Done…Mostly

   Posted by: kdavis

I will do a more thorough graduation post soon with all of the specs, build sheet, etc, probably over the Winter.

At the moment, the car is stored away for the Winter. The hard top still needs headliner and a new rear plexi, plus it needs to be wet sanded and polished. I’m also going to perfect the paint some more for a Concourse in SoCal in the Spring.

Pics:


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Nearing the Finish Line!

   Posted by: kdavis

I have been so busy, I haven’t had time to do an update…and I still don’t really have much time, so here’s a bunch of pictures and a quick status update.

The paint is done…thanks to a lot of hours and a trip to Portland, plus some reshooting of clear. I still need to wetland and polish it, but I’m really happy with how my “budget” paint job came out.

I just finished the Fat Mat insulation install yesterday, and also got my computer cover built. Carpet is next, then I’ll put the body on and get things all prepped for the trip to SoCal (for wet sanding and tuning with some friends of mine).

Pics:

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Sanding, Filling, Sanding, Filling…

   Posted by: kdavis

So, it’s been a while since I’ve done an update, and when you look at the pics, you’ll see why…it’s basically the same thing over and over…sand, fill, sand, fill. I’m nearing the end of my main sanding, however, so that’s good news.

I’m still hating the vents, not the way they look, but the work required to get them nice, I probably wouldn’t recommend that anyone do these themselves, if you’ve got the money, hire it out if you want this look, you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches.

The biggest issue I’m facing right now is the bump in the hood that is essentially not correctable. It’s the shape of these hoods, and unless I cut it out and re-glass, it’s just something I’m going to have to live with. 99% of people will never notice anyway.

As you’ll see in the pics, I’m also doing some work on the doors and jambs, to get those lines right.

Overall, I’m really happy with how it’s coming. I hope to shoot primer and block again before Christmas, we’ll see how that works out.

Pics:

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Finally Ready for Feather Fill

   Posted by: kdavis

I can’t believe how quickly time is passing these days…but one Saturday at a time, I’ve been spending as many free hours as I have (usually 2-5 or so) in the shop sanding and filling and more sanding and filling.

Finally, after 100′s of hours already, the body is finally at a point where I feel I can go ahead and shoot Feather Fill, or sprayable filler. That should fill in the small areas of the body that aren’t easily addressed with Rage, and also give me a good base to evaluate and address any remaining body issues including high and low spots, etc.

I now have the body all rinsed, and have the body buck rinsed as well. It was suggested that for final paint, I cover the body buck in paper to keep crap from appearing off of the buck. I think that’s a good idea.

I hope to do the Feather Fill as of this next weekend. I’m still trying to decide how to handle my undercoating/bedliner, and at what point in the process to lay it down. There are issues with overspray, turning the body back over after paint, and that sort of thing, so I want to do it right.

Some Pics:


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Another Spring is Upon Us

   Posted by: kdavis

I just happened to visit this blog and I realized just how long it’s been since I have done an update. For those that check it every once in a while, I’m sorry for the lack of updates. I currently have 5 different businesses running, as well as family and personal obligations, so sometimes the time just gets away from me.

I’ll try to keep things updated a little more frequently. I’m in the home stretch now, really just interior carpet, some small items, and body work. I’m just about done with the body work and ready to shoot some paint. My buddy Mike will be making a trip out here to help me shoot the color. In the meantime, I need to finish sanding, get it primed, and use a Mustang hood I have to test out my colors and striping techniques.

Over the Winter, I managed to swap the 302 out of this car and into that Mark II that now resides with my friend Bryan. They’ve got it running great, and the power lives on. I have the 347 Stroker all installed, but it need some tuning help. Having only one guy to go to at Redline is to say the least an enormous pain in the butt, and I’m still trying to get (months of trying) the right software to do the tuning, as well as some remote assistance getting the thing tuned. It’s a good thing to have the ability to let someone use a laptop to remotely control the ECU, but having that be just one guy is definitely a challenge. The engine is running though, and it sounds awesome!

