Venus Update #7: Grille Work Continues

4 02 2009

I almost titled this post “Back On The Grill” because I was certainly feeling like a slab of beef on the backyard Weber….this grille just wasn’t coming together as easily as I had hoped. On the last update (#6, below), I had temporarily mounted the four grille blades. It was now time to tie them together as planned (see drawing in Update #6).

To begin with, I discovered that one of the blades was just a bit longer than the rest, which kinda threw everything off. Additionally, notice that the top blade doesn’t taper correctly to the ends, compared to correct blade at the bottom. Luckily, I had an alternate to replace it with. (These pieces are extremely difficult to find in decent shape!)


Then after arriving at what I thought was good positioning, I had the middle sections tack welded together. Since I don’t own a good MIG welder, I had to clamp it all together and carefully take these over to the automotive shop for spot welds.


I then  discovered my next problem: The center “toaster top” cover would not fit because the lower grille protruded outward too much (see photo showing this misalignment with arrows). To fix this, I had to alter the angle of the blades where they attached to the sides of the opening. As you can see, they were flat across the fiberglass surface. Adding a wedge (or even washers) would have cocked them backwards, but a wedge at this point would have simply looked wrong, not to mention the difficulty of machining a wedge out of steel or aluminum. No, that was not an alternative (and neither was changing the angle of the fiberglass surface).



What I ended up doing was partially slicing the mounting tab; bending it in a bit; tacking it in place; then grinding off the excess (see illustration below). I did this on 3 of the blades just to get them as near perfect as possible. Changing the angle of the blades where they mounted effectively cocked them back to the correct position to where the front cover piece could now fit correctly. But since I had changed these angles, the center sections were now also at the wrong angles. So I had to grind off the tack welds; reposition and clamp the center sections, and take them back for yet another tack job.



The next issue to face was that of getting the “rounds” to match up as best I could. This was going to require a lot of heat. I first manufactured a tool out of a sacrificial pair of vice grips to better grab and bent the red-hot sections.


This really turned out to be quite difficult without a second pair of hands. Even at orange-hot, moving the pieces around took a lot of “persuasion”. I finally arrived at what was about as good as I was going to get it, at least for awhile….it still needs work as you can see. Again, I’m just not set up to do this kind of work. I am going to have to send this out to a pro to have all the gaps filled in and ground smooth to where it is one presentable piece. Naturally, it will be chrome plated when I get it as smooth as possible.


And speaking of smooth, recall in a previous update that I had manufactured some hinge arms for the Venus hood. They were really quite ugly so I sent them out to Steve Sellers of Sellers Equipped in California for smoothing and shaping. I wanted the rods to flow smoothly to the base. I had first learned of Steve’s work on the Jalopy Journal (one of my favorite websites), and knew he was the right guy to do this…and indeed, I was right. See the before and after photos of the hinge arms; they really turned out nice…even a work of art! He really did a great job!
(photos of the finish pieces courtesy of Steve Sellers)




It is now early February and simply too cold to be doing any resin application. I do use a portable propane heater to make my garage bearable, but its still too cold for mixing resin…I don’t want to take the chance of applying a bad batch to the car. Perhaps I should start on the windshield posts which have to be made from scratch with only photographs to go by. These will probably be the single, most difficult parts to make for the Venus.


Thanks for visiting!

Patrick McLoad



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