Making fiberglass look just like aluminum is a PIA. Even thin aluminum—such as this flashing I’ve got—does not appreciate bending in compound curves. And it turns out, everything on a Spyder is a compound curve!
I’ve been away from the project for a while. Last weekend I had a funeral in Connecticut, and yesterday Bridget ate up my shop time: I had to fix an electrical fault that sidelined me on the way to work Friday. So I finally got back to the Spyder today, and set about fixing the inner rear fender panels. This looks pretty straight forward, as the inside part looks like a flat plane and the rounded outside part looks like a barrel.
Ah…but where they come together: compound curves.
I started by setting up the panels with a clear adhesive marketed for gutter assembly. It sticks like crazy to fiberglass and aluminum, will keep moisture out of the joints and remains flexible. I cut and drilled the panels ahead of time to match the holes I’d already cut in the fiberglass, clamped them in place, and once they set, I bent the edges down where they meet and socked-in some sheet metal screws.
Then I popped some gutter rivets in between the screws, then replaced the screws with more rivets.
Next, I ground on it with some 80 grit and a DA sander, cleaned with acetone, and skimmed the seam with some All Metal filler.
I’m going to bury these rivet tails in a seam of All Metal as well, before coating the insides of the fenders with some sort of undercoating or truck bed liner.
I also bent the edges of the aluminum over the fiberglass, and will All Metal these inner edges as well to make the seams go away.
Other side is basically the same as the first.
With two coats of aluminum filler on the fringe/rivet seam, I decided to make an eighth-inch bead to look like a weld.
It actually worked, though I was not able to make a “stack-o-dimes” pattern with my spreader.
Looks about right: metallic, with tool marks. A little epoxy in the slots, here and on other spots where the aluminum is wrinkled, should smooth it enough for primer. I don’t want it too smooth, as the original cars showed various scars and dimples.
Spent about six hours on this today, and I have many more to go on the other side, then smoothing the “swiss cheese” part in the middle, riveting that in and All-Metaling those other rivet seams.
But I’m confident now that the technique will work. All done and painted it should look pretty legit.
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