I also installed my fresh air vents, and cleared out most of my shakedown list including some small switch items, etc. I elected to pull all of the radio stuff out, you can’t hear it anyway, and there’s always my bluetooth headphones that double as ear plugs. I did leave some of the basic dash to trunk wiring in place and buttoned up, should I change my mind later.

I also spent considerable time putting all of the ECU wiring in, which resides in the trunk. That was also a pain, but it worked out. I’m going to build a small cover for it to clean up the trunk area, covered in carpet. Speaking of the trunk, I also need to install my trunk lifts. I found the parts to do my own install, since Mike Everson’s won’t work well with how I have my trunk setup. It should be pretty straight forward to get it all in there.

The biggest challenge other than paint is that I still need to put in the sound/heat stuff on the aluminum and get the carpet installed. I bought some nibbed backing to make my own floor mats. We’ll see how that all goes in…

Other than that, sand, sand, and sand some more…pictures are found below:

Everyone Needs Two Cobra’s Right?

   Posted by: kdavis

While that may be true, for me, it’s only a temporary situation. I happened upon a deal I couldn’t pass up on a car that needed some restoration, so a couple of months ago (man, I can’t believe I haven’t posted in 3 months,) I brought home a Factory Five Mark 2 Roadster from SoCal.

For me, it represented a chance to get a little profit out of it, but also to pick up a bigger engine with some cool stuff on it. The car had a 347 Stroker (which is a 302 with a stroker crank in it, so the effective cylinder volume is increased.) More volume = more fuel and air = HOLY CRAP THAT’S FAST! ;-> The car dyno’d at about 420hp/tq, so about 100 more than the 302 that I had in my car. It also has a stacked injection system, which just looks cool, and while I’m somewhat terrified in getting it running correctly due to it’s complexity (it’s basically 8 EFI units controlled by a computer,) I’m confident that it’ll provide not only the juice needed by the car-show wow factor as well. The car also came with a hard top that I’m keeping, which is ironic since I’d been thinking about doing the hard top for quite some time, but never pulled the trigger.

I ended up going through every inch of the car, from securing brake lines to redoing carpet, adding trunk carpet, to all that’s involved in swapping out engines. I put the 302 and T5 from my Mark 3.1 in it, and it went in perfectly. After some rewiring of the car, it fired right up, and the test drive was a huge success.

I also added some Halibrand wheels to it, and had all of the metal rechromed. I rewired the lights, dash, and recovered the dash and transmission tranny cover. After all of that, and a good cleaning, the car is ready for it’s new owner.

Speaking of new owner, the car is already sold. I hooked up with a guy that had been looking for a good deal on a Cobra, and this one was perfect for him. He is choosing to tackle paint work himself, with the help of a friend, so I was able to just finish up the chassis part and hand it off to them. A good deal was made, and off she goes to the new owner! He’s going with a color change on it, so it’ll be made his own along the way, from gray to green I think.

I absolutely love building these cars, and hope to not only finish up my own car, but to continue to buy and sell some along the way. It’s fun, and a few bucks can be made along with it.

My Car:

The body is up on the ceiling, and chassis in the trailer. I’ll be putting it all back into “service” in the next couple of weeks, and I have a pretty big list of stuff to do to it, in addition to finishing up the body work and paint. Still leaning (I lean a little like those toys you press on the bottom, always back and forth) towards the red car with with stripes and meatballs, so we’ll see how that turns out.

First step I think is to get the 347 back to where it should be. I need to strip it down completely to check it. I need to get it cleaned, and repainted (it’s blue now, and I hate the paint). I’ve already gotten rid of all the bling stuff and bought new lower-key stuff (I want the stacks to be the only bling on it,) so that’s a step in the right direction. I also have the parts coming for the wiring of the harness, and replacement of the 2 injectors that got damaged. It should be a matter of taking it apart, clean, paint, reseal, test…famous last words. I’m hoping that I can get it tuned correctly, with any luck using the loaded tune and adapted from there.

