|Alex Smith's Vortex|
|Vortex Discussion Group|
Vortex 3-wheel Vehicle
17' Wind Turbine
Bradly GT II Kit Car
1966 Ford Fairlane GT
Xantrex XW Monitoring/Logging Software
Search this site:
Due to cost of webhosting I may not be able to continue to provide this content free for much longer. I'm asking for your support by providing a donation to keep this site active. The only other choice that I have is to convert his site to one that is accessable only to subscribers, and I really don't want to go that route.
You can do so simply by clicking the button below and donating whatever you like.
To donate you can either use your PayPal account or a credit card (using secure authorization).
Donations can be for as little as $1.00
This page will show detailed information concerning how I constructed the body, finishing, doors, door operation, windows, locks and any exterior lights/turn signals.
TOUCHDOWN - it finally rolls!
After 6 months worth of work it finally stands on it's own 'feet' and has the ability to roll. This is a major accomplishment at this phase of the project. It may look a little funny at this point as it is basically just the skeleton.
Here are some pictures obviously without the outside 'skin':
Purchased a pair of VW Rabbit Cabriolet rear tail lights from fellow Vortex
discussion group member
I cut the 61" x 24" deck cover from 1/4" plywood and used some 61" long 3/4" x 1-1/2" strips of maple, these would be used to support the deck cover, I then glued and screwed them together. Next I made up the rest of the supporting framework and screwed it down to the body. Where the framework goes over the engine chassis mounts you have to cut a bit of wood away so that the bottom frame rails have some clearance.
I also decided that I wanted a slight rake to the deck panel so that accumulated rain water would shed to the back of the vehicle rather than forward and into the engine compartment so I made the back of the deck 3/4" lower than the front. In addition along the length I made the deck lid bow by shimming the center up almost 1/4". The plans say to try to stay away from perfectly flat panels and a slight bow is more pleasing to the eye.
I had concerns about stress at the hinge point for the canopy so made up a
1" thick piece of sassafras (I have a lot of it..) and put in 1/4"
wide by 1/2" deep slots where the vertical pieces of the deck go.
Next I cut out the vertical pieces from 1/4" birch plywood, located them
then glued and brad nailed them to the maple strips along the deck lid and glued
them to the hinge support.
This assembly should be extremely strong once fiberglassed. The remainder of the rear canopy will be made from foam per the plans.
I also cut some 1/4" x 1/2" shaping strips. Initially I tried using some pine for them but found out that they kept braking when I attempted to bend them, so eventially I used some sassafras as it is far more flexible, the pine might have worked had I soaked it prior to trying to bend it. The picture above shows the shaping strips, I made them so that they go from the front of the vehicle all of the way to the rear.
I did not like the rear deck and modified it so that the central vertical pieces
tapered out to the top instead of making them 90 degrees. It was a minor change
but I think that it added a real nice styling touch rather than the boxy look
that it had before. Here is a picture showing that section just past the rear
I am reverting back to 1/4" birch plywood for the skin (seems that I am better
at wood than foam), and will add foam onto the wood skin where needed for styling
and complex shaping. At least with the wood skin I should have better
luck getting the foam to stick. So I ran out to the local lumber yard and picked
up 4 sheets of 1/4" plywood as well as another quart of contact cement.
One BIG mistake that I made is that I did not remove the engine from the chassis before skinning the rear!!! I will not be able to glass the inside of the skin at the same time that I do the outside... Since I made up a pretty sturdy support frame I figure that after I fiberglass the outside and I cut off the rear canopy then I will remove the engine, put the rear canopy back on and finish glassing, so in the end I think that it will work out ok.
The sticks that are shown in the pictures below helped hold the vertical boards apart and gradually taper towards the back of the vehicle. Once the wood panels are glued/braded then they will be removed. Here are some pictures to showing the rear of the vehicle:
I decided to make the door frames completely from steel and did not use any of the original wood frames that I had originially made, instead I made them completely from 3/4" square steel tubing. Each door took approximately 20' of tubing!
To start with I clamped the door/roof frames to the vehicle using 1/4" spacers between the door and roof. Use a stick or level to be sure that the frame is below the roofline. Around all other surfaces I used 1/2" spacers, this will allow me to use 1/4" plywood for the skin and leave room for the fiberglassing and final clearance. Be sure to have some water around to cool things off quickly!!
Here are multiple shots of the frames in the vehicle so that you can see the
orientation of the parts::
And here are some shots of the completed frames
Previoiusly on eBay I had located some 3-1/2" x 3-1/2" stainless
steel hinges that had a removeable pin (these are actually standard door hinges).
The auction was for 10 hinges, more than I needed but price was right and it
gave me the opportunity to experiment a bit. I decided to try out my idea of
hinge modification. I measured 3" down from the top of the winshield pillar
and marked out for a 3-1/2" long slot, ditto from the bottom as well. I
used a wood router that had a 1/8" spiral bit and using some clamps for
start/stop blocks I slowly cut through the pillar. The 1/8" bit wandered
a bit and I ended up with a slot that is more like 3/16" but I can compensate
by using some shim material in the slotted area that the hinge goes into.
