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difrangia

'8-Ball' 1961 FIAT 500D - Development of Whaletail Wing

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I've always considered myself lucky to have so many projects from widely varied subjects, that I'll never get my head above water, let alone get them all finished. One that I've munched around on in my mind for the past twenty five years is a mini whale tail spoiler/wing for our 1961 FIAT 500D. The 500 and 600 based FIAT sedans were extensively raced in the 50's -70's and many propped up the rear engine cover to a basically horizontal position to effect a rear wing that would aid in parting the drag causing air at the back of the car and to exhaust heat from the engineroom. Photos can be found online of a few with beautiful purposely styled little wings. The wings on many 70's - 80's Porsche 911 based cars that were referred to as 'whale Tails' and always grabbed my attention. About a month ago I finally bit-the-bullet and dove off into initiating a new project. Here's our FIAT, AKA 'The 8-Ball' This car will fit in the bed of a long-bed full size pickup.

 

500_D_Grapevine_TX_2011_1.jpg

 

I started developing a basic design on another 500 that's stored so as not to screw up the paint on 8-Ball. cut out a header board to fit in the cavity below the air intake above the engineroom and worked out a wireframe outline for starters.

 

Spoiler_1.jpg

 

With the dimensions worked out and contours at the body junction and around the periphery worked out next step was to fabricate a 'buck' from wood that I will lay up a clamshell fiberglass mold to lay up the actual wing in. I bandsawed out a series of slats to fill the envelope working off centerline and progressing from front to rear. I alternated the grain on each slat to help stabilize the buck over it's development. Here's the slats just prior to glue-up.

 

Spoiler_5.jpg

 

Here's the raw buck right out of the clamps and propped up pretty close to where it will be on the FIAT. Header board that mates it to the body is not part of the buck yet. It's laying on the pop keg at lower left of this photo.

 

Spoiler_6.jpg

 

From here it went to the milling machine to establish upper and lower parallel surfaces to work everything from and machine the proper angle at front to mount the header board. Here's a pic taken about a week later with the header glued in, outline rough sawn at rear center and about five inches back from body junction and the lower and upper contours roughed in within 1/8". Rear corners are not contoured and retain raw material to facilitate clamping and holding for working contours and to allow mounting of jigs that will show up later. 

 

Spoiler_10.jpg

 

To be continued.

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Very cool

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wouldn't  HDF be more maluable material to use for a mold?

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Yeah, Aibast, I gave thought to a number of materials to fabricate the buck from, but have the most experience working in wood. I'll possibly try some other material if I take on future projects. Some people use different types of foam materials which are much easier to work with and cover them to protect from the resin. About a dozen years ago I got hooked hard by the Celtic based music of Canadian, Lorenna McKennitt. Caught a couple of her concerts and the violinist/fiddler, Hugh Marsh, totally blew me away. I decided at that first concert to acquire a violin and a teacher and learn to make a little noise.

 

Violin playing lessons lasted about six months, during which time, I picked up several century old violins needing repair/setup. Located a luthier (string instrument mechanic) and had one of the old violins refurbished. Started studying the history, development over the centuries, and physics of violins. Being a natural born tinkerer, I became more interested in taking the violins apart and putting them back together more than playing them. I talked the luthier into selling me a training day or two a month which lasted a couple years. Had to drive a hundred miles for the lessons. During the training I picked up more violins, tools, and literature pertinent to the instruments and reburbed a couple of my own instruments. Spent some crazy money !!

 

Long story short, I acquired a lot of tools and knowledge that is very useful in my other endeavors.A lot of it is coming in handy on this little project. I’ve done and will do a bit more internet study on glass-fiber and carbon mold making and layup before this project is near finished. I’ve worked with fiberglass a few times in the past and this project is proving to be great fuel for a tinkering mind. I figure that some of this may be useful to some of the members here on projects that they may dream up, thus the thread. 

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I have used HDF (High Density Foam) for concrete product models and taken fiberglass molds from that. First a rough mold. Then chipson cast. Then tinker and modifie the chipson element and then taken final mold for concrete casting. These days haven't had a chance to do these things any more. Two component silicone is very useful these days for mold making. But ifyou do a model out of wood, you can also use ABS plastik and vacume forming. Make it in two parts. Top part and a bottom part, then glue together. Should be nice and durable.

 

Vacume forming tables are easy to make. What is a more problematic is getting plastic heated up evenly in a contolled way.

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Excellent tech. Can't wait to see the rest of the process and results. Thanks for sharing. :cool:

 

 

and where is the build thread on the Fiat? :D

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The FIAT was refurbished, top-to-bottom in the early 90's before my first exposure to internet. No build thread though I do have a collection of photos through the work. I built the engine in it now over a period from about 1994 to 2004 of on-off effort. It is highly modified with extensively machined VW 40hp cylinders, a PBS cam (Paul & Bob Swenson - PBS Engineering; stll in business in CA), larger Weber carby, cylinder head reworked with largest valves feasible, internal and external coatings by Jet-Hot, and twin outlet exhaust. Paul Swenson was the inspiration for doing the cylinder swap which upped the displacement from 500cc to 650cc.

 

I bought the FIAT in 1975 for $75.00. The engine was apart and piled into the back seat. I rebuilt the original engine for $27.00 with parts from J.C. Whitney and drove it off & on in warmer periods of the year till about 1988. It got 60mpg with original engine and topped out at about 65mph and you drove very very defensively. The current engine runs a bit better. I have a couple of Panda 30 split intake port heads and will possibly upgrade next year and add more carb and more clutch. Spoiler is the current stage of improvement.