From there, back to the chassis to start my mods, then on to the body work again. I’ll be also working on some auction cars for clients, so that may divert the timeline a bit, but it’s still the journey, right?

Some pics:

The valve covers will now be black, wires red, block will be silver, and all of the chrome pretty much gone.

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The new Halibrands and new tires look pretty sweet!

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Simple, understated, and almost 300ft/lbs of hold on for dear life of torque.

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Newly recovered dash, new e-brake handle, new carpet, cool accents.

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Naked Chassis Once Again

   Posted by: kdavis

It has been a pretty fruitful last week. The body is now back off the chassis, and upside down on my body buck. That will allow me to get to the underside in order to clean up the wheel well lips, add the hidden body mounts, and get the side louver mounts in. I will eventually also do the undercoating (rhino liner), but the plan is to wait for that until after I shoot slick sand and get it ready for primer.

Final Body Seams, etc.:

I finally have all of my seams, the nose, and the trunk lid ready for slick sand. There were some high places and bumps here and there that I was able to remove with some Rage to that everything glides right into everything else, no huge high spots, etc. The nose and trunk lids both had big high spots, but after 4-5 times with a little fill and sand, they are gone. I’m sure I’ll find some highs and lows after slick sand, but that’s not a big deal, and easy to rectify. I’m really happy with how everything is coming out.

The last things on the body are the rolled cockpit edges, just cleaning them up and building a bit where the dash and doors meet, as well as the hood, especially the vents. When I cut the hood up (for the vents and scoop), then bonded the scoop extension and vents in, it created a bit more wave in the hood, so I ended up doing a skim coat over the entire top side. Some major hand/finger sanding is in store for the vents, but the rest is coming along quite well and should sand perfectly.

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Hidden Side Mounts:

I put in another post that I was NOT doing any hidden mounts. I lied. I just don’t like the side mount bolts. I am going back to the rear Quick Jacks instead of hidden mounts, but came up with a way to do the side mounts that I think will be easier and less likely to break. When I did my mounts as just L brackets of aluminum, as soon as I put the body on, I literally broke ALL 4 of them off. Not good. So, I needed a way to keep the mounts out of the way (I have extended footboxes on both sides, so this is key.)

I decided what I needed as a hinge, so I found some smallish V shaped hinges to use. That will allow 100% clearance, but will then allow me to attach them to the frame with a lot of flexibility. I need to bend them into shape once I put the body back on, but that won’t be a big deal.

I’ve come to the conclusion that HSRF sucks for bonding metal to the body. I know a lot of folks have done it, but every time I do, it fails. So, for the hinges, I wanted something better. I actually drilled and riveted the hinges to the body, then covered them with fiberglass to hold them in. I’ll sand out and fill the outer body side, and it’ll be invisible. I had to fill the holes again anyway, so that won’t be a big deal.

At first glance, the hinges look a little hokey, but after they are painted body color and in place, you won’t even see them. I mounted them in such a way that the hinge itself is hidden behind the body. Plus, the sidepipes obscure the view anyway. With any luck, the plan will work. I plan on getting everything remounted, then I’ll drill and tap bolts into the 2×2 frame under the car.

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Side Louvers:

I’m using the sweet Finishline side louvers. I have no doubt that I’ll have to take them out at some point, so I need a mounting system that would allow me to do that. I grabbed 2 fence-post L brackets I had laying around, cut them to size, and drilled the holes in the louvers. I’m using M4 screws, which should be more than adequate. After figuring out where I wanted them, I tried again using HSRF (see above, this failed) to put the mounts in. I decided to use some 3M adhesive instead, this is the stuff Greg_M suggested I use to hold my vinyl to the tranny tunnel, and I figured it would work for this purpose too. It DID NOT. So, I went back and added fiberglass, which I should have just done in the first place. The way it needs to be done is HRSF to hold it in place and give it the base, then glass over the top of it. These louvers don’t need a lot of hold strength, so once the glass cures, it’ll work as I had hoped the other methods would have.