Next I took a hinge and had to slightly bend the part that got welded onto
the door frame. Then I placed the hinge into the routed slot in the pillar and
using a couple of screwdrivers (because of some slop) forced it to the back
of the slot, then I spaced the hinge above the surface of the pillar by about
1/8" to compensate for later glassing. Then I tacked the hinge to the frame
and then completed welding it. Here are a couple of pictures
I purchased a set of Bear Claw mini door latches as well as the installation
kit. The installation kit for the latches made it real easy to put them in place
in the door frames! Just had to cut out a small section of the frame, and then
weld in the mounting plate at the proper location. With a lot of luck I happened
to have the perfect location to install them and with ample clearance. I had
wanted to put the latch mechanism into the door and the striker on the bulkhead
rather than visa-versa as I also intend to put a mechanical door latch on the
outside of the door. Here are a couple shots of the latch location with the
one on the right showing the ultimate location of the bolt, this will be finalized
once doors are cut off and operational:
The exact location of the exterior door opening mechanism is not known yet but it will either be in the air-dam area of the door or on the ouside rear with a vertical orientation. I would like to get a 'push' style as used on the Diablo's but if need be I will go with a 'pull' mechanism.
The lower window will not extend all the way to to back of the door but will stop short enough so to allow me to put in all the mechanical linkages that will be needed to operate the door latch and exterior keyed lock.
Here is a picture of the final installation of the headlight mechanisms, it
is a little tight in the space but adequate clearance so that nothing hits,
while at it I had also soldered on some wires for the lights. I also put in
a layer of fiberglass mat all around inside the cavities, it's best to complete
this inside area as once top skin is put on it would be a real bear to get to
some of these places... On the right is the inside of the front trunk area where
the electric motors connect.
Here are pictures showing the detail of the mechanisms and any required spacers,
the portion behind the headlights uses a 1/4" bolt and this can be removed
allowing the shaft to be removed from inside the trunk area if needed for future
maintenance. Here are some pictures showing the components of the mechanism,
and one assembled so that you can see how they go together.
Next I decided to tackle trying to put in the side panesl on the drivers side. The lower panel was a tough to do as I wanted to make it as a single piece you have to deal with the shaping strip, cut line for the rear canopy, opening for the tire as well as cutting the air dam for the side of the door all in one operation!! Just take your time, measure, remeasure and write yourself notes on the panel as to where to cut, etc..
Here is a picture of the driver's side:
You will notice that I did not completely cut off the lower section of the panel where the air dam is on the door. I cut this part hoping that once all the clamps are removed that I can simply bend it into place inside the door frame, thus forming the tapered edge of the air dam. I also left additional material around the front and rear of the wheel not knowing yet how I was going to finish these areas.
I tackled the passenger door and side panels in the same manner that I did
for the drivers side and am equally pleased with the results.
I put on 3" glass seam tape on all of the outside joints, this is necessary
to keep the joints from shaking apart and later on cracking the finished product.
Here are some pictures of taping job:
Here is a picture with the front deck lid on the vehicle, it is starting to
look like a vehicle now! You will notice that I made it in 2 pieces, it would
have been extremely difficult (but not impossible) to make it with a single
sheet of plywood.
Using seam tape I taped and fiberglassed all remaining joints on the front
of the vehicle. I then used 2 layers of mat and one layer of cloth along with
some foam supports glassed to the outside surface to help hold the deck lid
shape once I cut the deck lid off. I was concerned that with the wood under
stress that once I cut off the lid it would straighten out and not have the
same profile as the rest of the front of the vehicle. I used some 2" pieces
of foam shaped them so that they would conform to the deck curvatures and using
some 3" glass tape on all edges to hold them to the surface of the deck
lid. Later on they will be ground off and the surface finished once the inside
of the lid is glassed.
The 1/4" plywood directly in front of the lights is actually a bit too
high and would block some of the light coming from the headlights so I decided
to 'accent' this area. When done this area directly in front of the headlights
will be slightly lower than the rest of the front end, I think that it will
add an interesting break up of the continuous front end styling and when done
I will add some nice radiusing to the transition areas.
Starting to lay up some foam sections onto the front end of the vehicle. I
used 2" near the doors and 1" along the sides and had to put additional
onto the 2" foam near the doors (not shown here) as I do not have any 3"
foam... Weight is definitely needed to hold some portions of the foam in contact
with the skin if you use contact cement. As an alternative you could instead
use some fiberglass resin, which would make sanding the finish surface easier
as you would not have to deal with the contact cement forming little balls on
your sandpaper... The blue foam is the 2" and the yellow is the 1":
This 3" foam will be necessary to transition from the front of the doors down to the front deck. The 1" foam will be used to create a radius from the side fenders to the top of the deck as well and feather out to basically nothing towards the inside edges. And most of it in front of the headlights will also be removed. And there will be a styling line from where the door leading edge meets the windshield support all the way down past the outer edge of the headlights towards the front of the vehicle, as shown by the red lines in the picture above.
Glassing of the rear canopy was next, I put one layer of 1-1/2oz mat followed
by one layer of 5oz cloth.:
I received the Datsun/Nissan aluminum window louvers that I previously won on eBay.
Here is a picture comparing the two, on the top is one from a 280ZX, and the
one on the bottom is from a 300ZX. You can see that the 280ZX is basically triangular
while the one from the 300ZX has a curved section which probably conforms to
the different window style, and it is also larger.
Here are individual shots with each louver on the drivers side of the vehicle.
The visual impression is that the one from the 300ZX is too large for the area
and the curved section does not fit the rest of the contours. I was not sure
which way the curved section on the 300Zx louvers went but believe that it goes
towards the roofline, I tried both of them and basically came to the same conclusion
that for my particular application they would have to be mounted too close to
the rear deck lid cut line to fit properly. The louvers from the 280ZX fits
the space that I have better, I can move them towards the rear further and the
overall shape appears to follow the lines of my vehicle better as well.
