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Old 05-07-2006, 01:00 PM
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Rich Lackey
 

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demise of the sundowner?

Hey Guys,

It's again been an inexcusably long time since I last posted, and so a lot of the people reading this probably have no idea who I am. For those who do, and who have followed my '54 Chevy retractable build, I've got a bit of a problem that I need some help with.

The first problem is that I just discovered a thread in which a picture of myself that I posted in my project journal bore a striking resemblance to Napoleon Dynamite. This is rather unfortunate for me, but thankfully I don't look like him in person, and more importantly I'm not nearly as retarded. Nice one though, it definitely made me laugh!

Seriously though, the real problem is that I reformatted my computer without backing up any of the CAD plans for my retractable hardtop mechanism, floor and chassis modifications... it's all gone.

So, do I start again and generate all those plans from scratch again, or abandon the sundowner altogether and just restore it?

I know in the end only I can make the decision, but some opinions might help. At the moment I still want to go for it, but I change my mind every time I walk into the garage.

I'd post a poll, but I've never figured out how.

Rich

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Old 05-07-2006, 02:53 PM
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Gaww! idiot!<<< napoleon dynamite impression

Good to hear from you rich, That sucks about the plans, didn't you upload some of them to your journal?
Personally, I wouldn't give up on it. The computer plans will only help you so far. The real problems Im betting youd be facing with or without the plans.
No matter how good the computer is, the skill and workmanship are still gonna be what counts the most



Brad
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Old 05-07-2006, 03:31 PM
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It all comes down to whether or not you want to make it happen.The loss of the CAD stuff is not going to end the project unless you want it to.I'm sure that you remember enough of the basic concept to be able to do that part of the job again-this time it'll be a lot easier because you've worked out the problems once already. My vote (FWIW) is to go ahead and make the car what you wanted it to be.Every project hits a glitch or two-getting past them is half the fun.

George
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Old 05-07-2006, 08:13 PM
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I would say go ahead with it. Everyone hits a glitch or two at times, but hopefully they will labor through the setbacks and continue on. I don't know, I've never built an extensive project, just did some work on other peoples stuff and messed around with things just to see if I could do it. Stuff like remove an engine and assemble after machining that I never had done before and when I was younger took the body off the frame of my beater s10 after the engine decided it wanted to exit the rod through the oil pan. I was planning on doing something with it, but decided it wouldn't be worth it, to me I really wasn't interested in a s10 for a project, I just continued removing the body to hopefully learn from it. I don't know much about cad, but have a free program I mess around with sometimes. I tried to make parts from it, but even though the basic shapes were there, the proportions always seemed to be off when I scaled it larger. I did almost have a 34 ford body made from plywood and fiberglass when I was layed off and had time on my hand, minus fenders. Didn't finish and moved on to other things, but a good learning experience if I were to try it again. For something like you are doing trying to get a top, I would spend a lot of time reading, looking at different designs and try to find away to make something work. Maybe build a scale model first like they did before computers. I still believe even after cad drawings are made, many people still build a scale model, make templates, ect. When a prototype is made, there end up usually being some changes made. Make it a challenge to yourself to see it through. If you get frustrated, clear your mind for awhile and do something fun, or work on another part of the car. The way you learn is from your mistakes. Now daydream a little about how cool it will be when you are done and can say you made the retractable top and made it work. Try to stay motivated even through problems, there always seem to be a few. I just worked on painting a hood, simple repair I've done many times before. Gave me a lot of trouble. But I had to finish it. After just leaving it sit, buying some more materials and redoing it, Things went right. Guess when you have experienced enough problems over the years, you expect them occasionally, but still is easy to get frustrated. But you'll work it out and be relieved and happy in the end. Okay I've done enough rambling now. Take a break, but don't let your setback stop you from continuing on something if you really want it. I like to look at the patent site as one place to get ideas on how things work, even though I don't understand most of the mumble jumble technical terms. If you don't have a tiff viewer, you can download one free. Although you can't copy someone elses stuff and copy it and sell, I don't see a problem with getting a few ideas for something you are building. Heck, bet most of those filing the patents got many of their ideas from someone else.
http://www.uspto.gov/patft/index.html
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Old 05-08-2006, 09:33 AM
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Here´s one drawing.
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Old 05-08-2006, 10:50 AM
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You might be able to recover the cad drawings

There are programs that can recover the drawings if you didn't wipe the hard drive with multiple passes.
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Old 05-09-2006, 06:02 AM
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Rich Lackey
 

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Thanks Guys,

I value the opinions of others. If I am completely honest with myself, I know that I won't be happy with the project if I don't stick it through. I'll have some time while I am in the UK now, I leave Monday, so I'll regenerate as much of the previous designs as I need.

In the end though I realise it comes down to fabrication skills, attention to detail, quality workmanship and a whole lot of patience.

For the most part the computer modelling was for two purposes, firstly to build an exact scale model without actually having to build a model, and check component fit, clearances, etc... to determine if it would work at all. That much is done, I know it will work.

The second purpose was to be able to laser cut most of the sheetmetal parts I will need to fabricate the new firewall, floor, framing, chassis X-member, and the roof mechanism itself. This would ensure as close to perfect fit as possible when it comes to clamping and welding.

This is why I will have to generate a lot of the CAD work again, so that I can drop off a CD at the steel supplier with the components as AutoCAD dwg files, and then just pick up my ready to weld kit of perfectly precision cut sheet and plate parts when they are done.

My argument to myself was that I should rather start with a original hardtop for this build, but I know that as much as I love customs, mild or radical, I also know that I am not likely to cut up a otherwise restorable hardtop if I had one. A 4dr sedan on the other hand with some extra work will end up the same and I have no problem cutting into it.

Thanks again for the encouragement.

Rich
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Old 05-26-2006, 08:01 AM
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Little late to the thread - I only get to the Lounge when I have lots of spare time at work.

Anyhow, I've contemplated a hard top for a totally different vehicle.

I wasn't going to use CAD - my plan was to build a fiberglass mold off the outside of the existing top.

That way, I can build several replicas of the top cheaply and try out different ideas. I figured I could start with high-density foam to give a lightweight, rigid, easily cut-able part. Once that got refined (where to section the top, how the sections might "stack" or fit in the well, etc.) I figured I'd build a fiberglass top in the mold, and either fill it with HD foam, or build a basic wood or steel skeleton to keep it rigid. From that, I could design the actual folding mechanism and work out any unforseen problems.

Just my ideas - don't know if they help you at all or not.

Also, the vehicle I'm thinking about is already a convertible with a removable clamp-on hardtop, so I would have the luxury of being able to make a mold of the hardtop, but play with ideas without having to cut off an existing hardtop.
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Old 05-26-2006, 08:28 AM
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Rich Lackey
 

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That is actually a very good idea! You've started the wheels turning now.

I want to stick with an all steel structure, even for the roof, and I think sectioning my original steel roof skin and fabricating some internal support framing into each section is going to be the best way for me to achieve what I am envisioning. I would never attempt to build a steel roof from scratch for something like my '54 Chevy as reproducing all those compound curves are way beyond my skill level.

However, making a fibreglass "dummy" roof from the original could be a good way to test everything before cutting into and otherwise potentially ruining the only steel roof I've got.

I'm definitely going to think about this one.

It's helpful and encouraging to know someone else is trying a similar thing. I would definitely like to keep an eye on your progress.

I'll be back in South Africa from England in a few weeks, and hopefully I can afford to buy a decent MIG welder, then the fun and games will begin to transform a '54 Chevy Bel Air 4dr into the sundowner!

Rich
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