In Part 1, I showed pictures of the basic frame of the car, as well as the mounting of the rear wheels. In Part 2, I showed the mounting of the front wheels and the mounting of a frame reinforcement plate at the rear of the frame to provide stability. In Part 3, I’m going to show how the fenders and body were assembled. I think this was the most exciting part for me, because it resulted in the pieces that provide the defining look of the car: huge roll fenders! These are what make the kids call this their “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” car.
Before I go into that, though, I want to mention again that so far, this series of posts has been a bit of catch-up, since the work to this point has been complete for some time. But I did make a significant new accomplishment this past weekend by finally affixing a rear wheel to the drive axle! I was able to temporarily attach the drive rods to the pedals, and the kids were even able to pedal around a bit! I can’t tell you how exciting that was. I’ll get more into this in the next post, I think, but I just had to at least mention it, since this was one of the primary stalling points in the project for me years ago.
And as I look at the sub-par appearance of some of this thing, I feel it necessary to re-iterate that the foundational premise of the original plans I am following is that “anyone can build this.” So of necessity, a lot of the construction is incredibly simplistic. I have already discovered so many things that could be done better, more cleanly, even more simply. I’ve always struggled with completing projects when they don’t look perfect, or fail to meet my expectations. But this time I’m pushing through to get it done, even though so much is imperfect. Anyway, that’s my disclaimer.
As I mentioned in the introduction, I have had the project completed up to this point. Because of that, I wasn’t able to completely disassemble the body and fenders, so the pictures go from “templates” to “finished body components” without any in-between pictures.
When I started on this part of the project, I really expected to whip the whole thing together, learn a lot, and then build another one. Because of that, I created templates out of a 1/8″ hardboard material so that I could create multiple pieces all exactly the same. I have templates for the front and rear fenders, front grill, body sides (this was out of 1/4″ plywood instead of hardboard), steering wheel, and windshield mount, all pictured here:
Using these templates, I traced outlines on 1/2″ plywood for most parts, except for the tops of the fenders, which are 1/4″ plywood because the thinner ply allows the shaping to the contours of the fender sides. Bending these along the fender contour was as simple as placing screws ever inch or two to slowly form the tops to the sides. I used Gorilla Glue as I went along, since my plan was to only use the screws in lieu of clamps to hold things together while it dried. Once the glue did dry, I took the screws out to allow for shaping the edges. Here are a couple of pictures I found from initial construction of the rear fenders before I took the temporary screws out:
To shape the edges, I cut out a little 1/4 round concave shape in cardboard to check my progress, and used a heavy rasp to take away wood. The cardboard cutout allowed me to rasp the wood for a bit, check the contour, and then work off a bit more where necessary. Once the rough contour was completed with the rasp, I took a 40 or 60 grit sandpaper on a longer block to even things out and provide some smooth, even lines. The results are shown here for the front and rear fenders:
The body is comprised of two full-length sides, the hood/top , a solid-wood front, the seat and rear, and a crossbar for hanging the pedals. I found a couple of older shots of the body in one of the earlier stages of construction:
The hood is 1/2″ plywood, which made it necessary to put some relief cuts on the bottom side. Near the back of the hood (the dashboard end) there is a series of cuts half-through the thickness for about half the length of the hood, allowing the rounded shaping. At the front of the hood (the radiator end), there is a single cut on the underside right in the middle to provide the sharp peak. The result is a really cool looking transition from a rounded shape near the back to a pointed shape at the front. Using the same process as was used to round the fenders (rasp, cardboard contour template, coarse sandpaper), I rounded the transition from the hood to the sides. The result looks like this:
The front of this will be covered with a single piece of plywood cut and painted to look like a radiator, which will clean up the appearance a bit and cover the extra steering holes.
There is still a lot of filling necessary before I can paint, and I’m not sure yet the best way to seal things, but I have a few ideas. (Suggestions for sealing and sanding plywood for a very smooth, non-grained finish would be much appreciated!) I’ll be able to provide some progress photos once I start on that process.
In the next post in the series I expect to address the finalization of the drive axle and the steering controls, though I have a little more work to do before I can share that.
Here are a couple of teaser shots of the body mounted on the frame, sans fenders:
The full Flickr set contains all of the pictures included in these posts, plus even more for additional detail. They also have descriptions on them that explain a bit more than I have been addressing in the series posts.