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Next up…hood vents, final hood sanding, drilling out my hidden trunk hinges for a bit more side to side adjustment, and filling in the well lips (waiting for Amazon to send me more Rage.)

Doors!

   Posted by: kdavis

A quick update on my progress. These doors have been an absolute pain. The profiles were completely off, and then thanks to me overtrimming the door edges, and then doing the rolled edges, it was a trifecta of difficult body work.

BUT…I’m finally done with them, at least until slick sand. On an MK3.1, you’re basically doing sculpture, as I’ve said before, so lots of rage gold build up, fiberglass work, and sanding, and then sculpting all of the profiles.

I still need to take the body back off, and at that time, I’ll build up the rolled edges a bit more where the door and dash meet. There’s probably an 1/8″ difference in thickness, and I’d like that to match. So, I’ll have to do a gradual build out into the door.

On my rolled edges where the doors and dash meet, I was a little concerned with the strength, despite my best effort to break them off with a mallet (testing to see how they were), so I ended up adding a layer of glass in there to give it a little more rigidity. From others that have done it, it seems like it’ll last pretty well.

I ended up buying some of the cheap harbor freight car dollies, and they work very well, considering the price. It’s still a 2200lb car, but easier to move it around the the shop now.

Photos:

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Body Work Part 37

   Posted by: kdavis

It’s been quite a while since I’ve done an update, mainly because there really hasn’t been a lot of activity in the build. Over the last several months, I’ve started a new business, a detailing company, so things have been pretty busy for me, leaving far less time to work on the car.

But, in the last few weeks, I’ve found the bug and the time to get back to the car and get busy on the body work.

Rather than chronicle what I’ve been doing week by week or month by month, it’s probably better to just highlight some stuff and bring things up to speed for where the car sits right now.

Current Status:

As of today, the body is back on the chassis, doors, trunk, and hood are hung, and I’m doing the final fitting and filling to get all of the gaps correct, lines aligned, and panels smooth. I have some more work to do on the rolled cockpit edges, and the rolled door edges, specifically where the doors meet the bulkhead and the dash. The rest of the body is sanded to a point where a small skim coat should get us ready to shoot featherfill and block sand before primer. The doors and trunk are probably the parts that need the most work.

Hidden Body Mounts:

I went back and forth on my hidden body mount systems, and in the end, I think I have basically abandoned all of my hidden body mount plans. I made side and rear hidden body mounts and bonded them to the body using the standard HSRF. This turns out to be a pretty epic fail as all of the side mounts and 2 of the rear mounts literally popped off when we put the body on. After closer inspection, it turns out that it was more of a procedural issue than a materials one. I think if I were to redo it, I would drill through the body on all of them with a few rivets to hold them in place by going from the inside of the body to the outside, then trimming the back end of the rivet and filling over the holes. I’d probably also throw some fiberglass on top of it for extra security.

That all being said, I am now only going to do side hidden body mounts. I’m going to either go back to Quick Jacks in the rear, or possibly button heads.

Hood Vents and Rivet on Hood Scoop and Extension:

These hood vents are a lot of work, no doubt about it. I essentially cut 2 huge holes in my hood, and I’m trying to make it look like the vents are supposed to be there. Not surprisingly, that’s not easy, and requires some creativity and sculpting with body filler. So far, it’s going well, and with a little more loving care, the hood will look awesome, and unique as there aren’t a lot of cars running these.

Trunk Lid with Hidden Hinges:

I love the Breeze hidden trunk hinges! As with the hood vents, to make them work, it requires some sculpting so they all look right. I really like how they turned out, and they look like they came that way. I need to do a little more tweaking to get the gaps correct, but it looks great!

Photos:

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Additional News:

I decided to buy a burned Mark 2 car from a guy in California. It has a tricked out 347ci engine with stacked injection, and some other cool little tidbits I want to steal for my 3.1. At this point, the plan is to take both cars, make one ultra awesome car that I’ll keep and one really awesome car to sell to someone else. Of course, just like anyone else, I’ll have to keep the best goodies for myself. ;-> I’ll pick up the car on August 10th, and will chronicle the rebuild process here in tandem with my 3.1 build. I’m pretty stoked about it, and have already started collecting parts.

