Thursday, December 29, 2011
This introduced several problems though as the EURO bumpers and valance were not designed to bolt directly up to the USA spec body. The solution was to re-work the rear bumper mounting points, fabricate additional support mounts for the rear valance and buy a EURO spec silencer mounting channel (yes, there was a different style for US cars!!) as it makes the exhaust sit higher and clear the opening for the exhaust pipes. At the end of the day, it was really expensive and time consuming to change a USA car over to EURO spec. Hopefully the end result will be worth it!
The back of the engine cover was cleaned and then I re-applied a layer of heat shielding material to replace the old. The new mounting fixtures were powder coated and re-applied. The edge seal was replaced with a 1991 BMW E30 trunklid seal. It had almost the same dimensions and fit perfectly, and a lot cheaper than sourcing it from England.
After the body was painted, there was still a lot of work in finishing the wheel wells and the top side of the exhaust channel. I replaced all the old heat shield material with new and finished the wheel wells with a hardened textured liner. The backside of the rear valance was also completed with heat shield material, as well as extra mounting hardware to keep it fixed to the body.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
My goal was to get the body in better condition than my S1 Esprit left the factory in 1977, and because I spent dozens of hours reinforcing areas that were previously prone to stress cracks and spider webbing, my hope is that it stays that way for a long time.
A pretty cool shot of the body shell and chassis. With the help of three guys
it was back onto the chassis.
The front hood required a lot of work to ensure a completely flat surface.
A finished set of S1 Lotus Esprit headlight pods.
The original rear valances were too thin and prone to being ripped apart
by the exhaust system behind it. My new rear valance was reinforced with
several layers of fiberglass to make it stronger.
Even my fuel caps needed repairs. There were hours in these alone.
A nice shot of the S1 rear hatch, which is pretty light without the glass!
One of the empty door shells. A lot of work ahead to get these back onto
the car with all the door internals.
One of the rocker panels and door trim pieces, ready to rivet back onto
My carpet boards were in bad shape - completely delaminated after 30+ years of constant heat and moisture cycles. The carpet was past its lifespan too, so I would need to replace everything. If you do the job yourself as opposed to ordering new parts from England, it’s a very time consuming job as there are several steps.
Fortunately for me, the wood was in good enough shape to take patterns from and that saved me a lot of time. I traced the pattern onto new boards, then cut them out with a jigsaw. Some of the boards had access holes for electrical wiring and fuel hoses, so I made sure to replicate those too. From there, I ordered a roll of black automotive carpet and then traced the patterns from my freshly cut boards, getting them bound around the edges with black leather trim.
The next step was to spray the exterior of the boards with black paint as to blend with the color of the carpet. From there, I glued the carpet to the boards and then re-attached new “L” brackets to fasten the boards back into the car.
Some of the old carpet boards. The de-lamination was bad and they
were falling apart. Time to replace.
Two of the new carpet boards which cover each side fuel tank.
The remaining carpet board pieces cutout and ready for carpet.
The side fuel tank boards after overlaying the new carpet sections.
Getting closer at this point. I just needed to paint the boards black
and glue everything down.
There were a lot of pieces and a lot of steps. This took forever!
After a thorough “nut and bolt” of the car, I took dozens of photographs to remember what it all looks like. Once the body is back on the car, it's a shame that 90% of the chassis will never be visible again.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Every inch of the car was looked after - even the wheel wells and chassis tunnel were stripped of the old undercoating, prepared and cleaned prior to this stage of the process.
The primer sealer was sprayed in multiple coats and a final guide coat revealed that all of the panels (especially those with large flat surfaces like the front hood and doors), were perfectly straight. The car will be painted in two stage paint (Glasurit), in Monaco White, then wet sanded and polished. There are still many days ahead of work ahead but the end is near!
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Overall this has been the most difficult, discouraging part of the restoration process. The body had many more stress cracks than I initially thought – most of them in really tough areas like the front and rear hatch drainage channels and the door sills. Essentially every area where something could be “slammed” closed (doors, rear hatch, front hood) had spider webbing everywhere and needed fiberglass repairs. Due to the contours of these areas, re-glassing and re-shaping took a long time. To fix the issue permanently, I added new layers of glass behind the visible surfaces to make them stronger.
Another issue is that the soda blasting was harsh enough to expose a lot of the underlying defects in the gelcoat. This revealed hundreds of small pinholes or imperfections that needed to be re-filled. Lesson learned that it was probably a bad idea to have the body media blasted.
Focusing on the underside of the car and the wheel wells, it had a fine layer of undercoat which I’m halfway through removing (I’d like to have the underside refinished), and the chassis tunnel had thick foam bonded to it, which I’ve have the pleasure of scraping off, usually straight into my face and eyes as I work upside down!
I opted to remove the rocker panels to make sure the underlying seat belt mounts weren’t rusted away (bad if I ever had an accident), but my panels were bonded which meant that I had to pry them away from the body. It wasn’t an easy job and I actually did more damage than good (my seatbelt mounts were perfect, no rust!!), so I ended up cracking the fiberglass in several areas of the rocker panels for no good reason. Both panels needed to be re-glassed in a few areas but that didn’t cost me too much time.
At this point of the update, my doors are fully prepped along with the rear hatch, front hood, rear valance, rocker panels, and headlight pods. I still have a lot of work to do on the main body but most of the hard repairs are done. Now it’s just a matter of doing more block sanding and filling pinholes. I’m getting there, but I can’t wait until this stage is done – I’m over it!
Friday, May 13, 2011
From there, I sent out my radiator to get rebuilt and then welded a new metal radiator surround thanks to a kit supplied by SJ Sportscars. The old radiator fans (antiquated by today’s standards) were replaced with more reliable 7 x 2 inch fans. I needed to fabricate mounts for the fans to bolt directly to the radiator, but it was pretty easy to figure out.
As the last step, I refinished the exterior of the fiberglass shroud assembly, fixing some curb rash and rock damage on the lower edges, as well as smoothing out the seams and pinholes that were left over by a shoddy build process at the Lotus factory. After fitting a new metal grille, mounting hardware and a strip of sealing foam, I bolted the radiator back in place. Now it's ready to mount back to the car.
Working on the fiberglass radiator shroud after having
re-glassed the entire structure.
The shroud after the color was applied.
One of the aftermarket radiator fans.
The radiator fans attached to the radiator assembly.
A side view of the radiator shroud, which was re-inforced
with three full layers of new fiberglass.
A new radiator shroud grille, which I had powder coated
in wrinkle black.