Lola T 492
In North Carolina
Well, there she sits in all her past glory. Now weathered and in DSR form, the car was abandoned for many years. I found the car in North Carolina fitted with a 1100cc Suzuki GSXR motor and chain drive spool. Not to mention front and rear wings. The previous owner was nice enough to remove the wings before I got the car which made the tow home much more aero dynamic and less embarrassing with an open trailer. Oh yeah, I had to take the trailer too! (anyone interested in a vintage home made with raised white letter goodyears and a great DSR conversion kit?)
Missing the motor, Hewland, and other bits, I was able to locate a good core motor in Ca., and may have a Hewland soon. Found a good dry sump tank from a T440 from Neil Porter of Porter Racing, and found someone nearby with a disassembled T492 (no he won't sell it) who is willing to let me borrow his parts to copy as spares.
Will be in the disassembly process soon, so stay tuned for additional pics as we methodically remove, fabricate, and re-plate parts. Miss Lola should be back in her old glory by the "04 season.
The tear down begins. The DSR motor and spool came out easily enough and I was amazed at the craftsmanship on how it was put in. The added supports for the motor looked almost factory and best of all, most of the original tubing is intact. The only modification was the removal of one tube which the 2 liter motor mount bolted onto. Still digging out all the squirrel bits found in the fuel cell and fire system compartment. Albeit, the cell looked recently refoamed and vulcanized. Will be putting the car on the lift and stripping the suspension and roll bar soon. Can't wait to get to bare mono so I could pressure wash and polish this old girl out.
Above is the bounty I got from Simon Green, who has graciously lent me a trunk full of T492 bits to copy. Much easier when you have an original part to go from.
Despite the battered race worn condition of this seat, with cracks and blisters just about everywhere, it was the most original Lola factory race seat that I have seen. Note the rear self behind the shoulder, all of the ones that I have seen has this broken or cut off and replaced with a steel rod fiber glassed in it's place. The trimmed off right side arm rest and square lower section appeared at first to be the handy work of a previous owner, but upon careful inspection, and fitting to the car, it was determined that this was a factory deletion and correct for this car. Needless to say, this seat type was most likely used in several other Lola cars during that time and fitted accordingly.
After numerous hours of sanding, filling, and more sanding, the seat is almost as perfect as you can expect. Final sanding will be with 600, 800, 1000, and finally 1200 sand paper. I decided to use polyester resin to make the mold since I do not intend to go into mass production and will not need to pull 100 parts. But as for the new seat, I'll be doing it in Vinyl-ester resin which has much stronger characteristics against fuels, UV rays, weight, and overall durability. If the first 3 go off well, I may attempt a carbon fiber copy. Put the order in for all the supplies from Fiberglast today and should be getting the products shortly. If anyone out there needs a T492 seat, let me know now.
After the sanding, the primer was polished to a mirror finish. Given the negative turn ins of the seat, I decided to make the mold in 3 parts, dividing the seat in half and with a backing plate for the turn in behind the seat. The divider was made from non drying clay which required hours of kneading and accurate cutting to form the flange. 5 coats of wax were applied and buffed out by hand waiting 1 hour between coats. Next is to apply the PVA mold release agent and begin the fiberglass lay up. Timing is critical for the upcoming steps so I will defer to next weekend when I will have an un-interrupted 48 hours.
The weekend begins. After 2 coats of tooling gel coat, the fiberglass is laid up and left to cure. 24 hours later, I started to "pop" the mold, only to find that even with hours of pre visualizing the mold, I missed a "lock" possibility. The arm rest would not allow the "butt" section of the seat to swing away from the plug. As a result, I had to carefully dremel the arm rest off. Once done, the rest of the mold came off easily. Next step is to salvage the mold half by grafting flanges on the cut parts to form another removable section. Oh well, live and learn.
Ok, not pretty. But something has caused the gel coat to lift. The mold is cleaned and we'll try again. T3 suggests to let the gel coat to set up for a day or two contrary to manufacturer's recommendations. But what the hell, I'll try anything once.
Yahoo, finally figured out the system! Thank you T3. The logjam is over. The seat fits well (especially now that I have blossomed out to a 38" waist lol) and it is structurally sound and light. The part came out nice and shiney so polishing will be minimal. I do admit that there was a small, but very fixable problem. Nothing that a little fiberglass and gelcoat can't fix. Now on to other parts of the car.
Found the splitter molds for the T492 in California. The molds were in great shape so making copies will be no problem.
Drilled out all the steel from the Mono to re-plate and will be having Rob at Epicenter fabricate some new parts.