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Body Fiberglass (GRP)

Nose Cone 
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I need to disassemble the rolling chassis before giving it a coat of paint. But first I need to finish welding joints that are still just tack welded and attach lots of little things like Dzus fasteners that hold the nosecone to the frame, and brackets for the fixed ends of brake lines and cables.

Before I could determine the mounting points for the nosecone fasteners, I had to have a nosecone. These blocks of Styrofoam are where it started.
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Next it was time to glue the rough-cut sections to one another to get the approximate nose cone shape. This is tricky because some types of adhesive dissolve the Styrofoam, and others donít dry well. Resorcinol glue dries well because it doesnít rely on evaporation, but it becomes hard and brittle. Carpenterís glue takes a long time to dry, but it shapes better than resorcinol.

If I had it to do over, I would use urethane foam. It is easier to glue, and shape. Styrofoam has tiny beads that break off during shaping and float around the garage, getting into every nook and cranny. They also develop a static charge that makes them stick to everything. The weight on the top of this stack is there to hold things together while the glue dries.
Photo After rough shaping the foam, I covered it with layer after layer of drywall compound. Sanding the ďplasterĒ gave a smooth surface that could be formed into the finished shape. Here I am doing a little finish sanding with the foam and plaster being held to the frame with a cotton rope. A belt would have been better since the rope cracked the thin layer of plaster, which I had to patch and sand smooth again.

Note the scuttle frame in the background without it's skin. You will see that change in a few more photos.

Photo Once the plaster was shaped, I painted it with primer filler. Then did some wet sanding with 400 grit wet-or-dry paper. I used two different colors of primer so it would be easy to see the high spots. Here, the white spots are the base plaster; the next coat was red primer. The gray spots are gray primer, which was sprayed on top of the red. It took several such coats before I was happy with the finish.
Photo After the surface was smooth, it was waxed. I actually gave it three coats of wax. Then I sprayed liquid mold release on top of the wax. All this to make sure the fiberglass resin would not stick to the form. This shows the fist layer of polyester resin gel coat tinted black. I painted two coats of gel coat with cheap, disposable paintbrushes. Then two layers of fiberglass mat separated by cormat (a light-weight stiffener). Once the resin cured, the foam was removed to make a female mold into which I would lay up the finished product.
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Since the form was designed with a ľĒ lip around all edges, it would be impossible to remove the finished nose cone without splitting the form. This shows the result Ė a right and left side with a plywood flange laminated to the form.

This photo was taken right after the form was separated, and finished nose cone removed.
Photo This photo was taken right after the finished product was removed from the mold and placed on the frame. Itís not sitting square on the frame because there is still a lot of trimming and finish sanding to be done. The grill opening is just rough-cut in this photo. In the next picture, the profile looks more normal since you canít really see all the trimming that remains.
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With the car in the background itís hard to make out the dash and firewall (called a scuttle in England). The steering wheel is also hard to make out, but itís there, and it actually turns the wheels. 

If the ground clearance seems a little low, that is because we havenít made an attempt to adjust that yet.

Scuttle is still just a frame without skin. Be patient. That is all about to change.

Photo This was taken a little later, after I had sanded the part-line and done a little trimming on the edges. In this picture, the grill just stuck in the opening. The grill was made from the front of a damaged shopping cart that had been taken out of services. Some day Iím going to adjust the ride height so the car sits level.

Front Fenders 
Back to Top (Nose Cone)

Photo I bought some Lotus 7 clamshell fenders that didnít fit because of the added width of the Miata suspension.  To match the rear track, the front control arms had to be lengthened, which should give great cornering, but unfortunately, the fenders wonít work. The supplier agreed to swap for cycle fenders, but the packing carton was so large the shipping cost was more than buying the cycle fenders.

Not long after this, the supplier (CMC) went out of business. It's a shame because I thought he had a pretty good thing going and was a great guy to deal with. He got a lot of good press in magazines, but I guess it wasn't in the cards.

Photo I toyed with the idea of altering the CMC fenders, but wanted to get the car on the road as soon as possible. I figured it would be faster to just make some cycle fenders to get it on the road, and then I could rework the CMC fender in my leasure.

This is one of the front fenders fresh from the mold. Making the mold was simple. I just bought a heavy steel trailer fender, bobbed it so it wouldn't cover so much of the wheel. Then painted the inside. After the paint was completely dry, it got a heavy coat of wax mold release, then a coat of PVA mold release. This is the untrimmed result.

Photo Here they are after a little work. They've both had the excess fiberglass trimmed. The nearest one has been sanded with fine wet or dry. The other is just how it came from the mold. 

If I'd have been smart, I would have mixed the pigment a little darker so it would be a little closer to British Racing Green. Maybe next time.

By the way, I've had these fenders on the car for one Summer and I'm not sure I'll even take the time to rework the CMC ones. I really like the looks of these.