Final shot before windscreen goes on tomorrow and should start looking more like a car. I have removed the wheel rimbands but will probably still have a pinstripe on the wheels. Once the screens on ill put the car on the lift and fit the exhaust and fuel tank. Still waiting for my gauges ordered back in November so beware they are on a long lead time! Once I have the gauges and senders I’m about ready to fire up the engine…..
This was not nearly as easy as I was expecting, I found it extremely challenging to get the alignment perfect – I used a combination of plumb bobs and laser lines – got there in the end, although it did take me quite some time! One slightly useful thing I found was when using the plumb bob technique to plumb up from the chassis points, it is not easy to be extremely accurate at the first attempt so just get as near as you can to plumb then drill a very small hole – from there I used a split pin to hold the plumb bob string into this hole and then made small adjustments until I was sure the small hole was directly above the chassis fixing point.
To be honest I’ve had the body on and off a few times now. I was a bit premature getting it on in September as I still had things to do in the footwells such as fit the heater unit and pedal box etc, all which seemed a bit easier if I took the body off again but now ive got my little hanging brackets off the 4 poster its all reasonably easy – just gotta make sure I never lower it too much or crunch! and I would be unhappy.
Good news on first the first body fit all mounting brackets seemed to line up quite nicely just needs a little pull forwards to keep it up tight to the chassis at the engine bulkhead. tried a few bolts in for location but then decided not to fully bolt it up since I was sure to take the whole thing off again.
Underbody sealing. After general sanding of the underside wheel arches etc. I have finally applied the body underseal. I have used the 3M 2-pack product sealer code 3M-08800
I have used this product before and really like the way it goes on and stays on. It comes in a foil bag which has a sealed part for the catalyst which must be torn then agitated before applied with a special spray nozzle. It dries to a really nice finish which is slightly soft to touch but not the least bit tacky. it took 12 No. 250ml packs to complete.
I have fitted the doors, bonnet and boot lid all without too much drama. I did find the doors quite a task to get right with several small adjustments needed before everything works nicely. The slots on the hinge brackets appear to be too far forward so the bolts end up tight at the end of the slot, even then the door gap at the A post was too tight on both doors. Eventually I used some shims behind the fixed hinge mount in the A post pillar to move the whole assembly rearwards. It only needs a couple of mm and all was good. With the door seals in place the doors close with a pleasant thud.
I need to remember to cut the hole for the gear lever…. Not long now and the car will be ready to lift on the rolling chassis. Josh my son made me a few brackets today for the 4 post lift to hold the car body so I can do the body on/off trick singlehanded with the push of a button. cant wait to try it out over the next couple of days – the brackets work really well – they are lined with a thick neoprene and sit nicely into the wheel arch.
OK I know its unorthodox but it seems to work great – ill know better when I drop it on the chassis maybe tomorrow! Perhaps ill take the car off the top first so I can see a little better.
Light at the end of the tunnel! The gelcoat repair work has been quite a monotonous task. I quite enjoyed doing the flash lines and general polishing stuff since after a bit of practice I was starting to get a reasonable technique and a finish that i was quite happy with. The more complicated areas however proved to be a real challenge that I hadn’t been expecting. Areas of the gelcoat where quite thin and the glass strand/mat layers could be seen on the surface in some places, to make matters worse the thinnest area of gelcoat was right on the front of the car around the radiator opening in front of the bonnet. I sought advice down many avenues and the conclusion was pretty much all the same – that’s not gonna be easy to fix!…. and it wasn’t! One thing I now understand about gelcoat is it wasn’t designed to be used in air and especially not in very fine layers. Gelcoat is supposed to be laid up in a mould. The side that you eventually see is therefore immediately sealed from the air as it is applied to the mould. The opposite side (the open to the air side) is designed (chemically) to remain tacky or soft for a considerable time, this is to allow a chemical bond to take place between it and the following layups of gelcoat or resin and matts. Thus when you are using gel coat to do small thin cover up repairs it is technically not being used the way it was chemically engineered. The way to solve this is to cover up the repairs as you apply them with a thin polyester film, this works very well for very small spot repairs on flat or external curved areas but does not provide a solution for larger areas or internal radius areas. Flow coat can also be used since flow coat is essentially gelcoat with a bit of wax added. The wax is designed/intended to come to the surface during the set and form a seal from the air and thus allow the cure, however flow coat is again not suitable for very fine layer application. In the end after numerous attempts and almost giving up ( surrendering to a paint job) I found (actually it was Kevin’s idea) a technique that worked. A combination of help from an old friend, who is good with an airbrush,(thanks Kevin – I shall be buying that man a beer or two) and trusty old youtube where I found the best method of covering thinly applied layers of gelcoat – basically -Wait an hour then paint over with PVA. Kevin would paint over the repair areas with several very fine layers of acetone thinned gelcoat using an airbrush, this allowed the repair to sit very smooth and be feathered off at the edges which would mean minimal sanding afterwards(the minimal sanding is the essential bit to aim for). Then after approx an hour or once the coats had dried sufficiently to just quicky paint over the whole area with general duty PVA ( a water based adhesive widely available from any builders merchants, plasterers use it before skimming ceilings and walls to enhance the bond) but here its not being used to help with any bonding, its merely being used to completely seal the surface from the air which allows it to cure as if it were face down in a mould.. Then next morning the pva simply washes off with warm/hot water and light sanding can commence. (1200 or 1500 grit) before compound polish.
