Step 3: Body Fabrication
Body fabrication was a much anticipated part of our build. We knew we needed to make a mold, we knew that we needed to lay up fiberglass and we knew some basics of the process of each. What we didn't know was what exactly to do. This is part of the reason why we are doing this build. None of us really truly knows how to do this stuff but we all want to know, so what better way than to build a Ferrari...right?
One day the ingenious plan of a rib structure, "Like those model dinosaurs" was announced. So we our best man on the job of 3d modeling the entire body. Jeremiah modeled the body then made cuts in the model every 7.5 inches. We then used a projector to project the images onto a sheet of OSB which we cut out to create our mold. Twelve pieces made up the mold and they sat on two mold rails to keep them separated by the proper length. We used small 2x4's glued in at the top to make sure the mold kept its shape.
Our experiment worked and the Body form was taking shape, but we had a lot more work to do. Our next job was to skin the mold. So we took normal cardboard and skinning the body mold. We they used pink insulation foam to fill in the gaps which we knew we would be able to carve it and shape it easily.
The car was starting to take shaped at that point you could see the possibilities. But we still had a long way to go however. Bondo and spackle were used to fill in divots and foam was added to the front and rear of the original body form. We started shaping the foam to create the front and the back of the car. Everything was done by hand based on images from Google and photos taken at a local Ferrari Repair shop.
Once the basic form was created it was all refinement. We had to continue sanding, bondo-ing and carving to achieve a realistic shape. We knew that we would not be able to get all the same curves that the real car had. It just isn't possible when doing a mold the way we are doing it. But we got as close as we could while still having some draft to get the body off the mold.
This process took a good amount of time in order to get a decent result. The body straightened up and we could see the car coming together. From this point we had to cover the body in something in order to protect the foam and cardboard from the resin. The foam seems to react with just about any chemical that gets near it and the cardboard is pretty porous so it would be very difficult to separate later. So we used spray adhesive and a thin plastic to skin the body. This served as our mold. Our next step was fiberglass. We used two layers of chopped mat with a layer of woven mesh in between. The process was pretty rudimentary resembling boat building techniques. Take a section of fiberglass, saturate it, lay it on the car and repeat until there is a trail of resin from the table to the mold and a completely covered car. Our first of three layers went surprisingly well, considering we didn't know what we were getting ourselves into. The following two layers went equally as smooth
After we had three layers of fiberglass on this mold we had to separate it from the mold. In an attempt to save a few dollars we did not use any wax mold release on the car and we were pretty sure that we were going to still be able to pull it right off the mold. Well, that couldn't be farther from the truth. Luckily we designed the mold so that we would be able to pull it apart without destroying it. There was still a lot of pulling, forcing and a bit more elbow grease than we had hoped, but we got the thing off the mold and trimmed it to the correct height and dimension.
This process drew the first blood of our build...
Now we had to move on to the hard part. We knew that because we were not doing a female mold that we would have a lot of body work to do to straighten this thing up. A female mold and a vacuum bag would have saved a lot of time, but again, we are on a limited budget and spending the extra couple hundred dollars on materials was going to be a bit over the top. So we assembled the mold again and mounted the body back on it for the body work process.
Bondo, that was the next step. We started by sanding down the high spots in the fiberglass and bringing it to a manageable level. From there the first layers of bondo began. Fiberglass, for those of you who don't know, is very itchy, day one was the worst. Between the raw fiberglass, sleeves that were too short on long sleeve shirts and a mysterious disappearance of gloves we had some very cranky team members. Lotion was used by the bottle to remedy the itch and new shirts and gloves were purchased immediately in order to eliminate that problem in the future. Once the body was leveled out as much as possible we started applying Bondo. Jeremiah's dad, a body guy in his spare time, stopped by and gave us a clinic on applying bondo, working the body smooth and all the tricks he could think of.
Bondo continued, as did sanding, then bondo again and sanding some more... but we had to start stiffening the body as well, so the first step was to figure out how to mount it to the chassis. This required some brainstorming but after we came up with an idea we went with it. We mounted the body to mark the location of the body mounts. this would allow us to fiberglass in some blocks to mount the posts too. From there we flipped the body and resin'd in some new supports to stiffen up the sides.
