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926 Posts
Discussion Starter #501
Body Shell Alignment:
I have put a lot of thought into how I can keep the back of the body shell "level" when I bond it into place.
( The front of the body shell "slots" over the Spitfire bulkhead, so that is less of an issue for me. )

Part of my problem is that the rear body shell itself doesn't have much in the way of genuinely horizontal surfaces on it. :rolleyes:

I remembered that this caused me a lot of grief when I tried to work out where to fit the rear lighting.

However, the good news is that the holes for the rear lighting can now be used to provide me with a "straight line" to work with.

So I knocked up a low tech solution from a few bits of wood.

Which slotted into the rear lighting holes like so.

Giving me a straight(ish) line to work with across the rear of the car.

Then I double checked that my twin tail pipes were both the same distance from the trunk floor.

After a small adjustment to one, they will now be my reference point for a "horizontal" level on the Go-Kart.

So the next thing I needed was a "T" piece that sat between the pipes to give me something to align the other piece with.

At this stage, a small bit of pressure on the passenger (left) side was enough to level the rear of the shell. :cool:

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #502
It seemed like a good idea at the time:
As I was getting closer to bonding the body shell on, it occurred to me that I could increase the area available for bonding at the rear.

As before, there is a section of metal across the internal framework to help me brace the body shell between the humps here.

But body shell did not actually cover/touch the full length of this support.

The following photos are taken from underneath the body shell, so they are not great.

However, you can still seen that on the passenger side, the "extra" hump was added on top of the body shell in this area.

Whereas, on the driver's side, the original hump has "thin air" beneath it at the rear cockpit edge end.

So I cut out another section of 'left over' fibreglass.

Before taping the panel into position.

Before I started adding some fibreglass matting to seal/join the inside edges.

Not my neatest work, but given the fact that I couldn't actually see what I was doing, not bad.

That mess was tidied up & extra matting added to the inside, and with the tape removed, the outside edges could be covered too.

The inside area of the hump was then covered with a sealant.

This photo shows the untreated area where the bonding paste will go.

So it was all looking good, as I told my wife this would be the last time she need to help me lift the body shell into place.

Unfortunately, my confidence was short lived, as the new bridge panel under the driver's hump fouled the frame. :cursing:

I really should have known better than to put a straight line anywhere near my body shell without double checking first. :banghead:

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #503
Take 2:
You can see how the "bridge" across the driver's hump fouling was lifting the body shell off the framework like so.

Unfortunately, there was no one available to help me lift body shell off when I had the chance to fix the mess I'd made.

So I propped up the rear of the body shell to give me some access.

But it was almost impossible to cut the "relief" hole I needed in this position.

I even managed to slice through the body shell. :mad:

So I had to admit defeat and wait for my wife to return so we could lift the body shell off together.

At least this give you a better view of how the rear of the shell was painted.

In the end I probably made the hole a lot bigger than it needed to be.
( But I just couldn't face lifting the body shell on and off any more to fine tune the size. )

So, with my wife's help, the body shell was lifted back into place.

Thankfully, the frame has once again "disappeared" behind the lip.

Although it then dawned on me that the bonding paste will actually lift this up a little bit, but that is OK.

I also knew that the body shell was now sitting lower at the back when I offered up my alignment tools.

With the bridge fouling the framework, notice how the "T" sits under the piece connecting the rear lighting.

With the relief hole cut, there is not enough room under the horizontal piece for the "T" template to sit.

Clearly this was extra work that could have been avoided if I had thought things through properly.

But at least the body shell was now finally sitting on the framework properly. :cool:

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #504
Plywood Panels:
A very long time ago, I bought some exterior plywood that would be used to build the internal cockpit walls.

I actually bought at least twice as much as needed, because at the time I didn't know how I was making the rear aches/trunk area.
( Which is mainly metal now, after I recycled a large section of a Spitfire body tub. )

As the weather was still dry(ish), it seemed like a good time to treat all the plywood before it was needed.

Eventually, both sides had two coats of the same paint/preservative that I used on some of our garden fence panels.

The plywood was then stacked in the Summer House so it could fully dry overnight.

Unfortunately, it now looks like I'm trying to build a wood panelled library, rather than a cockpit interior! :rolleyes:

Or perhaps I should swap my car seats for something more appropriate.


926 Posts
Discussion Starter #505
"Bond... Body Shell Bond"

Badap ba daa ba da daa ba daa da deda daa...

