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So I did a lot of research into what was needed to get one road legal in the UK.
This is still a long term goal for me, but I wanted to learn / practise some new skills first.
Either way, I wasn't planning to do anything until I moved to a new house with a garage.
( My old garage was lost during a re-modelling of our current house to make it more family friendly. )
However, in a moment of madness I ended up starting a kit car project anyway.
I've just returned from a 2 week vacation in Orlando, Florida.
Where forum member dagall was kind enough to let me see his '33 under construction.
I showed him some photos of my project and promised to set up a build thread on here.
So this the story so far and I hope some of you will find it interesting...
It all started when I saw this Sammio Spyder on the cover of a kit car magazine.
This was a "cheap & cheerful" kit, based on an old Triumph Herald, that I really liked the look of.
There was also a forum with people documenting their builds and it really looked possible for me to do.
Then the company adapted the design to fit a Triumph Spitfire & called this new model a Cordite.
Their intention was to use the knowledge gained from making 100+ Spyder kits to improve this new kit.
This was their "artist's impression and again I thought this looked even better.
Then, whilst just doing research, I came across an unfinished Spitfire 1500 on Ebay.
The engine & rolling chassis had already been restored, but it had not been completed.
Before I knew it, I had bought my donor car!
Note: The paint only looks good from a distance and was a real mess in some places.
The seller even arranged delivery for me on the back of his friend's transporter...
And then it was tucked away on my drive, which, along with my back garden, would act as my garage / workshop.
It was shortly after this photo was taken that the wettest UK "summer" in 100 years began.
With a limit on the number of photos per post, I have prepared this update in smaller chunks.
Last edited by Paul L; 12-22-2018 at 06:04 AM. Reason: Fixing broken photo links
You then sell off all the parts you don't need to reduce your total costs.
This was the reason that I ended up buying this car in the first place.
It came with lots of brand new parts, some I'd use and some I'd sell on.
For example, this was the boot (trunk) before I emptied it...
And this was after...
Then I simply worked my way through the car removing lots of parts.
I'd never sold anything on Ebay before either, so that was a learning curve too.
My youngest daughter was keen to help, so joined in the cleaning parts for ebay photos...
If I'd know what I was doing on Ebay, I could probably have got better prices for some stuff.
But the main objective was to get all the car parts out of the house ASAP.
As for a short while, our dining room looked like an Auto Jumble!
Here are just some of the "as new" parts that came with the car that I sold...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:40 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
These were "cash on collection" items which reduced the risk to buyers.
( As I had absolutely zero feedback when I started. )
Some parts sold for much higher prices than I expected:
Some were about right:
But I lost out big time on the hood, as I didn't set a reserve price.
Still I hoped for some positive karma to come from how happy the buyer was!
With lots of car parts now gone, the Spitfire was looking like this.
At this point it was taken to my local garage (shop) for a safety test.
To drive on the road, all UK cars must have an annual MOT.
The MOT checks brakes, steering, lights, etc. to ensure the car is road worthy.
Obviously the car was not road worthy, but they tested everything they could.
So I knew that the rolling chassis didn't need any further work on it.
They also set up the engine so it would pass the MOT's emissions test.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:43 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
( OK, so that was only a few feet forwards & backwards, but at least it all worked. )
But now it was time to complete the final stripping of the donor car down to a rolling chassis.
Whilst I had stripped motorcycles down in the past, I've never done a whole car before.
So I took a lot of photos, made a lot of notes and labelled as many things as I could.
I disconnected all the wiring from the back & middle of the car & pulled it to the front.
Eventually I was able to remove the whole loom completely, quite a scary sight.
There are a large number of Spitfire parts that will be re-used in the kit.
( Pedals, dash board dials, gauges, switches, steering column, hand brake, etc.)
So I made sure I took my time removing these to avoid any damage.
Then slowly, but surely, the donor car was reduced to it's bare bones.
I removed the rear twin tail pipes, part of a new stainless steel exhaust system.
The Spitfire petrol tanks is also re-used and was straight forward to remove.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:44 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
... my unfinished project came with a brand new steering wheel that looks the part.
Removing this black underlay / sound proofing stuff stuck to the floor was a messy job.
But I wanted to be able to show the condition of the body shell to potential buyers.
It was worth spending the time doing this cleaning as I got a good price for the body shell.
But without any lifting gear, it was a case of all hands on deck for a manual lift & manoeuvre.
There was the buyer, his dad & two friends + me & the recovery truck driver, which made 6 in total.
Thankfully we didn't have to carry it far and in the end it only took a few minutes to get it loaded.
Sorry the photos aren't great due to the fact it was collected just as the sun was going down.
At last, the backbone of my Cordite build is revealed, again apologies for the lack of a decent photo.
But on first impressions, it all looks pretty good to me, although clearly it needs a major clean!
I was expecting that, given the fact it had been languishing in a barn for years before I got it.
I gave the Rolling Chassis a quick "wash & brush up" to get the bulk of the dust & dirt off.
Funny how cleaning & daylight gives a much better impression of what remains of my donor.
That brings the story of the initial preparation of the donor car up to date.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
So I am not following the true time line just to avoid switching back & forth.
The reality is that while the donor car was being inspected the Cordite kit arrived.
Which makes this a good time to provide some background on the kit company.
By the time my kit was delivered, the company had just changed hands.
So I had paid my deposit to one person and the balance to another.
It all seemed in order as the new owner drove a Spyder & had ordered a Cordite kit.
But the reality was there were serious problems behind the scenes.
This only became clear to me when the kit was delivered.
Some parts were missing, others were used/second hand, or damaged.
It took months to resolve the issues which really delayed my build.
It got worse when I finally had the chance to fit the kit on the rolling chassis.
Rather than an evolution of the previous model, this was a "rushed job".
However, it took a while for the new Cordite kit owners to discover the problems.
