risk bending the hood material itself and having it off by “just a bit.” As you may recall, I chose to have the front pivot forward, so it’ll be permanently attached to the nose. Since it’s such a visible component, it requires care in getting all the edges to line up and that the hood/boot/whatever doesn’t bow, or worse, flap at higher speed. Regardless, psychologically it’s a big step forward.

23 Oct 2011

Looks pretty much the same, doesn’t it? This is the third take on the cardboard hood pattern and it’s finally done. The extra work was fine-tuning the edges to eliminate irregular gaps, and then there was the small detail that, once it was time to transfer the pattern to the aluminum sheet, there wasn’t any! Well, there was a piece large enough but it was only 0.040″ – too thin and floppy. Oh well, next week.

My brother’s finding that the LS-3 upgrade is expensive. Between the engine, transmission, clutch, wheels, tires, and dry sump, it’s turning into a $10K upgrade. It didn’t seem like it initially, buying just the engine and thinking it was practically done. However, research showed that the drysump is far more of a requirement than a nice-to-have, as there are numerous track reports of people going through two or three engines in one day due to oil-starvation. Of course, I can’t say much; getting a reliable 400 hp from a Honda four-cylinder wasn’t cheap either.

16 Oct 2011

The cowl is done, more or less; the curved end pieces really need a
couple backing pieces to keep the edges perfectly lined up with the
panels to either side. Not hard, just another “thing. What looks like
an irregular cut around the chassis tube is actually black marker ink,
the cutout is very uniform all the way around. In hindsight I should have
bought 100 clecos instead of 50… I’m always having to steal them from
other parts of the car when working on a new component.

With both ends of the cowl fabricated, attention finally turned to something new and fun – the hood. The car sure looks different with even the cardboard in place, much more finished, and does a lot for my attitude. There’ll be “bumps” on the hood (probably separate pieces) to give space for the rockers to move. It was decided early-on that the suspension overruled the aesthetics, so the bumps will be another feature of the car, but if they’re teardrop-shaped they should look okay.

The last picture shows why it’s always a good idea to make cardboard patterns, especially before cutting large sheet material. Due to the goofy angles involved, the forward edges around the nose cone have to curve forward a bit. What’s nice is that the entire hood is made from one 4 x 4 foot panel with material to spare. Also, part of fitting the hood is deciding where the uber-cool hood locks will go; you’ll see those in a bit.

9 Oct 2011

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. It’s been a combination of competing interests and a big mental stumbling block. I absolutely <em>loathe</em> doing anything over again on the car, and nothing has hit harder than redoing the cowl. The knowledge that I had already bought the material, cut it out, shaped it, drilled it, trimmed it, was a big relieve. Great, put it behind me, close the door, and move on. Nope, after staring at it for months I couldn’t bring myself to stick builders with having to bend the cowl in order to slip it around the down tubes because it was almost for-sure would crack the paint.

Soooo, it’s being redone, made in three pieces instead of a nasty one-piece affair, and has been extremely hard to push through it again (I was done). Anything else seems much more interesting; it’s like not wanting to write that big term paper. But as you can see, progress, as painful as it is, is happening, and it should be done by next weekend (though I have to help the kids move…) After this I’m looking forward to doing the hood – that’s be much more fun (and new) than the cowl.