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A Room Inside a Room and Body Work Adventures

   Posted by: kdavis

The last several weeks have been a blur of activity, all surrounding the body work adventure. When I first thought about doing my own paint and body work, I was pretty scared about it, hearing all of the 100′s of hours required to do it and how difficult it was. Now that I’m neck deep (literally) in the process, however, I’ve found that it’s not any worse than any other part of the build, and actually just as enjoyable.

The first thing to realize about body work is it makes an absolute MESS. If you use 2-3 pails of body filler, 80% of it will probably end up on the floor as sanding dust, which has the consistency of a light bread flour. Depending on what your work area is comprised of, it’s unlikely you’re going to want that stuff all over the place. If you happen to have a small one-car garage, and nothing else in it, you might be okay, but if you don’t, then you might consider building your “room inside a room” like I did. Basically, I built a two-stage room, a sanding booth, and a paint booth.

I thought I’d pass this along to other guys doing their own paint/body. I have a pretty large shop, about 1200 square feet, so the prospect of cleaning dust from the entire thing scared the crap out of me. I also plan to paint at home (we live in the boonies, so no EPA stuff,) so I wanted to build my own booth.

The first revision of this is a self-contained sanding booth, which after generating 1/4″ of dust over the entire floor of it is already proving well worth it. I’ll firm it up a bit more and add an air handler and real door before I start paint, but this is good for now.

To keep it simple, I just made it 10′ x 20′ x 9′ high. That means only about 6 cuts on the pvc pipes, the rest just stick together.

I used 4mil plastic, which is about $25 for 100′ at Lowes. That completely covered all 4 sides and the “roof” completely with some left over.

I sourced all parts at Lowes, with the exceptions of the 3-way corners, I had to buy those online. You can get them at Amazon, but they might be cheaper somewhere else. Amazon.com: 1-1/4″ 3-way Elbow PVC Fitting Connector: Everything Else
Like I said, I need to firm it up by adding some T’s and additional cross braces on the sides and top. I ended up duct taping some braces for the time being since I didn’t want to drive the 30 minutes back to lowes.

I used 1″ SCH40 PVC which is about $1/stick cheaper than 1 1/4″ schedule 80. Even at full 10′, it’s pretty stiff, but adding a cross brace at 5′ is better. You’ll have to do the math for yourself between more fittings and thicker PVC. The 1″ is also easier to store when it all comes down. The only thing I had to adjust for is that the 3-ways were 1 1/4″ so I did some bushings to reduce them down. You might be able to find actual 1″. I didn’t really do the math until I got to lowes.

I didn’t glue anything, it’s all just fit together, and the plastic attached with duct tape ever 4-5′. The duct tape works really well as it sticks instantly to the plastic.

Adjust your size as needed, I bought the pvc lenghts, T’s for the braces and mid points, and the 3-way corners, plus the plastic (which will be replaced before paint. I’m also adding a working hinged door, an air handler filter, and kraft paper on the floor, so I’ll update that later.

I also added and taped up the holes for my air hose, long shop vac hose, and the overhead extension cord. It’s not completely air tight at this point, but after about 30 hours worth of body work, it’s kept probably 98% of the dust out of the rest of the shop.

This all cost me about $125, so far, plus the other stuff that I need to buy later, another $40 or so.

Pics:

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And the Real Work Begins:

Since Christmas, I’ve tried to spend as much of my free time out in the shop as possible, and I’ve managed to rack up 30 hours worth of body work time. I’m actually quite surprised at how far I’ve gotten in that amount of time.

I had already knocked down the seams before I drove around in gelcoat, but I still needed to go back and do the job right. I went all around the car, and used my angle grinder to cut down each seem to remove the gelcoat completely from each one, checking for any gelcoat in the actual seam. My car is a MK3.1, and it appears that the overall condition of the gelcoat bodies has improved to the point where the real hard work on the seams is largely unnecessary. I didn’t find more than just a couple of spots where the gelcoat was deep enough into the seam to require that much come out. In general, I ended up grinding down the seems and taking 3/16-1/4″ deep from the level of the rest of the body.

