Pieces Upon Us: Fenders Found

September 4, 2011

There are at least two ways to go about a project like this. The most obvious & pricey is to draw exactly what you want, then hire superbly skilled craftsmen to realize the dream.  But: A) I ain’t made of money; B) There’s less glory in buying, compared to doing.  So I’m taking another path:

I’ve imagined that it’s 1947-50.  The war is over and we won.  The scrapyards are filling up with 1930s cars that were  stretched to last through the rationing days, as returning veterans and families buy up any new car that Detroit has to offer.  Being too young to have been in service (but having worked for peanuts at Uncle Bob’s Esso station while the older guys were away), I’m a bit short of cash, so that new-car option is out of reach.  However, the old, rusted-out ’32 Buick that Aunt Millie drove is now mine for the taking, and I bet I can jazz it up a bit, maybe make it a little like that snazzy MG-T cousin Will brought back from England.  Maybe I can find some fenders and bits to replace that boxy sedan body it has now…  Yeah, that’s it: I know how to weld a bit, and I can do a little hammer-forming where needed.  Let’s take off the body, and have at it.  We’ll be the hit of the drive-in; Sue will look the peaches in the passenger seat; and maybe I can earn a few sawbucks in the Saturday open races at the fairgrounds.

So there you have it: we’re going to do this on that premise: minimize expense, use existing bits where we can, and add just enough handwork to make it a real, recreated, period special.  The making of the hood and most of the main body panels is not too tough, they’re almost planar bends, and can be made with flat metal over a tubular frame.  The fenders, though – and those twin fairings on the back deck – that’s some fancy 3-D surfacing!  I’ve been looking through the junkyards (well, today’s junkyard that is, a place called EBay Motors), hunting for fenders that come close to these curves.  I had to depart a little from the fantasy, by looking at other years too late to have been junk then, but -hey, it IS a fantasy, right, so I get to bend time a little bit for the greater story value…

Here’s what I’ve found.  The butt ends of MG-A’s are almost exactly the form of the front fender pontoons I drew:

Found Fenders Fit Fine!

SO, that’s pretty good!  And as of this writing, I have already found and bought three MG-A fenders and three ’39 Chevy fenders (they will be used in pairs, a left and right siamesed to make each pontoon, so I need four of each type to make a total of two front and two rear pontoons).  Now about those fairings for the back deck….

I found a pair of ’39 Caddy front fenders that look really promising!  For those of you who have forgotten (or are too young to recall), there’s what a ’39 Caddy looks like (with a little marking):

Just LOOK at the swell and curve of that fender!  It’s wide enough, and crowned enough, and has the right sort of increasing radius toward the rear to make it Just about right – if it scales correctly – to serve as a fairing!  And because these fenders (unlike, say, a roof) come in pairs; we can make two fairings from two fenders.  Here’s a scale check, using a profile image of a 39 Caddy, scaled by wheel size, rotated up 15 degrees,  and overlaid on the plan sketch:

 

Look how closely the Caddy fender line follows the plan for the fairings!  Those Caddy fenders are almost 6 feet long!  As it turns out, There are two available, and they have a nice planar inner edge where they can be siamesed easily.  I think this could work!  Here’s how (sort-of: photo angles don’t really match quite right):

 

Farings Formed From Fenders

You can see that this trick can work, even though the photo angles don’t quite show it.  We’ll need to cut the fenders off at their highest point (once held in correct rotation as they will be installed), bolt them together (should we use a bead there or weld & smooth?); and then add filler sheet to the outsides to make the needed width at the head end.  We’ll likely need to do a bit of shaping and ad-in at the tail, too, but can’t  be sure until we get the goods in hand.

So…  Lots of progress this week.  I didn’t mention it, but I have also located and agreed to buy a set of four SU model HS4 sidedraft carburetors (first used in the 30′s, though these are from a 60′s vintage Triumph spitfire, so they fall under Great Race rule IX-C.7, that allows any carb made before 1949 on older cars, without a penalty on our age handicap.  I found and bought some nice nickel-plated ’31 Buick headlights (10″ diameter, just like in the rendering!), and equally cool repro taillights (37 Ford), image below; and I have a line on proper wire wheels.  I also revised the wireframe mockup to get the boattail closer to correct, but rain precludes adding an image here now.  A little money got spent for sheet metal and shipping, and now the bits have to be fitted, marked, and temporarily stored.

 

Lovely Lights (tails shown 2x scale to heads)

Next steps:

Verify and validate the fenders as the pieces come in, including marking for required cuts and adjustments.

Find one more right rear MG-A fender and one more Left rear 39 Chevy fender.

Settle a deal on the Caddy fenders-to-be fairings.

Complete the purchase of the carbs.

Make proper lofted sections for the body (in plywood), to guide sheet metal forming there.  Maybe start dimensioning tubular substructure.

Come to closure on wire wheels – and figure out how to do hub conversion.

Get the whole bundle over to Ensign’s shop before Winter!

 

That’s all for now!

jc

 

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