Over the festive season I spent way too much time with that white powder up my nose. Yep, that fine fibreglass dust gets everywhere you don’t want it, and leaves you scratching like a crack addict for days. I am not sure how composite work became part of my job description but it seems really hard to be able to buy quality panels and parts off the shelf…
Many moons ago I tooled up for vacuum bagging and resin infusion when I was making all the parts for the aerobatic plane which included seats, instrument panels as well as the plug, moulds and ultralight weight skins and tail. The project took an inordinate amount of time just shaping, sanding and polishing but being able to switch off my brain made it quite cathartic and enjoyable.
Maybe the fond memories of that project are actually due to a cognitive impairment due to all of the nasty chemicals and dust. Having to repair the panels that were purchased for some of the current projects has been far from enjoyable and really slowing progress! It seems that buying body kits from the US is like a lottery and I am yet to have a win…
I knew the rear quarter panels for the GT2 project needed to be widened from the start. The only commercially available panels we could find were ones to suit the 996 RSR narrow body. That challenge was accepted, the complete kit ordered and I grabbed some two pack foam so I could so some sculpting. What I wasn’t expecting is the one quarter panel to be 13mm shorter than the other and so many pinholes and voids under the gelcoat in all the panels. It is a reasonably big job to mount the rear quarters, so having to spend so much time repairing the front panels that should bolt on with only minor fitting is frustrating! The massive Cup Car centrelock wheels and slicks are a really tight fit under the flares so the chassis needed to be wheel aligned first, the panels pulled into shape and the flare positioned in the correct position before foam filling. The fit is actually so tight that the old smaller diameter Cup tyre needed to be fitted up for alignment as the 710 diameter wouldn’t fit inside the flare… At least the bulk of the work is done now and the mould is made. All the work to make the massive Kardashianesque rear end is definitely worthwhile when viewed from behind! I am pretty slow updating my website so maybe the panels will be made and the car painted by the time I get around to uploading this blog. Maybe.
The 935 kit is even more of a nightmare. I didn’t have high expectations but it seems the moulds have aged as well as a tattoo on a geriatric. Considering it is a project that I am not supposed to be working on, I was hoping for an easier installation… The big one piece nose fitted up quickly but the other panels all need a fair fit of work before they will come close to fitting. The roof overlay bonded on relatively easily too but the back of it and one sill is was so warped that it it many layers of glass needed to be added before the excess was ground away. So much fibreglass dust!
The rear quarters are just going in the too hard basket for now. As can be seen in the photos, all the trimming in the world isn’t going to make them fit easily. I have tried leaving them fitted up for weeks in the sun, slicing them to relieve the stress where they are warped in the rear bumper bar segments and even praying to every god I could think of – but nothing changed… It is a pity that the vents are different from left to right too!
As I am writing this I am starting to realise why I got so many more grey hairs last year. Even the white RSR tribute has had its moments. Luckily I didn’t have to fit the massive rear flares because they were a veritable nightmare as well, but something that was seemingly as simple as ordering an amber fan shroud has turned out to be difficult. The normally aspirated 3.8L engine has been converted from a 3.6 Turbo so it has the rare combination of two bolt heads and a relatively unique fan housing. The deeper alternator means that no one seemed to be able to supply one. After getting the runaround from a US supplier that said they could make one, I finally couldn’t wait any longer and made the mould myself. I have vacuum bagged one sample but am not happy with the colour of the vinylester resin. At least making another one that is slightly more amber is a fairly painless process now.