41. Moving the needle forward


I’ve been hacking away at my To-Do list.  Sadly, more often than not I find I’m adding more items than I’m crossing out!  To be honest I’ve been feeling pretty kicked in the shins about the project – it’s starting to really wear me down.  I took a week off to visit family and hoped it would recharge me for the project but I found it had the opposite effect.  The last few weeks have been pretty tough motivationally – I’m not starting the day with high energy.

As this is my first car project of this scope, I wasn’t sure what to expect – but I thought the period going from go-kart to final would be a lot quicker than this!  Using rough numbers, I completed go-kart at about ~550hrs and I’m now at about ~1200hrs into this project.  Doing all the mechanical work was a lot of fun and the initial fiberglassing and carbon work were really fun too.  But now it just feels like a grind.  I suspect it’s probably this phase where most builders find themselves hurting for motivation – especially if you’re trying to balance a full time job, family, a million other commitments, and this car build.

My next few posts will be a lot more shotgun-like.  It’s difficult to try and piece together a coherent post when I’ve got so many different things I’m working on in parallel.  So – I’m just going to verbal vomit (type vomit?) my progress and do my best to make my remaining posts as informative as possible for any current and future builders out there.  I’m trying to stay focused on moving the needle forward one day at a time – aka, kicking the ball.

Wheel wells:

At long last – I’ve finally installed the very last piece of wheel well liner.  This is the large L-shaped piece that covers the rear and inboard sides of the front wheel well.

A good amount of trimming and gap-filling needed to secure these pieces, especially at the forward joint where it meets the vertical fin of the front clam.
Some more trimming and blending will be needed to get the transition looking decent.
Here’s the biggest gap – about a 0.5″ jump here.  I did bias the liner toward the wheel a bit to ensure I’d have plenty of clearance for when the front clam needs to be removed and installed.

I still need to pull the front and reinforce everything but it’s secured in its final position.

Aaargh – for whatever reason, that strange droop I had on the passenger side wheel well has returned!  At a 4.5″ front ride height I get the following wheel gaps:

Passenger side.
Driver side.

I have a discrepancy of about 1/2″ less clearance on the passenger side as compared to the driver side.  There’s a flat spot of sorts along the top part of my passenger side wheel opening and my front corner sags just a touch.  I shaved the flat spot to improve tire clearance – I don’t want to recontour or do anything drastic here as any changes I make will be much more obvious than the recontouring I did at the rear.

Aerocatch latches:

I have to admit – I was pretty jazzed about getting my aerocatch latches installed on my front clam.  I felt like I was finally making tracks to getting the body to a state where I could do the final fitting by having the catches installed and getting the preload correct at all the body attachment points.  However …

Cutting and installing the latch itself was a breeze…
But getting the pin installed wasn’t what I was expecting!  I bonded an aluminum plate and nut to the underside of the “beer can holder” – unfortunately,  once I installed my pin and set it to the correct height there were hardly any threads left for me to install the second jam nut.  Not so bueno …
Using a die grinder, I carefully ground away just enough fiberglass so I could get down to the aluminum reinforcement plate …
Which gave me just enough threads to secure my jam nut!

I guess there’s a reason why this is the path less traveled … for any other builders intending to go this route, keep this “gotcha” in mind.  If I didn’t have enough threads my next move would have been to try a thinner jam nut.  The instructions on the aerocatch state you MUST use the included rubber spacers otherwise damage to the pin may occur – unfortunately in my current setup there isn’t much room left to spare.  I believe this is driven by impact loading of the pin due to shifting of the bodywork/latch mechanism.  I’ll have to fashion some kind alternate rubber puck or some other damper device to mitigate against that potential issue.

In the rear, the aerocatch install went a little smoother.
With my steel attachment bracket installed, locating and installing the pin wasn’t too difficult.
Here’s what it looks like from the side.  There’s enough access with the rear clam raised that adjustment of the pin is a simple process.
And here’s what both latches look like with the bodywork closed.  Overall, I’m pretty happy with the look – going the route of the more typical concealed latches would give a cleaner look but I prioritized improving the load path over looks.  It retains the race car look and I think it falls in line with the look I’m trying to achieve.

Headlight covers:

When installing the headlight covers/lenses it seemed to me the part most critical in getting aligned with the body is the forward exterior corner.  The lens is made from Lexan(?) and contoured to fit the bodywork; however placement of the lens can be dictated by how the bodywork is sanded and how much shaping of the lens you care to do.  As received, the lenses fit pretty well and didn’t require too much massaging.  I found my driver side lens seemed to push outboard more than I cared so I sanded the opposite edge back to bring the lens inboard.  To get the forward outside corner aligned, I had to position the lens as far back as possible to avoid having the lens overhang the bumper.

This is the corner most critical in lining up when installing the headlight cover.  Too far forward and it overhangs the bumper like an overbite; it would require more massaging and bodywork skills than I have to blend this in seamlessly.
Here’s another view of that same corner; originally my headlight cover wanted to sit further outboard due to interference along the interior edge.  Some sanding of the interior edge and I got a much better fit.
After positioning my headlight covers I found I had a larger gap along the forward edge than around the rest of the cover.  The gap isn’t obnoxious and can be addressed with body filler If it bothers me.
Driver side headlight cover installed; I didn’t use very many fasteners along the exterior edge because these areas of the cover are pretty stiff.
I noted some undesirable noise while tapping on the cover so I used more fasteners along the interior edge to ensure the cover wouldn’t rattle over bumps.  These are 8-32 countersunk bolts; on the backside I’m using 8-32 weld nuts but they’re not permanently bonded to the body just yet.  I’d like to be able to install and remove these fasteners without having to reach in from the backside but the very tight space and sharp angles means a good bit of glasswork will be needed to get these securely bonded.  I’ll re-evaluate once I get the front clam off again for more work.
Both covers installed – the front end is starting to look like something!

I considered trying to fabricate some type of seal around the covers so water/dirt intrusion wouldn’t be an issue but ultimately decided against adding this additional layer of complexity.  The screws are readily accessible and removing the covers is relatively easy if I need to open them for cleaning.  I don’t plan on washing the car frequently so I’m not too concerned about water getting behind the lenses.

Radiator duct:

The last touches for my radiator exit duct were to paint the exterior black and add Thermal Block to the interior surfaces.  This should help isolate all the heat energy to within the duct itself – I’m hoping the Thermal Block is effective at eliminating heat transfer to the brake/clutch fluid reservoirs and the passenger footbox.  If the box itself stays relatively cool this should make it an effective thermal shield against radiator heat soaking back into the cabin when the car is parked after being driven.

Looks much better with a coat of paint.
Interior surfaces lined with Thermal Block – this should really help with front end heat management.


In another case of 1 step forward 2 steps back, I had to remove my exhaust for ceramic coating.  Space is super tight back here and there’s a LOT of stuff that needs to come out for the exhaust to be removed.

Rear chassis brace removed, rear shocks disconnected, rear diffuser supports removed, Graz support rods disconnected, Spark plugs removed, intake pipe removed – it’s a lot of stuff just to pull the exhaust!
I had the entire exhaust coated in Tungsten colored Cerakote.  It’s a ceramic coating that’s supposed to help keep heat inside the pipes (and not radiate into the engine bay), protect the pipes from corrosion, and it looks good to boot!
Exhaust re-installed!
Bob did an awesome job with the exhaust hangers.  Powdercoating of the diffuser and associated brackets doesn’t add much bling factor but makes it look much more oem than naked aluminum and steel.
View from the back – I’m really digging how the exhaust pipes are positioned within the rear diffuser.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s