( I was kit number 7, so there were no completed cars on the road at this point. )
So the new owner stopped selling the Cordite kit and went back to the drawing board.
The new version is called the Ribble Navigator and it has been completely overhauled.
There are new/better moulds for the body work and a new/better internal frame work.
The new kit promises to be exactly what the old kit should have been.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I should never have taken on this project.
But as the kit problems were a good excuse for me to learn to weld, I stuck with it.
I figured I would support the new owner as he acted in good faith.
There was also no point in chasing the previous owner as he had already lost his company.
Anyway, back to the kit that I had to deal with.
The internal frame work comes in two parts that bolt together.
The complete frame attaches using the original Spitfire body mounting points.
There was an extra cross bracing bar added to the frame for delivery.
So this was the first of many notes that I wrote to myself.
And just before I test fitted the framework, that is exactly what I did.
The fibreglass body work also comes in two main parts.
A one piece "flip up" hood which works in a similar way to the original Spitfire one.
Plus the main body shell which comes with a single "hump" and door openings.
It was the doors, screens, front foot wells & dash that were a disappointment.
The "beer crate" front grill and lowered floor pans were MIA at this point.
( I'll cover these in more detail later on. )
If nothing else, the kit gave my daughters somewhere to play.
Still, they were both keen to help with the car, so were roped into helping me paint the frames.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:46 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
There was a "Setting Started" photo guide on the company website for the Spyder builds.
But nothing for the Cordite (as it was new) and the chaos behind the scenes didn't help.
For a while I thought I was doing something wrong when I tried to line things up.
Then it became clear that the problems were with the framework itself, as it didn't fit.
So instead of a "cheap & cheerful" kit, I had a "cheap & nasty" lemon.
But I was determined to overcome all the issues and carry on as best I could.
Here are the two parts of the framework zip tied together so I could roughly check alignment.
This gives you the general idea of the support structure for the fibreglass bodywork.
I quickly threw the body shell over the top of the frame to get an idea of fit.
( It will sit lower when the frame is fitted properly & I've made a few adjustments. )
Flip Up Hood Hinges:
One of my optional "extras" was to have hinge brackets fabricated and bonded in place.
However there was a slight problem with this that I had not expected.
The original front mounting brackets on the Spitfire chassis were too wide.
This meant the hood could not be mounted to the original hinging points.
Not easy to see in the following photos, but I'm sure you get the general idea.
Eventually I discovered that the original Spitfire brackets need to be removed completely.
Then new new brackets for the hood hinges need to be welded on in their place.
This photo shows another builder's chassis after step one, but before step two.
But for now, I needed to use some 'tie down' straps to hold it in place.
At least it gave me the general idea of what the car would look like in the end.
It also meant there was a car "shape" under the cover.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:47 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I started at the back of the rear frame and managed to get that mounted properly.
I just had to enlarge the hole in the kit car frame to match the Spitfire chassis bolts.
Extra bolts are used through the frame & chassis when everything else it fixed in place.
I then worked my way forward to join the top halves of the frame together.
They are joined top and bottom on both sides (I will use nyloc nuts for final assembly).
At this point it was clear that the front frame was coming up short on the final mounting point.
After some gentle persuasion, the passenger side was in...
But the driver's side wouldn't line up despite the application of brute force & ignorance.
In the end, I had to admit defeat and drill another hole in the frame and bolt it in as best I could.
By now I knew I would need to make changes to the frame to get a better fit.
But I decided to carry on for now to see if there were any other problems to deal with.
The first of these came on the pedal mounting plate on the bulk head framework.
( Note: I left the runs in the paint as I'd rather let my children help than have a perfect finish. )
There was one hole missing and two of the existing holes didn't quite line up properly.
But that was a simple fix, just drill a new hole and enlarging the other ones.
The bigger problem was where the front pedal mounting points "stuck out".
It is slightly easier to see, after I reconnected the clutch pedal master cylinder.
The fibre glass body work did not clear the front mounting points of the pedals.
At this point I figured I would need to modify the bodywork to accommodate these.
This was the original Spitfire bulkhead ( Excuse the poor quality of the photo. )
And this was a rough sketch (not to scale) of my plans to fix the problem.
As it turns out, this was one of many blind alleys that I went down with this build.
But more on those later.
All the pedals were then removed again, so I could switch back to test fitting the body.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:48 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
With the internal frame work fixed in position (give or take a bit) I put the body on top.
The fibreglass bulk head was hitting the front mounting plates of the frame on both sides.
But after a small bit of trimming, body shell dropped nicely into place.
The passenger side now fits very well as you can see by the door cut out in the frame.
However, the driver's side refuses to play ball and remains out by just a few mm.
The body work around the door cut off is not as low as on the passenger side.
One of the reasons for this was an optional seat belt mounting point fouling the body.
Clearly I'd need a different bracket, so out came the angle grinder to leave me with this.
Instantly, I had a much better fit all round, the driver's door cut out area was much better.
One thing to note is that the door openings (& doors) are actually different sizes!
The gap in the driver's side frame is 13 cm, but it is 17 cm on the passenger side.
So rather than an evolution in kit design, this model was basically thrown together.
The doors themselves are such a mess that I may end up sealing them closed.
Note: This is another area new company owner's have gone back to the drawing board on.
So their new Ribble Navigator will have none of the problems that I currently face.
But to end this post on a more upbeat note...
This is what the twin tail pipes will look like sticking out of the back of the car.
( Upbeat provided I forget that there is no where on the frame work to mount these! )
Also the side of the bodywork now just covered the part lowest frame rail.
So lots still to do, but slow progress was being made.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:49 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
One of the things I wasn't sure how to do was mount the hand brake.
Many builders had simply made there own brackets welded to the frame.
Then some bright spark came up with the idea of using the original Spitfire section.
This is a second hand panel I got from a junkyard.