The nice thing about the seams not being in bad shape is that it meant that I could skip a step that was necessary on previous bodies: applying HSRF to each one before doing to filler. I was a little nervous about skipping it, but after all of the horror stories with sanding HSRF, I was glad that I didn’t have to deal with it.

So, the next step was to begin filling the seams with Rage Gold, the preferred filler of other builders. It’s nice stuff, mixes pretty easily and sands of very well. After reading other informative posts about doing body work, I used one of the tricks I found there, using a hacksaw blade to screed the body at the seams. The advantage is that you can pull the blade across the seam while bending it to the exact contour of the body. This makes for a surprisingly smooth sanding surface, rather than having to sand a very bumpy surface. I found that you can only really use this method on the tops of the fenders, but as this is a big part of the seams process, it’s a huge help.

It took 3 coats of filler to get the seams to a point where I was satisfied with them. I used my Dewalt palm sander (1/4 sheet size,) to do all of the sanding on the first two coats, which made it go pretty fast. I did the 3rd coat by hand, mostly with a small foam sanding pad. This coat left a few pin holes and low spots, so I’m currently working on touching up those areas. I’ve run out of Rage for now, so I have to wait for that to show up before continuing.

The other thing I’ve started on is getting the doors evened out with the body. I spent a few hours working on the door alignment, adjusting them to the point where they were in the “best fit” position. On both doors, the fitting at the cowl and at the bulkhead ends were the worst, and required a lot of building up. The end result is, of course, having the doors and the body line up perfectly all the way around. I’m on the first coat of filler on both doors.

One “tool” that really makes doing the filler easier is a “mixing pad.” It’s basically a clip board with a handle on the bottom, and a pad full of non-porous sheets (like wax paper) that tear off one at a time. You mix the filler a little at a time, then tear off to a clean sheet for the next set of filler. I found that even in my shop where it’s about 60 degrees or less, I could only do about a 4×4 inch by 1″ thick amount of filler before it started to set up. Once it sets up, you can’t spread it any more, it just doesn’t flow well enough.

I also found that you don’t have to be afraid of running out of hardener. I was worried about that as I mixed each batch, but when the can was empty, I still have quite a bit left over (probably 5+ batches worth.) I did make a mistake on one of my batches and didn’t get enough hardener. It’s not evident until you go to sand, at which point, the filler will ball up like crazy and gum up your sand paper. I was glad it wasn’t very much, I went through way too much paper, and it was a pain.

Another tool is a sand paper cleaning “stick.” You can get them on most wood working websites, and even amazon.

Once my filler gets here, I’ll finish up the doors. I ended up putting too much filler on the top of the doors, so I’ll blend that in and fare out both ends, plus all the way around. The driver’s door was far worse than the passenger, but both of them needed quite a bit of work.

While I wait, I need to sure up the body buck so it’s more solid for sanding. My next filler steps are to finish the doors, clean up the trunk lid lip, and then work on the rolled cockpit edges, as well as getting the door, hood, and trunk lid gaps perfect at 3/16″ using Greg M’s foam insulation trick.

I’m finding that most of the body work is just easier to do with the body on the chassis, since a lot of what needs to be done centers around the door, hood, and trunk alignment. All of those parts are tied into the chassis, so you really have no choice but to leave it on. The pro painters have enough experience to not need this, but most builders don’t, including myself. The downside is it makes an absolute mess of the chassis, so I’ll have hours and hours of clean up work to do.

More to come….

Pics:

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One other thing I’m working on is getting the “bend” of the hood corrected. It’s too flat where it meets the cowl area. So, I’m taking a page out of Scott’s book and using a ratcheting tie down to bend it. If it were summer, I’d leave it out in the sun, but I’m using a small space heater instead, which is far slower, but so far it’s working quite well.

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