Previously, I had used my traditional low tech approach to measuring out the bonding paste required.

To leave me with 2 tubs with 400ml in them, but with no catalyst added at this point.

This meant I was ready to go when I got a break in the weather, so I propped up the body shell.

Then added catalyst to the bonding paste, before it was spread out in small "piles".

You can see where paste from the first tub had already started to change colour by the time I'd mixed up and applied the second tub.

My theory was that the body shell would squeeze these piles into the surrounding "gaps" and make a nice solid join.

Then I removed the blocks & gently lowered the body shell into place.

It certainly felt like there was paste oozing around underneath, which I took to be a good sign.

Although when I went around the car tightening the tie down straps, a few of the straps snapped.

So I had to quickly tie knots in the straps and keep going until it was all held in place.
( With a few breeze blocks added for extra downward pressure. )

So there you have it, some 3 years later than I originally expected, but the body shell is finally bonded into place. :cool:

Despite using my basic alignment tools, it was just not possible to get the rear end perfectly aligned.

As I felt I was putting too much strain on the tie down strap and didn't want to end up cracking the body shell itself.

Which meant it was time to remember one of my favourite quotes from another builder:

"It's all looking good and solid - like a 50 year-old race car that has been into the hay bales a few times in its life - perfect."

The point is that original racing cars built in the '50s were often a bit "wonky" and it is the overall impression that counts.

Plus, by the time I am finally on the road I will have worked out a back story that includes a major rear end shunt back in '68.


926 Posts
Discussion Starter #506
Building Bridges - Part 1:
Before the bonding, I'd made some cardboard templates to "bridge" the horizontal gaps from the cockpit framework to the body shell.

I then cut these out from various bits of 'left over' fibreglass.

Until I had all the pieces I needed.

With the body shell still strapped down, I clamped the sides to the lowest part of the framework to pull them into place.
( The areas in front of the rear wheel arches have a tendency to flare out a bit. )

Whilst the clamps did a great job of pulling the sides of the body shell in, this meant my "bridges" were now too deep. :rolleyes:

So what I should have done was clamp the sides in before I made the templates.

Still, nothing a quick session with the angle grinder couldn't sort out.

As it turned out, the weather got in the way of fixing these panels into position.

So by the time I got back to this job, it was actually safe to remove all the tie down straps holding the body shell in place.
( Note: The rear end is still sitting "high" on blocks.)

Thankfully, I then resisted the temptation to apply a HUGE level of brute force and ignorance to "test" the bond.

Instead, I merely gave the body shell a few gentle nudges to confirm is it definitely stuck firmly to the Go-Kart. :cool:

End of Part 1...

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #507
Building Bridges - Part 2:
I could now rearrange the tie down straps to keep holding down the rear passenger corner.

I also replaced the clamps on sides of the body shell.

Rain meant that it took several days to add fibreglass matting across the bridges on both sides and I haven't finished yet.

But this is what the passenger side currently looks like.

And this is the driver's side.

I also used two small fibreglass off cuts to bridge the gap between the Spitfire wheel arches and the body shell.

These photos were taken when they were just taped into position, but they have now been fibre glassed into place.

Obviously, at some point I need to work out the best way to completely seal off this gap.

But at this point I just want to ensure that the body shell is firmly fixed into position.

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With that in mind, I had made a lot of cardboard templates to form other small bridges in plywood.

Then I mixed up some more bonding paste and tackled a number of small jobs.

I bonded panels between the underside of the rear body shell to the bracket supporting the floor inside the trunk.
( One on either side. )

Bonded panels on either side of the tail pipes between the trunk floor and the bottom of the rear body shell.

It seemed easier to close this gap with a number of smaller panels, rather than one big one.

I also added paste where the truck lid rain channel met the framework.
( Sorry, not a great photo. )

I also bonded in another fibreglass off cut between the trunk floor and the back of the rear wheel arch on the passenger side.

Again, the object at this stage is just to secure the body shell in place, so I can finish this work with the straps removed.

Boy was this messy work and not helped by the need to crawl around on my back to reach some of these areas. :rolleyes:

End of Part 2...

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #508
Building Bridges - Part 3:
That is as far as I have got with fixing bridging panels in place, but I have done some more preparation work for the next batch.

So more cardboard templates.

The biggest panels are to extend the floor inside the cockpit, so you can't see the ground passing by!

