Body II
(January 2012)

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Log31 resulted in a coveted third place concourse trophy for the 2002 car. Upon return I set to selling the car, which went fast, to a colleague at Intel.

Things change in life. A good example of that is the turn of events that resulted in me buying the '98 Silver Esprit that Larry Marsala had been race preparing for a number of years. That story starts here.

Next steps on the black car were to get it running and for that the radiator would need to be installed. The radiator tray was destroyed but I got a damaged one when I bought the replacement frame.


No Bueno

The next few pics show the repair.


Wood, wax paper, & screws


 Glassed

So this went on a while inside and outside and ended up with a repaired tray (I'll spare you from the other twelve in-process pics as they bored me to look at them). I will mention however that Lotus uses a collapsible threaded rivet system for blind holes and I have never been able to re-use one so the trick is to weld a nut to a washer and rivet in the washer.


I hate collapsible rivets

This resulted in this tray:


 Tray Fixed

Next I needed to mount the A/C condenser, which is it two pieces that are held on the sides by a bolt and in the center with a stay with a top and bottom clamp. Well I did not have that part and it was not available so I made a replacement out of aluminum which was not really pretty but was completely functional. I must have been ashamed of that as it seems I did not take any pictures of it. I installed the radiator but noticed a slice on the bottom hose - luckily there was another one in the loft from some other car. I changed that out and installed the oil coolers. I then filled the fluids crossed my fingers and turned the key, which was met with a click, a few seconds of silence, and another click. In other words - no fuel pump whirrrr pressurizing the fuel rails. This was root-caused to be none other than the primary in-tank fuel pump itself which apparently did not like not being immersed in fuel for a few years. Now sitting outside in the rain and cold was a burned '98 car that I had recently purchased for parts.


 Parts Car

And for once there was success!!! I replaced the entire in-tank assembly with one from the parts car and Voila! .... whirrr and pressurization. Starting was much more difficult. All spark plugs were in good shape but only a few got wet with fuel. I could get a few little pops but no more. I had let the Blue 97 car sit and had trouble starting it but after a few tries and letting pressure stay in the lines, it started so I tried the same with this car to no avail. So after a few days and facing the undesirable task of removing the plenum and getting the injectors cleaned I tried one last ditch effort that I am not proud of - I squirted a lot of starting fluid into the right turbo intake and cranked it one last time and... to my amazement the girl came to life - limping along on about 4 cylinders at first and then kept adding a few more every 10 seconds until all were up and humming. Good idle :-)

I will remind folks here that Esprits devoid of oil will take over 10 quarts to fill (engine, coolers, and lines).

This was a big deal because I really did not know if this engine was good. It could have run a while with the oil coolers ripped off in that ravine. So the bet paid off. I then bled the clutch and brakes and backed it out of the shop and shot up the drive towards the house at night with one headlight. Turbo Boost!

Enough of that fun. There was work to do and some time over the holidays to do it. Need to fix that pesky absence in the left front.


 Cutline

Why cut there? In figuring out where to cut, a few things need to be considered and trade-offs need to be made. First, you want to minimize the area of the cut that will be seen externally as repairs are seldom perfect to the admiring eye. You also need to cut such that it is optimal for aligning the new piece to its correct position. You also need to consider the ability to get to both sides of what is cut for glassing. Considering these and where the car was damaged, I decide on the cutline above and cut both the damaged car and the donor clip leaving a small gap.

 
I will cut you

I made templates and transferred the cut lines to the new clip. I then cut the new clip.


Matched up

Next step was to grind to ensure correct match up and to install metal plates that allowed the body piece to slide and adjust as necessary.


 Plated


 Adjustment plates

Once everything looked good, the glassing started. First you grind down a wedge and add glass building layers. If possible you grind wedges on both sides of the joint.


 Glassed


 Side Glassed

Once enough glass is on to hold position, the plates come off and more glass is added and ground / sanded.


 Glass Ground

A small amount of filler is then used to get the surface smooth. Cracks through the gelcoat, primer, paint from the flexing during the impact also are ground out and filled. Otherwise they will show through after repainted.


 All smooth

Everything is sanded smooth with 220 paper and is then primed to see where more work is needed.


 Primed


 Not Too Bad

From the looks of the lines near the top of the fender, some more fill work will be needed as they are not straight enough for my liking yet. You may have noticed some small bumps - these are from me using left over primer to fill pin holes and small imperfections with a toothpick (easier than putty). Next steps are to sand and fill a bit more then it's time to re-prime.

I wanted to get the interior moving along and the bulge in the dash from the metal bent up from the passenger airbag release had long been a thorn in my side.


 Blown Air Bag

Removing the air bag provided me with the opportunity to slice and puncture my hands with the tiny shards of glass from the windshield that were hiding in the path to the bolts. I had to remove the instrument cluster pod and with that I discovered why the check engine light was off.


 Engine light hidden

Both the Engine and Oil lights were removed (broken socket) and taped up and down into a corner in the pod. That silly DPO - second car I bought with this trick performed. Luckily when restored to their correct position, they came on and... went out - Wheph!

With the airbag removed, two things need to be fixed. The first is the bag cover itself, which is a thin aluminum plate covered by foam and leather that tends to curl right up upon bag release. The second is the metal frame that holds the airbag, which has no part number in any parts list I have seen. The cover can be pressed and beaten back into a flat shape and the hinge can also be straightened. But this results in this:


 Flat but ugly (like my first girlfriend)

So I took that cover to the upholstery shop for new leather.

I then took to straightening the frame using the vise and hammer and anvil. I removed the straight frame from the other '97 car for use as a pattern and after a lot of work got it really close to the original shape and painted it black.


 All Straight

Once the cover was fixed, I put everything back together.


 All Pretty

Now of course the panel no longer reads "Lotus Air Bag" but it only cost $25 to recover so I am going to live with it.

With the dash straight, the windshield can go back in. I bought two of them for about $500 each and had them crated and shipped from the east coast.


 Shields Up

So now it is really starting to feel like a car again (especially inside).

Next Steps... That pesky hood had its hinge plates ripped out and there's a bit more ravine exterior side damage to fix.

That's the end of the update as of January 7, 2012