I didn’t really make any kind of a start till Saturday morning. First all the bodywork came off so I could have a better look at everything, then I stuck her up on axle stands and stripped the uprights and wishbones off on the damaged corners. The uprights seemed fine as were the pullrods and steering arm. The red stuff in the photo’s paint off the tyre wall.
I compiled a list of the damaged parts:
- Front bonnet
- Nearside sidepod
- Nearside wheel arch of rear cover
- Front aluminium body mounting frame
- Nearside headlight pod and lens
- All 4 nearside wishbones
- Steering rod end and brackets
- Oil cooler
- Oil cooler GRP duct
- Nearside radiator duct
- Wheels scuffed
- Splitter scrap
I then had a chat with Colin and Brian the outcome being that I’d take the aluminium frame to Brian on Sunday morning for him to replace the damaged bits and I’d exchange wishbones with Colin (he’s got the nearside upper front wishbone and I’ve got the offside rear upper that he needs) next weekend.
I’d had the presence of mind to collect the bits of GRP that had broken off and despite the fact the a large chunk of the nearside front corner of the bonnet involving the wheel arch and headlight opening was broken away it actually wasn’t too bad piecing it back together with gaffer tape. I’d run out of GRP resin – I usually get this mail order from CFS – but after ringing round the local Brown Brothers supplied 5 litres of resin at about twice the CFS price and Chris picked that up for me on Friday. It came with a tube of hardener paste like I’m used to using with the body filler which I thought a bit odd but I decided to use my usual MEKP liquid catalyst. This turned out to be a huge mistake – I was a bit concerned when after a couple of hours it was still really wet on the bonnet and rear valance. We went out for the evening and it was still wet when we got home and sure enough by the morning it was no better
I went off to Brian’s on Sunday morning to drop off the frame and picked up a new steering rod end and brackets (these are a light gauge of steel designed to fail rather than cause more damage to the upright or steering rack), headlight pod, replacement suspension bushes (some of these were looking a bit squashed and I decided I might as well replace them all) and I also nabbed a replacement rear undertray blank. The rear undertray has never been quite the same since it got trashed at Silverstone last year and in this crash the lower wishbone bent down buckling it even further. It was fixable but pretty tatty looking.
When I got home I did some experimenting with the GRP resin and found that even making a very hot mix the MEKP just didn’t work. The paste supplied with it did but was much more difficult to measure. I used a bit of it to patch up the rad and oil cooler ducts after straightening them out and sticking them together with gaffer tape. I also stuck new bushes in the rear wishbones and swapped the spherical bearings over. The resin applied the previous day did seem to be going off slowly in the sun so I left the bonnet and rear valance for the day.
Monday saw some ordering – more supplies from CFS, new oil cooler from Think Automotive, new indicator repeaters from Ebay, acrylic glue from RS Components. In the evening I spent ages pulling the resin and mat off the bonnet, although it had hardened a bit in places in others the whole lot just lifted off easily still very wet and sticky. I cleaned it all up with acetone then used the tiny bit of ‘normal’ resin I had left to do a bit of patching.
I then got going bending the new undertray. I got my local aluminium fabricator to do the last one but couldn’t be bothered this time. After an hour and a half with my steel angle irons and assorted hammers that was sorted.
Tuesday saw the patching of the GRP bits almost completed as my order arrived from CFS, the front of the nearside sidepod took quite a lot of work as it was pretty badly damaged and a chunk was missing. I made a start on the rear cover but that was actually a bit more damaged than I’d originally thought so didn’t finish that.
Wednesday I got little done due to working late but did manage to get the rear cover GRP done. I also made a new fuel filler inlet from the mould I’d made when I first built the car as the old one had got pretty badly damaged. I also cleaned up then bonded and re-rivetted the floor at the nearside rear corner, this had been detaching itself for some time probably due to the weight of the battery.
On Thursday the fuel filler moulding got bonded onto the sidepod and I made a start with the filler on the outside of the bonnet. Friday morning I had a look at the wheels, both nearside wheels were looking decidedly sorry for themselves, covered in a combination of mud and horrid looking red coloured scuffs from the paint on the tyre wall. I soon discovered that the red stuff cleaned off quite quickly with acetone. I also let the front tyre down to dislodge the soil that had become compacted between the bead of the tyre and the rim.
On Saturday morning my first priority was to make sure the nearside radiator wasn’t leaking as it had borne the brunt of the impact and the lower duct mount bracket was a bit bent. So I fitted the new oil cooler into the repaired housing/duct and connected it up. Disconnected the fuel pump and turned the engine till I had oil pressure then started her and ran her up to temperature. All was well with no leaks so I switched off.
I then rebuilt the nearside rear corner – refitted wishbones, upright/driveshaft, brake caliper and disk. I also refitted the radiator duct and side impact protection. The next few hours were spent prepping the bonnet, sidepod and rear valance for painting. It really takes ages getting it all back to shape and it’s a bit of a balancing act, on the one hand I can’t afford much time but on the other I don’t want it looking so rough that it needs redoing after Pembrey. I got the repaired bits of bonnet primered early afternoon then got dragged away for a few domestic chores.
Colin was kind enough to drop off my wishbone and body mounting frames late Saturday afternoon – he’s over for the Wiggle Dragon Ride which he entered mostly cos Dan Bromilow and I had entered it. Dan pulled out cos he apparently found something better to do and I’m not doing it as I’ve done zero training. I feel both guilty an disappointed but I simply haven’t had time.
By close of play Saturday the bonnet was painted white, the other bits were ready for primer and I’d fitted the spherical joints to the front nearside wishbones ready to fit them.
On Sunday I started by fitting the front wishbones, the rear body mounting frame and undertray and the front mounting frame. The sidepod and valance got primered and the bonnet was brought down from the garden shed cum spray booth to bond it onto its hinges. The rear mounting frame, exhaust and undertray got refitted and the sidepod and valance painted.
I was away Monday but on Tuesday got the nearside sidepod re-bonded onto its mounts and made a start refitting the rear valance. I was delayed a bit when the 8mm rivnut holding the side impact bar on had some damaged threads and started spinning. I didn’t have a replacement as my kit doesn’t go beyond 6mm. I couldn’t think of any other way of securing it other than a rivnut so I wasted half an hour making my own on the lathe from a piece of ally bar.
Wednesday saw the nearside headlight pod bonded on and the lights refitted followed by refitting the rear valance. And with that the car was mostly back together. On Thursday evening I set up the string box to reset the wheel alignment, checked the ride height and threw her on the corner weight scales. All the bodywork seems to have gradually gained more weight with each repair but with me in the car and 10 litres of fuel on board she’s still only 567kg meaning I certainly can’t take any ballast out. So after 2 weeks hard graft she’s good to go again. The weather forecast ain’t great so I didn’t book the full day testing, just the afternoon, that then gives me a bit more time in the morning to pack etc.