Venus Update #6: Grille Work

10 12 2008

Work on the Venus body has been progressing slowly, however I recently moved it to my garage for more convenient access.

venus-in-garage

 

The task I decided to start on is that of getting the four grille blades properly mounted. To review, the “Massachusetts” Venus had a later-style grille, that being from a ’55 Chevy (see below). All things considered, it’s not a bad-looking, but my aim was to restore this body back to that of the original prototype which used four rear bumper guards from a 1951 Merc. (I discussed the acquisition of these grille pieces in an earlier post “Diversions”)

grille-comp

 

However, the mounting holes in these “blade” sections are for big 7/16ths inch bolts. I was not about to drill this size hole(s) in the fiberglass just to mount these puppies….1/4″ bolts will certainly do just fine. So I needed a way to reduce this 7/16ths hole down to 1/4 inch.

blade-end-7-16ths-holes

 

What I ended up doing was mounting a 7/16th bolt into the lathe; drill and tap a 1/4″ hole in the center, shape the bolt head semi-circular, and cut it off 1/8th from the head to provide a centering shoulder. Good news is that these don’t take more than about 30 minutes to make; bad news is I needed 16 of them! Once all were finished, I brazed one into each respective hole.

lathe-grille-buttons-comp1 

 

Fitting these blades has opened yet another can of worms. First of all, the fiberglass job on each side of the grille opening is pretty sloppy looking, parts of which interfere with the rear portion of the grill blades (the ’55 Chevy grille covered all of this mess). The original Venus did not have this flaring, but having it probably does a better job of routing more air through the radiator. I’ve decided that I will need to cut out this slop; get the grille bars mounted, and then do a better job of re-glassing these flarings. (Just what I needed…more body work!) Below are photos of the right and left side before altering.

grille-opening-right-and-left

 

With a portion of this flaring cut away, I located and mounted each blade as best I could to match the original photo. (There will be a rubber piece between the blade and the body). My “hit or miss” method of marking where to drill the holes on the first blade resulted in a mis-drilled hole. So I made a couple of pointed-end bolts to protrude slightly from the end. After locating the exact location of the blade, a sharp rap on the opposite end drove these points into the body, giving me accurate drilling locations. 

center-points-in-blade

 

After mounting all four blades, I then had to trim each outer end to fit against the fiberglass. This outer lip cannot touch the body otherwise it will interfere with the angle of the blade, and, scratch the paint. Additionally, the inner and outer tabs have to be bent (with torch) to match the angle of the mounting surfaces. This is a slow procedure! (Before and after shown below)

blade-ends-trimmed

 

Next, I used Styrofoam pieces to hold the blades in near perfect symmetrical position. Below photo shows blades in position, with and without a mock wooden cover.

grille-with-and-without-mock-cover

 

Gathering and attaching these blades in the center is somewhat of a mystery to me. Clearly, the “toaster top” piece in the middle is simply a cover, and there is no reason to believe that it served any other purpose. The original photos (below) give no clue as to what’s going on behind this cover or how the blades are attached.

cu-grille-cover-piece

 

I previously posted a number of ideas that included brackets and all-thread rods, but none of them really pleased me as this hardware was going to be very visible just behind the cover….one initial idea is seen below.

upper-and-lower-grille-brackets-option


Then one very cold morining in my freezing garage…standing VERY near the propane heater with a cup of hot coffee…, I eyed one of the spare blades sitting on the work bench. (I have several spare blades that, for various reasons, aren’t quite good enough to use for the grill assembly itself.) The thought occurred to me that it makes perfect sense to use a portion of these spare blades to span the distance between those in the grille. Custom car gurus cut, weld, and change bumpers all the time, so why not just do the same to these blades? See the illustration below; options A & B (only the upper grille blades are illustrated). The lines represent where a section is fitted and welded.

grille-middle-extensions

Using either option means that I no longer have to worry about ugly hardware, brackets, or all-thread rods. Anyone looking behind the center cover (and they will) will see a finished, chromed, continuous piece. Additionally, I can do most of the cutting and fitting myself. Once all is ready, I can call a welder and have him spot-weld the pieces while in position on the car, then weld all the gaps while off the car. This welding will probably only cost me a couple hundred bucks, if that. I will then grind and sand down the welds until smooth so that there is no visible transition between the two after chrome plating. I think this method will solve all of the cosmetic problems, and will provide a strong, one-piece blade section.

Thanks for tuning in. Sorry for making this molehill into a mountain!

Merry Christmas to you all!!
(Have you been naughty or nice?!)

coke-santa3601

Patrick McLoad


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3 responses

10 12 2008
Bruce McIntire

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2 12 2010
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16 12 2010
mcload

Thank you for the reply.
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