Friday, February 29, 2008

29 Feb 08

I was out of the shop all day today. I had to go to Atlantic Veneer in Beaufort, NC, to get a load of backer boards from Jack and Rusty. Backer boards are the thick piece left over from slicing logs into veneer. I had a few minutes before Robert was able to get the forklift going, so I was able to marvel at the Merritt vacuum veneer slicer they had going. By about 2pm, Big Red was loaded up, strapped in, and ready to roll with another megaload of wood.
I got back to the shop at around 605pm. Hunt, Ben and Zac were working on a layer of fiberglass on the nose of the master mold. I took the wood down to Hunt's hanger at the airport to store it until we are ready to unload it. A lot of it is green and needs to be dried before use, so we will have to sticker it, which is a pain. The tongue was so heavy on the trailer that I had to get Zac to bring a bigger lever to help me pry it off with. He and Ben looked pretty beat and headed out for the night. They are going to come in tomorrow at 1pm to finish up the fiberglass so that we can let it cure for a day before pulling it on Monday. Aaron worked on putting the textures on the computer model all day and was glad to see the weekend finally arrive.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

28 Feb 08

We realized today that we get an extra day to get the car finished by the deadline. Leap year must be a sign that a timely completion is in the cards for us. This morning, I applied the superfine body filler to the fillets on the nose of the master mold in preparation for our first layer of chopped strand mat. Zac showed up, and he and I had a layer on the rear end by lunchtime. Hunt sprung for pizza, which turned out to be a mistake, since he ended up taking the blame when Brownie didn't get any. I am still not sure if Brownie is talking to Hunt again or not yet, but it will blow over.
After lunch, Zac and I got back to work on the fiberglass. Soon after we were back to work, Luke showed up and helped us. We got a second layer on the back and a first layer on the front, finishing up by about 645. Aaron worked on the renderings of the computer model until about 730 in machinelike fashion.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

27 Feb 08

The end is in site for the body master mold. As much as I have grown to love her, I am ready to see her get the heck out of the blue room. We tore off our flange reinforcements and masking paper from the table and center section of the master mold this morning. Ben and I spent most of the day sanding and prepping the surfaces for gelcoat. Zac came out early in the afternoon and helped us, and Aaron came out after a day of working on the computer model and helped us apply 3 coats of wax to the surfaces to be sprayed. After the guys left, Hunt sprayed a PVA film, and we broke for dinner. Hunt came back up after eating, and we had the gelcoat on and the gun cleaned by about 1030. We are ready to start glassing the last surfaces tomorrow. With any luck, we will be done Friday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

26 Feb 08

This morning, Hunt and I mixed some styrene monomer into polyester resin in preparation for the day's work. Then, I began to spread a thin coat of body filler on the surface of yesterday's fabmat layer. This smoothed out the surface of the coarse top layer of woven roving from the fabmat, resulting in less air underneath the next layer we were to apply. Ben and Zac worked on wiring in the outlets and switches in the new building while Aaron and I worked on some details of the computer model together. Soon, Aaron will be ready to start rendering the model and produce more accurate, refined images than those that are currently displayed throughout the site. That will be nice, as we have never really been happy with the first version, as it did not display the surfaces correctly, especially in the subtle areas.
After lunch, Ben and Zac came out and started getting ready to glass. They helped me finish the body filler skin coat and started applying the fabmat. Today, they tried pre-empregnating the glass with resin on a table before bringing it to the mold. It seemed to work well, since blotting resin is easier on a horizontal table at waist height than on a vertical surface that starts at the ground.. Luke showed up and pitched in, and we finished both sides by about 730pm. Ben and Zac stuck around to the bitter end.