Passenger side (before & after):

Driver's side:

The area between the two humps is very secure, but there is "thin air" under the rear cockpit corners.

So I will be adding two panels between the frame and the body shell here:

I will also add a small panel between the top of the Spitfire wheel arches and the underside of the body shell arch.

I couldn't get a decent photo of the panel in position, but it will be somewhere around here.

Then all the pieces were given some extra paint/wood preserve.

By the time all of these panels have been bonded into place, the first phase will be complete.

Then I can slowly work my way around the whole car sealing off all the remaining gaps.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #509
Seasonal Adjustments:
There are a few tell tale signs that Winter is approaching, which always limits the amount of work I can do outside.

When leaves start arriving on my "garage" floor from the tree across the street.

Then the clocks go back and suddenly the sun is setting by 4.30pm.

Another key day is when I leave all car work to one side to spend some time carving pumpkins with my daughters. :cool:

This year I attempted to cross the death mask from the latest James Bond film with a Pirate skull.

Obviously this was easier said than done, but I got there in the end.

And here is the complete family line up.

Well that brings me up to date, so until next time, take care, Paul. :)

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #510
Photo Opportunity:
I'm currently still working on the various panels required to seal the gaps between the Go Kart & the body shell.

This has turned into a very messy job, so I will delay posting an update until it all looks a bit neater.

However, I did reach the point where I could remove the tie down strap from the rear passenger corner.

This meant I could finally take the car off the blocks and see what it looked like "on the road".

Also, with the body shell bonded on, I no longer need to leave enough space for it along the side of the Go Kart.

As previously, this was all the space I had to work in along the driver's side.

Whereas now I could manoeuvre the car into the middle of the driveway to give myself more room to work in.

So I pushed the car (still need to fix the clutch) to the far side of my driveway.

- The rear wheel arch profiles need to be raised a little.
- The front wheel arch profiles need to be lowered a lot.
- The hood / body shell join also needs further work.

Normally, the front wall stops me getting any decent view of the driver's side, so I took a few more photos.

Another reason for pushing the car forward was to check the real alignment "on the road".
( Although the angle of my sloping drive still causes me visual problems. )

So I quickly put the rear lighting in place, to see if it lined up and given all the symmetry issues I have, it is close enough.

Then I could push the car back into a more central position.

In the absence of a drone to play with, I had to stick my head out of a first floor window to take this photo.
( And if I'd been thinking, I would had put the seats back in place to give a better impression. )

I know it has taken me a very long time to reach this point, but I am very happy with how this is finally shaping up. :cool:

So until next time, take care, Paul. :)

4,741 Posts
Been watching your progress with anticipation each week!
Great work Paul! REALLY beginning to take shape and coming together nicely.
With all of your custom touches this will be a unique little sports car, NICE Job.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #512
MPTech - Thanks, I must confess there were many times when I doubted if I would ever be able to put all the parts back together.

Plus, after spending so long fixing faults, it is easy for me to focus on the numerous problem areas that are still not perfect.

However, this overhead photo really brought home to me what a great "first impression" the finished car will eventually make. :cool:

So even though progress has been slow lately, it does feel like I am definitely working my way towards the finish line.

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Trunk Floor to Body Shell Panelling - Part 1:
I had already started building "bridges" between the body shell and the go-kart underneath after the body shell was initially bonded on.

Well there was a LOT of "more of the same" type work to extend the panelling across the full width of the trunk floor.

So rather than cover this is full detail, here are some of the "highlights"...

I removed the tail pipes for better access and used my handy storage area.

The curves in both the trunk floor and body shell around the outside corners were a real pain to work with.

The section over tail pipes was a bit more straight forward.

I also needed two small panels to accommodate the drains for the trunk lid rain channel.

So the connections pipes were sealed into position and the drain hoses fitted.

To say that bonding this "patch work quilt" into position was a messy job would be a major understatement.

It is not easy to get an overall photo of this area, as it is underneath the car, so I hope these give the general idea of the work in progress.

In fact, it was so hard to get a decent photo, one day I ended up taking this "selfie" by mistake. :rolleyes:

Although it does show both the lack of space available & the fact I'm now "wrapped up" against the cold when working outside.

End of Part 1...

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #513
Trunk Floor to Body Shell Panelling - Part 2:
Thankfully the bonding paste could be sanded down after it had finally set solid & I could start the next round of work on this area.

I added fibreglass matting along the top join and fibreglass filler along the bottom one.

