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Old 04-21-2009, 12:51 PM
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fiberglass replica vette

Kind of thinking out loud here. Appreciate your thoughts.

My FIL has a '62 Vette he bought wrecked in the 70s. He put a front subframe out of some other 60s vintage Chevy, the front clip is a lightweight fiberglass racing replica. The rear wheel arches are cut out for slicks. Interior is mostly gutted, but the dash and interior fiberglass pieces are still there, and it has the hardtop and top cover.

Been sitting in his garage for decades, but it isn't for sale. He's healthy as an ox, so there's no chance of inheritance anytime soon

To be kind, its been butchered, but there's still a lot of "vette" left.

62 happens to be my favorite year, but if you've seen prices, they are pretty much made of unobtanium. I'm sure even what he has there would bring quite a bit of $$ in the condition it's in.

So, I was thinking that I might be able to talk him into letting me make duplicates of all the fiberglass pieces. Use those to build my own on my own chassis. Wouldn't be an exact replica, but if it's just for me, and the alternative is to not have one, I think I could live with that. Plus I could build a more modern, driveable chassis on a less tempermental drivetrain. Could be fun.

How feasible is duplicating something complicated like an early vette if I don't need it to be a reproduction, but only a replica?

Any ideas on all the miscellaneous things that couldn't be fiberglass. There's a lot of stainless and chrome, and I bet those won't be cheap (and he doesn't have all those pieces anyway). Can that sort of thing be handmade or are repro pieces (or doing without) my only alternatives?

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Old 04-21-2009, 03:59 PM
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Well it's not a bad idea and could be a lot of fun. But you're not gonna come out cheap. If you just want a corvette the middle 80's are the best buys right now. But if you are die hard for a 1962 then you could buy all or most of the body parts from Eklers It just wouldn't be pratical to pop a mold off of your father-in-law's car. Now something you could think about would be to buy one from out of the middle 80's and then skin it with the 62 body. It would be a lot of work because the windshield post and glass are a lot different but you would end up with a chassis, engine and suspension far superior to the 62. Here lately I have seen plenty of 86's and 87's going for around five grand and they were drivable and the over all condition was decent.
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:13 PM
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have you talked to you father in law lately. maybe you could work something out with him on his car.pending what kind of relationship you guys have never know. cole
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:14 PM
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If you wanted to spend a bunch of time making the molds and parts youself, your cash outlay would be minimal.

You can make cheap-o splash molds using fiberglass, or even plaster of paris and have them be good enough to pull one or 2 sets of very useable parts out of. You material cost would be about the only out of pocket costs.

I did just that a few months ago, I recreated the lower 2' on the side of a Chinook motorhome from scratch, and the only involved part was the wheel opening.( I could have spent about 4 hours shaping foam, then 2 on layup , then do the skimcoat and bodywork...I'm a cheat )
Luckily the wheel openings were symetrical from side to side, so it was a no brainer. .I made a quick mold that took less than 3 hours (cumulative) start to part, and the prep was minimal..I waxed the wheel opening with partall#2, (green wax) then shot 2 coats of Slime..(pva for overspray), then did a 3 layer layup over the area I wanted to copy..when that cured I pulled the mold, sanded only the worst boogers, hit it with 2 coats of green wax, another 2 passes with the Slime and made a perfect part in the thing...

There is more to it, but if you want to go that route, I can elaborate.

A whole car is nothing more than a bunch of little parts. A proper plan of attack is the most important part of the job, if all you are doing is a quicky splash. Believe me, there are more fiberglass companies out there than not, who do justthat and make a business out of it. But there are ways to do it cheap, and still get a decent part.

Later, mikey
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Old 04-21-2009, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ckucia
Kind of thinking out loud here. Appreciate your thoughts.

My FIL has a '62 Vette he bought wrecked in the 70s. He put a front subframe out of some other 60s vintage Chevy, the front clip is a lightweight fiberglass racing replica. The rear wheel arches are cut out for slicks. Interior is mostly gutted, but the dash and interior fiberglass pieces are still there, and it has the hardtop and top cover.