So I have decided that I will be using the ones from the 280ZX on my vehicle. Anyone want to buy a louver set from a 300ZX?? I currently have $35.00 into them plus shipping costs to you (I was charged $17.50 shipping) if so Contact me!!!
The Vortex plan set talks about making a sanding board but said nothing on how to hold the sandpaper on it - I assume by using a spray adhesive. I did not have any spray adhesive and started looking around the shop, what I found that I had was a LOT of rough cut lumber from a local saw mill, so I took a small piece of it and tried it on some scrap foam and it worked like a champ!! So I cut off 3 pieces of the stuff, one about 4' x 8" wide, one about 2' x 6" wide and one about 12" x 2" wide and went to work on the foam.
First thing that I did was to use a drywall hole saw and cut off excess foam,
leaving about 1/2" and then using the rough cut lumber got the basic profile
done, and then finished it with the narrow stick so that I had a lot more control.
With the final passes I made sure to look a lot between sides, and get them
as close as possible. I can't say enough about what a great job that the rough
cut lumber did!
As you can see quite a bit of foam was removed to get the final profile, but it does not hurt to have too much foam. I wish that I had the 3" foam instead of using the 2" + 1" as I had to deal with the contact cement that tends to ball up, but cleared my 'cutting' tool each pass and it worked out ok. What happens is that these balls stick to the board then gouge the underlying foam so it is important to take it slow.
I had to slightly modify the headlight covers as one angle interfered, once done I located them on the headlight fixtures and traced their shape on the underlying foam. Then I cleaned out all excess foam leaving about 3/16" gap.
The gap in the roof/windshield frames need to be filled with some foam. The
reason for this is as the doors/roof are glassed this area becomes the portion
of the doors that contact the sealing rubber and keeps out wind/rain/etc. Once
the doors are glassed and cut off the body this foam is simply removed from
the inside of the door and then the inside of the door is finished. Next I radiused
the door edges so that when I do glass them they will have a nicer transition
to the roof and windshield lines.Here are some pictures of the foam in the gap:
I also had to use some 1/2" foam where the bottom of the windshield meets the front deck. I used a small plastic tube around the windshield wiper mast to try to keep it as clean as possible.
It is also a good idea to use some masking tape and put it on the windshield frame and roof frame where glass and sunroof go, I forgot to on one side and now it will take some extra work to clean out puddles of resin that settled into this area
Next I put down two layers of mat and 1 layer of cloth on the front deck foamed
areas and finished glassing them in as well as below the windshield area. More
work will have to be done to this area but it is a good start
Initially I took some 2" foam and contact cemented it to the drivers side of the rear canopy and profiled it. I ended up taking it off as it was just too thick and way more than I needed to get some styling, the styling line looked ok but it was just too thick when I got up to the door area. It was easier to rip it off and replace it with 1" foam which worked out much better. I had to taper it off to nothing on the side of the door this task went so quickly that I was able to do the drivers side as well as the passenger side!
I'm glad that I got the gallon of contact cement I probably used almost 1/2 gallon today alone! If you are edge glueing foam it should take a lot less cement than coating the entire contact surface in the way that I am applying foam to the wood skin structure. But at least with my skill set this method is working out well for me.
Here are some pictures of the foam job, I have both yellow and blue 1"
The lower styling line (shown with the red line on the picture on the right) is pretty simple to form, you use the lower portion of the chassis below it as a guide and simply continue the line through the foam. Again bring your cut lines to the surface of the foam to use later when you want to cut off the sections.
I also got the drivers side all glassed in as well as before using two layers
of 1.5oz mat and a single layer of 6oz cloth. You will want to 'wrap' the glassing
around the bottom edge of both the canopy as well as the drivers door.
For the roof I used a piece of 1/4" plywood and cemented a piece of 1/2"
foam to it so that it fit snugly into the roof area. The foam extended above
the roof line by 1/4" and I tapered it down leaving the center higher so
as to form a slight radius to the roof line and then glassed it in.
At the same time I glassed up the door/windshield areas, covering the hinges
with masking tape to keep them clean.
Round one with the front bumper using turn signals from a Plymouth Acclaim:
Round two with the front bumper: I didn't like how it was looking so I decided
to rip it off, grind it down and start over again. The new one is made in 2
sections with the upper portion 6" thick foam and the lower portion of
the new bumper is a piece of 2" thick foam about 4-1/2" tall. I also
put 2 pieces of foam on the front fenders ahead of the tires and did a lot of
work to taper them down. The bottom area of the bumper should act as a sort
of dam and hopefully help to divert air to the sides of the vehicle rather than
under the bottom of it. Here is a shot that shows the front of the new bumper:
In addition I decided to use the turn signals from the Dodge Colt, they were
narrower and didn't overpower the front of the vehicle like the ones from the
Acclaim seemed to do. And here are some side and angle shots:
In the next picture you'll see that I wrapped the turn signals in plastic and
inserted them into the receiving holes and put pressure on them with a couple
of sticks before the resin went off. The reason for this is that there are some
small profiles that needed to be impressed into the glass, if I had waited till
after the resin had set it would have been more work to get the turn signals
to seat properly.
So you would think that making some fender flairs would be relatively easy
to do, but these took me an entire day to glue them up, shape them and then
glass them as it is a compound curve that takes quite a bit of work to get it
right and a good part of the time you are laying on the ground doing the work.
Here is a shot of the drivers side on the left and a another showing the inside
of the fender well so you can see how it ties into the vehicle.
The weather held out so I was able to move the Vortex into the daylight, clean
out the shop and take a bunch of pictures and put up a bunch of them here showing
it from various angles.