Then an extra layer of matting went over some sections of the top join.

Which meant that even though it still looked a bit messy, it now functioned as a single, and very solid, unit.

A very rough and ready sanding down took place before a coat of etch primer went on.

Ran some masking tape along the bottom of the outside edge of the rear body shell.

Before slapping on the first coat of under seal over the panel work.

Obviously photos of a black surface, taken in a dark place, underneath the car, were never going to look very clear. :rolleyes:

But at least the 'patch work quilt' of panels have starting to blend in with the rest of the trunk floor. :cool:

At some point I will add a second coat of sealer to finish this job.

The outside edges of these panels will be extended when I tackle the re-profiling of the rear wheel arches.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #514
Internal Support Panels:
The purpose of these panels are to provide some addition support to the body shell.

Although they do not look very substantial on their own, when taken overall, they are proving to be very effective.

This is either side of the rear cockpit corners.

Traditionally the cockpit side panels on the Herald based kits also acted as support for the sides of the body shell.

Unfortunately, due to all the problems with the Spitfire based kits, this option is not available for me (see another update below).

Instead I am supporting the sides with these panels attached to the upper framework.

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Cockpit Floor - Part 1:
I was working on these panels during the last round of updates, but now they are bonded into place.

I had to use a rock to hold the driver's side in place due to the angles involved.

I also used some bonding paste to start filling in the gaps between the bulkhead and rear framework.



With the floor panels in place, I could finish off sealing the fibreglass "bridge" panels next to them (on both sides).


A few layers of fibreglass matting later.

You can see one edge of the plywood panel does not have any bonding paste on it in the photo above.

This was due to the fact there was effectively a "hole" to fill on the other side of the "angle iron" section of framework.
( The un-bonded edge is just visible below the stray bit of fibreglass matting from the "middle" bridge. )

End of Part 1...

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #515
Cockpit Floor - Part 2:
I made templates for small in-fill panels to fill these holes on both sides.

These were then fixed into position with fibreglass matting before being finally covered with some fibreglass filler.

It is not easy to get decent photos of this area, but I am happy it is all sealed off now, it just needs to be tidied up a bit.

The next area to tackle was the rear of the cockpit floor, underneath the seat belt mounts.

Looking in from above, you can see this is effectively extending the main "bridge" panel already fixed in place.

So two fibreglass panels were cut out and fibreglass matting added to hold them in place.

The "daylight" behind these panels will be taken care of as part of the rear wheel arch work.

In order to seal off the cockpit, both inside and out, I also needed to add these small vertical panels to the floors.

I still need to add some more paste to the "outside" edges of these panels.

Then the next series of panels can go in to seal the gap between the bulkhead and body shell.

There is a lower horizontal section that will meet up with the vertical inner cockpit floor panel.

Then two vertical sections (due to the angles and limited space available).

The internal cockpit panels required are covered in the next few posts.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #516
Rear Cockpit Panels:
Ideally, the rear cockpit wall panel would tuck neatly underneath the body shell lip like so.

In addition, the curved corners needs to be built out to match and this is how another builder prepared for this.

Finally, you may recall that there would be no room for the seats if I added the panel in front of the framework. :rolleyes:

So my plan is to panel within the framework instead, as the body shell is already supported in other ways.

After a lot of trial and error, this was the final "compromise" template I ended up with, given the area I had to work in.

If you look at the one for the driver's side, you will see these panels reach out to the sides of the body shell.
( Which will add further strength when finally bonded into place. )

Unfortunately, whilst the cardboard templates fitted neatly, the plywood panels would not.

So I it was time for some drastic action.

Although even after this work, both panels needed some more minor adjustments before finally slotting into position.

At this point, I've also made small "in fill" panels for these gaps in the framework.

Which were cut out of some left over fibreglass and bonded into place.

I am very conscious that the bonding work looks like it was done by a small child.

However, this build has taught me that even the biggest messes can be made to look OK in the end.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #517
Cockpit Side Panels - Part 1:
I made a template for the passenger side of the cockpit.

As with the rear cockpit wall panels, the rear corner will need to be constructed separately.

I also need to leave some space to provide access to the side mirror mounting points.

Thankfully I remembered that I also needed to provided access point to the seat belt mounting point.

Then I cut it out of plywood.

Test Fitting - Take 1

Unfortunately, this is not going to work, as the rear of the panel extends beyond the sides of the cockpit.

