One and a half years has passed since I posted the last update on this project. As time went on without an update, I started receiving a number of emails from folks around the world who had followed the project and were wondering what happened.
Well, what happened is that while I made a bit of progress on the car in the late Spring and Summer of 2004, which I will outline below, the main reason behind the lack of additional progress was that I was in the midst of a divorce and the desire and time to work on the project were not there (not to mention the fact that I could drive the 2002 car for a speed fix anytime I liked). Within Lotus circles, the first thing that folks say when they find out that you went through a divorce is that they are sorry (which is what everyone says) and then this is quickly followed up with the question "Was it because of your Lotus work???". Divorce is a like a death. It is not to be wished on anyone ... even your enemies. It must be mourned over time before you can recover. Kathe and I sold our home in mid December 2004 and moved into separate homes and were divorced in late January 2005. It had nothing to do with the Lotus work. We did it the right way to minimally impact the children and we did not use any lawyers. We are still great friends and jointly raise the children.
"Guy! Did you have to sell your cars? What happened to your garage? Where did the cars go?"
DID YOU REALLY THINK THAT I WOULD LET THE CARS GO!???!!!?! I paid her off.
Actually, partially assembled and previously burned salvaged titled cars tend to not be valued very highly. They are worth more to you or me than the general market or what I could sell them for on E-Bay. As part of getting divorced, Kathe wanted a new Expedition so that she did not have to worry about car maintenance for a while. I needed something to tow the trailer with the cars on it so in the settlement I got the old Expedition, the BMW, the Triumph, and the two Esprits.
After having the house on the market for about a year, in one weekend we sold the house and Kathe found another one leaving me with no place to live and no place for the cars to live and me with the possession of only half of my previous means. By chance, a small home 2 houses up the street on the same side as my home was slated to go on the market the next Monday. It had two acres of land, it had a barn, it was close, I'd have the same neighbors..... so I bought it. The barn was a pole barn with a dirt floor and no road to it so everything had to be stuffed into a two car standalone garage.
Now I know how Johan feels.
Gee! that Esprit on the right looks blue doesn't it? So let's go back now and see what happened before the move.
Ok, We were up to the point where I had to prime and wet sand all the pieces that were not yet primed. I primed the back.
I primed the bumpers.
I primed and wet sanded everything left and then went over the body again as well. That's just boring tedious work so... no pictures.
Why are these primed parts in the hall? Because it is time to prepare the garage for painting.
I blew all the dust out of the garage and then took the hose to it to try and reduce the amount of dust I would stir up when spraying. I used conventional spray equipment - not HVLP.
The next step was to get the car back in the garage, raise it up a bit so that it was easier to paint down low on the body and to mask everything.
First I shot in the jambs including the sunroof jamb.
Then I painted the rest of the car.
Then I put 4-5 coats of clear-coat on the car and it looked like this:
And the next day I took it out in the sun and it looked like this:
Looks good right? Wrong. Right away I could see that the paint pattern of the metallic was uneven in the hood (go back and look closely at the un clear-coated hood picture) and that I had indeed got more crap in the paint than I had realized. Thank goodness for 4 coats of clear. I went on to paint the rest of the parts.
I planned to wet sand the car with all of the parts attached so I set upon the task of attaching the bumpers and valances etc. The foam insert for the front bumper, which holds the lights in, was damaged in the wreck but another guy (Phil) had a damaged insert that was damaged on the other side so....
The wiring on the right side of the bumper was damaged in the wreck. I thought I had the piece but I did not so I had to fabricate the wiring for that side of the bumper after which I immediately found the original part. Sigh. This was all taped into the bumper (yes taped just like at the factory). I even used black duct tape just like Lotus.
I then painted and attached the grates to the valance using the same construction adhesive (PL-1 from Home Depot) that I used on the body previously.
I then attached the bumper...
... the valance...
... and finally the lip spoiler.
This included getting the fogs in and all of the panels underneath attached, which took some diligence.
I started rubbing out the paint. I had to deal with some runs. Like this one.
