Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fitting and Aligning Headlight Buckets

Fitting and aligning headlight buckets.  Sounds simple.  Sounds innocent.  Yeah, right...
First you start off with what appears to be a perfectly fine 1963 Corvette front end.

Then you look real hard for any kind of stress fractures that might later show up in the paint job.  You grind back a little paint and you grind back a little fiberglass then you sandwich the area with fresh fiberglass to make it real strong.

Then you keep looking real hard until everything looks suspect then you grind it all back and re-fiberglass everything.

After the fiberglass sets up you clean everything up by grinding and feathering some more.

Headlight bucket inner plate reinforcements are next.  These bolt to the header bar that run left to right just behind the headlights.  After these are bolted in and the support rods are installed its time to apply bonding adhesive.

As we did for the hood, I used a set of dumbbells to match the height of the body and the buckets.  Bonding adhesive was then applied between the body and the header bar and allowed to cure.

I used a bent length of flat bar to get the proper contour as shown.

20 hours later it looks pretty good.  All it needs now is a little primer to pretty it up.

Then you do the exact same thing to the other side.  I am not sure I am done but they're much better.

What the ???  Is that Wilson?

Naw...  It's Ty.  He's working on the interface between the bumper and body.  This too will require grinding, fiberglass and feathering.  More on this in a later edition.

As always, thanks for watching.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Hood Alignment

Ty and I aligned the hood until we had a nice gap along both fenders and the front of the car.  Shims were installed as necessary then all 10 hinge bolts were torqued down tight.

When we rebuilt the front end a year ago the body was off the chassis.  Now that the body is on the chassis, the headlight brackets are installed and the hood is aligned, we can see there are issues. 

The front corners of the hood and the front center of the hood are properly shimmed with the body but the nose sags in between those areas.  Ty and I agreed the mismatch in height was unacceptable and we also agreed the cure would not be Bondo.

It sags between each of the headlight buckets.

We decided to remove the front end support structure in its entirety and start over.  This took hours of work and it was not for the squeamish.

If you double click on this picture you'll see hammers, chisels, a sledge hammer, an air chisel and a variety of other tools of persuasion.  More importantly, the nose support and the headlight bucket supports have been removed.

After grinding away the old bonding adhesive from all the supports and the underbody we started reassembly.  Because bonding adhesive sets up so quickly it was decided to bond the nose support in sections starting with the center.  In this picture the clamps hold the the nose support in position while the center section is being bonded.  The dumbbell is holding the center section flush with the hood.

Bonding adhesive is a catalyst compound that basically glues fiberglass pieces together.  Unlike Bondo, it can not be used as a filler.  Because the hood support is now bonded at the center, access to the rest of the support is limited.  In cases like this I've found that disposable cake decorating bags work great as an applicator.  In this picture the bonding adhesive is mixed, loaded in the bag and ready to be piped into place.  All I have to do is snip the bag and squeeze.  I get about 10 minutes working time before the adhesive starts to set up.  

Once again I use dumbbells to maintain alignment with the hood.  They work great.

I think the results are exceptional.  Compare this picture with the first and judge for yourself.

If you haven't guessed, headlight buckets are next.

Thanks for watching.