Monday, February 25, 2008

25 Feb 08

Pretty good day on the car today. This morning, Hunt, Zac and I applied another layer of chopped-strand mat to each side of the body master mold. We broke for lunch and put down a layer of fabmat, which consists of a layer of chopped-strand mat bonded to a layer of woven roving. Aaron came out and helped after working on putting pics on the blog and further progress on the 3D computer model, and we finished up a little after 6. Caroline and I went to the Home Depot after dinner and bought 4 ceramic heaters, which we set up around the body mold to help the fiberglass resin cure.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

24 Feb 08

Hunt and I fiberglassed all day today. We covered each side of the car with a layer of chopped strand mat. Our signboard flanges all seemed to work well, and the fiberglass went down without a hitch. We used kitty hair, which is body filler mixed with chopped strand mat, to build out the seams a little between the flanges and the body. The radius was a little sharp to expect the fiberglass to conform to it otherwise. Ben came out and spray painted the wall inside the new shop, and it looks sweet. More fiberglassing tomorrow.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

23 Feb 08

This morning, we prepared the mold some more for gelcoat. I sanded the whole thing with 320grit, using a very minimal amount of glazing putty to improve the surface as I went. We then waxed the surface 3 times and masked off the table and the part of the master mold not to be sprayed.
Right after lunch, we sprayed gelcoat on the passenger's side. Caroline and I worked some more on the driver's side, repeating the process from the passenger's side, ate dinner, and had the driver's side ready to spray at about 900pm, at which time Hunt came up and sprayed it with PVA release film and then gelcoat. It feels so good to have the gelcoat on the mold. Hopefully, the gelcoat won't shrink overnight and give us premature release.

Friday, February 22, 2008

22 Feb 08

Hunt and I went to see our buddies at Tramway Veneer this morning. Tim had clipped some cherry into 1/4" strips for us, and we went to pick it up. We are going to try to weave this into a fabric and use it with the resin infusion process. We are glad to have Tramway helping us out.
We got back to the shop at about 2pm. Ben and Zac were almost finished hanging and wiring the lights in the new building, and Aaron was working on the computer model. I sanded the master mold some more to remove some minor surface imperfections. Then, we taped the areas where we will have seams in the fiberglass mold and began making the flanges. We decided to use plastic, corrugated sign board to make the flanges and began cutting and fitting them.
Caroline and I came back out after dinner and got the passenger's side basically done. We made a skirt that goes all the way to the ground to extend the surface of our mold. Tomorrow, we will finish the other side and hopefully spray some gelcoat.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

21 Feb 08

This morning, Hunt and I went to High Point to see Steve Thayer of Thayercraft to get some fiberglass, and we also saw Steve Kurtzman of Fiberglass Moulding and Engineering to get another drum of unpromoted fiberglass resin. It was good to see these guys again, but we didn't get back until almost 2pm, so it took up a huge chunk of the day. Aaron worked on the computer model most of the day and took some photos of the master mold. Zac got the new building painted on the inside and helped Luke glue up some more MDF chunks for the hat section mold for the rear suspension. Luke and Zac also took down our trusty measuring system, which we won't be needing for a while and would get in our way during our upcoming fiberglass crusade.
Interesting news today about a trailing arm that our buddy, John McCrory of Aurora Bearing, tensile tested for us. It took 17,500lbs to break it, and when it did break, it was at the weld on the stainless cup that encapsulates the end. We suspect that the 3/4" rod end, which has a rating of 25,000lbs, would have gone next. Neither the wood nor our wood-to-metal bond showed any signs of breakage whatsoever. This is really an awesome finding which has us excited, but not necessarily surprised.

20 Feb 08

More mold work today. I didn't get as much done as I would have liked this morning, because I was bombarded with emails and media requests. We sprayed another coat of body filler right after lunch. While it was drying, Hunt and I went to see Aaron's dad, Greg Nace, who is the director of the Duke Botanical Gardens. We had a talk with him about bamboo that was quite informative. It is really awesome stuff.
Aaron worked on the computer model. He put radii between a lot of the surfaces today, which was a major step. Maybe tomorrow he can get the butterfly panels rolling.
Ben and Zac finished hanging the OSB in the new building and painted a coat of primer on the ceiling and walls. I went out after eating dinner and watching the UNC/NCSU game to smooth out the bottom edge all the way around the mold and to smooth out the wheel/tire area of the mold. This will make a nicer looking fiberglass mold and an easier release. Tomorrow, we are really going to try to get some gel coat down. The surfaces are almost ready- we will sand with 220grit and fix a few tiny problems. Then we have to coat the mold with 3-4 coats of release wax and spray our gel coat. Then comes fun with fiberglass. Joy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

