Body Work IV
(August 2002)

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It's been four months since the last update. Due to work, travel, and family related matters, I had to put the Lotus project on the back burner for a while but now in August 2002 I have made enough progress to provide a reasonable update. Notice the title of this chapter is Body Work IV. This is because there is a lot of freakin body work to do in this project. It's been just over a year now since I bought the '89 car. People often ask me, "What's your schedule to have it done and be driving it?" The answer is that is it's so far away I have no schedule. Plus, the point was to keep me in the garage making small progress so I can feel good about the accomplishments. And that's just what I've been doing. So... we left off working on the dash. In order to make the '89 dash the same as the '97, not only did I have to fill in the right hand side, I also had to move the vent from the left to the right side (try doing that so close to the windshield). The left hand side also had to be augmented.

New vent slot and left side fiberglass

Done - sort of (now that looks like the dash of a '97 V8)

On the right had side, I also had to transfer a plate under the dash of the '97 car that supports the passenger airbag. This took a while to get it in the right place, rivet it in and fill in the holes and prime again. Hangers for the electronics also had to be repositioned. Here's a picture of the '97 car for comparison.

'97 car's dash (it's dead Jim)

Next we move to the front bulkhead. This needed a lot of work to make it the same as the '97. It had been converted from right hand drive and so the right side was (filled but it was not filled that well). The left side had been modified (cut) for the brake and clutch master cylinders, fuse box, and relay box. Un fortunately those holes were close but not in the exact place they needed to be for a '97 car. As such, I spent a lot of time cutting out and fixing the right hand side and then repositioning all the holes on the left hand side. This includes the holes for the heater box intake, which incidentally are different between the years (3 holes on top goes to 4 holes on top).

Black lines show about where things need to be

I filled in with glass as necessary and then made a template (one of many) from the '97 car. This template was then used to establish the exact hole positions. Getting the template exactly placed in the right spot on the final car proved to be one of the most difficult parts of the project thus far because of all the curved surfaces.

Template in place

Holy Cow II

Then I had to cut, file, fill, etc.

Holes in the right place

I then worked a while on the heater vent holes. Here's the completed bulkhead.

Complete but looks nasty

I then turned my attention to getting all of the holes under the hood lower down the same between the bodies. This again took a lot of time and effort. I opted to use the windscreen washer bottle from the Sport 350 as it is bigger but of course it has different mounting holes. sigh. I then primed with primer surfacer (yellow).

Primer makes it all OK

I decided the next thing to do was to get the underside of the car completed. This  task involved filling all the holes, filling and sanding the area where the tunnel was grafted, filling the brake vent holes in the nose, fixing some small collision damage forward of the right front wheel, removing the rubberized body shutz (undercoating) from the wheel wells, and fixing the damage from the race rub in the right rear.

I hate holes

Under the body

Getting the shutz off was quite the test as I used a wire wheel in the sander and it sprayed what seemed like powered tar everywhere. It took a few days to come out of the eyes despite the eye protection

Race Rub Fixed (mostly)

The race rub shows really well what happens when a fiber glass car is damaged. It flexes and then when pushed too far it fractures. To repair the fracture, it is necessary to cut out all of the fractured material and to then bevel the edges on both sides and layer in new glass. Then you grind off the excess and fill with body filler and sand. After all of the other repairs where completed I sanded and primed the underside of the body.

Primed - had to move the kitty litter containers

After you prime you... paint!

Black is Beautiful

Lower engine compartment

If you paint the bottom then you can surely paint the interior since that's complete too.

Paint inside

What do you do if you engine catches on fire and flames lap out from underneath the car and burn one of your sills and you need to use that sill elsewhere?

Burned Sport 350 right sill


Sill is Glassed

The fine fiberglass net is perfect for this application. Next we move on to heat shields. The car needs heat shields in the passenger compartment sides of both bulkheads to distribute the heat rather than cause a hot spot. I found a product called reflect-a-cool (catchy huh?) but it was quite pricey so Clyde at LCU came through for me with a part number that was not in the books and it arrived via Ben at FVMC within a few days.

Shields up

I used a spray adhesive to attach the shields and they went in easily. The shield feels like really thick aluminum foil. It better be more than that for what I paid.

Shields in

I ran out of shield material so I still need to attach it on the underside of the body above the radiator. You can see the '97 car's dash leather sitting on the dash in the picture above. I've decided to go with black leather for this area.

There have been a number of other developments including a clean up of the outside garage area (wife and neighbors celebrated), a certain car rolling frame escaping from me and then rolling over me on the way to the woods (dislocated shoulder), I threw out the twins, I sold the left rear quarter of the '97 car (ka-ching!), I got the OZ Futura Modular wheels from the '97 car fixed (and man do they look nice) and I have the OZ Chrono Magnesios in the paint shop exchanging the burned brown paint for charcoal gray.

Click here to see the next chapter in the saga.