Cardboard cars.

November 21st, 2011

I finished up the framing and went off to buy a huge roll of corrugated cardboard to add a skin to the car to see what she was going to look like. This is a very fun stage. I basically spent the weekend in my garage, door open with a roll of masking tape, a huge roll of cardboard and a hot glue gun. It was most enjoyable.

I had added vertical bulkheads across the car to give me the shape I needed. I thought these would be needed to give me the shape I wanted but in the end it turned out most weren’t necessary.

IMG_1027_1 Frames and bulkheads.

I started laying the cardboard over the frames. The roll I have is about 400mm wide and it only has paper on one side of the corrugations meaning it bends in one plane very easily. I cut strips then laid them on the car to get the shape of it. I found that most of the bulkheads weren’t needed and the cardboard would hold a shape pretty well once taped and glues so I removed them all apart from one at the scuttle and another behind the seats. I found those two were all that was required. I started at the front since that is square and easy.

IMG_1042_1 Covering the front.

I then moved onto the tail which is much trickier being somewhat curved. By the afternoon things were going rather well. As the tail took shape I felt like I might be channelling the great Ettore Bugatti himself!

Turned out to be indigestion from the bacon doorstop I had for lunch.

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Tail covered in cardboard.

Still, I got it done. The tail was VERY long. Joss then rang me and was going to be going past so he popped in for a look. We rolled the car outside onto the footpath so we could get far enough back to take a look. You get a much better impression of the car outside where you can get back and see the lines. It also seemed to provide much amusement to people walking or driving past! You can see my garage is very close to the footpath and I usually have the door open for better light and so it’s not so hot or stuffy. People are always walking past giving me odd looks or stopping for a chat.

IMG_1061_1 IMG_1062_1 Joss examines.

Joss added a few more pieces of cardboard so we could draw where the scuttle edge and rear of the seats would go. He also advised shortening the tail and making the car narrower since she was a bit plump in the middle.

I set to work making the changes. It meant taking the skin off and shifting my bookends to change the shape of the car. The cardboard peels apart like an orange! I moved in the middle two bookends. Several inches each side at the front and about an inch in the middle. I didn’t move the rear most ones which turned out to be a mistake. I ended up replacing the rear skin rather than trying to make the old one fit again. I also trimmed off some of the excess floor. As it turns out I didn’t cut the floor too narrow since the body I have ended up with sits totally between the wheels anyway.

IMG_1066_1 Peeled like an orange!

Then again I rolled the car outside to take a look. The thing is so light I can manage this by myself no problem despite being on a slight slope there. Instead of pushing on the body (cardboard – not a good idea!) you simply roll the tyres by hand. Not the left front one as that one is flat!

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IMG_1071_1 IMG_1075_1 Second attempt.

This is better. The car is narrower so sits between the wheels. Before looking down the car sides the rear wheels were hidden a little by the bulging belly line. Now the body seems to hang between the wheels. The tail still wasn’t right though. You do have to remember the tail and body will extend beneath the floor so the body does look a little truncated at the moment. But I didn’t like the tail shape.She definitely has a 1930s racer look though and a different look to most Austin 7s I think. The high front works well with the sweeping shoulder line. She’s front heavy but I think it will work.

So tonight I came home and rushed out to the garage for the third attempt. I dropped the end of the tail and also gave it more of a curve down so the back didn’t look so flat. I redid the tail again but unfortunately couldn’t get the car outside to have a proper look as it was raining. Cardboard cars don’t work so well in the rain.

IMG_1078_1 Third attempt.

Even so I could tell the car wasn’t right. The tail still looked wrong. It was too fat. Fron some angles it looked fine but from one particular one, off the rear three quarter view,  it definitely looked wrong. I came in and had dinner and a beer and pondered. Then I realised the mistake. When I had made the car narrower by moving the front two bookends I hadn’t moved the rear most ones. I went back out to the garage after tea, peeled back the rear again and unscrewed the rear most bookends.

IMG_1077_1 Moving rear bookends.

The didn’t move more that 1/8 of an inch. I then unscrewed the tail piece. Suddenly the tail moved back about an inch and each side bookend moved inwards about an inch. So instantly her bum was 2 inches smaller. Every girls dream! I let things go to the position they naturally moved to and screwed them back down. I then reattached the skin. Now things look a lot better. It goes to show if you make one adjustment it is going to affect other parts of the car so you must also adjust them to suit. You can’t easily change one thing in isolation.

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Fourth attempt.

I am still not sure it is totally right but I am getting closer. Even though the rain had stopped I couldn’t take the car outside since it was dark. Tomorrow after work if it is fine I will roll the car outside again to get a proper look.

One interesting thing is as the tail got shorter the curves got tighter and it got harder and harder to get the cardboard to follow the curves when using full widths. That is when you are trying to bend it at 90 degrees to the corrugations. After shortening the tail I found I needed to cut the cardboard into thinner strips to get it to stay reasonably flat against the body. The mock-up does have something of an insect or an armadillo look due to the overlapping sheets. Obviously the real car will be smooth panels.

Below you can see the difference a small change makes. Before beer on the left, after beer on the right. The difference is width is small but it makes a big difference to the look of the car.

IMG_1078_1 IMG_1092_1 Before and after beer.

IMG_1081_1 IMG_1088_1 Thinner tail.


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