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Gordon Nichols posted:

Trust me....You want to seal it.  That's based on a couple of times with thoroughly wet knees and thighs and then trying to seal it after the windshield's been installed.  Do it now when it's easy and forget it.

I (mostly) trust you, El Gordo, in a Ronald Ragan kind of way. 

Did you read Mitch’s post? I guess I’m lost why (you know, besides trusting you and all) he should goop up a leather gasket up in a situation like this.

PS: I like the seal a lot though.

Last edited by Stan Galat

But why not add a little sealant?  Is the bottom surface of the windshield so flat, and the curve of the dash so exact, that a leather gasket will seal up perfectly?  You can duck when water comes over the wind screen, but not when it comes under it.  (Either way, though, you get soaked somewhere.)

I guess I'm of the school that I like to over do things (that is, whenever I actually do something).  If building in wood, glue is great, but screws add that extra hold, and vice versa.  

No one will notice the sealant, and it's an extra precaution.  Although, it's all pretty pointless in a car with scant weather protection.

Just wear waterproof clothing...

Last edited by Bob: IM S6

Why not?

The leather gasket is what worries me. Depending on how that gasket is finished, it could be extremely hard to make the silicone disappear if it bulges out a bit. The pores in a lot of tanned leather (like a baseball glove or bomber jacket for instance) are open, and any silicone that got on it would never come off, and would leave a stain that says, “hey! I’ve got silicone gobbed on me”.

In order to ensure that wouldn’t happen, the silicone bead would need to be tiny. If it was that small, I’m not sure how much good it would do, anyhow.

If the leather was finished to a shiny surface, then yeah, I would do it.

Oh.  I was assuming the silicone would go under the gasket and seal against the body, not on the bottom of the windscreen, and thus on the top of the gasket.  If under the gasket, a mess on the underside of the leather would not matter.  But I see what you mean about sealant on top of the gasket.

Hmmm.  Anyway, mucho caution would be needed not to make a mess if silicone is involved.  

Last edited by Bob: IM S6

I still believe that a 1/8" bead down the middle of the gasket (leather or otherwise) with clear Silicon is prudent to seal the bottom of the windshield from water intrusion.

Full disclosure, I have never used clear silicon on pure leather to see the effect on the leather when applied or after it cures, so I don't know if it would stain it or not.  I'll look around for a small piece of un-polished leather and see what happens when I do and let you know.

Thanks, all, for the insight and speculation. I am entertained!

Spent an hour after work today dry-blocking and working the filler. The body of this car isn't too bad at all; I think I should be done spot-filling after a couple more rounds of sanding. I may need to buy another quart of high-build primer before it's all said and done though. 


IMG_2049One of our number PM'd me to warn about filling holes with straight body filler (aka "Bondo") because it shrinks back later and leaves a divot in your paint. I told him I (mostly) am not doing that, but instead coming in from the back of the hole with Kitty Hair and only then smoothing the front with filler.

I said this with some swagger, as if I actually know what I'm doing, and on reflection I feel like that's not really right: I don't know what I'm doing.

So...does anyone here have any knowledge and/or experience that debunks my stated method? Because I'd rather re-do these now if need be than after color.

The other thing I did today is I ground away a bit of the tail to try to form a subtle "moustache" flatness under the plate light. I'm sure this will be very subtle at best, but as we're copying a French car, I figured the moustache would necessarily be slight anyway.


I'll probably shape it a little bit back here, mostly with the palm sander, and we'll see if it makes any difference. . . .



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Regarding the windshield sealant (and just to complicate matters), I plan to install the full glass and wipers at least to test them, and I still might even make a top. I want to be able to switch from one windscreen to the other inside of an hour.

Leaning toward no sealant now on the plexi. But the thought I had was to run a bead of that black stuff Alan uses, then put a sheet of wax paper of that, then the leather gasket and the windshield and cinch 'em down. 

Then un-cinch and take out the paper, then re-cinch.

The more I think about this idea the more my head hurts. This seems like a stupid way to waste about three hours and end up with something that's just that much more complicated and still leaks. 

The other headache is now I'll have to get about a zillion little oval head phillips screws with nylocks to replace the rivets that would usually hold down the channel for the glass screen . . . and of course without the Alan black goop the real screen probably won't hold water . . . but with the goop changing screens would be somewhere between hard and impossible inside an hour?

