Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Soda Blasting the Lotus Esprit S1 Body

With the body of my Esprit completely apart, I sent it off to be soda blasted (essentially baking soda sprayed at high pressure) to remove the old paint. The process is extremely tricky because you can blast straight through the gelcoat and into the underlying matte. We were patient setting the pressure until the soda was just attacking the white primer sealing coat (not the gelcoat), then we stopped.

From here I’ll have to block down the remaining white primer and into the gelcoat for a smooth surface that will accept an initial sealer/primer coat. The process was also helpful for removing the interior carpet residue and glue left over by the old upholstery. The car looks absolutely horrid and depressing right now, but that’s usually how it goes in this phase of the body prep process!

A nice shot of the S1 body low to the ground prior to soda blasting.

The body halfway through the process, looking pretty beat up.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Restoring the Lotus Esprit S1 Headlight Pods

With the body prep well underway (working on the front and rear hood, doors, etc.), I started to strip some of the smaller body pieces while the main body section is waiting for the soda blaster. The headlight pods were one of those jobs that I waited to do last, knowing they were going to take forever. When I initially removed them from my S1 Esprit over a year ago, plywood pieces were falling out all over the place. It turns out that Lotus glassed plywood into to the headlight pod structure in early Lotus Esprits for strength, but 30+ years and hundreds of moisture cycles later, the wood was no longer intact. The job required removing the old wood and then making a template to re-glass the empty area. I avoided using wood this time and simply layered the fiberglass in 7 sheets for strength. Restoring them was a better option than purchasing two new pods as they cost a fortune. The rest of the pods were sanded down to remove the old paint and now they are ready for the Monaco White.

One of the pods after having removed it from my Esprit.

The back of the headlight pod where the fiberglass meets plywood.

Making the template from cardboard covered with wax paper.

7 new layers of fiberglass for strength to close the back of each pod.

The face of the two headlight pods finish sanded and ready for paint.