19 Feb 08

I worked essentially all day today to massage the surfaces around the windshield to transition them fluidly into the windshield surface. They were all pretty close already, but flowing them precisely like I wanted them took a long time. Tomorrow, we should finally be able to spray the gel coat. I also want to cut another windshield soon to get that off the list. Hunt and I went to the Home Depot to get a bunch of OSB, some paint and the light fixtures for the new building. Aaron picked us up 2 more windshields today, worked on the computer model of the body, and fixed a couple lose ends on the website. Ben and Zac worked on hanging OSB in the new building for most of the day, and then came in to help Luke glue up some blocks of MDF. Luke came out to continue working on the molds for the rear suspension hat section.

Monday, February 18, 2008

18 Feb 08

Another glass cutting day today. Hunt and I went to the Home Depot to get a piece of shower pan liner to use to mask the windshield off. When we returned, I cut the liner to size and taped it to the windshield like yesterday. After cutting all the way around on the top side, we noticed several small hairline cracks. We think they came from me holding the sandblaster nozzle too close to the glass, resulting in a narrower cut and probably less surface area available for energy dissipation.
We decided that we could use the windshield as a template for fitting, so I glued blocks across the cut, flipped the glass over, masked the underside, and cut it again. Our fears from yesterday were allayed, as this glass fits much better than the Chrysler piece. The only problem is that tomorrow, I have to try to cut another one. Without breaking it.
Aaron worked on the computer model most of the day after making a run to get some sand, and Ben and Zac insulated the walls of the new shop and began hanging the OSB on the interior walls.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

17 Feb 08

I sanded the body master mold for about an hour to start the morning. This is one of those things that will only get better and better the more I work on it, but I have to pick a stopping place at some point. Deciding when this is can be difficult, but it will definitely be soon. The surfaces are all excellent, actually better than what will transfer to the wood, but it's just so hard to see some microscopic imperfection and not fix it. Anyway, we did more important stuff today.
We finally got a windshield cut successfully. The 8th time was a charm. We masked off the area we wanted to save with a combination of electrical tape, double-stick vacuum-bagging tape, shower pan liner, and 4mil polyethylene. The windshield is made of safety glass, so we had to use a little logic to do this correctly. Since safety glass is made by using 2 seperate pieces of glass that sandwich a flexible plastic sheet, we sandblasted through the top glass up to the plastic and stopped. We have had problems in the past with the glass not being supported as it is cut which causes the trimmed piece to overstress and crack the remaining windshield piece. To hedge against this, we hot-glued wood blocks spanning the cut line we had just made. We then flipped the glass over, remasked the bottom side, and sandblasted all the way to the plastic layer again. This left us with the plastic layer remaining, which we cut with a razor knife. Free at last. We used our 3"X24" belt sander to treat the edges of the windshield to smooth everything out and protect against hairline cracks forming later. All done, right?
I wish it were that easy. When we put the windshield up to the master body mold, we found that it was a long way from fitting. We had been using Pilkington brand windshield all along, and this is what we had planned for. This piece of glass was a Chrysler part, but since it was for the same vehicle as the Pilkingtons, we figured it would fit without issue. Wrong. When the cut windshield didn't fit our body mold, I put it up against a Pilkington that I had waiting in reserve. It was about 1/4" different in curvature in some places. I found this to be a serious bummer and a serious buzzkill after finally cutting a windshield with success. The good news is that we feel pretty confident that we can repeat the success with reasonable regularity, so we will tackle the Pilkington tomorrow and really put our new process to the test.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

16 Feb 08

Caroline and I started the day by making a run to buy a 40lb sandblaster tank and 500lbs of extra fine silica. We are going to try to sandblast our windshield to size. We got back at around lunchtime, at which point I gave a short tour of the shop and the project to a young guy named Jeremiah and his "Big Brother", Chris. We had a good time. After the tour, I put the sandblaster together while watching the UNC/VaTech game, which was a rout.
After the assembly, I began fine sanding the body master mold with 80grit paper. During the sanding, I watched NCState make an exciting comeback against Clemson only to blow it in the last couple minutes. Weekends are great workdays this time of year in ACC land. I had to take a few microscopic lumps out of the driver's side as I worked, but the fine sanding revealed that the surfaces were mostly excellent, which was a relief. After going in to eat, I worked for about 2 more hours, and the driver's side is almost ready for the gelcoat prep. We may spray another layer of body filler before the gelcoat, but I am not sure whether we will need it yet.

