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1963 Etype Coupe

1963 Etype – The Bodywork Slog, Continued

It has been a while since I last posted. Bodywork- It’s a slog. I have been concentrating on the bonnet. The bonnet has a lot going on with it and it is a little bit of a wet noodle until you get things tied down. In my case, I gave up on saving my existing bonnet center section, as poorly repaired accident damage was going to be impossible to fix correctly. So I purchased a new bonnet center section from SNG. Fortunately, it represents one of the cheaper items in the bonnet that can be purchased. About $1600. As I understand, they source them out of Poland.

I cannot do justice to the hours of “fettling” that is required. Very generally, here is the approach I took. I first installed my new engine frames that I purchased from Etype Fabs and the “picture frame” and bonnet support frame that came with the car. The body shell is mounted on the rolling cart. After getting the body level in both planes, I made some measurements to see if the attachment points on the bonnet support frames were also level and equidistant from the firewall. They were not. After some checks, I established that the problem was with the bonnet support frame, original to the car. Fortunately, I had a bonnet support frame that I had purchased from Etype Fabs years ago. I installed it and my dimensions looked much better! Next I mounted the bonnet front lower section and checked it for accuracy. It was OK. Next I mounted the center section, using clamps to hold it in place. The center section comes long at the cowl end. The stiffener at the cowl end is also shipped loose. Finally I mounted the two wings, also using clamps. Let’s just say that the band was not playing together very well! Sorry but there is no way I can describe the 75 hours it took me to get everything in tune. At some point, I got the bonnet latch mechanisms installed and used these to locate the bonnet at the cowl. Oh, did I mention that the center section did not come with any holes drilled? Anyway, I am pretty close, as can be seen in the pictures below.

I did an experiment. I placed two 30 gallon containers in the cockpit where the seats go and filled them with water, which basically adds 500 pounds of weight. I supported the front and rear of the car where the suspension goes. I had place “witness marks” at the bonnet to cowl seam. As expected, the panel gaps moved around with this added weight. I have decided that I will not really be able to finalize the bonnet to cowl gaps until most of the mechanical weight of the engine, transmission, etc are added to the car. As a consequence, I will apply urethane high build primer to the entire body shell but hold off on painting the basecoat/clearcoat until I have the car assembled and fully deflected under its operating weight, which will give me one last chance to adjust the panel gaps. This is probably for the best, as I will be able to do the entire mechanical assembly once without any fear of scratching the final paint. But that probably means that final paint is still many months away. Sigh! I’m glad I don’t do this for a living.

Containers filled with water to add weight

Two 30 gallon containers of water being filled.

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