 

Bella_Motori_FIAT.jpg

 

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I was nearly killed in the FIAT on a Sunday drive in Dec.2006 when a kid in daddy’s Impala ran a stop sign and took the front end off the 8-Ball. I was thrown out of the suicide driver’s door and got a cracked vertebra. It was rebuilt over a year’s time (approx. $12K on the FIAT and $12K on me) using new sheetmetal and parts obtained in various parts of the world. It’s in better than ever condition now. The kids and grandkids are grown and gone and the FIAT and NL320 are my babies now.

 

Sad_Day__2.jpg

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Cool car and cool story. :thumbup: 

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Just for perspective, one of the FIAT 500D's in the back of my dad's LWB 80's Dodge half-ton pickup.

 

The FIAT's weigh right at 1000 pounds or half-a-ton. Who needs a spare tire when ya got a spare car ??

 

1959_FIAT_500_D_Pop_s_Dodge_Pickup.jpg

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I mentioned a bit up-thread that I chose wood to craft the buck because I had more experience in that medium. About a dozen years ago listening to online radio New Age/Alternate stuff I got the hooks put in me by Canadian Lorenna McKennitt’s Celtic based work. Long-story-short we attended a couple of her concerts. I was blown away by her violinist/fiddler, Hugh Marsh, and decided at that first concert that I’d pick me up a violin and some lessons and play around with it. Lessons lasted six months during which I picked up several century or so old violins and took one to a violin mechanic (luthier) to have refurbished and set up. Began studying the history of the violin and being a tinkerer by nature, I lost interest in playing and wanted to work on them. Talked the luthier into selling me a day or two a month for a couple years and refurbished several of my violins during the training. Spent some crazy-money over the next few years on training, literature, and tools to support the violin habit. A lot of the violin technology, tools, and processes help me immensely in other projects that I take on.

 

Back to the wing thread. With the lower surface of the wing about 90% finished and the outer periphery about 50% rough sawn, I put considerable effort in establishing the upper contour that I want on one side of the centerline of the car. I started with the driver side and have it over 95% to finish contour out to the kick-up around the outer edge. As can be seen in some of the earlier pics I laid out a series of radial lines from the front center of the wing to the outer periphery. Looks kinda like a rising sun flag. I alternated the lines in red and black symmetrically about the centerline to help reduce errors in the transfer of the contour from finished to rough side. In order to mechanically transfer the contour to the roughed side from the finished side, I took a couple of hours and put together this transfer jig.

 

IMG_4626.jpg

 

The central arm is pivoted at the centerline at the front of the wing and can be swing from the left side to the right side of the wing riding on the top of the frame to maintain parallelism to the base surface of the wing. The little block is a snug sliding fit in the gap in the arm and has a piece of steel tubing in its centerline in which the inside diameter of the tubing is a slip-fit for the drill bit that I made a little depth-stop collar for with a thumb screw. The jig is attached to the wing with a screw on either end of the wing on the excess material that I’ve left at the rear corners.

 

IMG_4624.jpg

 

To transfer a particular point from the finished contour to the rough side of the wing, the block is placed in the arm which is swung to the finished side and, looking through the bushing, is ‘bomb sighted’ over the spot that I want to transfer. The drill is dropped in the bushing and the stop collar is secured against the top of the bushing with the thumbscrew.

 

IMG_4623.jpg

 

The drill is them removed from the bushing and chucked up in the hand drill. The arm is swung to the rough side and bomb-sighted in to the corresponding spot on that side using the radial lines for reference. The chucked up drill is used to drill a spot on the rough side to a depth established by  the stop collar. Remove the drill, swing the arm out of the way, blow the chips out of the drill spot, and lightly ink the centerpoint of the drill spot with a sharpie pen. Continue transferring spots from the finished side to the rough side to establish a grid of ink spots that are theoretically on the finished surface of the wing. Looks kinda like this.

 

IMG_4625.jpg

 

Wing with right side gridded to established final contour.

 

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With the jig removed, the wing will be clamped down on the workbench at the two rear corners and I can hog away with gouges, chisels, planes, scrapers, and sandpaper till all the spots are connected and just disappear and the contour is mirrored. Maybe it won’t look like a sack of rocks with all the rocks in one end of the sack. That will leave the excess to be sawed off and the periphery to be finish contoured. The drill spot method is used by some violin builders to establish the compound contours on the upper and lower soundboards.  A lot of violin building technique is used throughout this project though I've never built an instrument from scratch and don't anticipate building one. I prefer working on old ones; kinda like cars.

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Some of the tools used to chop out the contour:

 

IMG_4629.jpg

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The buck is nearly born.

 

Buck_1.jpg

 

Buck_2.jpg

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About a dozen years ago I got hooked hard by the Celtic based music of Canadian, Lorenna McKennitt. Caught a couple of her concerts and the violinist/fiddler, Hugh Marsh, totally blew me away. 

 

Cool build!  I was lucky enough to get invited to one of her concerts, and totally agree - Hugh Marsh was truly unbelievable.

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Cool build!  I was lucky enough to get invited to one of her concerts, and totally agree - Hugh Marsh was truly unbelievable.

 

Hugh Marsh was an improvisational saxaphonist before he took up the violin/fiddle.

 

One of the high points of her and her 'Merry Band's' performances is the duel between the violin and Brian Hughes' Stratacaster near the end of 'Bonny Swans'.

 

 

Recorded in Granada Spain in 2006 at the Alhambra Palace.

 

The documentary video from the three Granada Spain concerts (Nights From the Alhambra) is spellbinding.

 

A number of videos from the docu are on Youtube.

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Getting down close to slicking out the wooden buck to lay up a mold from. A short stroll around part of the cave. 

 

YT blocked this vid cauz I had Dylan playing in the background. Still ginning here for now !!

 

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Boo I wanted to watch. 

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Can you not see it in the post above?

 

Maybe it only shows up for me since I'm the poster.

 

I can still watch it in this thread.

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