Used the same technique on the dreaded bulkhead.
At last now I can get on – the body under seal will be going on in the next few days and I can be planning the body on to chassis soon. Back to the real car building stuff hooray!
3rd June began working on the flashlines. after a few hours of this I realise you have to be pretty meticulous with the sandpaper steps – I thought I was being very careful as I went through the grades but each time I finished the fine machine polish/cutting stage I could see micro scratches left by my less than perfect sanding operation.
Step 1 Mask up and scrape off as much excess as possible without adding further scratches. I used a thick blue masking tape to mask and a variety of scrapers.
Step 2 Sanding, I started with 800 then 1000 then 1500 grit, I was generally wet sanding with lots of water and I eventually realised its very important to thoroughly dry off between sanding layers and check for micro scratches, by the time you get to 15oo I needed to aim at having a smooth matt finish with no sign of micro scratches caused by the heavier grades used in the earlier steps. only then move on to the machine polishing. I’m half way down one side of the car by the time I’ve figured this out… maybe I’ll know what I’m doing by the time I finish.
Step 3 Machine cut/polish, I’m using two steps here firstly 3m green top fast cut(50417), followed by 3m blue top ultrafina (50383). After my first attempt I achieved an excellent shine but could see lots of micro scratches (they become more visible at this stage) .Obviously I hadn’t carried out step 2 correctly. I went back at it with 1500 grit and ensured I got rid of the scratches, once you know what you are looking for with these very fine scratches and are able to get rid of them with the 1500 grade, it all becomes much easier to achieve (it still aint easy though!).
Step1 Mask and scrape
Step 3 machine cut/polish
For the machine polishing I’m using a small 3″ detail air polisher but I’m sure any polisher would work, I think its mostly important that you use the correct mop/sponge head for each grade and also don’t go too slow or too fast I guess I’m working somewhere in the 1200 to 1500 rpm area. only use as little compound as necessary, once polishing the compound should gradually disappear, if it doesn’t then I’m probably applying too much. I also found it best to concentrate on a small area at a time maybe no more than two sq feet or even less. I plan to do final polishing/wax with a larger mop head over the complete car once I get everything to this stage. Prepare to get wet and messy… I found this little scraper from one of those vibrating tool sets (Aldi) ideal for stage 1 it has a slightly curved scrape edge which means its difficult to scratch other parts when scraping off the excess flash lines, although I also used a variety of fine files. Mainly using the 3m green top and blue top for stage 3 and the little Kobe polisher from Cromwell tools, the green sponge mop is for the green cap “Fast Cut” and the black (very soft)sponge top left of picture is used for the “Ultrafina” blue top.
The body is back home now fitted to a trestle for good working height. Ill start collecting the materials and equipment together to tackle the molding edges and flashlines etc.
The wheels have also been delivered, I went with the 18″ CHB wheels from Image ordered through GD. I’m very pleased with the rear wheel offset finding those E type rear axles has definitely been worth the effort. the dished look is just very right.
Just trying the boot lid against the rear wheels to get a feel for the colour scheme. The plan is red wheel bands on the rims and some red accents on the car but all the metalwork including windscreen and roll bars in satin black – like the wheel finish.
So Thats Black Stripes on main background colour Ral715 with red accents
Original Plan was to have sidepipes but as time goes on I’m swaying towards no sidepipes Photoshopped out the side pipes and added some graphic. Ok this graphic looks OTT but may do something more subtle in place of the pipes?
Just a little later than planned I’m now the proud owner of the MK4 body. I collected it together with a host of other stuff at the end of May. I’m very happy with the color choice its Ral715 slate gray.
My Mk4 on the left
The car with the stripes is another of Andy’s customers its a MK3 in a much darker painted grey with very subtle stripes very nice indeed!
The gelcoat finish looks very good. At one point I was going to Ask GD to do the flashline removal and panel fitting etc. but after further consideration I thought it was something I would rather attempt myself…. so on the road and back North she goes to receive some tlc….
Not had much to do lately, simply because I have no other parts… things should start getting real busy soon. Just had confirmation my engine gearbox clutch etc. are all arriving next week. then I can start with engine installation wiring etc. plus Just had confirmation from Andy that body is still on schedule for early May. Sounds like I’m first in the mould after Stoneleigh so lots of action coming shortly. I have to confirm the colour to Andy next week… out with the RAL charts