Saturday 20 July 2013

E21 316: Sculpting New Arches...

The car survived a trip with 3 people in and no scrubbing at all on the 16x9s, which I found very surprising, but still I figure the arches are good to finish off. I've neatened up the pulled lips and made a start to filling in and re-sculpting the shape of the wheel-arches, but progress has been slow and my intentions of selling the complete project this summer are looking unlikely. I spoke to the guy who did the re-spray for me originally and he said to get the arches as good as could be and pass it back over to him to smooth them off and repaint them without having to go over the whole car again. Great, though I can't keep hurling money at it, and with more to do over summer I've had less time to spend on the E21 and more time spent enjoying driving it on the new wheels for a few weekends in the sunshine like I intended, not just the odd trip to work. Oh and there is the matter of my daily driver needing MOT attention, but that's a different story.

Never the less, both the o/s arches have begun to take shape. Getting the lips off the bigger wheels and tyres was too extreme a job for my arch-rolling kit, so I had to pull them out with grips in the end. This meant a fair bit less grinding on the o/s rear wheel arch and none at all needed up front. The arch-lip needed to be low for as much tuck as possible, I don't like the cut-arch look, so I got the pulled out lip roughly in line with the slope of the arch and built it up flush with P38 filler. This is as close to the look of those European BBS'd E21s as I could figure, with a slight flare to the lip rather than the flat-edged look of the original arches. This is probably the easiest method of smoothing and saves on a bit of body-filler, enough of which is being used already.

I haven't touched the nearside arches yet, the main thing putting me off being the n/s rear one that was used to test fit those oversized Yokohama tyres and has suffered greatly from the spinning-disc. With the extra lip cut off the rigidity has been lost and the general shape of the arch has deformed, as well as more tyre being visible, about 10mm of tuck being lost. I guess my only options are to try and spot-weld the rough section of lip back on that was cut too far, which I still have, and rebuild the shape of the entire arch in filler, or buy a patterned-part wheel-arch off eBay for £25, cut out the current one, weld in the new one, smooth it off, pull the lip out and fill all that in. Well, there's no doubt the first method is cheaper and a lot less work, but this is a large area to be filling and smoothing and a wide margin for error, plus I don't even know if the bent arch will accept the bit I cut off without messing it up even further... watch this space!