Hand Made Bulkhead

Hand-Built Bulkhead

I could see my hand built bulkhead being the biggest challenge yet. I wanted something that looked original rather than something boxy made from flat steel.

The bulkhead actually needs a fair bit of strength. The bonnet, is quite long, so the leverage on the bulkhead will be significant. It will be mounted on BMW E46 3 series hinges, which are gas ram assisted. These will be mounted on supports that will also provide attachment for the detachable bonnet sides.
BMW e46 bonnet hinges

CAD Sketches

Bulkhead CAD
Bulkhead panel - CADInside the bulkhead, I need to add bracing for wiper motors, heaters, engine management and hoses. I had the choice of a 1″ box section frame or some lighter 18awg sheet steel braces.

I didn’t want a super heavy body and I needed to practice my sheet metal skills, so I drew up some quick CAD sketches. This part is too wide for my bead roller so I had to make it in two halves and weld it back together at the end.

Hand-made BulkheadI used a hydraulic hole punch and tin snips the create the holes. The panel was then cut in half so I could bead role the edges.

As I mocked up my bulkhead, it began to dawn, that the wiring loom I spent ages getting right needs dissecting and re-doing. For now, the wiring loom and engine management will be removed. I know the engine runs, so it will go into storage until the metalwork is finished. Once I’ve done the interior I’ll tweak it so less of it is visible.Hand-made Bulkhead
The flat steel used for this panel had zero strength, but with just a little bead rolling and a return edge, the panel became more robust.

Hand Built Bulkhead Front Panel

With the lower bulkhead facia complete, the internals can also be measured for braces. First though, I needed to make the main hand built bulkhead front panel. This was made in two pieces. It was too wide to make in one piece as I needed to run it though the bead roller. With the raised panels complete it was curved like a banana so I had stretch those panels in the stretcher. I could then pass it though the wheel to get most of the ripples out.

Hand-made bodywork - bulkheadI’ve learnt my lesson, so this time I simply Cleco’d it in place. Eventually, I’ll butt weld the bulkhead to the door pillars, however, for now it’s held with magnets.

Curved Windscreen

This hand built bulkhead is inset from the sides of the car. The bonnet sides butt right up to the edges of the door. The curved windscreen is wider than lower bulkhead.
Similar to the car below.

Bulkhead shape

Not my car

The top of the bulkhead as it meets the curved MG Midget screen is going to be the hardest part.

Hand-made bodywork - bulkheadThe bottom edge of the screen is a double curvature. It’s not just 2.75″ higher in the middle, it’s also 2″ further forward. I have a knackered OEM MG screen that I’m using for fabrication work. The road going one is heated and has EC43R/DOT markings.

Hand Built BulkheadThe screen is just propped in place so that I can get a clearer picture of my next task. I’ve also positioned the hinge so that I can see where the rear edge of the bonnet will lie.

The BMW hinges are adjustable and lift the bonnet forward and up in a curve. This lift would not be enough for the bonnet to have a straight rear edge, so that will be curved to match the screen.

I’ll add some shape to the panel between the bulkhead and the windscreen, as although the bead rolling add character, it still looks a little too flat for me.

Next job, windscreen pillars.


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