Note: I wasn't going to cut this out of my own body shell for two reasons:
- It was worth much more "whole".
- Given the work the previous owner had done restoring it, it seemed to be bad karma too.
With the front foot wells, gearbox cover & this panel in place, you get some idea of the interior.
( I was still waiting for the main floor pans to arrive at this stage. )
All the fibreglass panels are bonded and fibreglassed to the framework and each other.
This builds up to strengthen what will effectively be a removable body shell with floor.
The kit reuses the original Spitfire gas tank, I just needed to drill 6 holes in the frame.
I used normal nuts on the bolts for now, but will use nyloc ones after it has been painted.
I had to put extra washers on the driver's side to give me the clearance I need between tank & frame.
Excuse the poor photo, but you can just about see a thin strip of foam in the gap.
By now I had become aware of another issue with the bulk head frame work based on other builds.
My frame looked the same as this car under construction:
Whereas, later kits had a kink in the frame work to accommodate the steering column:
( Another poor photo, but the kink is just visible on the left edge of the photo. )
So straight "out of the box" you couldn't put the Spitfire steering column back in!
( As the the framework is fouling the steering column is first photo. )
Note: The second photo was of the new company owner's own kit.
So by now he was realising just how many problems builders were facing.
By now I had also been given my first MIG welding lesson by my best friend.
( Who was also kind enough to lead me his MIG welder for the foreseeable future. )
So this problem became an excuse to build an alternative section of framework.
This was my basic plan:
After after some welding practise, I was able to cut some box section and weld this...
Clearly there is more than enough room for the steering column to pass through.
At this point I didn't modify the frame work as other options started to appear.
Rear Body Work:
Without doubt, my biggest headache was the area underneath the bodywork, behind the rear cockpit wall.
I have spent a lot of time trying to come up with a solution that will resolve these issues:
- Somewhere to mount my twin exhaust silencers.
- Provide some sort of inner rear wheel arches.
- Protection of, and access to, the rear lighting mounting points and wiring.
Thankfully another builder came up with the brain wave of using a rear section of the original Spitfire...
My quest to find something suitable in a junkyard took a long time.
In the end it actually lead me down a slightly different path, which I'll cover later on.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:50 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
The inner headlight shells were also a mess, but I needed to modify them before painting.
One thing I did like about this kit, was the option to mix old and new parts together.
I bought new headlights with a side/parking light built in, unlike the Spitfire's separate side lights.
I also bought second hand Spitfire MkIII headlight cowls in place of my donor's 1500's fittings.
Then it was simply a case of making a hole in the inner shells for the side light bulb.
Then after a quick coat of paint they were looking a lot better.
I also needed to modify the wiring into the headlight shell to connect the side light.
One problem was the outer shell grommet was already a bit of a tight squeeze with 3 wires.
I warmed the grommet in hot water to allow me to pull the existing wires out (they were jammed in).
Then ran a drill bit through to enlarge the existing hole.
I just need to run one extra wire through, as earth can be linked to the main light within the shell.
So with the new wiring arrangements in place, I just wrapped everything up to finish the job off.
I rubbed down the headlight cowls with steel wool & sand paper, before a couple of coats of primer.
Then after light sand, they had a couple of coats of 'Gadget Blue' paint.
With all the pieces now finally ready, I was able to put them all together.
This was one of those jobs that could be squeezed in while waiting for other things.
It was also nice to rebuild something after a long time spend dismantling the donor.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:51 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I started by simply blowing up the original wiring diagram to A3 size.
I then highlighted the things I was replacing with new, or removing all together in the Cordite.
E.g. New tail lights & indicators, but no reversing lights, courtesy lights, wind screen wipers, etc.
This left me with a better idea of what wiring I actually needed and now it inter-connects.
I laid the loom out in the dining room and started to cross check it back to the diagram.
Then it was simply a case of carefully cutting and unwrapping the tape around the wires.
Then working my way slowly around the loom removing everything I didn't need.
Based on this photo, it doesn't look like I have much to show for many hours work...
So maybe this is a better way of highlighting what I managed to remove...
Rear Lighting Layout:
This is a rough guide to how things should line up at the back of the car.
I will get a better horizontal alignment & even spacing between lights before drilling the body.
I'd originally bought some side repeaters to use, as there are no size limits in the UK.
I'd also seen them used on another build and they looked good in the photos of that car.
However, in real life there were just too small for me to be happy with.
So I got some Classic Mini front indicators & as Goldilocks would say, they were "just right".
Rear = 70mm diameter, front = 54mm & side repeaters = 25mm (which I'll use on the side of car now).
Front Indicator Earth Wire:
When used in a Mini, the front indicators are earthed by mounting them to the metal bodywork.
I will be mounting them to fibreglass, so I needed to add a new earth lead to them.
This was a very simple & straightforward job (who said there were none of these?).
I just had to cut a small "V" in the bulb holder to allow the wire a new route in which wouldn't foul when fitted.
I then crimped small 'O Ring' connectors to one end & bolted it to the outer bulb ring as the earth connection.
Then I had to cut a hole in the rubber seal to thread the new earth wire though.
Cordite Specific Wiring Diagrams:
My new lighting arrangements (front & rear) will result in new wires being joined to the existing wiring loom.
So I always intended to produce an update to my wiring diagram to show which wire was connected to what.
After my first attempt at showing the lighting changes, I've decided to produce a number of wiring diagrams.
One for just the lighting, one for running the engine & one for everything else left over after the first two.
Initially, I wanted to show the wiring as it would be laid out in the car (bonnet, bulk head, dash board, etc.).
However, that proved to be a lot harder to do in practise, so I stuck with a similar style to a Haynes Manual.
And this is what my first draft of the new lighting wiring diagram looks like…
I used PowerPoint at work & have just been chipping away at it, a bit at a time, during my lunch hours.
You may notice I am slightly better at using computers than I am at building cars!