Unfortunately around then I suffered a brain aneurism and mistakenly grabbed the 1000 grit paper instead of 1500 to rub out the car. This left the surface with a lot of scratches that are difficult to remove. I started wet sanding with 1500 and worked painstakingly to get things kosher but there is still a lot of rubbing and buffing left to do to get it right. I also need to repaint the hood.
The rear bumper that I worked so hard to repair revealed an unevenness in the repair after painting that was not observable in the primer before painting and I ended up rubbing through the paint there. I will have to repaint that and build up the clear a lot to get that right. The bad news is that I am out of paint.
The last bad thing is that the buffer head on the left buffer (above) broke off just after the picture was taken and I nicked the left rear fender with the buffer as a result when it happened. That needs to be fixed too.
So about this time.... work on the car came to a grinding halt and halted it has stayed.
The first picture on this page shows the Esprits stuffed into the new garage. The majority of my time has been spent making the house livable (new water pipes, roof, gas service, laundry room, etc . etc. etc) but instead of boring you with that, I will at least bore you with stuff that is leading to future Lotus work. I needed a shop and a road to it. What I had was a pole barn. A stinky old ex-animal inhabited pole barn. The first thing I did was get rid of all the crap and then I put in a concrete floor.
I then got a quote to put in the road to it and that was $18K, which included $6K for excavation and moving and placing of rock. So I did what any man in this situation would do.... I bought a tractor so I could move the dirt myself.
I then moved a *LOT* of dirt. I also learned how to smack my shop with my tractor many times. I also smacked the house. I even rolled in on its side when I ran over a big rock with a full bucket in the air at speed. I'm pretty good with the tractor now. I decided to take the front of the shop off and put in 3 garage doors including a used 10' square door in the middle that I bought with all hardware and the lift for $400 from an old ambulance shop. I had to get power to the shop and after many discussions on how I might do this I ran a separate service to it, which I had to trench and run conduit through from the pole 200 feet away to the shop. Lucky for me slave boy who suddenly has grown to 5'3" can still fit in such a trench to dig out the chuff.
Now the one thing that you must remember when trenching is to call the locate service before you trench so you do not cut into any buried utilities. And I did. But this does not keep you from cutting through the 8000 volt primary supply line to the transformer on your neighbor's lot if they spray the paint in the wrong place, which they did.
I just have to say that cutting that line made about the loudest noise I have ever heard. Then all the neighbors ran out to see if I had killed myself. Hah! Rubber tires - riding trencher.
By the way, the two 3' 90 degree fiberglass sweeps were transported from the electrical supply house (Home Depot does not carry such stuff) in my Esprit and no they did not fit. They stuck out the window and looked VERY strange in transit.
Now, if I am spending all this money on a shop then I think that it's too far from the house to have to walk when you need to "use the facility" so...
I got a sewage ejector off of Ebay and then found and intercepted the line to the septic system.
Now I happen to have an extra heat pump and air handler and electric hot water heater from all the work on the house that I am not telling you about here so... to keep things cool in the shop in the summer and warm in the shop in the winter...
I had a company come out and spray insulate every inch of wall and ceiling space in the shop for about $3K. And of course I needed large retaining wall blocks to retain the banks left from all that dirt I moved.
Just about then.... I had to go to Japan and Taiwan, and then I had a house guest from New Zealand for 3 weeks, and then I had to go to Russia, Japan, and Taiwan.
And in the mean time... The rainy season started and the back yard is now a swamp of mud. I quickly added trim and weatherproofed the shop. I also mounted ceiling lights (with help of slave boy Colin) as well as an outside light. This allowed me to gain approval on the final electrical inspection.
I tore down the rickety loft and am building storage over the two side garage doors. The bottom of the storage support will be used to mount the door openers. As soon as it is lockable, I will move the stuff from the other garage into the shop. Since it is winter, I will spend a lot of time working on the inside of the house. I will return to the shop and potentially work on the '97 car next year. But... there is still a lot of landscaping and work to do in the yard. I also ran phone, cable, and internet lines out there. The shop needs those.