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360/430 Spider Hardtop Mold Complete!

Discussion in '360/430' started by EastMemphis, Jun 12, 2022.

  1. EastMemphis

    EastMemphis Formula 3
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    #1 EastMemphis, Jun 12, 2022
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2022
    I've been working on this project since I got my car nearly three years ago. Today, was the make or break moment when it was finally time to separate the two halves of the mold, or at least attempt to do so. If the mold was improperly made, or the parting line incorrectly selected, the mold becomes a tomb to the foolish aspirations of an engineer. If it comes apart, then it's on to the next step.

    Here's the original plug:

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    Here's the completed mold, potentially, the tomb for the plug if it doesn't want to come apart.
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    The things sticking up on the outside of the mold surface are mount points for the mold support structure (not shown). The mold support structure assures that the shape of the mold doesn't change. Fiberglass is pretty flexible and without some way to be sure, it can flex. That would be bad.

    This is the largest mold I've ever made and the one with the most riding on it. If the mold didn't come apart because of some screw up, I would have had to use a chisel and hammer to break it apart and that would have done a lot of damage, probably enough for me just to put it on a shelf and pretend it never existed.

    Surprisingly, the mold came apart easily.

    Here's the outer mold.
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    The greenish film that's bubbling up is mold release PVA (Poly Vinyl Alcohol) which cleans up with water.

    Here's the inner mold.
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    The clay is a spacer that's the thickness of the inner and outer castings so that the labor to attach the two halves is minimized. The clay just scrapes out. There's a coating of PVA on this side too.

    Note the waviness of the inner mold's surface. That's because the plug has a concave shape which is really difficult to get smooth. I did the best I could and decided that instead of killing myself trying to fix it, I'd just wait until I had the mold, which is a convex shape and MUCH easier to get smooth and ripple free. It's going to be covered by a headliner anyway but just looking at it makes me cringe.

    Both molds need to be cleaned, polished and prepped before a casting can be made. The first casting is going to be an inner, which has all the mounting points and interfaces to the car. With this inner casting, I can fit all the parts using a sort of two dimensional version of the hardtop. It will also be transparent. Once the holes and cutouts are all mapped to this casting, I can transfer those holes and cutouts to the mold so that the castings have that in place right out of the mold.

    I still have a tremendous amount of work and engineering to do before this project is complete. I've got prototypes of some of the seals and trim and the latches. They all have to be finalized, molds made and casting methods developed. I have no idea how long that's going to take.

    It's inevitable now, I will make a hardtop for 360 and 430 Spider models.

    Please don't ask anything about buying one. That's so far down the road that pricing and availability is impossible to know. If you want to discuss the process, absolutely. I have a wealth of information on fiberglass, mold making, how to screw up and even how to succeed.

    (Yay!)
     
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  3. LorenzoR

    LorenzoR Formula 3
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    Looks good. Great work wow
     
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  4. colorfull

    colorfull Formula Junior
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    Congratulations! That looks incredibly amazing!

    That you made this by hand, with this level of success is mesmerizing.

    Absolutely beautiful!
     
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  5. Husker

    Husker F1 World Champ
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    Sheesh. That’s some engineering right there. Big kudos to you and your passion! Any schematic drawings on what it looks like on the car?
     
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  6. EastMemphis

    EastMemphis Formula 3
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    I have some old ones but the top shape has changed so much that they aren't representative. Oddly, I have no pictures of the current version on the car. The plug is never going back on the car since I had to delete all the mounts to make the mold. It will be a while, probably towards the end of the process, before I have a representative unit that's shiny and painted worthy of posting a picture.

    I made this video breaking the mold apart. It's a bit like watching paint dry. I found it exciting.

     
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  8. colorfull

    colorfull Formula Junior
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    Thank you for the video, now I can see how it all goes together. That's amazing that that works like that, very cool.
     
  9. Husker

    Husker F1 World Champ
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    My gosh that's amazing.
     
