It’s Not a Passing Grade!
It’s said that in any project you have three concerns: quality, cost, and schedule. But you can only control 2 out of 3, even in a successful project. Here, we had a tight schedule; and Bob Ensign and I are both artist enough to demand high quality. That means this was bound to be expensive (and it is). But now I fear we are losing the schedule, too.
It’s April 25. We’re now down to less than 60 days to Great Race time. The speedster chassis is nearly ready (still need to repack the wheel bearings), but the engine has yet to run again (carbs and manifolds are still a week away). That seems quite do-able and not far off the schedule I posted in March. But the body has progressed much more slowly and lags well behind the plan. Not that the work is bad: on the contrary, Bob and Chuck and Ensign Autobody are doing a very fine piece of work in coachbuilding. But it’s a lot of hand work and it’s taking way longer than estimated.
Unlike MOST speedsters, this one is designed as a full roadster – with fenders and operating doors! That latter detail has proven a fateful one – as the fine tuning and fitting of panels and latches has consumed many weeks. Until this week, there was almost no visible change in the sheet metal build-up in the 3/4 view snapshots I have been taking regularly. It’s coming close to time to make a Go/No-Go decision. If this car can’t be ready, I need to turn attention to the trusty Imperial, to make it ready to run instead. One more week is all the time remaining. At the end of April, I’ll decide.
That said, there is some fine work going on. Here are some images of the details done:
So, with the clock ticking ever faster – what can we do? Well, one step we can take is to skip the fenders! There’s a lot of forming and fitting to do there, but it’s not strictly necessary for this year’s event. Most other speedsters don’t run fenders anyway! OK, co-pilot & navigator Dave insisted on just three things when I set out to build us this car: roof, doors, and fenders. The wimp! Well, maybe we could fit cycle fenders to meet the letter of the law there. Take a look – what do you think about the fenderless version:
Yeah, me neither, but we CAN make do, if needed. We can also omit finishing the interior to the high standard planned, We have seats already, covered in black vinyl. So, maybe instead of the tan leather I have in mind; we can just spray paint black the floor (plywood) and particle board liners on the doors and bolt in those seats as they are – they were good enough for the ’69 Corvette they came from!
Let’s see – that means we’d have doors and fenders (2 out of 3 again) and something to sit on. Shall we bring a parasol for roof duty? I have cleaned and prepped a collapsible frame, but the fabric work will take considerable time to do well. I think, instead, we’ll make a more rudimentary sunshade (a.k.a. wimp rag) that clips into the windshield header and over a simple hoop behind us. Not pretty, but if it rains, at least we won’t need goggles and rain suits!
Just to break the tension, I designed an emblem to cover the holes for missing ones on the grille and horn button (original Buick ones seem to be non-existent). I wrestled with a theme for quite a while, focusing on Buick, then an Ensign (naval flag) to mark the bodybuilder’s art. But in the end, I settled on a simplified version of my family’s coat of arms (yes, real, first to Sir John Cory of Bramerton Hall, Norwich, England, in 1612). It’s not that I feel snotty about them, but they include some handsome stars in the very same red the speedster will be AND the motto is ‘Forti Tene Manu’ – usually translated as ‘Hold with Firm Hand.’ That just seems ideal for this car, if translated with a touch of poetic license as “HOLD ON TIGHT!”
Here’s the badge design:
I’ll post more often from here on out. The tension is building (faster than the speedster!). A million lesser items to take care of (dash, wiring, horns, REGISTRATION!, tuning, transport…). I’ll post some chassis and engine details. And I do have a day job, too. Whatevvver… We don’ need no stinkin’ sleep! We are…. Great Racers!