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:51 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I knew the engine ran fine before I removed the Spitfire body shell.
But I still wanted to re-connect everything just to confirm I hadn't messed anything up.
I used a temporary hose pipe connection between the gas tank & hard fuel line to get me going.
I will re-route and shorten the hard line when I have finalised the frame work & body fitting.
Here is my second wiring diagram built using PowerPoint covering the wires needed to start the engine…
I thought it would be a good idea to protect the rest of the loom before taking it outside.
This "protection" was nothing more than some cling film & tape, but it did tidy things up a bit.
I just used the section of the steering column with the ignition switch attached so I could use the key.
Then it was simply a case of connecting the wires I thought I needed before connecting the battery.
( Which I had already given a bit of a charge, just in case.)
The good news was that when I turned the key to the first position the ignition light came on.
The bad news was that when I turned the key to start the engine I got a bit, fat, nothing.
There wasn't even the sound of the starter motor trying to burst into life.
Try as I might, I just couldn't trace the problem & eventually I needed a torch as the light faded.
So unfortunately I had to call it a night and decided to unplug the loom & bring it back inside the house.
As to be honest it was so cold staying out any longer was not really an option.
My drive faces North and the house keeps it in shade when the winter sun in low in the sky.
The ice from the top of the car cover was still solid at 2.50pm when I started the wiring.
I was sure the problem was "earth" related and I hoped it is something simple.
Engine Re-Start - Attempt #2:
Going back over the wiring, I spotted the simple schoolboy error I made during my first starting attempt.
I thought the "earth" lead bolted to the engine was providing the earthing point for the loom.
Where as, it actually needs to be connected to earth itself & this was previously where it joined the body.
So making sure the loom was fully connected to the engine was a complete waste of time.
I knew I needed new earth points on the frame for my lights, etc. but missed this completely, oops.
I then created a new earth point with a jump lead from the wiring loom at one end to the chassis at the other.
( Excuse the poor photos as it was starting to get dark again. )
Turned the key the first turn, nothing happened at all and my heart sank.
Then I quickly spotted that I had forgotten to connect the loom plug back to the ignition switch!
So take 2 of the first turn of the key and this time the ignition light came on as before, so far, so good...
But unlike last time, there were definite signs of life coming from the engine at the next turn of the key.
I hadn't re-fitted the throttle or choke cables, so needed to operated their levers on the carb. by hand.
( Sorry couldn't operate choke & throttle and take the photo! )
It took a few attempts to get the petrol in, but eventually...
[Dr Frankenstein] "IT IS ALIVE! . . . . ALIVE!" [/Dr Frankenstein]
You have no idea how happy I was to hear the engine running again.
I left it running for a while before switching it off, but thankfully it kept starting each time I tried it again.
So whilst it may not look like much, this is a functioning wiring arrangement.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:52 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I used a cardboard template to mark out the size of the headlight gasket.
The headlight shell then sits inside of this gasket when mounted to the bonnet.
Then I set about cutting the holes in the hood, here is the "Before" photo.
A headlight outer rim helped me establish a "best fit" position to tape my cardboard template on.
I then marked the two headlight adjustment holes (9 & 12 O'Clock), plus the main shell hole.
I'd left small sections of masking tape under the template so I could drill straight through.
I drilled a couple of holes inside the main shell area to provide access for a hacksaw blade.
However, it was proving difficult to change the direction of the blade to cut a circle.
So whilst I initially thought it would be tricky to use my jigsaw, I had no choice.
In the end I don't know what I was worried about as it was very straight forward.
I just needed to run a rasp file around the hole edges and it was job done.
And here is one of the headlights I had restored earlier...
There is enough space in the hole to move the headlight up a bit to match the body.
This was just pushed into place to give a rough idea of what it would look like.
Then it was a case of repeating the process on the other side to give this...
Then I followed a similar process to cut out the hole for the front grille.
I just need to smooth off the inside edges which are a bit "rough and ready" in places.
Amazing how cutting a few hole makes a big difference in how the front looks.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:53 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
The hood doesn't actually come with anywhere to mount front indicators.
( As the original designer thought they spoilt the look of the car! )
But as I would be driving in London, there was no way I was just relying on hand signals.
So I needed something with a vertical surface at the front for the indicator to sit on.
But it needed to be contoured at the back to sit within the curves of the hood's shape.
( I actually need both a 'left' & a 'right' mould to match the shapes on either side. )
I started by cutting off a slightly over sized cube from a section of insulation foam I had lying around...
I used a wood working drill bit to cut a hole for the back of the indicator to go through...
With the indicator's rubber seal pushed in place I could use a marker pen around the outside.
Which gives me the size of the vertical surface to starting working "back" from…
At this point I sliced the block horizontally to give me the two "sides" I would need.
So this left me with two sections that both looked like this to play with...
Then I slowly, but surely, whittled the foam down into something that looked like this...
This was my first attempt at shaping the back of the foam to "blend in".
This involved removing a bit at a time, offering it up & repeating until I had a half decent fit.
I taped things in place for now, as I can't fit the rubber seal until I've drilled a hole in the fibreglass.
But this wasn't quite right, as although it looked OK from the front, it was not vertical.
After another failed attempt to shape a foam block to fit I gave up on this approach.
Instead I found some plasticine that was much easier to work with & moulded that into position.
The black plasticine represents the outside diameter of the seal & therefore the size of the mount's face.
And this is the shape of the mount required, about an inch at the deepest point at the bottom.
After all this work I was given the tip that a Pringles tube would be another alternative.
I need to use the tube as a mould for a fibre glass mounting point.
Then to cut a hole in the bodywork before trimming the fibreglass tube to fit.
Then fibreglass it all into place and give it a light coat of filler for a smooth surface.
Well that is the plan, we shall see how it turns out when I get the chance to do it.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:54 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
It took 4 months for these floors to finally be delivered & their quality was poor.
