Venus Update #3: The Same Ol’ Grind

24 05 2008

Well, there it is: the dreaded full-face mask and angle grinder; signifying that nasty work is just ahead. Upon arriving and opening the shed doors, I’m always reluctant grab these and to proceed to envelope my entire body in a cloud of tiny glass shards. I’d much rather sit and drink coffee, but for some reason, simply staring at the body doesn’t get things done.

Not much to report I’m afraid, and the Venus body looks as helpless and as desperate as ever. However I have been spending many consecutive days trying to get this underside finished. For the most part, I’ve been replacing fiberglass bonds on the four wheelwells that have let go. These bonds are on only one side, the bond on the opposite side remains quite strong and will not need replacing. Laying the new mat fiberglass was easy; grinding off the old glass was quite nasty. (I sometimes feel like a dentist working on cavities). Below is an example of the problem. Not only does the loose section have to be ground off (brown part), but also the adjoining portion adhered to the body (black).  Below is a lousy photo that shows the replaced section, made with 2 layers of mat glass. (Click to enlarge)

As of this writing, I am completely finished with replacing bonds such as these. Below is another section just before mat and resin were applied, however ALL paint along joint was removed.

 I had an interesting meeting a couple days ago. I met with DeWitt Gorman, the young guy in the photo with the hat on that used to make Venus bodies by hand (scroll down to “A Look Back”). We talked about those days and the processes he went through in making a body. He did say that they didn’t use epoxy resin, nor gelcoat (which wasn’t around at that time). I’d really like to interview him on camera for my documentary.

He brought along a very cool artifact: a fiberglass “client” chair that was in the original Ratio Manufacturing offices (below). It was not made by anyone he knows, but clearly, it is vintage mid-50’s design. Notice how deep the bucket is compared to those of today. This is a good thing as it fits my fat a***.

I’ve decided to not spray it with a clear-coat; just leave it original. This will be a neat addition to the Venus display, and I thank him for giving it to me.

Kinda’ interesting to think that this same chair may have been used by Dewitt Gorman over 50 years ago when he was possibly making THIS Venus body!! 

With exception to a few more body details, I now need to fabricate the bracket that will hold the hood hinges. A simple bracket with studs will be adhered and glassed onto the body. The assembly that holds both hinges will bolt onto this bracket as a single, removable unit. I have yet to design and draw it out, but I know what is needed. As I recall. a previous owner simply used a gate hinge from a hardware store for the hood….I have something a bit more sophisticated than that!

I’m very close to power-washing the inside tub and spraying primer and then paint. Like most things in life, you have to take the bad with the good. This is the kind of work that sometimes causes people to quit, and the car just remains a basket case. This is the hard, unglamorous part of classic car restoration, but it’s gotta get done. It wasn’t that long ago that I was looking at a dirty engine compartment atop a dirty chassis, but now, the chassis and engine work is behind me….just as this will soon be.



6 responses

9 06 2008
tim foster

neat story, neat blog! That chair is an Eames bucket… designed around 1948 or so by Charles and Ray Eames. Early ones were made by Atlas (if I remember right) , and then by Herman Miller after about 1951. It’s one of the all time classic furniture designs and is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Good thing you didn’t spray it– they’re worth hundreds of dollars when they are in good original shape!

Good luck with the car- sounds like you’re doing it right.

9 06 2008

Thanks Tim, good information on the chair!

10 04 2010
Peter Zadelaar

Very interesting, never knew the Venus existed, keep up the good work!!

17 04 2010

Thank you Peter; I appreciate the kind words.

Patrick McLoad

9 05 2010
John Dunnell

What a great story! Very compelling info about your family and your car! What is the latest with the project? JD

9 05 2010

John: Thank you for your interest and for the kind words. The latest post is Update #8, as found in the right column of the blog site.

Not much has changed since update #8, as I’ve been away on business. But things will certainly start happening very quickly now
from recent auction proceeds where I sold my 1966 Jaguar E-Type, the current Jaguar Clubs of N. America National Champion.
Seen here in all her glory:

Next on the agenda will be getting the right and left windshield posts made. As far as I can tell…and after a year of searching all kind of old cars and boats for anything similar….these posts were custom made. Having only photos to go by, a wizard friend with 3D computer-aided design software, has recreated them down to the last detail, and had plastic versions made. These plastic versions were nearly perfect. So the next step is a slight revision then finding a reputable machist with CNC machines to have them made. Photos of the originals can be seen at the bottom of Update #7. Once these are made and fitted to the car, I’ll concentrate on finishing the body work until I’ve done as much as I can, then have the body painted. The chassis and engine are finished, so after paint is custom wiring harness, instruments, and interior trim. (yeah, easier and cheaper said than done!)

Thanks Again!
Patrick McLoad

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