Bonnet Skin – starting again

Bonnet Skin MK3

I’d had 2 previous attempts at making the bonnet skin. The first complete disaster was purely panel beaten in several pieces, the second was in 3 pieces, done with a rubber band, but all of them suffered badly when it came to me welding them up.

In fact this heap is the remains of my previous attempts.

Previous Bonnet attempts

I’m not an expert sheet metal welder, so distortion is a major issue. So I went One piece.

To do this, first I made a Jig for the central rib out of some angle iron. The central tapered rib stands 6mm tall at the front but fades away at the rear.

Bonnet Jig

I then clamped the skin to the jig with more angle iron and beat the rib into the bonnet with a tool I made out of an old brickies chisel.

Bonnet Jig

The result was good as there is virtually zero distortion and both sides are even. I then marked tapered lines onto the bonnet to follow with the English Wheel.

Bonnet Rib

When it came to the English Wheel the piece was essentially unmanageable. I had to rope in the wife, but even then, despite taking things really slow the wheeling results weren’t as good as when the pieces were light and small. We used a lot less pressure yet wheeling marks were more evident.
The reason being, the metal wanted to flop and bow in all directions and it’s own weight would cause kinks in unwanted areas.

To remove the wheeling marks I used a plastic Thor mallet and a piece of rounded fence post. Some gentle tapping quickly lessened the marks.
You can see some distinct lines left by the wheel in the shadow lines in the shot below.

Bonnet Skin

When you pass a piece of metal through the wheel if you do not keep it level or you wobble off line (as visible in the reflections above), it can take hours to correct.

The next big step was to attach the nose cone. Knowing that I’d already buckled 2 previous skins with my dodgy welding this was an issue. The problem I have, is I only have Oxy/Acetylene and MIG. Gas buckles too much and MIG needs sanding back and seems to harden the metal so when I panel beat it, tiny cracks can appear.

I patiently gas welded this nose on and beat it flat again. It’s not 100%, but I’m not a panel beater and the workshop was blooming cold (1ºC). My fingers were turning blue and condensation was running off the panel as I worked it.

The bonnet skin is whole

Bonnet Skin
In the shot below you can see the top has an tendency to ‘oil can’ on the left side, causing it to nose down.
Notice the kink in the central rib and the white reflection.

Bonnet Skin

Initially I was going to shrink the top, but after a lot of coffee, I worked out it was due to a slight kink in the front edge of the nose. Pushing that kink in just a couple millimetre kept the oil canning at bay and the nose up and solid.

Part of me would like this car to be like one of those immaculate work of art million dollar bare restorations. But the reality is 10 months ago, I hadn’t even picked up a panel beating hammer. I’ve never had tuition and I’ve learnt my skills from Google. This car is going to be covered in a skim of filler. But hey…..I’m giving it a go

Bonnet Skin

I did have to do some shrinking, as visible from behind.

Heat shrinking

Internal Brace

The next job was to weld in the slam panel, which didn’t quite go to plan. Basically, I hadn’t taken into account the gap in between the bonnet and the grill and cut the in-fill panel too small. Doh!

By the time I’d worked this out, it was already welded in.

In the shot below, the internal strengthening should butt up against the slam panel, however there’s an inch gap and the bonnet profile is all off.

Internal Bonnet Brace
The simple solution was to cut the slam panel down the middle. This allowed the internal bracing to slide forward and also drop down so the skin could sit snugly against it’s profile again.
Crisis averted
Internal Brace Tacked in Place

The internal brace is now tacked in place. It has added masses of strength to the bonnet skin.

I have a passion for old aircraft and for steampunk. So far, the underside is measuring up quite well.

I’ll disguise that piece of box; needed for mounting the hinges; with a bit of dimple die steel to complete the vintage aero-look.

One thing is for sure, this is no longer a light-weight Locost. This bonnet weighs a good few Kg.

I ended up cutting up the slam panel and making a new one… That’s another story…

Bonnet Side

Somewhere around bonnet top MK2, I decided to experiment with the bonnet sides.

37 Ford Hot Rod Bonnet Side

The bonnet side is actually another tricky panel. It’s tapered shape meant it couldn’t be done on the wheel so was beaten completely by hand. I used just the sandbag, wooden mallet, dolly and a hammer.

It might look like a flat panel – it’s not.

It has several curves in it. The rear 10″ gently curves into the door. The front 6″ curves into the grill. The wing edge is at a different line to the bonnet and the sides are curved top to bottom. Plus there’s a tapered bead at the top.

The tapered bead was the time consuming part.

It will get a cut-out in the side as with two 14″ fans and a 3rd 8″ fan on the oil cooler, I’m concerned about air stacking.

As with most bits I make, no doubt this bonnet side will just end up a ‘template’ for the proper one.

Grill Shape

I repeatedly change my mind over the shape of the grill. The only real way to settle what I liked was to mock things up.

37 Chevy

1937 Chevy Coupe Grill

Standard ’37 Ford

Boyds Smoothster

This Boyd’s Smoothster has a stretched grill. Although I liked the has hint’s of Art Deco, it’s was a little too 90’s.

I mocked it all up in tin and cardboard and Chevy’esque won. The Rear BMW hinges allow the bonnet open and clear the grill.

Bonnet Skin MK3I’ve still got a bit of work to do…….
I’m getting closer though…

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