Mid-winter Madness, Gettin’ Cooler All the Time

February 12, 2012

Well, I’m a bit late with a monthly posting.  I try to get ‘er done around month’s end, but January was a BUSY one!  I have a much bigger crew to manage now, and scattered coast-to-coast.  So travel and long days for work have stunted my OTHER projects a bit.  Fortunately, Bob Ensign has been working steadily at the body construction for the Speedster (nominations are now open for clever names).

Since I wrote last, I did get a chance to finish the clay model and compare it to the plan sketches.  Bob also swapped the fancier bits from the new chassis (vacuum-powered auto-shifter and driver-adjustable shocks!) to the wooden-wheeled one from Pat n Pat, then got it all cleaned and painted and Ethan and I hauled it back home for mechanical finishing while Bob works up the body on the Pat n Pat chassis (they share all key dimensions).  Here’s the bright and shiny chassis coming home (yep, that gleaming silver engine is the same one that was once thin-spray yellow):

All Clean and Shiny, the Speedster Chassis Heads Home

Meanwhile, Bob set the radiator shell (’33) and fit the hood pieces (’35) to the cut down cowl (also ’35) to be sure the rake and fit are right.  The hood and shell don’t quite match, so there’s some fine work to do there, but it’s looking good:

Some fine work Required to Blemd '33 Shell to '35 Hood

Now while he was doing that, I finished up the clay model.  Here’s  how that compares and it might give you a better sense of where we’re going with this:

Progress and the Model! Can You See It NOW?

After the cowl was situated, the floorboards went in:

Yes, wood. This is Fine, 30's Style Coachbuilding!


Next, the Door Posts and cutting down the doors (from the ’35 half-body).  Here’s a quick teaser, showing the door posts roughed and in place on the driver’s side, WITH the door in place:  note reversed hinges – a 30’s Speedster MUST have suicide doors!

Trial fitting a Fender (Half-a-Pontoon); But Look at the Driver's Door!

Back at the Ranch, I pressed the ’39 Caddy front fenders that are destined to become the head fairings and boat-tail on this Speedster.  Here’s how I found a true planar cut on these complex shapes so they could be butt-welded together:

Laser Level for Lazy-er Line Laying

The laser level pitches a bright red line over the curves.  I matched the required width (so our heads are properly spaced) and laid the line so the two fender crest meet at the back, forming the classic boat-tail!  Here’s what they look like together, after the centerline cuts (the red shows where the finished front edge will be, backing up our headrests):

Fenders Forming Fairing -Forsooth!

Well, as luck would have it, we had a warm weekend day, so I went out to the barn to weld these babies together.  I have a lovely little plasma welder that when used right, can make even a mediocre welder like me appear to be truly skillful.  The focused heat makes a beautiful seam, especially in thin work like sheet metal fenders!  Alas, it was not to be.  I have not used this since I brought it home from work, where it was a shared resource.  Apparently in that time, the head was damaged and internally fused -either too much current or bad tungsten placement.  Replacement cost $2500!  Nah, I’ll ask Bob to do it.  He needs this bit in hand soon, so he can begin the roll hoop that stiffens the back of the body and supports the door hinges.  Here’s Bob, marvelling at the sheer beauty of the pieces he has to weld together:

This should be EASY! But They Sure Are Pretty.

We finally sent in our applications and cash for the Great Race this month, too.  I think we’re going to make it (finish this speedster) in time, and son Ethan signed up his friend Nick to navigate so we had two teams.  They qualify as a X-team – both young students.  Of course, that means we need new team names.  Ethan suggests he and Nick should be called “Youth and Skill” while Dave and I go as “Old Age and Treachery”  – just to see which really does over come the other.  Not bad….

Well, that’s all for now.  It’s late and another week looms in the morning.  Progress…

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