Automating the Clay Pigeon Doors

Today was a bit of a mixed bag.  I was disappointed that my idea for the linear actuators to help me lower the hood onto the chassis didn’t work out, but was also a bit glad that I didn’t have to try and get all four of those actuators working in unison.

Essentially I needed a long throw on the actuators (18″) so that they would catch the hood before it touched the frame, but that length plus the motors made the actuator too long to fit vertically under the hood.  I was going to have ground clearance issues with the bottom of the actuators.

So I decided to think about different ways that I might be able to use some of the actuator which were not sitting there unused.  Then I remembered the clay pigeon shooters that I wanted to come to life. That inspiration got me started working on those doors to figure out a way for the actuators to push and pull them open and closed.

I figured I could mount the actuator right on top of the 30 cal speaker enclosure.  I just need to make sure that the front of the actuator doesn’t sit much further in front of the speaker enclosure or it will hit the hood when it’s being lowered into place.

But before I hook up any actuators I need to get the doors fabricated, connected and pivoting.  To start I needed to cut out the door opening to see what I was working with.

What I realized later after looking at some photos of the actual car I didn’t cut out enough for the opening. So I’ll have to make some adjustments.  As you can see from the reference photo below, the area behind the handle is open and used as a vent.

I left a bit of a ledge around the opening just so that you din’t see light coming out from around the gap of the door.  I’ll likely keep it that way because it makes the side look more “put together”.

Another thing I noticed from some screen captures is that they reinforced the back of the door with some steel.  Most likely because they were opening up the doors when the car was moving which would put a lot of stress on these fiberglass doors.  Stick your arm out of the window of your car when moving and you’ll see what I mean 🙂

These doors also have more quirks that you’ll find on the actual movie cars.  Some of the cars in the films had the little details on the bottom of the door and others had them at the top.   Here’s a screen capture of one of the cars that had the details at the top.

I’ve chosen to have my details at the bottom of the doors as seen in these behind-the-scene photos that someone at WB sent me 🙂

But there’s work to be done.  There was only one mold used for the doors so that means that one of the doors was upside down for the details.  The square and oval indents needed to be cut out and moved down to the bottom.

After the section was cut out I moved it down the alignment lines and traced the same shape at the bottom of the door so that I would have the perfect size piece to replace the cut-out section at the top.

I wrapped up some wood in tinfoil so that the fiberglass resin wouldn’t stick to the wood and then laid the pieces face down in their proper locations.  Then it was just a matter of applying some resin and fiberglass matt to the back of the door.

Now I’ll just have to do a little body filler work and sanding and it will be ready to rock.

Next step for these doors is to find a piece of pipe that’s the right size and scale to be the rear hinge piece that the door pivots on.  I believe that means another trip to the hardware store tomorrow with some reference photos to see what I can find.

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