Many of these delays were outside of the new company owner's control.
In the end, I was given a free upgrade to his new steel floor options.
( Not available when I ordered my kit and I'll cover these in "Take 2". )
The first thing I did with these floors was make sure my seats would fit...
Then it was time to cut up the box they came to make a fitting template.
Which gave me a cutting guide for the passenger floor pan that looked like this.
With the corresponding bits of fibreglass removed, the floor was finally in.
( I did have to cut a few "steps" in the floor to allow it to slot into position. )
This was a rough test fit of the seat (poor photo as it was now dark outside).
The top of the seat sits nicely with the edges of the bodywork.
The floors were put on hold at this point as I knew replacements were coming...
Lowered Floor Pans - Take 2
The good news is that the steel floors were going to be miles better to use.
The bad news is that they finally arrived 9 months after the initial kit delivery.
With so many parts of the build linked to the floors this was a major PITA.
However, I will cover the test fitting of these steel floors in another update.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:55 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I think that is more than enough for this series of updates.
( And fair play if you have made it this far! )
There is still quite a bit of progress to report, but I'll leave that for another day.
That is assuming that anyone on here is interested in this project at all.
As I know it is a long way off the high standards of the FFR builds on here.
So I'll end on a more light hearted note...
A Car For All Seasons:
Just to prove what a dumb idea it was to build a car outside, here are some weather photos...
( The green cover protects the internal frame work that I'd been welding brackets to in my back garden. )
Bailing Out Required:
And last, but not least...
We took a family trip to Warwick Castle, where I found a kit car reference from the Middle Ages.
A special place reserved for those who think it is a good idea to build a car without Ye Olde Garage...
Talking of the seasons, here was my "October" submission for a possible Sammio calendar.
What I am aiming for:
Eventually the new kit car company owner sold his Cordite kit as an unfinished project.
Which at least gives you some idea of what a finished Cordite could look like.
Because he sealed his doors shut, he couldn't use the kit's 3 piece wind deflectors.
( The fact the company owner couldn't make the doors work is not a good sign for me. )
He also abandoned the flip up hoot and added an access panel instead.
There are also a few modifications that can be made to lower the stance a bit.
The redesigned Ribble Navigator was already under development at this point.
So they needed a new "demonstrator" that represented what they were actually selling.
The new moulds are designed to make left & right hand drive bodies easier to produce.
The doors are now an option, making the body similar to the original Spyder kits.
( These cars sit very low to the ground so getting in over the sides is no problem. )
To illustrate this, here is a Spyder in the local supermarket car park...
( We are still waiting for the first Cordite to be on the road. )
Until next time, take care, Paul.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
But at least there have been no "Get out of town" messages, which I'll take as a good thing.
I promised to bring this build tread up to date, so I hope you don't mind my next batch of updates.
As before, I have grouped the details for separate activities together.
So these updates do not follow a strict time line, as many things were being done at the time.
Or rather I was chipping away at various different jobs whenever time / weather allowed me.
I just hope this approach makes for a more coherent documentation of my build.
Personally, I have enjoyed collating this "highlights reel", as I shows what I have achieved.
The realities of life/work/weather have restricted the amount of time available to "play" with the car.
But I can look back now and see that I have done a lot in the days/weeks I have spent on this project.
Unfortunately, the elapsed time on the build has now stretched to just over 1 year & 5 months.
Here is a guide to some of the key dates in my build so far:
22 Apr. - Donor Spitfire 1500 arrived.
23 Jun. - Initial Cordite kit delivery.
21 Jul. - Last "drive" in Spitfire.
16 Sep. - Donor stripped to Rolling Chassis .
9 Nov. - Fibreglass floorpans arrived.
19 Mar. - Second hand body shell arrived.
26 Mar. - Replacement steel floors & last remaining Cordite kit parts arrived.
24 Sep. - Rear suspension lowering block fitted.
As it will become clear in the following posts, the steel floors were a key part of the build jigsaw.
The delay in their arrival had a knock on / negative effect on so many other parts of the build.
So whilst this project is taking a lot longer than I thought, some things were beyond my control.
I've also tried to turn the problems with the kit into a positive learning experience.
I had never done any welding before and it was something I always wanted to do.
( Usually, my friend you leant me his welder did any welding jobs I needed for me. )
The first revised versions of this kit (Ribble Navigator) are just starting to be built.
The quality of all components has been greatly improved and it does look good.
There should also be a significant reduction in build time as it all fits together.
The final post in this batch of updates will bring you up to date as of last weekend.
As I type this, it is raining outside and I know winter is approaching fast.
Based on my experiences from last winter this will slow down my progress.
But I will keep chipping away at it and see how I get on.
So until my next update, take care, Paul.
Apologies in advance if I slip into using English rather than American spellings/words.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:56 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
The Cordite was supposed to be supplied with a "sunken" battery box in the bulkhead.
But along with all the other problems, this was another thing that was supplied/fitted.
I needed to make my own & I hoped plywood sealed with resin/fibreglass would work.
So I used Power Point as my poor man's CAD system to draw up the basic idea for the box.
The other thing I need to consider was a simple "drain pipe" to avoid water collecting in the box.
This also needed some ridges in the base of the box for the battery to sit on, allowing water to drain freely.
Something like this...
I worked out the the sizes of ply I needed based on my battery and the bulk head space available.
I also allowed enough space to replace my battery with a new one if required (no idea how old this one is).
Then is was simply a case of marking up a section of plywood, before cutting out with my jigsaw.
I drilled pilot holes along the edges of my plywood sections & used used panel pins to form the box.
Note: This was a dumb idea, as the pins split the ply layers in places.
Although I am not too worried, as the final strength will come from adding resin & fibre glass.
Rain stops play...
One of the biggest problems I face is rain arriving when I'm already working outside.
