The main tub is now pretty much complete with the outer skin welded to the bottom of the frame, rolled over the top tube and generally cleaned up. I am rather pleased with the result, the body is full of subtle curves and the lines flow beautifully around the top in a seamless fashion. It is hard not to run your hand along the top rail. To me this 4 seater touring body looks very clean yet has a decidedly rakish feel about it. Thank you gentlemen for transforming my vision into a reality!
In the picture below, you can see the beginnings of how the aluminum is rolled over the top tube and is slowly beaten into shape, it requires shrinking the metal in some places, stretching it in others and much hammering. The metal is annealed first to soften it and over time it will go hard again. The soot marks are the first step of the process, further localised heat is applied burning off the soot which is used as a tell tale to show where the annealing process has been completed.
Below is the finished cowl beautifully smoothed and welded into the adjacent panels, also tucked over the front part of the frame which will form part of the bonnet shut which has yet to be constructed.
And here it is the completed passenger area. The tube seen spanning the middle of the tub is temporary whilst the skin is formed, it is providing additional rigidity to the space frame during the process and will be removed shortly.
The next steps are the instrument panel supports and the main bulkhead which will close off the area between the engine and the passengers. This will consist of a firewall panel, close to the engine, a closed in ‘shelf’ for purposes yet to be decided and the actual bulkhead. There were a few design decisions made at this point but in general the Artisans are back on home ground, the bonnet will be created with influences from numerous race cars but none of the features or the construction will be totally unique. It will merely contain all the features that I think the car needs.
The exhaust is one of those design decisions. Traditionally many works sports-cars utilised a tubular exhaust manifold exiting straight out through the side of the bonnet which then ran down the side of the passenger area (hence why there are no doors) or it could follow the normal under the car route. No prizes for guessing my choice. I am not entirely sure why vintage race cars had the external systems other than perhaps to try and keep the flow of exhaust gasses as straight as possible for improved flow but it is a common feature and one that i wanted.
Luckily at the side of the workshop was the exhaust system from the Artisans supercharged Bentley ‘The Dreadnought’, so I borrowed it to see how such a system would look before they bent any metal in anger. It should be mentioned that the tubing in this system is noticeably fatter than will be used on my car and it will be a little lower down but you get the basic idea. It will of course be wrapped with insulating bandage because it will get warm and cooking passengers is not the idea.
It is fabulous witnessing the birth of a sport-car 🙂