This car is indeed for sale

UPDATE (11/19/2021) The car is still available! My prospective buyer put down a non-refundable deposit, drove 2000+ miles from Utah with a trailer, inspected the car intently (he’s a former insurance appraiser), pronounced it very good, lowered himself in the driver’s seat for half an hour, discussed adjusting the pedals to get more leg room (can be done, I think!) agreed to meet at the bank this morning to consummate the deal, then called last night with misgivings: his hips hurt; he doesn’t fit comfortably in the driver’s seat. This morning he canceled the sale.

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Captain Underpan, Deux

A word about COVID-19. Not long after I made my last post here the nation locked-down due to a global pandemic of a dangerous respiratory virus. Everyone knows that right now, of course, but if this blog persists more than a few years it won’t necessarily be obvious what was happening outside of the context of the build.

The pandemic and its response has crashed the stock market and the real economy, prompting a $2 trillion federal aid package. Something like 20 percent of everyone is out of work. I myself am still “working” from home but am functionally unable, as of yesterday, to do the state court visits my job normally requires. My wife is working from the dining room table and we’re both still being paid, at least for now, and remain healthy.

But currently 200,000 or so Americans are confirmed to have the virus and some 3,000 have died, as the epidemic’s trajectory continues relentlessly upward. The world is a very scary place and frivolities like this car project have largely taken a back seat, even as I knock off the last few dozen tasks on my punch list. The Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration offices are closed, some reportedly converted into drive-through virus testing sites. So instead of getting the car on the road this month, it may be a while.

That said, here’s what happened through February as I (blissfully, ignorantly) worked to make the aluminum undertray.

First I had to make two “stub-out” bits to cover the exhaust pipes on each side just aft of the engine crossmember. These are simple U-shaped bits, mainly, about 8 inches long, reaching from where the pipes exit under the engine to just past the muffler flanges.

I got them in and screwed them to the main underpan piece with self-tapping sheet metal screws, then set about making transition pieces to get to the wider full muffler parts. Once there I knew I could just drape aluminum over the mufflers and the tunnels would be done.IMG_4807

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Captain Underpan! Part 1

From the beginning of this build I planned on making a louvered aluminum tray to fit under the engine and surround the exhaust. The original cars had them (though most were reportedly thrown away in the ’50s), and they would appear to be functionally important: VW engines like their cooling air to be, well, cool—not pre-heated by the headers and heads. Bugs and buses have tin to keep the hot underside of the car isolated from the top where the fan and carbs are sucking, so it seems logical to do the same with the Spyder.

Here’s the look we’re going for, courtesy, once again, of The Spyder Factory:

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Tonneau’s on, floor’s in, wipers work

Chipping away at the punch list. Two weeks and 17 hours later we’re down to a couple dozen tasks to finish before trailering the car to meet the state police.

I started by riv-nutting the holes for the two different windshields, to make the changeover as painless as possible. I bought a package of deep-grip 6-32 rivet nuts and a lot more shallow grip kind, to use later for the underpan in back. On the scuttle, the deep rivet-nuts went in easy and tight.

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Final rocker boxes and small parts

Those oval-holed rocker boxes the original Spyders had are quite a project on a replica.

Turns out not only do you need the three holes under the doors, plus the forward extensions to the front fender wells (oval holed on the passenger side, solid to mount the fuel pumps on the driver’s)—they also extend to the rear latches behind the firewall. Two more ovals.

Plus there’s a second stiffening piece above them.

Here’s the passenger side in a Spyder Factory copy of 550-0090:

Rear Firewall

You can see how the oval lines up with the torsion bar port, and there’s another slot to allow some access to the lower clam latch. The upper piece has an interesting compound radius curve that’s basically negated by the way the replica body is made. The slotted thing is for the key locks that we don’t have.

And on that side we’ll be running an Accusump roughly where that box is.

Ah well, on with it then! Continue reading