Smoothing things out

Slowly, nights and weekends, an hour or two at a time, I’m de-wrinkling my “Swiss Cheese” panel and prepping it to hold the prop rod.


Had some thoughts about holding the clam open. The kit comes with a 3+-foot steel rod, which looks like it could be made to fold neatly away if one did not have the temerity to mount a spare tire in the requisite Spyder-correct spot (which I intend to do).

The originals are a bit complex: a double-articulating, ratcheted thing hand-cut from aluminum bar stock. Spyder Factory makes ’em up special but I can’t pay in their league. Beck has a nice rig too, but at $250 shipped I passed, for now at least. It’s not quite correct, and said to be heavy steel. So now I’m going to try to make something righteous out of aluminum.

Folly, almost for certain. But that is how I roll.

To get the project off the ground I had to reinforce the passenger side Swiss Cheese. The clam stay pivot attaches to it, so I made an independent reinforcement plate out of brazed and epoxied aluminum.


Once that was in, I could rivet in the Swiss Cheese. I marked where the attachment point would go, lining it up with the tube frame.


Then it was down to making the correct thick aluminum standoff and , um, epoxying that in under the mark and above the reinforcement bar…


I tapped that for machine screws

IMG_9275and bent an aluminum bracket with a stud.


—which is a reasonable facsimile of the original item.

Herewith, for instance, the inner clam on 550-0090, which is about the last one made and the one the Spyder Factory and others seem to be copying these days.

clam detail1 0090 copy

In searching out these photos I have noticed some differences among the Spyders—which is unsurprising, as they were changed all along the production run and were also hand-built. Though it lacks the graceful curve into the inner fender panel, I think my interpretation of the inner clam reinforcement panel is pretty decent, when compared to some of the others. For example:

clam interior and spare tire differentThis is a real Spyder, apparently an early number with a later engine. It’s been elaborately drilled, yet the inner clam has fewer holes than usual. Also an “innie” instead of “outie,” in terms of flanges in the holes.

rustys inner clam copy

This is Rusty Tubs’ fiberglass inner clam, sold as part of their “clam correction” kit, which costs about $4,500. A reasonable interpretation, but a little tighter on the grill openings than usual, which might not play well with spare tire placement…And, of course, it’s gel-coated fiberglass.

UK alumkit inner clam copy

Here’s one in an aluminum replica made in England. Pretty true to 0090, but smaller holes, looks like, and a tighter angle to the inner fenders than 0090.

502 Spyder clam

And here’s a modern, all-aluminum, $300k replica by 502 Motor Works. Very different interpretation of the clam reinforcement. Looks like it’s stronger.

Fibersteel apparently has something to go in there. Although I can’t find it for sale on their site, it seems to be pictured on some of the cars they feature, like

fibersteel clam interior

andFibersteel kit perhaps

These seem to make the rivets a decorative element, which looks cool as hell but isn’t quite right, in terms of looking like the real deal. They also appear to lack the “lip” edge relief for the spare tire (which is also a strengthening element) and they appear to be riveted directly to the deck, which the originals weren’t.

Still, I wouldn’t throw that kit out of my garage: the basic shape is more correct than mine, as the holes around the edges are oriented more vertically, like 550-0090.


Here’s mine once again, after a few applications of All Metal and quite a few more of regular body filler, with lots of cheese-grating, filing, and 80-grit sanding in between.

You can’t see the detail yet in these pics, but I think we’re getting close to something that can take a few rounds of block-sanding, down to 320 grit, say, and a primer-sealer. It’ll be smooth-ish, with some hammer marks as original. And while the wheel wells, fenders and all manner of other details will remain “wrong,” I’m not sorry I embarked on this little adventure. I think my inner clam piece is going to get a lot of positive attention from enthusiasts.





One thought on “Smoothing things out

  1. Pingback: Making the clam hinge stay | Along Came A Spyder

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