Friday, February 15, 2008

15 Feb 08

I filled in the hole in the roof of the body mold this morning. Having this as one large surface on our molds will give us more flexibility in making our panels. I also fixed a point on the crease in the driver's side flank. The master body mold is essentially done. I will fix a few minor details tomorrow, then we will spray a few areas with body filler and hit it with gel coat in preparation for the fiberglass molds.
After lunch, I brought in a defect windshield that we had cut which had a few hairline cracks but was very close to the right shape. We compared this to the windshield frame on the body mold and found it to be very close. Tomorrow, I will work on fitting the windshield to the body. I might reinforce our old fiberglass layup of the windshield and use it for a template. We shall see.
Aaron got the flanks above the crease pretty much finished today in the computer 3D model, and he got a lot done on the front fenders. I am really pleased with the way this new model is beginning to turn out. Ben and Zac put up the ceiling in the new shop and added the ridge vent to the roof. It won't be too long before we are ready to roll in there.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

14 Feb 08

Rejoice, rejoice. We sprayed the rest of the body master mold today. The spray showed me a few imperfections, but nothing I can't deal with. After, Hunt and I went to the Home Depot and got some OSB and insulation for Ben and Zac to use on the inside of the new shop. After we got back, the body filler spray was still tacky, so I cut some pieces of scrap OSB to use to fill in the front driver's side wheel well to make it easier to pull our fiberglass mold off of it.
When we start making our fiberglass molds, we want to uninstall our measuring device, so there are a few items that I need to deal with first. I ripped and planed a bunch of the redwood 4X4's that I used to make the entire body master mold with. We then took them to our buddies at Curvemakers to borrow their finger joint machine. I finger jointed the ends of each of these boards and brought them back to our shop. Here we jointed 1 edge and ripped the other edge on the table saw. With help from Luke, I layed the pieces out and glued them up into a shape big enough to carve the front wing out of. Aaron worked on the 3D remodel of the body on the computer, and Ben and Zac worked on the ceiling of the new shop, and the roofers came out and shingled the entire roof in 45 minutes. We expected speed, but this was pretty dang impressive.
After dinner, I came back out and planed the entire glued-up panel to give me a clean, smooth and flat surface to start from. Then I layed out the points for the beveled wing reveal that we carved into our body mold over a month ago and cut the panel down roughly to size. It really looks awful as a flat panel, so I am anxious to shape it tomorrow. This will not, by the way, be the final front wing, but only a mold or a guide, depending on how we decide to build it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

13 Feb 08

I worked on the body mold all day until about 1pm. Hunt and I had an appointment to meet with Steve Brooks of Reichhold Chemicals. Steve is an expert in the resin infusion process, and we went over to Reichhold's labs in the Research Triangle Park to try to get smart. He was really a great help, and we feel pretty confident that the process will work for what we are trying to do. Ben was out today, but Zac worked on the wiring in the new building, and Aaron took and plotted more points off the body into our computer 3D modeling program. After dinner, I came back outside and finished the body mold preparation. It is finally ready for a spray tomorrow. We have some guys coming to shingle the roof of the new building tomorrow, so that should be interesting, as always.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Ken Blake

We recently learned that our friend, Ken Blake of National Casein, died several days ago of a heart attack. We were stunned and saddened at the news. Ken was a proponent of the car from day 1, and was always eager to help, add his 2 cents to a brainstorm, check in on our progress, and root us on. Our thoughts go out to his family and his brothers, Mike and Sam, whom Caroline and I met on our journey to collect the osage orange logs. Ken was an all-around great guy and will be sorely missed.

