It looks like I'll have time for finish and paint before MAX and I head off to the MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR.
I'm down to the last bit of essential bodywork: fairing in the gap between the rear fenders and the doors.
As you may recall from MAX Update No. 56: Back to the Drawing Board, MAX had the original Escape-from-Berkeley rear fenders for a while 'cause I couldn't make the Lola fenders symmetrical. I figured I was going to have to make one new fender to match the other one, which would have been lots of work and a bit more expense, and folks, we're getting close on that $10,000 budget and I'm counting my pennies. So for expedience, I've done my best (pause for laughter) with the Lola fenders. As long as you don't look at both fenders at the same time, it's looking pretty good.
I've made relatively large doors — for streamlining, comfort, and economy. MAX doesn't look as racy as it might, but it saved me from making molded fiberglass doors (ka-ching$) and ... I'm pretty smug about this: The doors and scuttle (the part between the nose and the driver, covering the dashboard) are simple curves and made from the same material as kitchen countertops. It was fairly easy to work with and I'm into all three parts for about $60. Plus it's already white (though I did mess up and forgot to order it in gloss finish, so I'll probably end up painting it anyway).
Back to the fenders. The fairing between the doors and fenders were first roughed out with canned spray-on insulation foam, using clear packaging tape to keep it from sticking to the doors (most everybody who works with composites has bonded two parts together by accident — I've already had that experience, so I was careful not to glue the door shut). I squirted the foam into the gap and gave it 24 hours to firm up, while every spectator pointed out that it looked pretty horrible and wondered if I'd really thought this through. But once it was firm, I carved it to shape, sanded it smooth, covered it with fiberglass, and filled in the major flaws with automotive body putty. That's the stage of completion in the photo at the top.
Next step is some more tuft testing. I've already tuft tested from nose to scuttle, and the airflow hugs the front half of the car nicely. Next, we'll see how the air flows over the doors and pontoons, and then how well it transitions to the stern. If the door-to-fender transition needs more work, I'd rather do the work before I paint it, but I couldn't help but be curious so I gave it a dash of white primer.
The white doesn't match the rest of the body (hey, it's a primer) but I think an edge trim and a coat of gloss white on top would put me well on my way to a 50/50 paint job, and MAX is already so white I may spare a few rattlecans and keep the painting costs under $39.90 this time. I know, I know, I've been talking about getting MAX professionally painted some day, but a budget is a budget and paint doesn't do much for mileage.
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