- Remember that the cockpit sides are already supported by a smaller panel fixed to the top frame rail.
- Extending the sides inwards to cover the panel is not an option as there is barely enough room inside as it is.

At least I could make another template to fill in the front area.

This had to be done separately as the mounting brackets are at an angle.

Then I cut that panel out of plywood and made the first drastic alteration to the main panel.

Whilst this was an improvement, all the angles involved were working against me, so further alterations were made.

This was actually Test Fitting - Take 4.

- These panels are just resting in place at the moment, so will move a little when they are finally bonded in.
- The general "theme" of my interior will be an old (& modified) race car, so these panels will don't need to be flush fitting.
- In fact, the mis-matched angles are in keeping with all the other symmetry issues I have. ;)

Even though there is a lot of work left to do before these panels are fitted, seeing them in place did lift my spirits.

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #518
Cockpit Side Panels - Part 2:
The driver's side pattern followed the same approach.

Test Fitting - Take 1

Take 2

Unfortunately, the fit was much worse on this side, as the framework really gets in the way in this rear section.

By the time I'd got to Take 4, it was becoming a bit of a mess.

So the final design would have to wait until I extended the fibreglass cockpit side "lips".

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Cockpit Side Lips - Part 1:
This was a classic "Catch 22" situation:
- I didn't want to add the sides lips earlier, as I wasn't sure how I could make the side panels fit around the framework.
- But I can't finish the side panels until I know where the cockpit lips are relative to the framework. :rolleyes:

So I made two cardboard templates.

- The depth of the existing lips either side of the templates will be trimmed to "blend in" later on.
- The top edge of the cockpit sides have a few "undulations" in them, especially the driver's side (top photo).

Thankfully I had a big enough section of "left over" fibreglass to make these as single pieces.

These were then taped into position and I used some fibreglass filler on the inside edges to start fixing them in position.

It wasn't easy to get a decent photo of this, so this was the best I could manage.
( The fibreglass lip is at the bottom of the photo, with the plywood panel supporting the cockpit sides at the top. )

The last bits of filler were then pressed into any gaps along the join on the outside.

The next step was to start adding fibreglass matting over the top of the join on the outside.

End of Part 1...

926 Posts
Discussion Starter #519
Cockpit Side Lips - Part 2:
The matting was built up in stages, so that the lips were firmly set before the tape holding them in place was removed.

Then the "gaps" where the tape had been were covered, until eventually I had something like this after roughly sanding it down.

- The fact that both sides of the cockpit are different widths, is one of the reasons the side panels themselves don't need to be perfect.
- The lips have been set at a slight angle, rather than straight down, to help me fit the plywood panels underneath.

In order to both tidy the sides up and improve the shape of the top edges, I added some fibreglass filler over the top.

Obviously the sides looked a lot better after I sanded this mess down.

Similarly, lips will look a lot better when I finally trim/shape the bottom edge.

The other thing I did, which is not easy to see in the photos, is radius/soften the top edges themselves.

The next step will be to add a final skim of normal body filler over the top.

Is it too early for a festive tune?

I'm dreaming of a white driveway...


926 Posts
Discussion Starter #520
Cockpit Walls:
In some of the previous photos you can see where I have started to paint/seal the inside of the cockpit walls.

I also did the underside of the top horizontal bridging panels, although it is not easy to see in the photo.

The key thing is that these bridge panels now form part of the overall structure which is adding a lot of stability / strength. :cool:

As I finish off working around the cockpit floors & lips, I will extended the painted areas before the panels are fitted.

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Sealing Bulkhead Gaps:
These photos are not great, but there is a thin gap between the bulkhead and the body shell on the engine bay side.
( You can just see where some excess bonding paste was squeezed out. )

As well as along the dash board side, just below the upper white tape.
( The fact the metal dash board is also painted black makes this harder to see / photograph. )

I thought a simple (and quick) job would be to pump some "Tiger Seal" into these gaps.

Unfortunately, the cheap and cheerful sealant gun I bought, turned out to be cheap and nasty.

Once the handle collapsed/imploded, it was just not possible to push the sealant out. :rolleyes:

So I had to order a replacement, which was thankfully a bit more "heavy duty".

Whilst this made the job of sealing the gaps much easier, it is still hard to get any decent photos.

There was still a little bit of tidying up to at this point, but hopefully you get the general idea.
501 - 520 of 778 Posts