Here is some shots showing the front fender flairs for comparison and they
are pretty closely shaped. I may futz with the passenger side later on to 'lean'
it down slightly and get the outside line a bit sharper.
I finally get to cut off body parts from the Vortex! Shep had previously given me a bit of advice when I do this, use a 1/8" carbide router bit and a wood router so I took him up on his advice and I have to say that it worked out REAL nicely. If you do this as well be sure to have 3-4 bits ready as I put too much pressure on them at times and broke 2 of them but had enough to complete the job.
First in order is to cut off the rear canopy, use a stick and clamp it down
so that you can use it as a guide. Initially I had the router speed turned down
and that is probably what helped make them break, once I turned up the router
to full speed it cut better.
Unfortunately this is the only cut that you can use a guide with... The remainder of them need to be cut holding the router free-hand, take your time and take off only about 1/8" depth at a time, so you will need to do around 4 cuts per segment. You have to move pretty slow and let the bit do it's thing if you try to push it too fast then you will probably break the bit.
Here are pictures of the canopy cut off:
Next you can move onto the doors, a bit aprehensive here to see how well my
hinge modification will work out... Took a while as there are a lot of cutting
to do and then the moment of truth!
I was pretty excited as the doors work wonderfully and at least as good as I hoped that they would. I was so excited that I went back into the house and brought my wife out to see them, kinda like a little kid with a new toy! They each closed very repeatibly and back into their proper closed position even without the bear claw striker mounted yet
If I was not psyched before then I certainly am now!
In the engine compartment I started to use some bondo to seal between the
skin and the chassis. On one side the cut was off about 1/2" so I cut off
the extra to make it flush and bondo'd it. At the same time on the rear canopy
where the miscut was I added on a 1/2" foam piece and glassed it on. I
also had to ad some material near the back of the doors to give the proper distance
for the weather seal to door interface and got it glassed in as well.
Next I moved my attention to the rear canopy, I wanted to add some lateral
support for the sides so I used some 1/2" foam and cut it to fit into the
areas and then applied 2 layers of glass mat. I will finish off the inside of
the foam support when I glass in the inside of the canopy.
Here is a picture of the door handles that I will be using, they are from a
Ford Probe and the outside of them go flush with the surface of the door. They
should look pretty nice as there is no frames/mouldings around them and all
you see is the outside door pull.
I then used some masking tape on the surface of the door where I wanted to
put the door handles and used a pencil to trace the outline of the handle onto
the masking tape. Then using a grinder removed the outer layer of fiberglass
and some of the foam in order to make a mounting surface for the handle screws.
I had to remove the center section so that the latch mechanism would fit into
the opening. I also removed extra foam from around the entire inside surface
to give me some extra room in case later on I had to trim it up a bit for clearances,
finally I glassed it in. The easiest thing to use in this small area was glass
tape, and put 3 layers down where the handle will mount and 2 layers around
the rest of the inside. There was some glass along the edge that did not wrap
properly so I had to grind it off as well, will fix this area later.
Worked on installing the door handles into both of the doors, another tough job that took all day but the results are just what I had hoped for with a nice tight fit that looks like it belongs on the doors.
The picture on the left shows the door handle from the outside of the door. The picture on the right shows the inside area that was glassed.
I decided that it was time that the front trunk lid was cut off. Double checked my cut lines and used a 1/8" router bit to cut it off the deck.
Moving to the doors I cut two 1/4" pieces of birch plywood and shaped to fit the inside of the doors. I used some hot glue to keep it in position until I can glass it in later on. The picture on the left shows the inside of the door and the one on the right the outside. I still have to seal up the area located towards the bottom of the door handle to make it weather tight.
Then I decided that it was time to attack the door windows. I put down masking tape all around onto the face of the door, measured out where steel framework was located as well as the cut away area above the door handles and then marked out lines showing the outside location of the windows and finally I cut them out. The upper window was not cut all the way towards the front of the door, the space left will be used for mounting side view mirrors.
I left a little bit extra around the perimiter and using the air grinder took it back to the marked lines. I cut the lower windows leaving in an extra 1/2" around the outside of them, later I will use a router with a 1/2" bit to recess them into the foam. I have a bunch of work to do on the insides of the doors and have to fabricate some backing for the windows as well as get the door handles operational. Here is how the vehicle looks to date.
I put in the framework around the main windows today. It took a while to clean the back sides of the door as previously I used bondo to make myself a tapered mounting area to cement the 1/4" plywood skin onto so I used an air grinder and chisel to clean all excess away. I used some rectangular pieces of 1/2" x 1" oak that I had and did some custom fitting, glued and brad nailed them into place, these will serve to mount the windows onto The final landing for the window is about 1/2" wide and all corners are radiused. I wanted to be sure that I had some wood behind the windows to put the mounting screws into wherever possible as the window has a compound curve to it and there will be pressure to pull out the screws.
I may need to build up the mounting area as right now it is about 5/16" deep (before glassing), will call local glass house to get actual thickness of the tinted polycarbonate that I will end up using and if need be use some bondo. Brad nailing through fiberglass is a bit tricky as the glass tends to push the brads sideways and then out, what I found is that if you remove the brad and put a second one in the initial hole that it made it works pretty well.
The lower windows I expect that I will be using a router to recess the mounting areas into the foam and glass in the landing area. The lower windows are relatively flat so putting screws into the fiberglass should not be an issue here. You should also notice that the lower windows stop short from the back edge of the door, this area will contain the linkages, etc for operating the door latch and lock. I still have to put in the outside door locks once I finalize on what ones will work for my application.
