Friday, 27 May 2011

Well, in the real world, as opposed to my build blog, it was spent either
at work earning the golden coins or in the garage building the kit to try
and achieve my goal of finishing it inside 12 months!  A tall task i told myself back when i was unloading the kit from the van after collection
day at GBS, but i'm pleased to announce i did it! Not without a lot
of understanding from my dear wife i must add though as i estimate to have put in over 700 hours getting it from kit to through the IVA test.
A first time pass for the dreaded test was the Cherry on top of what
i have found to be a thoroughly enjoyable new hobby!
Phew!.... what a year.

Right then guys and gals, lets get back in time to where we
left of at the end of part 3 of my blitherings..

I'd been studying for a while now the long and very delicate alluminium
side panels that where nestled away under the build table i'd knocked up, but was i certain i wanted to fit them yet?  could i trust myself too not damage them once fitted to the car?
I had been in the garage for about 10 mins just stood, looking down at the panels and then up at the chassis, down at the panel, up at the chassis! Sod it, they're going on i told myself, that way i would be able to get the front suspension fitted, and in my mind, that meant a rolling chassis stage of the build would be acheived.
OK then,
overalls on... check.
motion potion made... check
lets go... ohh, ohh... heater, need more gas!
Quick trip to the local dealer and the garage is warming up lovely!

           when handling the side panels it's of upmost importance to ensure they are kept upright as much as possible as that way the folds
give them a 'backbone' which will stop them drooping and worse case scenario, a crease! you have been warned.
With a large, clear and clean space cleared on the build table i laid out the  first panel outside face downwards and set too with the good old needle file and emery cloth on a stick ( stick is actually carbon fibre, which Dan of "Not-Impressed" fame ribbed me mercilessly about when he saw them!) to remove the residue left behind from the laser cutting.
2 hours, 10 cramped fingers and several skin punctures later i had a panel
which was a vision of loveliness, ready to be offered up to the chassis.
The first thing that set off my 'that doesn't look right' alarm was the gap between the upper fold and the top chassis rail? Bugger, what to do
with that then? i'd seen previously from others build blogs / pictures that it had been a problem, so a way forward could only come from a trip to my old and comfy armchair where i could slurp a fresh cup of motion potion and ponder. Now, i never have or never would slate GBS about their product, but to my mind, a little more attention when folding the panels would go a long way to improving the pleasure and ease of build for the end user. Upon inspection of the panel i could clearly see 2 black marker pen lines which should of been lined up on the folder when they produced the panels but obviously hadn't been! Friday afternoon syndrome or not, it's a small error with massive consequences. An upholstered settee look
is something i don't want when riveting the top edge!

Leaping out of old comfy' i set to putting my plan into action!
So, what to do then you ask?
I placed the panel back on the chassis ensuring it was snug up on the underside rail and measured the gap. 5mm was the reading on the trusty rule and armed with this magic number i sourced some 4mm plastic sheet
that just happened to fall into the boot of my car at work.
Placing some tiny offcuts onto the top of the top chassis rail i filled in between them with black Sikaflex and using a straight edge wrapped in brown parcel tape (Sikaflex won't stick to parcel tape) i pressed it down to the pads to ensure a good, clean and even application.
Once dry i removed the straight edge and filled in the gaps with more of the black magic in a tube.
Ok then, i now had a new 'bed' for the panel to sit against which in theory should now only have a 1mm gap at the top?
"It fits!"  came my relieved cry as i eased the panel into place.

Ok then, with the panel back on the bench, i started marking it out
@ 50mm centres for drilling the 1/8th rivet holes. I clamped a length of flat timber to the panel as i went wanting to minimise localised pressure as i worked so as not to deform it in anyway.
With the panel drilled off and re-fitted to the chassis i drilled through the chassis, skin pinning as i went, doing approx every 5th hole until
it was fixed top and bottom upto the point of the dashboard.

Now then, future builders beware!  this is where it can go wrong, resulting in a creased panel. The chassis changes from angular to parallel
at this point and does so over a very short distance so extreme care is needed as you slowly arc the panel in at the rear towards it final destination. I allowed the panel to 'pant' slightly at the point of change against the chassis as i decided this gave a neater look and should hopefully not reflect light the same as a fold would? Nothing worse than sunlight to show up knocks and dings in a shiny panel.

