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05-23-2005 03:59 AM some disassembly required
After coming out of my winter hibernation, I started work on the garage extension to house my '49 Olds. The old girl had to be pulled back a few feet for some clearance before being put up on blocks. I've heard tales of people with concrete floors and hydraulic lifts to aid in working on their cars, but I'm not sure I believe them. Sounds like fairie tales, to me. I grabbed my trusty 12-ton hydraulic bottle jack and assorted timbers and went to work.

The idea was to have a tie beam (4x4) across the width of the car in front and back. Somebody added something extra to the exhaust manifold at some time (see photo 1) that got in the way of that idea. To get to that mess, the electric fuel pump that was in the wrong place had to be removed, which required the big oil bath air filter had to be removed. If God had intended for old exhaust systems to remain in place, He/She wouldn't have invented the Sawzall. (Insert your Diety of choice).

Don't give me grief about my blocking system; it works. Two concrete blocks placed tight together (with the holes vertical, as if laid in a wall) provide a base, two 4x4's are laid across those with one of the 4x4's running the full width of the car, two more short 4x4's cross those with a final short piece of 2x8 on top of those. That gives a grand total of 16 inches of lift on a base of 16x16 at each "post". For either end to move sideways, the tie beams ensure that 4 blocks in 2 tightly-placed pairs would have to roll. The frame itself acts as the front to back tie beam on each side. I wouldn't do this on a vehicle without a full frame.

Pulling the wheels was not as hard as I expected. It's been 30 years since they were removed but only a few lugnuts gave that elbow joint-jarring screech and release. I almost attacked the left side with a 4 foot pipe on the lug wrench. Some alarm went off in my head and I rubbed the rust off the lug bolts. Somebody at GM decided the ones on the left should be left-hand nuts. See photo 2.

It took all day to get the car moved, jacked, blocked and wheels removed. I really miss my air compressor.

Photo 3 shows the front suspension that will be coming out. I'm scouting for an S10 as a possible donor, as suggested to someone else by "lakeroadster" at

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  [Entry #18]

05-21-2005 09:25 PM egg - inside
Putting epoxy and fiberglass cloth on the inside of a curve is very different from putting it on the outside. Stretch and smooth the cloth on a convex surface and it looks better and better; try the same on a concave surface and it pulls away everywhere but where you're smoothing. Try it while kneeling on a concrete floor, leaning into a big sticky bowl wearing rubber gloves covered with more sticky goop. Add my ignorance and inexperience into that mixture and the photos show the results.

Doing your own composite fiberglass project will likely make you have a little more respect for the pros who do it for a living. (Even though any of them who might see this are probably rolling on the floor or in shock).

Photo 1: Any plumber knows that -stuff- runs down hill. Even sticky stuff like epoxy will run down to the bottom of a bowl. See the resin pools in the bottom. They are still there, providing extra reinforcement for the egg's lid.

Photo 2: Air bubbles -- try to dab them with the end of a paint brush and they move; squeegee them and the saturated cloth pulls off of some other part of the concave surface. I'll sand and fill, later.

(Cold weather set in after the inside of the egg was covered. My garage is not heated and I spend only as much time as I have to in it during winter. Almost caught up in my journal).

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  [Entry #17]

05-20-2005 01:24 AM egg - flipped
It took a while for the egg to harden because of cool weather. I scoured the Bulletin Board for information about epoxy not ever hardening and also pestered everyone I knew who had ever done body work, for reassurance that the thing would, eventually, harden if the resin and hardener were mixed properly to begin with. They were and it finally did. I unbolted the anchor bolts from under the trailer, tapped them loose and the egg sat there.

Next came figuring out some way to get it to let go of the duct tape. I tried all kinds of things: pocket knife, utility knife, putty knife, even a fileting knife. It turned out to take a combination. I'd work the filet knife a little ways under the fiberglass, ease a putty knife under, then slide the filet knife along that fiberglass-duct tape interface. It took several round trips before getting all the way to the top of the tape, then the egg popped off. My son was drafted to help flip the thing over and gently set it in a nest of polyethylene on the same aluminum frame on which it baked.

The wooden framework was just tedious to remove. The main 2x4 frame rails had to be cut. The dumbest stunt I did was screwing all those plywood ribs to the plywood semi-circle bulkheads from the topside with 1-1/4" drywall screws. I had to peel each rib loose from the foam, one by one, and break it at each bulkhead, then peel each bulkhead out. The original idea was to leave the plywood ribs in place for extra strength and just 'glas over them. D'oh!

Photo 1: egg flipped, in its nest. Not as rough as it looks, actually very smooth but you can see every drop of glue and patch of foam through the epoxy and fiberglass cloth.

Photo 2: disassembling the frame.

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  [Entry #16]

05-19-2005 01:10 AM egg - baking
Being my first fiberglass project, I was too busy during the slopping of resin and laying on of fiberglass cloth to take pictures. I bought the 2-hour pot-life hardener to give myself plenty of time to correct mistakes. That may have been a mistake as a sudden cold snap dropped the temperature that night and my garage is unheated. (This was late last fall; I'm still catching my journal up).

The 7.5 oz. fiberglass cloth was cut to drape over and fit the egg, then the 4 oz. was fitted. Both were removed, hardener was mixed using the little measuring cups that came in the "gallon starter kit" from (I had left-over rubber gloves, brushes and plastic squeegees, but am glad I ordered that kit). Mixed epoxy was brushed on the backside of the 7.5 oz. cloth, it was flipped, arranged, and more brushed on the topside until it was saturated. I smoothed it out with the squeegees then repeated the procedure with the 4 oz. cloth. The strands of the two layers cross at 90 degrees to each other; each running at about 45 degrees from the centerline of the egg.

As the temperature fell and the resin dripped, I tacked up a hasty polyethylene tent around the egg and dragged out a propane heater. The whole egg and trailer was lifted about two feet off the floor onto an aluminum frame. The temp varied a lot from floor to ceiling. Sometime during the night the 20 lb. bottle of propane expired. The egg was merely sticky by the time things warmed the next day.

First photo: heater and egg

Second photo: egg sitting on frame. The glue joints for the foam segments are plainly visible through the epoxy and fiberglass. All of that should disappear under primer and paint, someday.

Third photo: closeup of an over-sanded glue joint. You can see the space where the fiberglass and resin spanned the low spot. On a convex shape, smoothing the saturated cloth causes it to span those dips. It should be strong enough in that area, though. I just messed up while shaping the foam. The glue is very tough and rubbery while the foam around it is very easy to sand away. The best method I found to lower the glue lines was to shave them with electric hair clippers. It was a weird sight, I'm sure, to see some apparition covered in fine foam dust, wearing safety goggles and dust mask, giving a foam egg a haircut.

Edited to add:

Forgot to mention my "release agent". I just wrapped several layers of clear 2" wide cellophane tape (same stuff you tape up packages with) around the trailer and added several more layers of duct tape on that. I wanted to have a place for some kind of rubber seal between the steel and the fiberglass when the egg gets bolted on later.

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  [Entry #15]

05-17-2005 10:41 PM egg - shaping
Still catching up my journal. . .

The foam board does not bend very much before breaking so it had to be cut into wedges to roughly form the egg. This stuff is really easy to sand and shape but that also means you can go too far in a heartbeat. You can sand it or rub another piece of foam on it or just rub it with your hands. Keep a dust mask and blowgun handy; dust goes everywhere.

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  [Entry #14]

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