Worked on recessing the lower windows by using a router with a 3/4" rabbit bit I cut approximately 1/4" deep all around. Ended up pretty much hand guiding the router around the perimeter. In addition I used some bondo between the styling stick and the lower edge of the upper window. They are now all ready for glassing.
I shifted my attention to the rear canopy and placed it back onto the vehicle. Had to do a bunch of grinding on the area that I had to add 1/2" of foam for miscut, it was hitting the vehicle. This are will need additional work as there is more re-shaping that I will need to do for it to fit back on properly.
Next I marked out where I wanted the rear louvers to go and using a jig saw cut out the area and finished it off with the air grinder. Then I made some 1/4" birch plywood templates to fit into the area, the goal here is to recess the louvers so I need to put some backing from the inside of the canopy.
Once the glue dried on the rear louver backing boards I used my router along with a guide and routed out the excess backing. The louvers have two forward mounting bolts and one in the very back, I still have to make the mounting tabs that these will bolt to. I like the way that the louvers are recessed rather than surface mounted, they look like they belong better. Here are a couple of shots showing the recessed mounting and the louvers temporarily in place.
Then I spent the rest of the day looking into how to make the door latches and locks operational, not much to show here still experimenting and will post pictures as things get finalized.
Finished cleaning around the upper window areas, making sure to radius all edges (glass does not like to wrap around sharp edges). I used some bondo applied with my fingers into the window gutter area to get a slight radius into the bottom of this area, once set sanded and cleaned up any extraneous bondo. This step is kinda necessary as even the 2oz cloth will not want to seat inside a sharp inside edge so I needed to put a very slight radius into the window gutter area.
Then I used two layers of 2oz cloth and one layer of 4oz cloth into the gutter area. I opted to use the lighter weight cloth so that it will seat into the gutter better than using heavier cloth, of course this means more layers but happy with results.
You want to be sure to use a razor blade and clean out any extra cloth BEFORE it gets completely hardended. Otherwise you will be doing a lot more grinding down the road, and believe me you will quickly get sick of it, this is one way to dramatically reduce the grinding that you have to do. Here is pictures of one that was trimmed with only a razor blade and only very minor grinding was necessary!!
I was only working on the gutter area, the inside door frames will be glassed when I remove them later on.
Next I cut up some aluminum angle into flat pieces to make the mounts for the rear louvers. The front ones are pretty simple to make but the rear ones had to be custom made to fit the contours of the back of the louver. I simply marked out the lines, put the parts into a vise and using a board and hammer bent them until satisfied. Here is a shot of the rear mounts ready to insert. You will notice large holes drilled out the reason for them is so that the fiberglass mat/cloth can be put under them, and through the holes for rigidity, and a smaller hole for the wood screw to temporarily hold it into place.
The front ones were bolted onto the louver, put into place then I used some bondo to temporarily attach them. Then the rear ones put in and the entire inside area glassed in. I had to clamp some small pieces of 2x4 so that the mat/cloth would lay flat against the front mounts. I used a piece of plastic between the parts and the 2x4 so that they would not stick. Here are a couple inside shots showing the front and rear mounts. Lots of mat was used around the rear mounts.
With the rear louver mounts in place I used some bondo and put an interior radius around the backing lip and glassed it in using two layers of 2oz cloth.
Moving back to the doors I again used bondo to put in a radius and then glassed in the lower window gutter area. I used three layers of 2oz glass figuring that the windows are much smaller and I did not need the additional layer of 4oz glass. Here is a picture with the excess trimmed off.
Here are pictures of the mostly finished doors with interior panels in place and fiberglassed:
I cut out the sunroof section, even though I will eventially be going with an acrylic sunroof I glassed up the existing one since there is not a lot of work involved:
Made up some steel backing plates for the mounting bolts for the door hindges, there are 2 of them per door. Using a wood chisel I recessed them into the front windshield frame and used some 2" long x 1/4" diameter bolts through. The bolt heads clear the door frame by about 3/16", here is what the finished hinge reinforcements look like from inside door jamb:
I realized that I did not have any recent pictures up of the vehicle once I cut out and finished all the window openings so Dustin helped me push it ouside where I was able to take a bunch of pictures, it is looking a bit Scarab'ish (remember I have yet to extend the rear a bit):
I realized with the angle that the door swings into place you cannot use the single bear claw door latches in a verticle mounting position. The bear claw should be mounted 90 degrees from the angle of swing of the door as it approaches the striker plate. I have to redesign the way that the latches work on the doors!!! I found a distributor of a double bear claw latch, the dimesions are 5-1/2" x 1-7/8". There is a smaller version on the website but they are backloged so I decided to get the larger ones so that next weekend I can check out to see if they will work for my application. I have high hopes that they will.
Here is picture:
In studying the door latch problem I decided to angle the latches about 22-1/2 degrees to help compensate for the swing of the doors. You probably could use the single bear claw latches but you would have to increase the mounting angle more, in using the double bear claw latches it gives me more leniency on the angle. I cut some 3/4" tubing to help position the latches where desired and welded them up. Here is what one looks like:
I also mounted the striker plates using the latches to basically tell me where they should go. I made up a couple of mounting plates with 5/16" studs welded from the backside into it to help mount the striker plates. I put some large holes in them so that the fiberglass mat would "connect" from front to back.