Then it is a mad rush to get all my tools and parts inside before I can put the cover back on the car.
We only have a small porch outside the front door & this is what it looked like while working on the battery box.
But with the basic box complete, I could make the "hole" in the bulk head to drop it into.
I offered my box up underneath the bulk head as there are frame & fibre glass areas to avoid.
This allowed me to draw guide lines below the bulk head.
I then drilled some pilot holes though so that I could see the area to cut out from above.
After my first round of cutting it was clear that one corner was going to be a problem.
( Note: The box was proving quite a useful place to store things! )
In the end, I had to take quite a chunk out to let the box fit neatly, which will be repaired another day.
I also just tacked on a couple of corner brackets to hold the box in place for now.
The plan was to fill all the gaps and hole when the whole thing was fibre glassed into place.
Here is the corresponding view from below & you can see the limiting factors in that corner clearly.
My plan was to use a pair of heavy duty "D" handles and a velcro strap to hold the battery in place.
These handles would be trimmed at the sides and the strap would be where the white tape is.
Clearly some work still to do before the job is complete, but another step in the right direction.
And I am really pleased with my "Before" & "After" photos.
It was a long time after this work was completed that my build took a different turn.
At the moment it doesn't look like I will be using this battery box at all.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:57 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I had been looking for a section of rear Spitfire body work for a long time, but with no joy.
Another kit builder had used it to great effect is his car.
I did find one possibility in a junk yard, but it was too rusty for the price being charged.
About this time, the new owners of the kit car company were trying a new approach.
Rather than use the kit frame (with all its problems) they simply cut down a Spitfire's body shell.
And then they put the fibre glass body over the top of that.
Obviously it was never going to be a perfect fit, as the kit was not designed that way.
However, it looked like a possible answer to a number of problems that I was facing.
Then completely by chance I saw an advert for a complete Spitfire body shell on Ebay.
The fact this was the only photo may have put other people off, as I was the only bidder.
(Note: It was just the shell, all the other parts seen in the photo were being removed.)
However, in fairness to the seller, he did email me a lot of extra photos showing the condition of the shell.
But the real clincher came when he offered to deliver for a small additional charge, so deal done.
Even including delivery, this cost less than I had been quoted by Junk Yards for just a cut out rear section.
On the one hand, it was daft to sell a body shell in great condition, only to buy another one not as good.
But I think this brings better Karma, as my good body shell is being used to bring another Spitfire back to life.
Whereas this shell would take a lot of work to be of any use on a Spitfire, but not as much work for a Cordite.
Late one evening after work, it was delivered stuffed inside the back of a big van!
Unfortunately, the tarpaulin I'd ordered as an emergency cover for it hadn't arrived, so had to use dust sheets.
So this was the very sorry looking sight my neighbours were greeted with the next day.
Thankfully the cover arrived later that day, so I could wrap it up properly when I got home from work.
The timing couldn't have been better, as this was the scene the next morning.
I will go through my options for using this shell in the next update...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:58 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
The arrival of this rust bucket of a body shell did actually give me some choices...
I could simply cut out the rear wheel arches and floors to use under the kit's framework.
The bottom line was this was the main reason for buying the shell and it would do this job.
However, with a whole shell to play with, I had nothing to lose looking at other options.
"Chopped Spitfire" Build:
Whilst someone was now attempting to build a car this way, they hadn't finished it.
So it may throw up as many problems as I thought it might solve.
Even though I knew it would take time to test this option, I was going to give it a go.
It occurred to me that another option would be to cut the Spitfire shell completely.
Then I would follow the traditional rear wheel arches with rear Cordite frame at the back.
But instead of using the Cordite front framework, use the Spitfire bulk head instead.
Obviously I wasn't going to try this approach until after I tried the option above.
Whatever build route I finally decided to take, there was still a lot of work required.
So with no time like the present, I unwrapped the body shell and started.
My angle grinder quickly became my new best friend as I got to work on the body shell.
There were things I knew I didn't need to be cut off, plus lots of rust that needed repairing.
Rather than my usual step by step photo diary, I will just give you the general idea of what went on.
First thing to go was the complete windscreen, which at least gave my neighbours a slightly better view.
Then slowly but surely I was building up a pile of discarded bits of car.
Unfortunately, when I started prodding with the "screwdriver of truth", it got worse.
The parts that remained were cleaned up, treated for rust and then painted as I went along.
For example, this was one of the inner wheel arches.
Eventually I had chopped enough off the Spitfire shell for me to test fit the fibreglass body.
But first I had to make the decision to remove the fibre glass "firewall" area.
Which ever build option I was going to end up with, the original design did not work.
So I made a basic cardboard template.
Which I used to mark up the Cordite bulkhead before attacking it with my jig saw.
Then I cut the slots required for the pedal mounting sections & the battery box.
Whilst this might have looked a good fit from the front, this is what the back end looked like.
After yet another round of cutting, it ended up looking like this.
There were still a few things fouling, but I'd fix them another day.
At least the fit was in the right ball park for me to testing it on my rolling chassis...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 04:59 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
It was time to bite the bullet & remove the frame to see if this Spitfire shell would work.
I wasn't really looking forward to this, as on the one hand it was a big step backwards.
But on the other hand, it was an opportunity to see if I could make my build easier in the long run.
So I removed the gas tank.
The rear framework.
The electrics required to start the engine.
The front framework.
By this stage, my "workshop" was in total chaos.
Then I had to rope my wife in to move the shell as I can't really lift it by myself.
After a bit of huffing & puffing, the shell was finally resting in place.
Then it was time to throw the Cordite body shell on and see where I was.
It looked like I would need to cut some more metal off the rear arches.
( I find it is usually easier to cut more off, than add a bit back! )
But before I could start getting the angle grinder out I needed a major tidy up.
Because for a dreadful moment, it clouded over & looked like it might rain.