Been sitting in his garage for decades, but it isn't for sale. He's healthy as an ox, so there's no chance of inheritance anytime soon

To be kind, its been butchered, but there's still a lot of "vette" left.

62 happens to be my favorite year, but if you've seen prices, they are pretty much made of unobtanium. I'm sure even what he has there would bring quite a bit of $$ in the condition it's in.

So, I was thinking that I might be able to talk him into letting me make duplicates of all the fiberglass pieces. Use those to build my own on my own chassis. Wouldn't be an exact replica, but if it's just for me, and the alternative is to not have one, I think I could live with that. Plus I could build a more modern, driveable chassis on a less tempermental drivetrain. Could be fun.

How feasible is duplicating something complicated like an early vette if I don't need it to be a reproduction, but only a replica?

Any ideas on all the miscellaneous things that couldn't be fiberglass. There's a lot of stainless and chrome, and I bet those won't be cheap (and he doesn't have all those pieces anyway). Can that sort of thing be handmade or are repro pieces (or doing without) my only alternatives?

You know if I wanted to own a Vette I would start looking for a basket case that is missing a bunch of parts that I would get cheap. I had a 64 Coupe that I bought that way. It was missing a LOT of parts. I started gathering what I could at swap meets and such and then got into the "click" of Vette owners and even the super hard to find stuff came along pretty easy. Heck, the roof vents were missing and a 75ish Datsun 260Z came into the shop with 64-65 roof vents on the hood that the guy wanted removed!

At most every swap meet you will see a body, at the last one there was a 56ish one piece body that was SUPER nice and could have been cut apart to make a more "normal" car. But leaving it together would have made for a kick in the pants street car! As I remember it was super cheap.

But I would start with looking for a basket case.

Corvette body on ebay (click here)

Brian
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Old 04-21-2009, 06:42 PM
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Thanks for all the opinions and advice.

The only vette that really does it enough for me to consider a project of this magnitude is the 61/62. I like the others, but if I went that route, I'd spend all that time and end up with "almost" what I wanted.

I have looked into buying the parts separately, but they seem to come in three flavors - new and very thin (for racing only) - new and very expensive (for restoration) and used (unobtanium). Some of the parts just aren't available at all except used, and that's just looking at the fiberglass.

The thing that sort of attracts me to the making a mold (besides having potential access to a halfway decent and available original) is it gives me a bit of freedom I wouldn't allow myself by cutting up an original (if I could even imagine affording a basket case). I could make a few subtle changes, like perhaps slightly widening the body for larger tires, building it as a flip-nose, moving the gas door, etc.

For some reason, the 61/62 vettes have skyrocketed in price over the last decade or so. I think part of it is their rarity - the whole backend is unique to just those two years, where the 57-60 share much in common, along with the front half of the 61/2. Still, the prices are unreal and, since I don't care if the stuff is molded like the factory did it in the 50s and 60s, just not worth the price.

When you come down to it, it's just a fiberglass car on a ladder frame, just like any other. Trim is a fortune no matter what, but the 62 had a bit less than it's predecessors.

BTW, I have talked to the FIL. He wants to turn it into a "rat vette". Black primer, gasser-style front end, wide slicks sticking out the side. Not the course I would take, but it's his car. It does have a 427 mated to a torqueflite. If that makes him happy, then I'm all for it - I'd just like to pull some molds off it in the meantime.
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:03 PM
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There is a firm that is making fiberglass replica Vette's. I saw one at the NSRA show a couple of years ago. The body actually looked better that original Vette bodies I have seen being worked on. I agree with you, the 61/62 is THE Vette for me.

Vince
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:20 PM
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Dang..at the last CORVHP meet there was a guy with repro 62 parts and they seemed to be reasonable..He wanted me to work for him selling parts but he would not give me a break on price..