With the supports in place and the body stiffened up we flipped the car and started work on the final bondo layers. We are still amateurs at the body work, so we are definitely putting to much on at times and sanding a lot more off than we would need to. But the body is straightening up and the addition of an air inline sander really helped out, what has taken hours in the past took minutes and the sides, which have been our biggest worry, are really starting to look like they may end up flat. The next step in the process was to finalize the bondo work.
I can't tell you exactly, but I know that we have a lot of time into the body. I know we have said that before, but we have used a lot of bondo, and we definitely have sanded off at least $60 worth of it
Then it was time to mount the body, we have Tabs that attach to the body and slide into mounting holes on the chassis.
Then we invited the projector out again, we wanted to project the wheels on to the car to see where things lined up and see how the wheel wells were shaped on the body.
The cutting began, At this point it was about 2AM we were beat but needed to get this done so Primer could go on the following day. Determination and work ethic...Check and check
A little after 3 am the body was back on the chassis with the wheels cut out and the drivers compartment fully prepared. We were all a bit giddy to see this thing on the chassis. The wheels were perfect in the body and the car was just incredible to look at.
Cutting fiberglass, bondo and more bondo is definitely a messy task. Just ask Matt.
When all that was done, we laid a few more pieces of fiberglass in the chassis in some areas that were getting thin from sanding. We also unmasked our secret weapon, wings installed in the chassis!
Of course during the composite layup we quickly threw together a custom carbon Fiber Red Bull Can holder. Now we will just need to mount it up in the chassis somewhere...
Of course, in true TEAM SAVE FERRIS fashion, we have created another video documenting the build...
The crew was down at the shop a good portion of the day running errands, getting the body prepped ad finally in the evening we got Primer on it. This thing shaped up quickly and the primer is making it look amazing! Steve Hueske, Jeremiah's Dad, has been an incredible resource for all our body work. Coaching, painting and basically showing us how to do everything that we need to do. We can't thank him enough!
Tonight we sand, tomorrow we paint, Rosso Corsa
Just as you would expect from any project, we had a setback. After prepping the shop, cleaning, prepping the car, prepping the paint gun and basically preparing everything, we open our can of paint and...it is pink. "Stir it up!" after 10 minutes of stirring...still pink. Man what a disappointment. We had to wait another day to get that thing painted. I wasn't sure if anyone on the team could wait that long...we were all so excited to see this thing red!
Finally we had the correct paint. We have been fortunate to have Steve Hueske, Jeremiahs dad, as a resource. Steve is a body guy, he knows about painting cars and he has been very good about teaching us what needs to be done. We have learned a lot from his experience and his instruction! Even with all that we decided a long time ago that Steve would be painting the car. There is no way that any of us are going to get that right the first time around!
After paint we did a few more shots with the news. He was completely impressed by our build. We can't wait to see the story!
Ring Ring, Ring ring. I got a call from Taryn, our Liason for the race and she caught me as I was exiting the Cherry creak mall. "GOOD GOD, You guys are crazy!" I said as I answered the phone. She was a bit puzzled, "What? Why?" "I am just leaving Cherry Creek and this place is plastered with adds! It is intense!" She laughed and said "Ahh, well funny thing... I was calling to tell you that your team is crazy and I saw pictures of your car to day and it is insane!"
in the last episode of overhaulin...
Ok, not really, but good god we built a real car. Almost. Today we started off by getting the body on the chassis. Red, Ferrari, Man it is a think of beauty. I mean, can you believe that the body work from Fiberglass to primer took 17 days and of those we only worked about 14-15 of them?!
We also worked on a few proprietary secrets that we will reveal after the race...
From there we polished, shined, and installed all the cool little details we have either found or made for this thing. Man, they really set the car off...
One of us may or may not have been checking email...you know...just in case.
Seriously though the email we were checking was from the Forney Museum of Transportation. They are going to display our car after the event for a year! We will pull it from the museum for a few events like our student show, the victor gravity race next year and maybe a few other things, but if you have a chance go see it!
at this point the details started going onto the car. Little things that a soap box car doesn't need... but we are in it for the build anyway.
We headed downtown briefly for a quick look at the projection near Cafe Berlin...
and stopped by to say "Hi" to Sandra.
Then we were back to work, winshield...check
Sideview mirror...uh...of course!
Grill mesh... why not.
uh...Red Bull...Yeah...maybe to much of that
Complete car? Almost
We still have headlights, logos and the tonneau cover to install then we are done. DONE! Can you believe it?