So what I'd need for a sealant is maybe some kind of stuff that just peels off paint when your done?

Like...I dunno...Plastidip?


Drilled/cut my welds on the handbrake mount and re-did it 1.25 inches higher and about 1/4 inch back so the handle could lay down, so it will look more correct and also not poke the driver's calf muscle. Also cut the brake mechanism slightly to allow the lay-down. The thing had to be mocked up with screws and installed five times with driver's seat to get everything to clear. Also shimmed seat up 3/8ths or so in front. Would be better to cut the rear mounts and lower those a half inch, which maybe this weekend...


All this took 3.5 hours today (my welds were pretty tough). And I started it yesterday...after re-glassing a little patch on the inside of the hood because when I took the hood off for final paint prep I found a new, almost invisible crack coming from the fuel filler hole. After glassing the inside I flipped it over to do some kitty hair on the top and, after V-ing it out a bit discovered:


Turns out it was the plug the PO made for the previous fuel filler hole....the one Thunder Ranch pre-cut in the hood to make everything easy.

So looks like I'll be laying up a little more glass this weekend and final finish on the hood will have to wait a while for it to cure. 

Pisses me off... I glassed what I thought was the only hairline crack in that hood and skimmed the inside with Fibral in the summer of 2017, and figured I had it licked. That hood's been opened and closed about 1500 times since then to fit the fuel filler and the gas tank and the hood pins and the latch. No sign of a crack until now.  



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Last edited by edsnova

Continued fettling the handbrake: final install with set screw is done, added the reverse lockout flip tab which had to be relocated and cut down and the spring tab relocated before I could get the spring on it and have it clear the hand brake.


Then I re-made my seat heater switch plate so it could actually be attached to the handbrake bracket and shifter. The screws are temporary; I'll rivet it once everything's painted...


I didn't plan it this way but I think it's a little bit cool how the reverse lock-out lever, when in the normal, non-race, reverse-gear-is-a-fine-option position, shrouds my all-too-modern looking seat heater rockers.


After spending way too much time on all that, I rough-sanded the top of the hood, flipped it over, roughed and cleaned the bottom and put two more layers of glass, plus kitty hair on it.IMG_2080

Hopefully, that'll get 'er done. 


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Ed. looking really good. 

About that windshield seal thingy: I used to use RTV/Silicone for a wing/fuselage gasket on my radio-controlled airplanes. I used plastic wrap/Saran wrap on one side(the wing). Silicone the other(I'd silicone the bottom of the windshield), install, leaving it tight but not fully tight. After the silicone sets up, remove plastic and trim the silicone edges with a razor blade. Removable, reusable, and most important, it seals AND looks good.

Today, a short illustrated essay on replica compromise. As is known, the cable shifter is the go-to Spyder replica shifter. It's reportedly easier to set up and keep in tune than the Jamar linkage shifter that used to come standard. Both are pretty different from the exacting engineering in the original 550, but the cable box's bulk makes for noticeable changes in the replica Spyder cockpit. Here's the car I'm trying to copy.

You can see here how small the original shifter housing is. It tops out about even with the top of the front bulkhead. 

Whereas my cable shifter...


...big honking shoebox of a thing, couple inches wider than stock and probably crests 1.5 inches above the bulkhead—and that's after I modded it to make it as short as it can be and still function. The larger shift housing means the seats have to be about an inch and a half narrower, and so three extra inches apart in the middle, in order to clear the extra height and width of it. Again 550-0051:



Ok, from that angle it's not so noticeable. 

Here's a shot of 0056's shift and hand brake lever from above:

And mine:



My car:


One interesting thing to me is that the difference in seat width looks to be mostly in the bolsters. The original ones look splayed out, whereas mine are more upright and shorter. Ah well. It is what it is. 

Today I'll paint the shift box and switch plate frame black as original to try to make them less prominent. I think I've got these parts about as good as they can be made to be, from a "that-looks-like-an-actual-Spyder" perspective. Bottom line is, the gap between the seats will be a telltale to anyone really familiar with the 550.



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Ed's got tracks. Ron Mullis has tracks. Mine are older 2002 seats that I elected to bolt in. I'm not the tallest at 5'9", but because of my torso length, I needed the low seat to keep my head lower to see through the windshield. I don't have a long or short torso, pretty average.

I did build pedal extensions so that Michelle can drive my car even with the fixed seats. She is 5'3".