I've learnt the hard way not to push my luck weather wise, so called it a day.
I just needed to move all the framework & other stuff into a neat pile.
Which looked a lot neater covered up.
Eventually everything was packed away and order was resorted to my drive once more.
( At this point the whole project looks much more like a car when covered! )
But obviously I had to uncover everything again for the next stage...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:00 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
After taking the fibre glass body off again, out came the angle grinder.
Some more trimming later and the rear section of the shell looked like this.
The pair of upright brackets on both wheel arches were given another trim after this photo was taken.
The good news is that there is nothing to stop the rear section getting nice & low now.
The bad news is that, as expected, the Spitfire bulkhead is too high by comparison.
The bottom line of the Cordite body work is now pointing upwards from back to front.
Sorry there isn't enough space on my drive to allow me to take a decent "side on" photo.
Although it is easier to see when you look at the bottom of the door cut out.
This should be running parallel to the body shell.
If I raise the back to make this level, the car would look like a 4x4 at the back!
At this point I must confess to feeling really fed up with the whole project.
I was convinced I was missing "something", but couldn't quite put my finger on it...
Bulkhead Problems Breakthrough:
Then one day when it was pouring rain outside, I was really scratching my head over this.
"Why is the Spitfire bulk head so high compared to the rest of the Cordite body work?"
After going back through old Spyder build threads I finally worked out what was going on.
These Triumph Herald based kits retain a cut down bulkhead as part of the build.
The reason the bulk head "chop" works for these Spyders is the gap above the master cylinders.
There is plenty of excess metal available on the Herald, that is simply not there on the Spitfire.
In the photo below, you will see the Spitfire bulkhead barely clears the top of the master cylinders.
Note: This is still one of my favourite photos from the build.
In those happy days, a long time ago, before I'd actually tried to fit the kit!
When the original Cordite prototype was being developed there was no Spitfire body, just a rolling chassis.
So a "spare" Herald bulkhead was used as the basis of the bulk head within the Cordite body shell.
It is not easy for me to describe in words, so I hope the following makes sense.
In the photo above, the bottom horizontal line of the fibre glass bulkhead sits on the Spitfire chassis.
The top of the chassis is on the same horizontal level as the "lip" where the flip up hood fits.
Hopefully, so far, so good...
Now look again at this photo where I was test fitting the Cordite body & the Spitfire shell.
Here, the grey blocks are where the Spitfire chassis would sit.
But if you extended a horizontal line from there, the bottom lip for the hood is inches higher.
However, I can't drop the top of bodywork any lower or the master cylinders wont fit.
This also explains another problem I'd previously encountered while mocking up parts.
When I tried to fit the Spitfire pedals to the Cordite front framework they hit the floor.
Which makes sense when you realise the bulkhead was taken from a different car!
So there you have it, the whole bulkhead is a pigs ear from start to finish.
The only good news is that I am not going mad, I really can't line all the pieces up.
The bad news is I now need to form a cunning plan to fix this mess...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:01 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
It had taken me a lot of time & effort to discover the "Chopped Spitfire" build wouldn't work for me.
Thankfully, in terms of money, it had only cost me a collection of cutting discs for my angle grinder.
But as I said all along, the whole shell was still a bargain even if I only used the rear wheel arches.
Now that I understood just what was going wrong with the front bulkhead I had two choices:
- Modify the front frame work that came with the kit.
- Modify the Spitfire bulkhead.
There were pros & cons with both options and all roads lead to more work.
But I decided that the modified Spitfire option would give me a better result.
So it looked like I was heading to my own "Frankenstein" build after all.
( i.e. Use the rear Cordite framework + Spitfire rear wheel arches & bulkhead. )
Before I cut the Spitfire shell in two, I just wanted to test fit the rear frame on top.
So off came the fibre glass body (again) and out came the angle grinder (again).
Then I could remove what was left of the Spitfire bodywork in front of both arches.
This allowed me to rest the rear frame work over the top.
If I can make it work, I will keep the hand brake section attached to the floor / rear wheel arch section.
I think this would make for a more rigid structure than the separate hand brake panel that I already have.
However, I would need to change the cross bracing on the frame to join where the small section of tape.
Hopefully this will allow the section you can see painted in black to sit over the frame work.
This will involve "threading" the rear section of Spitfire through the framework.
As the frame will be above the body at the back, but below the body at the front (if that makes sense).
Then it was the moment of truth, time to cut the Spitfire shell into two sections
So I propped up both sides of the front bulk head.
As the last thing I wanted to do was cut through the chassis by mistake!
A couple of cutting discs later and I had a cut from one side to the other.
I needed my wife's help to remove the rear section & relocate it to my "parts" pile.
Given my lack of space, I had to put the rear frame back on the chassis so I could "tidy up".
This gives the general idea of how the "Frankenstein" build will look.
( Although, obviously the bulkhead is still too tall at this stage. )
Again, just to tidy up, I put the Cordite bodywork back on top for now.
This actually gave me an early indication of the "adjustment" required to the bulk head.
Because you can now see the gap between the door cut out in the frame & body work.
Whereas previously the body work sat tight to the frame like this.
The elephant in the room in the photo above is the state of the kit doors.
Forgive me for not wanting to start ranting & raving about them again.
There have been lots of problems with this kit, but the doors are in a different league.
Still, the good news was that I had a basic plan and I could start moving forward again...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:02 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I had been cleaning, treating and painting the top side of this section as I was going along.
But now I had cut it off from the rest of the body shell it was time to deal with the underside.
It wasn't pretty under there, but thankfully the main floor sections would be cut off later on.
However, even though I only needed to clean some of it, it still took me hours.
I then applied a liberal coating of anti-rust treatment everywhere.
( This treatment dries to a dark blue / black colour. )
This was just the first coat, but it was still nice to see it heading in the right direction.