12 Feb 08

Well, I didn't get the body mold sprayed today, but I got it pretty dang close. I just have a few finishing touches left for tomorrow before a body filler spray and finalization. Get ready for fiberglass. All of our panel molds will be made of fiberglass and must be pulled off of the body form before we can make our wood body panels. Ben and Zac got the roof ready for shingles, and Aaron worked on the new 3D computer model of the body.
We found Aunt Esther, the female wild turkey has become a part of the team, dead this morning. It looked like a fox or a dog got her in the middle of the night. Fred, the male turkey that she is always seen with, was inconsolable. Brownie wasn't too happy, either.

Monday, February 11, 2008

11 Feb 08

More exciting work on the body mold today. I will be disappointed if we don't spray it with body filler tomorrow in preparation for the final detailing. We have got to get going on the fiberglass molds soon. Like, really soon. Aaron pulled a lot of points off the body and put them into our 3D modeling program. He will probably start building the surfaces of our new 3D model tomorrow. Zac and Ben were on the roof of the new building all day today, putting up the roof decking. Tomorrow they will roll out the felt and possibly start putting the OSB up on the inside. Time to go to bed.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

10 Feb 08

I got a lot done on the body mold today. Tomorrow, we should be able to spray the entire remainder of the mold, which will be exciting. Hunt gave my dad a run-down and safety lesson of every machine in the shop, and they had fun running some errands and shimming the outfeed table on the Unisaw. We cut out slightly early to go the UNC/Clemson game, a double-overtime affair of epic proportions the likes of which have never before been witnessed by yours truly. I am sure there wasn't a player on the floor that was more exhausted than I was after the game, so I will be sleeping quite well in the next 2-3 minutes.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

09 Feb 08

We worked on rearranging the blue room and setting up our machines a little bit today. We got our 24" Delta planer wired up and running, and we had almost forgotten how eerily quiet it is. That is one smooth machine. Aaron, Zac, and Ben also came in today. Ben and Zac worked on the new shop in the back and prepared it for roofing on Monday. Zac also helped me clean up a little bit for a visit from our executive producer, my old man. Aaron measured some points off of our body mold for use in his remodeling of the body.

Friday, February 8, 2008

08 Feb 08

I worked on the rear quarter panel this morning. I found it to be about 5/8" wide, so I ground it down. This was officially the last surface on the body mold that hadn't been roughed in. After working on that some this morning, focus shifted to figuring out how to put on the final layer of cherry veneer to the butterfly panel we have made. I pulled some cherry backer boards that we have been drying since we got them from our buddies at Atlantic Veneer, and after lunch, we took the boards to Curvemakers where we used their computer-controlled panel saw to rip a straight edge into them. We brought them back to the shop and used our little Delta 13" planer to dimension them to 1/8" thickness. This planer has rubber feed rollers and is our weapon of choice for working with backer board, which we typically plane very thin. After planing this, I spent a few hours eating dinner and leveling the table saw and its outfeed table, connecting them, and mounting the top on the outfeed table. Ben and Zac worked on the new building all day today. They made the 2 gable-end trusses, mounted them, and came close to getting ready to put the OSB up for the roof. They may come out tomorrow and knock it out. Aaron worked on learning a new rendering program all day today, and I think he is just about ready to roll on remodeling the body.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

07 Feb 08

I was in Atlanta all day today, so I did approximately squat on the car, but Hunt, Aaron, Ben, Zac were all on the job. Zac got sick and left early, but the rest of the guys worked all day. I came home to discover that the driver's side butterfly mold had been polished by Hunt, the tail of the body mold had been worked on by Ben, and the trusses were leveled, squared, and tied together with 2X4s by Ben and Zac. Aaron was still at my house working on a 3D rendering of the body, which is going to look much, much better.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