Sam
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Old 04-21-2009, 07:34 PM
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I have mold experience and so does Brian. In fact Brian and I are so old that these days all we do is sit around and mold. LOL I don't want to sound like I'm raining on your parade but the only way that you can come out of the hole on the initial expense of pulling a mold is if you plan on making several bodies from it to recoup your investment. Do like Brian said, look for a used body or half of a body and piece it together with a few after market parts. There is several companies making after market parts for all years of corvettes, Eklers is not the only one. If the racer style bodies are too thin then lay up some fiber glass on the back side to stiffen them up.

Now if you are die hard in making a mold do as much searching on the web as you can for advise on fiber glass mold making. My experience has taught me that most molds need to be at least 3/8" of an inch thick and they have to have all kinds of cross bracing and stiffeners on the back side of them. And it is better if the mold is made out of epoxy resin (at three times the expense) rather than polyester resin. You also have to design the ability into the mold to be able to bolt and unbolt the mold. Just about all molds have two halves if not more so that you can unbolt the mold to get the piece out.

Being a good mold maker is something that is not learned over night, it is an art and a science. It's one thing to be able to make a plug or an original from scratch and a totally different thing to be able to make a successful mold off of it. Now just for giggles go down to your local marine supply house and buy a small fiber glass kit and some release agent. Bring it home and look around your garage for something small to make a mold off of, say a hub cap or something. After you make the mold and you are able to remove it from the original, lay up some fiber glass in it and see if you are successful. If you do succeed then you may have some natural talent. But the only way I would attempt such a task is if I had plenty of free time, your enthusiasm and a truck load of free fiber glass, cloth, resin and gel-coat.

Oh, one additional thing. You say the father-in-law is healthy and strong as an ox. That my be something to worry about when you start laying fiber glass on his car and then you can't get it turn loose. This happens more then you would think even with professionals.

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Old 04-21-2009, 08:32 PM
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I have a little experience at building molds too. Building parts as well. One offs from scratch too. My experience, especially some of my more recent experience, where I took a few chances and come out ok, has shown me that unless you are building production molds, you don't have to spend near the time on them you'd think. (some of the last CF parts I built came out of molds I'd made from .025" aluminum.) If you are willing to spend the time, and not count it as dollars, you will come out way better than buying something from someone else.

If you count your time on your own project as money, and look at it from that perspective, then you'd be better off buying it someplace else. For some people the time spent on a personal project is priceless to them.

For a one off you don't need too much glass on the mold as Chris says you'll need , and a few well placed pieces of cut ply wood reinforcement, a few pieces of coremat, some care in setup will net you a part that you would think came out of a high dollar mold. Epoxy resin is totally unnecessary and a extra expense you don't need. Isopthalic laminating ,(tooling) resin is not much more than 15.00 a gallon when you buy a 5 gallon bucket.
Yes I know how to make real molds . Plugs too.

Plug.

Plug without motorcycle attached.


Plugs with molds

( the pics of fresh fenders are at home )

Where they wound up.


here is a wiki article I wrote about making a fiberglass part from scratch. You can see all the steps are there for the layup technique..

Here is where the cf part out of that .025" aluminum mold went. It's the lower air scoop in the front of the bike.


The rest of the cf parts on that bike were made from molds made out of 3/16" ABS plastic. It was a one off deal, and as such, I did not need to spend any crazy amount of time to make molds.

Later, mikey
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Old 04-21-2009, 08:41 PM
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Here is a good in depth online article about building a 'vette body mold from plaster.

http://www.grandsportcorvette.com/gs/body.htm Those guys built it heavy, but for a single part, alot of the steps could be skipped. (gelcoating the plaster need not be done to laminate over it, PVA will do the job in 2 steps.)

If you want to get stuff done yourself, find a way that suits you, and make it work. I guess it is a character flaw that's makes me encourage guys who want to try something new for themselves.

In case you are wondering about my experience, I worked at Poli Form fiberglass for 12 years full time, winding up as shop foreman.
Here is what I used to build.


