Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Strengthening the Clam

Right this is just a quick post. The clam has taken a bashing as you all know by now. We had to review all of the structural elements around the central spar of the clam.

Strengthening the clam at both ends of the spar

Here you can see where we drilled out segments of the clam, cut away cracked bodywork. This has been re-inforced from beneath, while externally fibreglass has been applied in heavy crossing lengths of matt to further try to alleviate the cracking that was occuring.

Not sure how well this will work out, but I'm not prepared to put more time/effort into it - I think this will infact be sufficeient and I imagine better supported than most clams.
Feedback, always welcome!? :)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Clam-Shite Continued

Unfortunately it's still not done - this particular panel needs massive work, as you may recall the JCB...
Hang on, let me just say that again, yes my Elise had an altercation with a JCB, by right there should be nothing left! But it's still breathing, only just mind you.
Regardless, if you recall the JCB smashed a headlight and the driver side curve of the clam. This required major open heart surgery.
Ultimately with the same steps I've now discussed ad nauseum. We went from:

That's right. JCB!!

Thanks to drilling, sanding, fibreglass & bodyfiller; to this:

Not looking too shabby now, hey!?

Obviously it needs loads more work, but again like everything on this car, it's getting there!

Monday, May 7, 2007

The Front F**king Clam!

Oh FFS, this panel is total Arse!
This is one of the most depressing panels to take a close look at!
We removed the front clam today, something we're now hold hands at, having already had to swap out the radiator a few months ago (long story, with photos, if anyone needs further informatin on this, let me know!).

Depressing isn't it?

As you can see from this first photo and previous photos, the damage to the clam is really extensive and I'm still a little concerned about repairing this panel and retaining a strong structure.

We began work by sanding back the damaged areas and as with my previous post on the rear panel, we decided to deseam this also. I know it's not going to look quite like an Exige, but we can certainly make it far more agressive looking and a little closer to the Exige in shape.

As a result, one of the first things to was to actually sand back the entire clam and expose ALL damage, everywhere across the clam. As before - we sand BY HAND! That's right ladies and gentlemen, we're hardcore! ;) Seriously, I can't stress enough how tedious but valuable this is, particular with a lack of experience like mine. Using a DA could really ruin this kind of bodywork.
Remember, as famously claimed by our Topgear friends -
"It's basically a plastic toaster from Norfolk"

Total Arse - Now it's a black hole of depression

As you can see from all the pink bits (yep, fibreglass folks!), it's truly riddled with damage. Again, drilling, cutting and sanding back were the methods used before fibreglass was applied.
Atleast it's beginning to take shape!

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Return to the Sill

After having moved around the car in a sort of anti-clockwise direction, beginning the sill, then moving on to heavy work on the rear of the car, followed by the driver side damage we're now back on the passenger side sill.

As you can see here, after sanding back and some mild body filler work, we decided to do the same as on the rear of the car. Some grey primer was used in an effor to better identify areas that needed further work.

Top Tip - Sill sprayed in Grey Primer

Now I know from repeated comments from others (professionals) that this may not be the done thing, but I'm not good enough at this to just 'feel' the problems on the panel, seeing it I find is one of the best things I can do and I would recommend this step for anyone who's inexperienced at bodywork.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Repairing Arse Holes Damage!

Right, this was a quick one, but important to rid myself of this loons mark!
When the cyclist (read arse) hit the clam, he actually managed to crack the clam open, impressive for a punch from an arse, but none the less it must be repaired.

Here the steps are as elsewhere (I know it gets tedious, but by the end you'll all be expert body repair specialists!). We cut away the damaged bodywork, this ensure that after the repair the area is strong and cracking won't continue. Again, holes are drilled at any extending fractures.

Fibre glass matt is then layed under the clam. This is allowed to bond and set in place, after which a further layer was applied above the damaged area on the exterior of hte clam. This is then sanded back to a smooth, level finish.

Repaired Arse Damage

As you can see, the Arse Damage was quickly repaired and the result is a very clean (doubly strong) area, after priming & wet sanding (twice, just because we're that particular!) followed by painting will have this looking spot on.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Door Damage

The doors of the car have developed a few war wounds over time. Much of this was simply little scratches but there was one slightly deeper gash.

This was simply sanded back again exposing the bodywork to create a bondable surface.

War wounds! - Notice the number of areas I had to sand back!

As you can see above, the car had quite a few areas of damage that had to be sanded back. Some simply needed sanding as they were just deep clear coat and paint damager - others needed some body filler, but all work was minimal.

I have to say this is fulfilling work, simply because the door is completed and ready in a matter of a couple of hours, unlike other panels which are taking weeks/months!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Working out the new rear end

The progress on the rear of the car is great. We've managed to get a pretty tidy shaped to the bodywork, however we're being REALLY particular.
We decided to spray the new bodywork in grey (read cheap!) primer. This was simply done to allow us to get a sense of the lines and how accurate they are. I have to say I was amazed to see the result of doing this - it really does show up every defect and this is a step I'd recommend to anyone who wants a really great result. Sure it takes a few extra days, but it's worth it to get a what I would consider a commercially acceptable level of quality - I want this to look as good as a factory exige shape! ;)

A primered view of the car, note the defects!