When I'd finished painting the underside, I needed to move the whole thing into my rear garden.
But first I wanted to "lighten it" a bit so I didn't need to ask my wife to help me lift it.
After a sustained assault with a number of cutting discs, I went from this.
Which meant I could carry it thru the house by myself.
So the garden picked up another strange ornament...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:02 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
In order to use the Spitfire wheel arches, I needed to modify the rear frame work.
The task looked simple enough on paper.
The reality is that the two sides of the frame are not exactly the same size.
So after a bit of measuring and marking I was able to cut the new sections out of box steel.
I had to get my wife's help to move the frame thru the house to the rear garden.
( There is no direct outside access from the front to the back. )
The garden was going to become by workshop for this job.
Then it was the moment of truth, my first "real" welding job...
This was the cross brace on the passenger side that I was replacing.
( To allow the hand brake panel from the rear arches to sit better on the frame. )
I simply removed it with my angle grinder.
Then it was time to clamp the piece I had prepared earlier into place.
( After cleaning up all the edges that were going to be welded. )
And this is the finished job after I have given the welds a bit of a clean up...
I did the "hit it with a big hammer" test and it is going nowhere.
Next up was the driver's side, before...
That was the first round of frame modifications, more to follow.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:03 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I am going to use a 3 point harness in the car and needed to make my own brackets.
If I was confident in my welding, this would be a very straight forward job.
But I am a welding beginner and so I wanted to build in a significant error tolerance.
In my simple view, the bigger the contact area that I welded the better.
So I wanted to use a part of the Cordite frame that would allow me to run a long line of weld along it.
This lead me to the idea of building a 90 degree bracket at this point.
This would leave me with the seat belt bolt retaining plate around here.
I now know this is far too low to be safe and the final position is much higher.
( Which is one of the great things about posting your build diary on line. )
But for now, I carried on in blissful ignorance...
I set up a workshop picnic area to start cutting the box section to length.
This is what I ended up with, although the edges will be angled to match the frame when welded in...
I'd picked up a bargain ion Ebay that I thought might come in useful during my build.
It is affectionately known in our house as the "Circus Tent".
Unfortunately my wife will not allow me to leave this up permanently as it is too big.
But it was was just too windy to weld outside, so I set up the tent and moved my welding stuff inside.
Mind you, with the wind hitting the sides, I did fear the whole thing might take off on me.
I built the brackets up in stages, making sure all the parts fitted as I went along.
Then I could clamp the final pieces together to continue welding.
Eventually I had both of my some what over-engineered brackets completed.
Due to rain earlier in the day, the washing line was available as an alfresco spray booth.
Everything looked a lot better with a coat of "weldable" etch primer on it.
I also made some cardboard templates matching the shapes of these brackets.
These will be used to mark the angles required where the brackets join the framework.
But there were a few other things to deal with before I could fit these brackets...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:04 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
The original Spitfire gas tank is re-used in the Cordite frame.
However, unlike the Spitfire, it takes a bit on manoeuvring to get into position.
This had a knock on impact on my seat belt brackets (see separate post).
The problem was the tank couldn't be fitted with extra brackets on the frame.
This meant I had to fit the gas tank before I sorted out my seat belt brackets.
( It also meant that removing the tank in the future would be a major pain. )
The whole car is a bit rough and ready, so I didn't need a show car finish.
Just some basic preparation to ensure the brushed on paint would stick.
( I'd left the empty tank in the sun every chance I had to remove any vapours. )
During a very basic sanding down stage.
Applying anti-rust treatment.
This dries to a dark blue / black finish depending on the metal below.
Then I started painting the bottom of the tank.
Using a not so high tech prop to keep it at the correct angle.
Then the top of the tank was painted.
I also put a final coat of paint on the frame work where the tank was to be fitted.
After a second coat of paint on the tank, I bolted it into its final resting place.
I used extra washers on the driver's side to stop the gas tank fouling the frame.
( As obviously the frame work supporting the petrol tank isn't square. )
I even remembered to stick a bit of protective foam into the narrow gap between the two.
With the gas tank in place other work on the frame could continue...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:04 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
I also needed to make seat belt mounting brackets for the outside of the cockpit.
( The inside of the cockpit will re-use the original Spitfire seat belt mounts. )
Again, it was to be over-engineered and started by clamping box section together...
Then there were welded together.
I wanted to build these up in a particular order to ensure they fitted in place.
So the retaining plate itself went in next.
Then it was time to set up another workshop picnic area around the frame.
Then I clamped the first part of the bracket to the frame.
This is the rear view where the bracket crosses the original frame.
Which is why I had cut out a notch to let it sit better / get welded in.
Once that the first welds were done, the clamps could go.
And the top section could be added and welded into place.
Then I cut the final bit of box section to fit and clamped it in place.
Once that was welded in, I could move all my stuff over to the driver's side.
Then I just had to go through the whole process again for the second bracket.
Eventually I was left with my two over-engineered brackets in place.
However, these were only welded "sunny side up" so more work was required...
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:05 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
In order to finish the welding of these brackets I had to turn the frame over into different positions.
Starting with the frame "upside down", which allowed me to weld the right way up...
I also worked away with the frame on it side like this (obviously I did both sides)...
The welder started cutting out, so I had to add a bit of external air cooling from a fan to help...
But eventually it was all welded up & I could give the bare metal a coat of primer.
The driver's side bracket (Note: Frame is still "upside down" at this point.):
When this was all dry I was able to give them a first coat of black paint.
I temporarily fitted the eye bolts & masked them off to keep paint out of the threads.
With a second coat of paint these brackets are now done.
I know these brackets are OTT & my welding could be neater / better.
However, the overall effect is something very solid, that will do the job & not fail under load.
This gives you the general idea of how they will work in practise.
Last edited by Paul L; 02-11-2018 at 05:06 PM. Reason: Replacing PhotoBucket Images
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