Stan has a long torso, but is similar height-wise. His head was above the windshield when he sat in my car. I believe his eyes were in line with the windshield frame. Stan actually fit better(lower) in Ron's car than in mine.

No insult meant, but unfortunately I think you are too big to fit in a Spyder, Ray.

Your shifter is different than mine, Danny, and looks more compact. Curious to know more about it. I think your seats may be more like the originals' shape, but part of what's going on there is your brake handle is posted way up and to the right of everything, which keeps it out of the way (or at least out of the middle of the seats).

I know most of the replicas have the brake handle to the right of the shifter, but on the original cars it was smack dab in the middle, left of the shifter. I'd suspected that putting it there would be something of a project, but I didn't realize until this week that the replica hand brakes (at least the one I got with this car) are so very different from the originals—designed to be mounted much higher, and quite resistant to being mounted anywhere near as low as the originals. I've got mine about as low as it can practically go, and that's still about two inches above where the originals' cross tube went.

Ray, my seats have sliders and I'm installing everything so they work, but as you probably know, a lot of Spyder guys mount their seats right on the floor to give more head room. Mine are now mounted about 1.5 inches above the floor and that makes a difference. I'll probably mod my rear cross members to lower the backs of the seats before I spray the inside of the tub. 

It's also worth noting (and is seldom noted) that the replicas, while wider and longer than the originals, are made to have less depth. If you look carefully at an original Spyder where the floor meets the frame tubes, you'll notice that the floor doesn't actually meet the frame tubes. There's maybe a 5/8th-inch gap, which is where they tuck the oil lines & such. It's subtle, but it matters a lot when you get into such a small car. 

The originals are roomier under the dashboard too, because the fuel tanks are shaped differently. 

All of which are things one would never notice if not building one and test-fitting everything 20x a day.

DannyP posted:

Ed's got tracks. Ron Mullis has tracks. Mine are older 2002 seats that I elected to bolt in. I'm not the tallest at 5'9", but because of my torso length, I needed the low seat to keep my head lower to see through the windshield. I don't have a long or short torso, pretty average.

I did build pedal extensions so that Michelle can drive my car even with the fixed seats. She is 5'3".

Stan has a long torso, but is similar height-wise. His head was above the windshield when he sat in my car. I believe his eyes were in line with the windshield frame. Stan actually fit better(lower) in Ron's car than in mine.

No insult meant, but unfortunately I think you are too big to fit in a Spyder, Ray.

Yeah Danny, such is life, the genetic lotto is different for everybody.   I had to pass on the silver IM speedster that Bob purchased from Henry.  Originally it was Miko's  as I could not get into that speedster.  NIce 901 5 speed and 2335cc too.  

Ed, it's a PBS shifter. They are made in small batches and sometimes are very hard to come by. But they do shift very well, indeed. Not a single missed shift, buttery smooth.

I'm aware of where and how the originals had everything placed, but the shifter is placed PERFECTLY for my needs. And believe me, it was no picnic placing that e-brake and getting it to work without rubbing something! My e-brake tubes are both slightly to the passenger side from the center, lining up straight with the handle. It was a large PIA, but worth it. Function trumps original form on this one.

My seats are tilted up about 1.5" at the front, and sit on 3/8" spacers at the rear so my crotch belts can go through and under the seat, bolted to the floor behind the seat.

I’m a bit taller than Danny is remembering: 6’0, with an orangutan torso and arms. He’s correct that I fit Ron’s car better, but none of the Spyders I sat in were even close.

The top of Danny’s windshield hit me at the jawline. The top of Ron’s hit me about eye level. I know from my own car, that tipping the seats back help keep me lower in the car. I don’t think it would be enough me to fit behind the windshield. 

Pity. Cars like Ed’s make me weak in the knees. 

You must be pretty tall, Ray. I'd never heard of XKEs being cramped inside. 

Meanwhile, on my build, I keep on. Extended the shifter about 2 inches to get it closer to the correct height. Might take a crack at lowering the back of the driver's seat today. I can save about 5/8 of an inch back there with a little cutting, bending, drilling and welding and that might just make the difference. 

If it's any consolation to you self-conscious tall dudes, the phenomenon of one's head sticking up over the windscreen of one's 550 Spyder is not new. In fact, it's extremely period correct!

It's why God has blessed us with goofy white crash helmets and Halcyon goggles!

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