I again expected getting the mould off to be difficult and I was right again After about 10 minutes it gave in and I was able to inspect my handiwork and I have to say I was pretty pleased. Here’s the view of the inside of the reconstructed bit.
Once that was done I cleaned the black paint off the inside of the bonnet under all the other broken areas then patched over them with GRP mat and resin. Again it took ages to go off cos it was cold again.
I then tackled the oil cooler which might be intact – I was amazed it didn’t leak any oil at the time of the crash, despite being in front of the radiator it was in surprisingly good shape. One of the spigots was a bit wonky but seems to be intact. The whole thing had a slight twist on it which was easily corrected by sticking one end in the vice and giving it a good tweak at the other. I had to remake one of the brackets as it wasn’t in the box of bits Andy gave me and altogether it was about an hour before it was fitted back into place. I’ll give it a good check over with the engine warmed up, there’s a risk of a leak but I’ve got time to order a replacement if needs be.
Once the GRP was hardened I took the bonnet outside again for the laborious process of filling and sanding. I spent about 3-4 hours on this, the trouble is you could go on for weeks. As it is I’m confident lots of the cracks will immediately propagate through the paintwork as soon as it flexes so I just tried to sort out the major defects.
By 2.30 I was ready to clean it off and get it onto the trestles in the garage for some paint. I got some 2 pack high build primer which is nice and easy to use as you can daub it on quite thick without too much risk of runs or sags. I used up about 2/3 of a gun full, probably about half a litre in total. Lots of the tiny cracks in the gelcoat are still visible but that was always going to be so.
I’d toyed with the idea of just using cellulose paint this time round but brother Andy had poo poo’d it as he reckoned the 2 pack is much easier to use. He was right of course. I was pretty cautious applying the first top coat – with cellulose this would have given a fairly poor and very non-shiny finish but this stuff just levels itself out nicely. No 2 ways about it, the bonnet still looks decidedly second hand, but it’s certainly turned out better than I’d hoped for. The main thing is it’s back in one piece, is fairly solid, looks the right shape and is all the same colour!
The final top coat went on at 5pm then I had to wait till it had dried before I started clearing up. The weekend’s over but I feel I’ve got a lot done. The to do list is starting to look a bit more manageable – I need to refit the coolant header tank, refit the lights to the bonnet and fit that, then sort out the front alignment.
I was out in the garage about 7am yesterday. I made a start on sanding down the filler from Saturday but couldn’t use the power tools as I didn’t want to make any noise. So I decided to get going with the GRP repairs around the nose. Apart from the obvious damage the 2 vertical ribs that the bonnet hinge is (was!) bolted onto are in need of some work. The left handed one is just delaminated off, the one on the right has been ripped out completely. My other problem is the black underbody paint I applied to reduce the transparency of the bodywork. I spent quite a while with some cellulose thinners getting off what I could to make sure the GRP will bond properly.
Once that was done I cut up some of the woven glass mat into strips and a few squares and set to with the first layer of repair. I started with the mounting ribs, the bonnet was naturally pulling slightly out of shape so once they had some resin on them I tacked them in place with a couple of pop rivets each then reinforced them with some glass mat. I also added strips of mat round the intake aperture. Although it was a nice morning it was pretty cool in the garage so the resin took quite a long time to go off. I’m using the woven mat I bought rather than the usual chopped strand stuff – it just seems intuitively that it should be a bit stronger although I’m not sure it actually is. Certainly it retains its shape a bit better while still being easy enough to drape around complex curves etc.
Heavy duty clutch spring
While I was waiting for that I got on with a couple of mechanical bits. At Oulton when (brother) Andy and I had done the engine swap I’d forgotten about the heavy duty clutch springs, so I thought now was a good opportunity to get them in. I just unbolted the dry sump tank and removed that then it was easy to get the clutch cover off. It then only took a few minutes to swap the springs over – as you may be able to see from the pic they’re noticeably thicker although they’re also a bit shorter.
Once the GRP had gone off I added another layer around the inside of the nose and around the mounting ribs. Then it was back to the chassis again. Andy had cut off the main copper pipe from the front brake master cylinder to the T junction up front so I needed to remake that. I already had a length of the tubing from when the rear line had got damaged so I flared one end and spent a while fiddling about getting it the right length and shape then fitting it and pop rivetting it in place with plastic P clips.
The GRP was set and the bonnet seemed quite a lot more rigid up front now so I took it outside to rub down the filler around the front right corner. I was quite pleased with the end result. I propped it in the garage doorway and masked off around the area I was making the mould from. I just used some wide masking tape then painted a load of the release agent on. I wasn’t terribly optimistic about how well it actually would release since the surface is pretty porous, especially where I’ve rubbed down just to the foam.
Next step was a layer of gelcoat and since it was much warmer outside this was going off quite a bit quicker which made life easier and quicker. I then laminated on 3 layers of glass mat then left it to go off. Here you can see the final result.
Once that had had time to harden it was time to see how easy it would be to get the mould off. As I suspected the answer was ‘not very’! Firstly it had bonded quite nicely to the filler in places and secondly the shape of it meant that it needed springing out quite a bit to get it off at the top/back end in the wheel arch. While this made it a pain to get off it did mean it would be quite easy to accurately locate it when I came to actually use it. After half an hour breaking the foam up from the inside and using brute force I eventually prevailed and what you see in the pic is the end product after I’d trimmed it down. It needed quite a lot of filled chipping/sanding out of the inside of it so the gelcoat finish isn’t exactly going to be concours but the primary aim was always just to get the basic shape. Overall I’m pretty pleased with my mould.
By now it was getting pretty late in the afternoon as you can see from the longer shadows in the pic alongside. I spent quite a while next using the flapwheel and the drill with an electric brush cleaning all the GRP up including some of the other bits on the bonnet that’ll need patching up. It really is quite a mess and there’s no way it’s going to look very pretty after all this but it’ll do.
I decided to crack on and get the corner finished so I slapped in a layer of gelcoat then a couple of layers of mat on top before clearing up for the day. I’ve still got plenty to do to it before it’ll be ready for any paint but I’m getting there and am now confident that the bonnet I once thought was unsalvageable will live again!