I built the plugs for the floor, decklid inner and outer, door inner and outer panels, and built the production molds for all of them as were used on that 34 coupe.. While I worked there, I built molds for things as small as latch panels that were a couple of inches across,, and the largest molds I built, was for a set of 65 foot catamaran hulls. ( I taught the guys at Caribe yachts how to build molds, and taught them by supervising all of the steps from plug to mold, and working with their crew of 12 laminators until they had a set of molds, they were previuosly making all of their boats and cats as one offs, using the buck method) Tooling was one of the things I enjoyed. And if I can pick it up, it ain't that hard.

Yes it does require some techniques that are learned over time, but every one of them by themself is easy..And the theory behind them is easy to understand as well.

Later, mikey
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Old 04-21-2009, 10:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by powerrodsmike
Here is a good in depth online article about building a 'vette body mold from plaster.

http://www.grandsportcorvette.com/gs/body.htm Those guys built it heavy, but for a single part, alot of the steps could be skipped. (gelcoating the plaster need not be done to laminate over it, PVA will do the job in 2 steps.)
That link is great. Really inspirational to show what can be done with pretty simple materials.

I think using plaster would make the whole project more palatable with the FIL. If something were to go wrong, it could be soaked off. I would only be interested in making one copy - if what resulted were good enough that someone wanted one, I'd just pull a mold of what I finished.
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Old 04-21-2009, 11:14 PM
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A man without fear

That is a good link to that plaster technique, Kenseth17 found and posted that one about 2 years ago, along with this one..which is pretty good too.

http://www.hotrodder.com/32Blowpar/page10.html

One of the cool things about building a mold from certain shapes, such as a 62 corvette, (which I'm reasonably sure was designed with the limitations of fiberglass in mind), is that it has alot of natural stiffness in the shape, as the body panels are curved and have fairly deep detail lines, which add stiffness as well.

Later, mikey
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Old 04-22-2009, 08:06 AM
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The fiberglass part seems to be pretty doable, one way or another.

I don't think the powertrain and frame would be all that big of a deal either.

Side glass is flat plate, and the windshield is actually pretty reasonable repro (under $300).

The thing that would really be hard is the trim. Amazingly expensive when you add it all up.

Looking at photos, a lot of the trim was toned down on the 61 and, especially 62, but there's still a fair amount. Biggies are the bumpers, grille, and windshield/window moldings. Also a fair amount inside, although I think some of that would be pretty easy to make. Seat covers are surprisingly reasonable, if you have the frames and foam to go under them. I'd make my own door panels - I never liked the stock designs.

Some of the pieces are stainless, and I think many of those I could make with a little effort and some custom tools, or could go with repro.

I guess this would still be the right forum - anyone have any ideas on making chrome cast/formed parts? I think the bumpers could be built up out of heavy gauge steel and essentially formed up like a body part with hammer/dolly/welding. Or, could make a strong "core" and cover it with a lighter gauge metal shell that was chromed.

Might be able to build the grille trim too, but I think some of the other smaller moldings would have to be cast.

I imagine those were made of pot metal back in the day. I wonder if replacements could be cast out of brass or bronze, or maybe even "whittled" out of a hunk of metal since they'd be one-offs just for me.


I guess I'm more interested in getting as close as I can to the style of an early Corvette, but I really don't want an early Corvette. Love 'em, but trying to keep a 45+ year old vintage near-priceless machine running and driving, and not damaging it in the process just isn't my idea of fun - I want to be able to drive it and drive it a lot. So, being an exact copy isn't as important. There are a lot of "close enough"s I could do, and in some areas parts could look original, but would actually be better than original for a driver, once I'm free of the "has to be exactly the same as original" mindset.
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Old 04-22-2009, 09:57 AM
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62 corvette......

HI,tell your FIL,that there was a 59 corvette(i think that was the year) that was burned..very badly,BUT,the guy who owned it,had a clear title and vin plate,the car sold for $29,000 on ebay. to me,it was worth about $10.00..all rusty,and very little of the body left.
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