As you can see from the photo, the grey primer highlighted how it was looking pretty good, but there were a number of defects. This will require further sanding and smoothing in order to get a finally accurate shape.

After further sanding, we've managed to even out the two sides in terms of symmetry and we (Damien!) had removed much of the rippling in the rough fibre glass.

Re-scrubbed and furthe smoothed, can you spot the difference!?

As you can see above, be removing all the primer, we're back to our fibreglass, however we're much clearer on high spots, lows and edges that are too sharp... it's really getting there!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Deseaming - A Step by Step

Ok, like I said we've decided to do just a *tiny* alteration to the car. Deaseam it completely.
And... I suppose as a result, we're going to "have" to just fill in the horrible vents around the tail lights and so on.

First step was to remove the plastic vents at the rear of the car. As it happens this was quite easy (with a little help from Seloc) and Sands museaum. Basically they just pull out, if you do have any difficulty freeing them from the glue, you can use a hairdryer to soften the bond, but to be honest, a good tug is all you need. After all you're going to be filling it afterwards anyway.

Building out the fibre glass

As with any fibre glass work. First job is scuff it down, dremel etc and widen out a channel that will allow the fibreglass to bond really well with the existing bodywork. This works find around the seams, but in the case of the back, we're going to try and achieve an Exige like shape, this is achieved by build out rather than filling, so you have to really work the surrounding area between the outer tail light and the side panel of the car. Roughing these surfaces creates a bondable area for the firbrelass mat to be work out to.

By Eye & Feel - Getting the right shape

I've already been asked a few times how we (well mostly Damien) achieved the shape that we wanted. Alot was based on reference photos from the web of the back of the Exige. Other than that it was following the natural contours of the Elises bodywork and just building fibreglass mat out in both directions until the shape was roughly there. Then repeated sanding and matting allows the final shape to come through.

Body Filler setting for final shaping

Once we were close to happy, we applied a light layer of body filler and continued working both sides into the desired shape. I'm actually really happy with this, I think they follow the lines very well and in my opinion are probably a little better than other examples I've seen as the we took the time to ensure we followed the existing lines very faithfully.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Gluton for Punishment

Ok, I know I said we were just going to get the car back on the road as quickly as possible, but....

Well the thing is, I was on my way to Halfrauds and thinking how nice it would be, now that my brother *was* doing the bodywork, to just well... just fill out a few seams on the car. Nothing too serious... just smooth it out a bit...

Before & After, just minor stuff!

Then I was on the way back from Halfrauds, less a lump of money plus a lump of emergency 80 Grit sandpaper and I was thiking...

"Well I suppose if we're taking out the seams, why not take out those horrible vents and fill them and..."

Well you know how it goes from here, the list grew and grew. Christ, I wish I'd just stopped at the sandpaper, but no, next thing we know we're Exiging my Elise.

The Inspiration - Bogie!

Damn Mark (aka Bogie) and his beautiful Exige Conversion! Seriously, a beautiful car that makes me swoon every time, this is now the dream, although I'll be keeping my Elise Clam, no budget for a massive overhaul of parts.

The experiment grows!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Repairing the Sill

The sill has to be repaired in place (situ), simply to save on time (and subsequent cost) rather than dismantling the entire car and replacing.
My brother and I began by removing all plastic vents by the sill and the wheel arch liner. Once Damien had access, he began by cutting away the damaged body work and inspecting each crack/fracture to find weaknesses.

At the end of each crack, holes are drilled, just slightly larger in diameter than the crack itself, this helps to stem the continued cracking of the bodywork by rounding out the damage and spreading the force across a slightly greater area... see I'm learning fast here folks! ;)

Bodywork sanded down

Once this was done, the area around each crack was sanded right back on both the inside and outside of the panel. Access was actually quite easy once the wheel arch liner and vent were removed, so this isn't was bad as it sounds.
Once the body work around the offending area was suitably scuffed down, Damien began rebuilding with fibre glass matt and resin. The large piece of bodywork that had broken away was bondend in place from behind, to further strengthen the rebuilt structure.

Accessing the Sill for work

Building Up FibreGlass
A slow and steady process, the damaged area is built up layer after layer, only after the prior work has dried completely. Once an adequate layer of fibreglass has been built up on both the inside and out, sanding can begin. Being unsure of the strength of the underlying Lotus bodywork we decided against using a DA sander and instead sanding by hand. Although much more time consuming, this ensures that the bodywork won't be eaten away by an overzealous orbital sander.

Building up Bondo
After sanding back the fibreglass and creating an adequately accurate shape, Bondo or Bodyfiller is applied across the top of the bodywork. Once hardened, body filler becomes a hard, but easily sandable surface. Allowing the bodywork to be sanded down to the final shape in gradually finer grades of paper until a perfect shape is achieved.

Bodyfiller is allowed to set

Gradually the panel is simply worked down, layer by layer, in exact replica to the original sill - fascinating for me to watch being done for the first time and unbelievably fullfilling to see things take shape - woohoo!

Bodyfiller gradually worked to final shape

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