Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Slow Progress Forward

Dateline - Jan 24th - It's been a long, slow journey over the last several weeks working on the car. It seems that, after a lot of quick progress, things have ground down a bit. But moving forward is a good thing, no matter how slow!

So, over the last few weeks, I started shaping the fascia for the drivers side dash out of pink foam. I will only be able to do the section from the door to the steering column because of the complexity of the column, turn signal and ignition key. That area I plan to mold in modeling clay on which I will lay up the fiberglass.

I also purchased my new emergency hand brake lever. Since the original hand brake was under the dash, I needed to make some modifications to get this to work. It is going to now be in the center console to the right of the gear shift selector. I would have liked it to be on the left, but there was not enough space there. I made a bracket for the lever out of steel and bolted it into the car. I may weld it in before I'm done. Not quite sure about that yet.

I've also started to think about fiberglass. I bought and read a book on fiberglass techniques, so now I need to buy the fiberglass and resin to start building up the center console and dash fascias. The center console should be pretty easy because I just need to put the fiberglass over the pink foam. The fascias will be a little harder because I can either layup fiberglass over the foam and then melt the foam out with acetone, or I can do a negative mold over the foam and then do a positive from that. Both have advantages. Doing the layup over the pink foam will be quicker, but I will need to embed reinforcements for the glove box, hinges, screws, hangers, etc into the foam as a lay up the fiberglass for the best strength. Plus I will need to make the foam significantly smaller then I want the finished product to be in order to account for the thickness of the fiberglass.

Making the negative mold would make it easier to do the layup because I would be able to put the reinforcements in as I lay up the fiberglass, and I don't have to make the plug smaller because it will be the size I want. The problem is that I will end up doing three times the work making a negative mold then a positive one, since you have to do a lot to make a good negative mold. Plus, since I am only doing this once, a negative mold doesn't provide a lot of extra value. Still moiling this over.

I also started modifying the air circulation system. I knew I needed to make room for the big GPS/Stereo receiver in the dash and the only way to do that was to cut a big section out of the air box. Fortunately, with the A/C evaporator out of there, I have plenty of room. So I marked out the area, cut it out with a saber saw, and then made sheet aluminum pieces to fit. I taped them in with aluminum ducting tape. I think this is going to be waterproof enough and robust enough for this application. If I start having problems, I can always fiberglass it in later.

I'm also working with Matt to come up with a wood dash design. The piece of bird-eye maple that we have available isn't quite wide enough. So we have come up with a plan to mirror the maple along the length of the dash, using a black seam as a divider. Since the steering wheel has a black seam in it also, the may be a really good solution that ties the dash in with the steering wheel. We are also thinking about putting a similar seam into the gear selector knob and maybe the emergency brake handle. Matt has purchased a drill that will cut the maple a little shy of the gauge diameters so that we can in-set the gauges behind the maple. I think this is going to look really cool. Here are some updated renders that I've done with the newer dash ideas. I've also updated the door panels and center console to reflect more of the reality of the interior.

Finally, I've been in conversation with a company in Belgium that specializes in classic car carpets. I think I've narrowed down the color that I want that matches my interior, and they have really good prices. Since these carpets are designed around the restoration market, I know they will fit, and I will not have to spend time myself trying to make my own. Dollars well spent! Now I just need the Euro to weaken so that I can get a better price.

So, I guess I'm making better headway then I thought! Now, I need to purchase a used heavy duty sewing machine, matching vinyl, fiberglass and resin, the GM turn signal and handle, two vacuum motors for the air circulation system, the power door switch, new fuse blocks and lots of wire to move the fuses from the center of the dash to under the drivers side dash. Everything but the sewing machine and vinyl have been sourced, I just need to make a purchase.

Stay tuned for more...