MAX Update No. 47: Nose Fabrication Continues

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Last week, I split the nose in half so the fenders would cover MAX’s wheels, and wrote as an aside, “Actually, there’s another option, and I kind of wish it had come to me before I grabbed the Sawzall, but more on that later.” So now it’s later, and here’s the other option: Since I made the control arms myself (those are the arms that connect the wheels to the chassis), there’s nothing stopping me from making the arms shorter and moving the front wheels closer together.

But I won’t do that just yet. Instead of using a removable single piece nose assembly, I’m making a decidedly un-Lola-like three piece nose — two fenders separated by a hood. This will make it easier to check the oil when my pit crew’s not around (open the hood, duh), plus I’ll be able to make body width adjustments by changing just the hood, which should be fairly easy compared to a fender. If I find I need to make the body an inch wider, I can make an inch wider hood and that will push the fenders apart an inch. I’m doing similarly in the back, so I’ll be able to fine tune the body without starting all over.

The fenders are pretty good the way they are, so now we need a pattern for the hood, and I’m going to make a basic hood first. I’ll add the bubble (see Update No. 46) once I know exactly where it’ll be needed. Here’s the progress to date:

I cut off the bubble, and to make the hood symmetrical I cut the same size hole in the nose opposite the bubble. This let me bulge the middle of the nose a bit, by rejoining the nose halves flush at the front but parting slightly as the joint moves back. I positioned the halves with straps and once I had them where I wanted them, riveted them to narrow sheets of 1/8″ plywood paneling. Then I joined the halves together permanently, by fiberglassing them together on the inside; naturally I had to take the nose off the car for the interior fiberglassing operation; there wasn’t room under there for both me and the engine.

Once the fiberglass resin had cured, I removed the plywood joiners and put the nose back on the car. The fit looked good (except it was touching the turbocharger, which we’ll fix with a new bubble) so I cut a piece of that 1/8″ paneling an inch bigger than the hole in the hood, and glued it to the back of the nose with automotive body putty. This gave me something solid, a base on which I could perform my art. Then it was off to a big box building supply, for some thin urethane foam insulation — it’s the best foam for small jobs because fuberglass resins won’t hurt it.  

Once the hole had a flat base to work against, I glued a 2″ wide strip of 1/2″ thick urethane foam down the center of the plywood panel. Once the glue had set, I used a sanding block and 120-grit sandpaper to shape the foam to follow the curve of the centerline, and once that was done, I covered the foam with fiberglass cloth and resin. Now I have a hard rib going the length of the hole in the hood.

The next step will be to cover the plywood base with more urethane foam strips, and by using the body on the outside of the hole and the rib in the center of the hole as my guides, I hope to shape the foam to an invisible blend with the rest of the body. Time will tell … not too much time, I hope.

Photos by Jack McCornack

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