With the panel now either clamped or pinned along its entire length both top and bottom i took a step back to asses whether or not it looked right
as i'm a great believer in eyesight having the final say.
All looks good to me a passer by would of heard me mutter, so out with the trusty old air drill and a freshly sharpened drill bit i set to on the unenviable task of drilling a lot of holes whilst ensuring the panel was staying flat and true against the chassis rails.
All looking ship shape and a sore hand from deburring all the holes both in the chassis and the panel it was time to reach for the tube of black magic again. Remember from part 3 of my blitherings my tip of placing the Sikaflex on the heater due to the cold? well it's still cold, so off to the heater it goes while i reach over and flick the kettle on.
I applied the black goo to the chassis wherever the panel would contact ensuring a good even coat of approx 2 / 3mm except the top rail which only got a smear and offered up the panel. With the help of my good wife holding the rear end of the panel, i eased the panel over the chassis and popped in a skin pin up front to hold it in place and create a pivot point.
Working towards the rear it was a simple case of gently does it pinning as i went.
The wife squealed!! What?? Whats happened i asked?? panic stricken!
"I've got that black stuff on my jeans!" she said....  Jesus woman... don't do that!
Once happy with the fit i then riveted it all up top and bottom before applying clamps over straight edges where ever the chassis rails contacted the side face of the panel. Please be careful when clamping as it's extremely easy to force the end of a straight edge into the alloy, especially with it being on wet sikaflex, and leave a nasty crease.

           Repeat the above for the other side of the car and it's time for the front suspension to go on. Exciting time this my friends, front suspension equals a rolling chassis which equals a milestone!
I won't go into detail of fitting the front wishbones, shocks etc as it's basically identical to the rear which i covered in a previous article.
What do you mean you used my previous article as loo roll Dinger?

I'd finaly achieved my first goal... a rolling chassis, but after studying
the next few jobs ahead, i decided it would be better for my back if the Zero stayed on the bench for a while longer. Yes it could roll, but not on the deck yet!
With the garage still having panel work tools laying around looking a mess i took the decision to fit the inner crescent panels next.
These where a simple job to do really, just pay attention to the prep and
check allignments / fit before doing any drilling. Once happy with them mark out at 50mm centres where they'll fit the chassis and drill for the rivets.  Before actually fitting the panel, it's a good idea to clean out the threads in the seatbelt mounting holes. Use of a tap is the best practice but if you haven't one available a good trick is to use a bolt, but cut 2 or 3 grooves into it running along its length using a fine blade junior hacksaw.
Works well to be honest, but you won't beat a proper tap. Thread size for seatbelt anchor points is 7/16 x 20 UNF. Very rarely will it be different as this is a generic size used by all manufacturers.
Good old pre warmed black goo applied to the rails and rivet all in place. Another small job complete, but it really alters how the car is starting to look.

Well folks, i'll sign off for now.
Sorry if it's a bit brief this edition of the mag, but it's that time of year
at work where and i'm stupidly busy rushing to get parts done ready for the first GP in March. As i type i've just finished the week on 84 hours.
Just thank God i'm hourly paid not salaried!
Oh well, it's a small price to pay to enjoy whats turning out to be a fantastic new hobby with fantastic new friends.

    Hi to all, and welcome to part 5 of my blitherings following
the build of my GBS Zero. Firstly, as many of you will know, in the real
world my Zero is now on the road and being driven around by yours truly.
All i can say is, no matter how many or how high the hurdles you overcome
during your build are, the feeling, the grin and the sheer satisfaction of
driving your very own creation on the road, the sun shining down, the wind rushing by.... it is worth it!  Keep at it, you will win the ultimate battle.

          If i recall correctly then as we enter back into the world that is
the build of my Zero, i had just declared victory at reaching the milestone of having a rolling chassis, but decided to leave the car on the build bench for the next few jobs? 
The next logical step for me then, seeing as the tank is now fitted, was to tackle the rear panel. Many a scare story had been read by moi regarding this particular part of the build, so the first thought was "it can't be that bad a job, can it?"
Read on and then draw your own conclusions with regard to my methods. Perhaps i did it right, perhaps i did it the long way... but it fits and i'm happy with the result.
The panel as supplied in the kit required the burrs created by the laser cutter removing as the first job. Bleeding fingers make a hell of a mess of alluminium, so get smoothing peeps.

God, my back is killing me!  There are loads of tabs to de-burr and doing it whilst kneeling on the floor wasn't one of my better ideas. Oh well, a trip to the kettle would soon get me upright and moving again soon.
How many cups of motion potion is considered excessive? Is there a name
for someone addicted to tea, as an alcoholic is addicted to alcohol?  lol.
Stop whinging Nick, get some work done lad!
The next step is to bend all the tabs over at 90 degrees to themselves, and this task is ultra critical if you want a nice clean formed curve on your panel.
I used a fair few ticks of the clock thinking my way ahead on this one, so many ticks infact, my tea went cold!
The pictures further below should help explain how i proceeded, but i'll try my best to put it into words for you as well,  my mind and the methods that appear from it are sometimes a tad involved, so here goes....