I took off the day from work so that I could do some more work on my Vortex, I recently received the Hyundai tail lights and really wanted to see if/how they would look in the back end of the vehicle. This task took me a full 12 hours to complete from start to finish, but I got it accomplished in one day! First thing that I had to do was to create a way to mount them and I decided to use some 20gauge steel that I had laying around. So I cut a couple lenghts of about 5-1/2" wide strips of steel, using the foam that came with the lights I needed to open up some areas behind the lights so that access and replacement of bulbs was possible from the back side of the unit. The next photo shows the steel tack welded to hold them into place.
Next I used some 2" foam to form the top portion and 3" of foam to form the bottom portion, as well as using a 1" piece of foam in between the lights (eventially to mount the license plate). Then using my shaping sticks profiled out the entire outside portion of the rear area a lot of care went into following the profile of the lights as well as tapering the underside so that it followed the profile of the lower side of the vehicle. Prior to glassing I put each tail light into a plastic garbage bag cut off excess and taped it shut. Once done I used two layers of 6oz glass to cover the entire foamed in area and tie it back into the rear canopy area.
An important note is that at the time of glassing I put the wrapped tail lights back into their position, I did this so that there would not be any interference problems to get the lights back into position once the resin hardened! Had I not done this there would be the possibility that after the resin hardened there might be the chance that the lights might not fit, causing a lot of tough grinding inside the cavities... Here are a bunch of shots showing the completed tail light section that I am COMPLETLY happy with! The top of the taillights taper from front to back which augments the upper lines that taper almost the same amount, I love the look and the fact that it really completes the vehicle and finally pulls it into a nearly completed state: here are pictures taken from various angles:
I put some expanded steel into the areas below the louvers and glassed in and painted flat black. I ended up using 1-1/2" wide strips of mat on each side edge with three layers below and three layers on top as well. I also cut out some small areas around where the front mounting bolts protrude so that in the future I could easily access this area (without cutting up my hands).
Made up the delrin 'buttons' that I will be using for the front locator pins, still have to put in groove for C-clip to retain them, and make up the mounting plates: here is a picture of them:
I made the inside diameter of the buttons 1/16" larger than the pin diameter, my thoughts were to not make them too tight. Since the canopy is hinged the pins may need a little room as the entry angle changes slightly due to the rotation around the hinges. These buttons will be put into the holes on the locating plates and a C-clip will retain them. You probably do not really need them but I wanted to reduce noise from any potential vibration. Here are the basic dimensions for the buttons:
Here are pictures of the completed front locator pins and buttons:
Along with mounting brackets for the rear canopy locator pins. I used some 1/8" thick 2" angle iron, cut the exposed edge so that it matches the curvature of the plate that holds the locator buttons, put in the hole for the pin as well as a bunch of holes in the base used for fiberglassing. I sand blasted and painted the entire surface but prior to glassing in I will use masking tape on the mounting area and sandblast the paint off from the base in order to remove the paint. I like to glass directly onto bare metal with no paint on it. This way the metal will not get any surface rust while it waits:
And here is shot showing installed pins:
Here is a picture of the mounting plate glassed in and one of the side latches mounted onto the canopy:
During the week I began gluing on panels of foam onto the front fenders to rough out some fender flairs. It seemed that each night I would add more and more foam, partly because I was not exactly sure what sort of finished shape I desired. I figured that it was best to have too much foam than not enough...
So this is what I started with:
So now I was tasked with making something out of this Frankenstein, and again I sat down in front of the foam saying to myself that I am not a sculptor and just kinda started picking at it. Well once I got into it, it actually went ok and slowly but surely it started to take shape. I needed a bit of a curvature for the outside of the fender as initially the flat wood panel was pretty boring, I also knew that I wanted to cover the front of the tire as much as possible and tapering it down towards the front as I tied it into the bumper structure.
After about 2 hours of whittling away this is what I ended up with on the passenger side, it is a bit tough to see the profile though:
Here are pictures of the finished product:
It is a bit tough to see the actual profiles but here is a view from the front of the vehicle:
Well I have to say that I am TOTALLY happy with the way that the new front end looks, it adds a much needed touch that was initially missing as well as adding a slight curvature to the previously flat fenders. It definitely helps round out the front end and added some styling that initially just was not there.
More work around the headlight mechanisms, initially had too much space around the covers when closed as I originally only roughed out the opening. So using some fiberglass mat built up the area around them and finally finished it off with some bondo to get a fairly uniform space around the body and the headlight covers, as well as added some detailing on outside edge in front of headlights for emphasis.
More work on the tail section and needed to fill in some areas around the leading edge of the tail lights.
I needed to form a gutter areas for the leading edges of the doors so I hot glued up some foam to help form some fiberglass. I then used about eight layers of fiberglass mat and sandwiched it with two layers of cloth tape to form the edge. I wanted this strong and that is the reason for the heavy layup. I trimmed up the front gutter area that I recently put in. Due to the steel framework extra had to be trimmed in one area to provide ample clearance so that the doors would shut.
Previous research and testing helped me determine that I needed a total of about 200lbs to lift the rear canopy, this is due to mounting them far forward with leverage and all. Here are some pictures showing the result as you can see in the left photo that with the rear canopy closed the springs are very near their maximum compression:
IMPORTANT NOTE: I have been told by the manufacturers that nitrogen gas springs should be installed with the rod portion downwards. This provides the best sealing and lubrication of the cylinder.
With the rear canopy finally operational I decided to work on the latches. So I modified the strikers that came with them by welding them onto some 1/8" angle, located them and bolted them to the deck.