06 Feb 08

I got a lot done on the body today. I used the line sander on the flank which is really looking good. I had to leave early at about 5 to go to Atlanta, but Hunt, Aaron, Ben and Zac worked on. Ben and Zac were able to put the trusses up on the new shop, and Aaron has started remodeling the body of the car for a new set of renderings. When I got to my hotel room in Atlanta, I discovered that the UNC/Duke game was blacked out on cable due to some ridiculous conflict, so I had to go watch it in a bar that had satellite. Not cool.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

05 Feb 08

More work on the side of the body mold, as usual. We will be fiberglassing the mold by the weekend if all continues to go well. I have to go to Atlanta again tomorrow, otherwise it would be finished sooner. Aaron, Ben, and Zac made all the trusses for the new building. Maybe tomorrow they will have them going up. Luke came out this afternoon and got the ball rolling on the hat section for the rear suspension. He cleaned off the press, collected some pieces that we already made for the hat section mold, and strategized with Hunt. Tom Boyd from Staubli came out today to give me some literature on their air jac system. We are looking at using this to lift the car off the ground to unload the leaf springs. After dinner, I came back out and worked on the driver's side window. Now I am going in to pack and go to sleep.

Monday, February 4, 2008

04 Feb 08

The body mold is really getting close. I worked on it all day again today and got the crease in the side of the body pretty well straightened out on the driver's side. The crease is definitely the most difficult part of the surface to get right, so tomorrow, I should have the whole side skimmed and ready for block sanding. Ben came in at the end of the day and worked on the tail of the car, which is about 70% complete. Aaron, Ben and Zac hung the siding on the exterior of the new building out back, and Aaron and Zac nearly finished the jig which will be used to copy the trusses. Hunt worked on the vacuum pump for a large part of the day.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

03 Feb 08

The woven layer underneath the butterfly panel was a great success. The epoxy flowed really well, and, had we had a peel ply and tissue layer, would have required very little clean-up work. Hunt tested the resin on a laminate of several woven bamboo sheets and 1 bi-ply sheet, and it flowed under the layers of the weave acceptably well. We may use this as a core material on future parts. For the better part of the day, I worked on the driver's side window line and wheel well. I had to add about a gallon of body filler to the wheel well to build it out the right level. I hope to be able to skim the entire driver's side tomorrow. After work, Caroline, Aaron and I took a well deserved break and went to Ryan's for the Super Bowl.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

02 Feb 08

I worked on the body mold for most of the morning. I think I should be ready to skim the flank with body filler by around lunchtime tomorrow. That is my goal, anyway. The big story of today was of the butterfly panel. We wove and glued down a skin on the underside of the piece that went extremely well from what we can tell. We will know more in the morning when we pull it out of the vacuum bag. Our buddy Doug Kirven stopped by and got suckered into helping us. We got a pretty decent system going after a while. We first spread epoxy onto the surface of the butterfly panel. We then spread epoxy on both sides of the strips, weaving as we went, one at a time right on the butterfly panel. We had planned to spray the epoxy through an HVLP gun and pressure pot system, but we started rolling it on manually and just stuck with it. We will probably spray the next one just to try it. After spreading all the epoxy evenly around on the woven strips, we stapled the strips together around the outside to help hold them in place. It was pretty normal from there; we covered the layer with 4mil polyethylene film, put our screen on, slid it in the the bag and vacuumed away. After finishing, Caroline, Hunt and I went out to eat at Neyda's (our friend from Home Depot) restaurant. When we came back, I worked on the body mold for another hour and a half, and now I am calling it a night.

Friday, February 1, 2008

01 Feb 08

More body mold work today. I got the rear section of the driver's flank symmetrical with respect to the passenger's side and skimmed in body filler. The only major surface left is the driver's door area. I hope to get symmetry in that surface tomorrow so that I can skim it in body filler and begin blocking it. Hunt and Aaron collaborated to design the trusses for the new building in a cad-type program, and Ben and Zac cut all the pieces. Ben and Zac left early because the weather was 35F and raining most of the day, but Aaron worked on the website and stayed. I am beat, so I am going to bed early tonight with hopes of hitting the door area of the flank hard tomorrow. We may also try to apply a layer of woven veneer for the first time to the underside of the passenger's butterfly panel. It will be exiting to see if that works.