To avoid seeing the roots of the gaps between the tabs when the tabs are bent over it is imperative that you form the bend below the root by the thickness of the alluminium you are bending. Using a straight edge clamped across a tab, i simply formed the bend using my thumb, ensuring pressure was applied toward the straight edge as well as against the tab. This will ensure a nice tight fold that is square and true.
With the first tab folded over nicely, i simply had to repeat this process for the remaining ones.... all 50 of them!  Doh!  It's a good job hits of the 80's is on the radio to keep me sane, i never was the type for robot jobs.
The panel and the tabs are along a curve, so unfortunately for me, and you if you follow my methods, the straight edge will need postioning for each and every tab as you work along the panel.

OCD only lasts for so long in a day, so the good lady shouting down to me that tea was ready soon had me heading to the kitchen for a well earned break.
It's amazing how a good meal can motivate a man into action, so after confirming with the good lady thay she was happy watching her crap
on the telly, i was soon heading back toward the garage.
The panel came from GBS with it pre bent at the point it switches from the rear to the underside, so this was the starting point for my way thought process on the way forward.
The capping strip supplied for the top face of the rear panel is pre cut to
the shape the rear panel needs to be, so in my mind, that meant it could be used as a former. Placing the capping strip on the inside of the tabs, rather than the intended outside position, i lined up the two using centre line marks and then drilled a couple of holes for skin pins.
Ok then, the point of no return as just been reached. It's time to form the main parts of the dreaded rear panel, can it be done by a singular man, or do i need a spare pair of hands? Wifey would be watching Easthollyoaksfarmstreet, so i was definately alone.... onwards i went, into the unknown.

 With the panel lay flat on the floor on suitable anti scratch protection,
i gently started to lift the centre area up and toward the top capping strip whilst pushing toward the floor to ensure the panel stayed flat and true.
The rad on the bottom part and the capping strip i attached internally are now acting as a radius guage and forming the panel is working a treat.
Slowly applying more and more pressure, the panel is soon in its finished position and i'm heading toward the kettle to make a brew.
The panel is in full view of me as i sat in old comfy downing a fresh brew whilst grinning, satisfied my idea had worked. The rear panel can be a one man job if patience and fore thought are applied, god i love this car.

With the bends now formed, i removed the capping strip and set too on riveting the sides to the base and the cap to the top, but on the outside this time. To fit the capping strip to the panel, i used my set square to allign the edge with the start of the radius on the fold at the top of the rear panel (pic below) this would ensure a true and straight joint. Riveting as i went, the straight portion was soon finshed and i moved onto final fixing the curved areas. The first narrow tab i deemed to be wrong, so i bent it out of the way, and commenced from there, forming and riveting as i went.
The act of folding the tabs allowing for the alluminium thickness as left a really neat corner, with no tab cutouts visible at all.
Patience and attention applied, i soon had a fully complete panel i was happy with. Next step.... fit it too the car.    

           The Panel is hard riveted to the underside of the chassis at the rear, so armed with that information, i decided the first logical step would be to measure the depth of the rear panel (minus the thickness of the alluminium) to check the feet of the roll bar rear stays  where postioned correctly in relation to the rear cross member of the chassis.
Can anyone guess the answer?   The optimists among you will be dissapointed i'm afraid... a mile out was the answer. No bodys fault
if i'm honest, just the stresses of welding i suppose.
(Again, the pictures further below should help explain what i did.)

 Using a long timber i spragged one of the stays up until it measured correct to the chassis, then using a spirit level i checked if the chassis was level as it sat.  It wasn't far off, so i put a mark on the sight glass
to mark where the bubble sat and then clamped the level to the previously set rear stay. Trusty timber in hand again, i spragged the remaining stay into position until the level lined up with the marks i made.
I do believe it's time to try the panel on the car.... will it fit.... err?

I was just about to lift the panel onto the rear of the car... wait!  scratches.... panic....
Placing the panel back down, i applied liberal amounts of masking tape to the chassis areas where the panel could catch it. Better than scratching the powder coating any day.
The panel was then offered up into position, allowing the side parts to pant slightly to ease their passage around the roll hoop areas.
A couple of G clamps held it in place, then a step away to see how it looked.
Very pleased is an understatement, i couldn't believe how different just one simple panel could make the project look.
I wasn't too happy with how the side of the rear panel was designed to overlap the side panel already fitted, so a bit of thought went into a different course of action... but not today.

             Back to the real world now if we may, and  as i write this, i'm fresh back from Stoneleigh. WOW! what a weekend we had, a cracking show and the turn out for the RHOCaR stand was awesome. I believe somebody counted 112 cars at one point on the Sunday and if you couple that with the friendly & humorous nature of the hoodies, the glorious sunshine and copious amounts of homebrew to whet down the evening comedy shows that are becoming the course of play whilst camping, all i can say is... Roll on Newark.

Well, see you all in the next episode of my kit build blitherings and hope you all have a good summers driving.

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