The Body is Back On!!

After a TON of work, sweat, bruises, cuts and scrapes we finally have the rear body shell back on the chassis.  Hopefully it’s on there for good and we never have to take it back off again.  We’ve been working non-stop on the car since Wednesday morning and I believe we’re going to take Sunday off to let our bodies recover.  Working out in that 30 degree heat can take a toll on your body.

But with that said, I don’t think I’ll seal it down to the chassis until I double check that the car is running and I don’t have any fuel leaks.  The tank is a bit of a pain in the butt to install and it would be a really difficult task to pull it back out and re-install it with the body attached.  Not impossible, but REALLY difficult.

The day started off with my Dad tackling a project that I’ve been meaning to get finished for a while which was the mesh area in the top vent.  This mesh is really just decorative because I need the car to be water tight.

The fabrication started off as usual with bristol board templates which were transferred onto some steel to be cut out.  Once the steel was cut we drilled three holes in the top vent area of the body so that we could hold the steel in place and mark the holes from behind.

Then we cut the heads off of three bolts and welded them onto the back using the markings from the holes.  These then become studs that press back through the holes so that we can place a washer and nut on the inside of the rear cabin.

Once the welding cooled we gave the front of the plate a good coat of primer so that it would be ready for paint and also stop any rust from forming.  The below picture shows what it looked like when we test fit it by pressing the studs back through the holes.

The next step was to add the mesh to this new backing plate.  What we used was some good old coated gutter guard that you would place over top of your eavestrough to keep debris out.  This mesh was then trimmed to have about a 2″ overlap so that we could bend/work it around the outside of the metal and then tack weld it from behind to hold it all in-place as we moved along.

Tack welding made a huge difference so that the mesh wouldn’t bounce around when we were trying to form it with a body hammer.  It was a pretty simple procedure but you needed to take your time and work along an edge and then make relief cuts as you went along and trim away the excess.

The below pictures give you an idea of how the mesh looks and the fit that we were able to achieve.  The primer color is just temporary as both the mesh and backing plate will be painted the same color as the car.  The idea of the mesh is that it shouldn’t stand out, but be one of those details that you see as you look closer.

While the mesh project was going on, I was seam sealing the chassis to get it ready for laying down some black enamel paint!  I believe we went through about 6 cans of gloss black Duplicolor engine enamel which covers really well and provides a nice durable finish.

It’s funny how the chassis looks smaller when painted black instead of the bright grey of the primer coat.  My goal was to paint all the areas that were going to be either covered by the body or were going to be difficult to reach when the body was attached.

After the chassis was painted we started the next step of assembling all the fittings for the fuel tank and get it installed.  We connected up the pick-up tube, threaded in an NPT 3/8″ hose barb and secured some fuel injection rubber hose.  We cut a good length of hose but we’ll likely only need a bit of it.  This feed hose will go to a fuel filter and then to a hard line through the chassis opening and then to the external pump.

We also drilled out a hole (making sure we caught all the debris) for the fuel return line connector which was a Russell bulkhead fitting.  The assembly consisted of an 0-ring and nut on the inside of the tank to secure it and prevent any kind of leaks.

We didn’t install the sending unit for the fuel level sensor yet as I have a bit of fabrication left to do on it.  For one, there was a bolt hole that didn’t quite line up.  Also I will be welding on a steel NPT bung to the plate of the sending unit where I’ll thread in the vent/roll-over valve to both ensure that the tank isn’t pressurized and also so that it won’t leak fuel in the case of a roll-over.

All that was left was to move the tank into its position, strap it down and connect the fuel filler neck.  I’ll likely weld a little stud onto one of the straps that I can use to run a grounding wire from the tank to the chassis.

You can see the little red ring around the filler neck hose where it enters the chassis.  This is the silicone coupler that I have pressed into the opening to ensure that there isn’t any metal coming into contact with the filler neck hose.  I’ll connect up the tank’s feed and return lines once I run the hard lines to and from the engine bay.

The final task for the day was to fiberglass in the porthole windows while the body was off the chassis.  This started off with first using some of the short-strand filler to make a more gradual slope from the edge of the frame to the cabin wall.

Then I covered the porthole with some masking tape.  The masking tape served both as something to block the wind as I was trying to add resin to the cloth, but also as something to stick the cloth to on the inside while I was adding the resin.

Once everything had dried I cut off the excess and we were good to go.  I’ll likely eventually put in some temporary windows so that I can use a little more short strand to get a consistent window sill depth.

And that was it for the day.  We fastened the body back down onto the chassis at around 9pm.  My daughter was helping out in the final stages before she was called in for bed time.  She’s a natural with that floor jack 🙂

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