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  10. LorenzoR

    LorenzoR Formula 3
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    Nice work John. I did some fiberglass work myself for a couple years building boats. I don't miss it.
     
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  11. hessank

    hessank Formula 3
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    That's some serious skill.
    :)
     
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  13. one4torque

    one4torque F1 Rookie
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    Genius niche market idea!

    Offer an alt for aging failing tops.

    can this replace the complex top?
     
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  14. clean512

    clean512 Formula 3
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    Well done
     
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  15. EastMemphis

    EastMemphis Formula 3
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    Here they are all cleaned up.
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    The inner mold needs a bit of work. The defects will be A LOT easier to fix then the plug. Both molds are good and solid, accurate and without apparent defects. I'm sure somewhere there's a problem but at this moment, I haven't found it.

    Speaking of the plug, it came out with a tiny bit of damage along the front lip from a wedge but since the thing is little more than an art piece now, it hardly matters. If I want to mount the thing on the wall, I'll probably leave it as it is for posterity...
     
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  16. one4torque

    one4torque F1 Rookie
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  17. colorfull

    colorfull Formula Junior
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    That is just so bloody fantastic!
     
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  18. EastMemphis

    EastMemphis Formula 3
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    I finally finished the support structure for the inner mold.

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    Lots of triangles. The support structure needs to be rigid and strong. I used three 2x4's to make it. I made this stand lower so I can work on it sitting down. It's standard table height. The inner mold has a lot more detail, sharp corners and indentations which need close attention. Sitting down will take some of the strain out of it.
     
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  19. romeo7

    romeo7 Rookie

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    Great job! Very impressed with the quality work to date.
     
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  20. colorfull

    colorfull Formula Junior
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    Phenomenal determination! Extremely impressed!
     
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  21. one4torque

    one4torque F1 Rookie
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    When can we see this sitting on the car?
     
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  22. rizzo308

    rizzo308 Formula 3
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    Can't wait to this this fitted to a car. Nice work John.
     
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  23. RedNeck

    RedNeck F1 Veteran
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    Bravo! That's putting true God-given talent to good use!
     
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  24. EastMemphis

    EastMemphis Formula 3
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    Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures the last time I fitted the plug to the car. The plug won't ever go back on the car since I had to delete all the mounting points to make the mold. So the next time I'll have something that can be photographed will be when I have the first casting finished, painted and trimmed out. I have no idea when that will be but it will be towards the end of the process. I have some very old pictures before I did the final shaping but they aren't representative. This is a very long process without a lot of visual satisfaction. Sorry.

    The next phase, which is upon me, is to build just the inner mold and fit all the latches and trim. It will be a sort of two dimensional version of the hardtop that will be transparent. With this, I can accurately place the cutouts and fill-ins for the latches and finalize the trim. From this process, I'll modify the molds to accommodate the mount points so the next casting will have all that stuff placed properly.

    I can also use this transparent 2d version to test fit on other Spiders. That will be a major goal for the near future. The darn thing fits on my car but does it fit on any other? Huge question. If I was working with a Corvette or a Porsche, that wouldn't be an issue but the Spiders are essentially hand made. How much variation exists between builds, years, models? Something I really need to know.
     
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  25. one4torque

    one4torque F1 Rookie
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    So much tease! Great product idea.
     
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  26. rizzo308

    rizzo308 Formula 3
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    Totally get it mate. Cant rush these kinda jobs great work.
     
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  27. craze

    craze Formula Junior

    Mar 5, 2021
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    Can it be stowed in car when removed?? Pardon id already answered

    I love spiders but soft tops i hate
    I would just never own a soft top
     
  28. EastMemphis

    EastMemphis Formula 3
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    It's rather big so no way to store it in the car at this time.

    The plan is to make the one piece model first. If I like making hardtops, something I haven't quite decided yet, then I might make a version that splits in half and folds up to store in the frunk. That was my original idea but it's too complex to attempt as a first model.
     

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