Ended up removing previous latch mounts and made up 2 more mounting plates like the previous ones and located and reinstalled the latches, this time with about a 30 degree rake to them. This time with perfect results and now the rear canopy opens and closes/latches correctly:
I also located and installed both of the side view mirrors. No electrical connections yet but they look like they should work well, I modified them slightly by grinding the lower mounting edge of them so that the mounting angle made the mirrors more parallel, still some more work needs to be done on them but a good start.
Got the door gas springs installed in place and had operational doors. With these cylinders the doors open about a full 90 degrees and provide lots of open area to easily enter/exit the vehicle.
Went around the body and put on some spot putty onto any small blemishes, it is interesting to note that hitting the majority of blemishes that it took about 1/2 tube of spot putty... Then using some 400 grit paper I block sanded the body back down again, this time I dry sanded it as I did not want to deal with the mess that it left yesterday, and besides I wanted to shoot on another coat of primer today.
Then after cleaning up everything I mixed up some high build primer but this time I used the reducer as I really did not need to have the surface built up and just wanted to shoot on a coat of primer.
Well hands, arms and shoulders are tired from block sanding - I have a lot of respect for body men! The surface is really starting to shine now, there were some small blemishes to fix later but now I think that I have a good base, here are some new pictures:
I still have the doors, front trunk lid and roof to finish up - and then God said "Let There Be YELLOW":
U-POL Gravitex Plus is a stone resistant 1-part paint treatment that can be used inside wheel wells, it comes with a throw-away sprayer that attaches directly onto the bottle and comes in a couple of colors, I got black. The directions state that for an orange-peal finish that a pressure of 40 - 70psi is used. So I spent an hour or so in masking off the front of the vehicle and underneath around the wheel wells and I set my regulator to 50psi and shot the insides of both wheel wells.
The 1 liter bottle just made it through both wheel wells with a little left over to touch up any missed spots. Very happy with the results as it leaves a nice finish and made the insides of the wheel wells look finished.
I went out to my trusty donor vehicle (1998 Isuzu Trooper) and removed the 3 defroster vent covers from it. Two of them are about 12" long and one was about 5" long, both of them with a slight curvature to them. I will be using the smaller one on the left side of the instrument cluster 'hump' and one long one on the other side. In hind-sight I could have made the instrument cluster 'hump' a bit shorter so that I could have accomodated one of the longer vent covers to extend behind it, but did not think of it at that time. Here are a couple of pictures so that you can see how I oriented the defroster vent covers:
I had previously made the appointment to reserve a time slot at the local glass shop and in all it took about 3-1/2 hours to get it to fit near perfectly and put it in. I had only two choices either clear or a slight green tint, I went with the green tint and glad that I did even the acrylic that I have is tinted grey. Here are a couple of pictures:
More work to get the insides of the doors done, I had to make a fiberglass panel on the side where the bear claw latches were, seems like I kept putting it off... So I hot glued some foam pieces to the outside of the door and fabricated some panels using four layers of 6oz cloth laid up from the inside of the end of the door panels as so:
I used a 12' piece of steel hung across the shop to hang the doors so that I had complete access to all of the surfaces, here are some pics of the completed paint job.
Got the doors mounted will have to do a bit of touchup of the paint on the windshield frame where the hinge pins went into the hinge, In my zest for prepping the body I did not leave quite enough clearance for the head of the pin and got a couple of gouge marks.
Also got the latches and strikers re-installed as well as the gas springs and mirrors.
I am glad that I got the gas springs charged with 80lbs of pressure, with the additional weight of the body work, paint and mirrors they are just about perfect. All it takes is finger pressure to close them.
Here are a bunch of thumbnail images, click on the one you want to see a larger version of it:
Got the rear deck plates installed, I had to increase the size of the hole slightly so that they could be installed. I put down masking tape around the holes (so not to scratch paint) marked out the circle and used a jig saw to cut it out. Then I put a bead of caulk around bottom edge of access plate to seal up the hole and then used some 3/4" screws to hold in place.
Before I install the windows I need to have the door handles installed, so I used my flat black trim paint and put a couple of coats of paint on them. Once dried I installed them into both doors. I have some 1/8" stainless steel rod that I used for the linkages, other than the door handles a simple Z bend retains them. At a later date I will install the inside door releases and lock mechanisms. Here are a couple pictures of completed (and working) door handle/mechanisms:
Once I had cut all of the door windows and sanded all the edges I decided that I wanted to put down some black masking borders around them. The black masking should make the installation of the windows look more professional by not allowing you to see the attachment tape through the windows. Previously I had gotten some satin black Krylon Fusion paint for plastic that will be used for this task.
I planned on using the 1/2" acrylic attachment tape for the larger windows so using a safety razor I cut back the protective paper coating using a 3/4" border. On the smaller windows I cut back the border to 1/2" wide as I plan on using the 1/4" acrylic tape on these. Once the backing paper was cut off I cleaned the surface and gave the borders a couple coats of the Krylon paint and let them sit overnight.
Using 3m Acrylic Plus Attachment Tape I went around the window gutter areas, and once the tape was in place I used my fingers to press it down to the gutter surface being sure to eliminate any bubbles, you have to press pretty hard and I found that using the plastic handles of the scissors worked pretty well.
Before removing the plastic coating of the attachment tape, I practiced a couple of times putting down the acrylic window into the frame, then removed the strip and put in the windows and once in place went around the entire window edge pressing it firmly onto the tape. Here are a couple pictures of the installed windows:
There is one slight bend that the acrylic needs to make at the top leading edge but it is not a lot and the tape held it into place. I will be installing a couple of screws along each edge at a later date to ensure that the windows stay in place. You can see the black mask on the inside of the window and I think that the results look great.
I got the 1/4" 3m acrylic attachment tape and was able to put in the lower windows, followed same process as in putting in the upper windows, you can easily see the black masking on the inside of the lower windows:
I decided to build the rear sliding window framework out of wood instead of aluminum. So I took some 1/2" thick red oak that I had laying around and cut it into 1-1/2" wide strips. On my table saw I have a really good cabinet making blade which is 1/8" wide and cut two slots into the wood about 3/8" thick deep, I separated the slots with 1/8" material. The bottom piece of the rear sliding window framework needed to be able to drain any accumulated water so I cut some simple slots every 3" using a 1/4" wood router bit to allow both channels to drain to the outside. I probably could have put in less drains but I did not want water sitting inside the channel.
I cut a two of pieces of 1/8" acrylic to fit into the window frame. I had originally thought that I would use some 1/4" thick acrylic pieces for the sliding windows, but really did not need the additional thickness, the 1/8" is plenty sturdy for this purpose. I cut the two windows so that they would overlap about an inch or so in the middle. As it turns out I am glad that I used 1/8" acrylic instead of the 1/4" as to get the top framework onto the windows and in place I had to slightly bend the windows, I am not sure that the 1/4" would have bent easily enough for me to install the top framework easily.
Here are a couple of pictures showing the window from the outside and inside, they slide real easily, above the window you can see the 3rd brake light that I put in.:
In the future I will use a glue a strip of 1/8" acrylic onto one window panel to help the windows seal between each other as much as possible once I can find out what kind of glue to use. I will also put in some kind of hand operated spring loaded pin to lock them in the closed position.
This is the device that I will be using for the sliding rear windows. I will be putting a strip of acrylic between the two sliding windows, glueing it to the innermost panel. Then I will drill & tap it to install the plunger and use a jamb nut to lock it into place.
The lever pulls out and you rotate it to lock it in the retracted position and open the windows. When you want to lock it you close the windows and rotate the lever so that it plunges into a hole made in the 2nd panel, and this locks the windows closed. This is not tamper proof, but the intention is just to ensure that the windows are closed and as water tight as possible.
Here is a picture of the plunger:
Shep had previously sent me some MEC (methyl ethyl chloride) which is used for gluing plastic together, so I started out by ripping a strip of 1/8" thick clear Plexiglas about 1-1/2" wide and glued in onto one side of the sliding rear window between the rear sliding panel. I had forgotten that about 1/4" of the top and bottom of the window slides in the track so I ended up using a sander to remove the additional layer of Plexiglas in these areas.
MEC is some nasty stuff, unknown to me there was a little runoff, nothing more than a couple of drops that somehow made it onto one of my forearms. Well I did not notice it for a couple of minutes, when I felt this burning and washed my reddened arm off with some fresh water - caustic stuff!
I wanted to use some clear Plexiglas as the overlapping area of the tinted acrylic was dark enough already and I did not want a 3rd layer of tinted acrylic to darken it even more.
Next I cut a 1" x 1" square of the 1/4" acrylic and glued it onto the inside area of the window. Drilled through all panels using a 5/16" drill, and then tapping the one window with a 3/8"-16 NC tap to mount the rear window latch. I then used a thin jamb nut to help hold the latch in place and replaced the top of the framework of the rear window. Now when the latch is in the closed position the plunger portion of it protrudes through the other sliding window panel, locking them closed.
Here is the latch mechanism installed onto the sliding window:
I then moved my attention onto the sunroof, previously I had purchased a latch mechanism however did not have a mounting bracket. So I spent a couple of hours welding one up and then using the milling machine to remove some areas. I used 1/8" steel all around, the 'L' shaped angle is 1/2" x 1" and about 3" long, when welding up the bracket I used a 3/8" spacer between the two protrusions to keep them spaced apart the correct amount Finally some grinding to clean up some sharp edges and it's ready for installation.
Here is the bracket and one picture showing how it attaches to the latch mechanism:
Here is the part painted and mounted on the top middle of the rear window:
Next I took a stainless steel bolt and machined it up a bit to work with the factory sunroof catch mechanism. I kinda guessed at what the total length had to be but I figured that I can always make up another one. Here is a similar bolt that it started out being, and the finished part, I mouted it with a rubber washer on the outside surface:
Once the rear catch mechanism was done I looked towards the front of the sunroof, as well as my stash of brass cabinet hinges. I saw some hinges that had potential and sliced them up a bit, cut them down in size, recessed them slightly in the front frame work. Next I modified the ends that go onto the sunroof itself, instead of using all three hinge loops I figured that I would remove the outside two and just use the center hinge loop to work with the part in the framework.
Here is one of the lower front hinges installed:
Here is a picture of the hinge component that I pop-riveted onto the sunroof itself, note the single loop:
Finally I made up a couple of 1/8" long hinge pins out of some 1/8" stainless rod that I had around. In order to insert the pins into the hinges I had to temporarily remove the weather striping around the front of the sunroof. Once the pins were in place I replaced the weather stripping.
Here is a picture from the outside showing the completed sunroof
I will probably do over the rear latch for the sunroof, it seems that in my case having the pull located at the center causes the surface to distort, it would be better to have two rear latches one on either side to pull the roof into the foam weather stripping. This will be a future enhancement, however I feel that the sunroof will not seal properly until it is done.
Exterior - Done!
|© 2005-2010 Briery Mountain Enterprises, LLC
Creative Commons "Some Rights Reserved"
|Except where otherwise noted, this site is licensed under a Creative Commons License|