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Blocking the rear bumper and the engine bay - Esprit 'Project & Restoration' Room - The Lotus Forums Jump to content
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Paul Coleman

Blocking the rear bumper and the engine bay

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Question : What's the difference between a cheap paint job and an expensive one?

Answer : Blocking (and a few thousand pounds/dollars)

What is blocking I hear you cry... it's basically a very labourious and time consuming step between priming the car and painting the colour. It involves spraying either polyester (if the panels are not that flat) or regular high build primer (if they're pretty good) and then block sanding the panels with a long flat sanding board. The problem is that most sanding boards are made from rigid stuff like wood or hard plastic and most panels usually have some sort of curve to them in either one or two directions. So using these rigid sanding boards usually ends up leaving lots of 'flats' on the panel which I'd rather not have. So the sanding boards I'm using have an adjustable amount of flexibility using metal rods inside a foam handle. You can add or remove the rods to give different degrees of stiffness and I really like them. Here's a picture of them and you can see the rods on the long sanding board pulled out...


So here you can see me part way through blocking the back bumper. I've sprayed about 3 coats of polyester spray filler on this over the etch primer and then I've given it a dusting in black guide coat. The idea is that you block sand it until all the guide coat is gone and being black it shows up any low spots really well. You can see a few still left...


When all the guide coat has been sanded away you know the panel is dead flat...


For those who don't remember my car, the previous owner put a V8 in it and cut 3 sides of the engine bay to get it to fit inside the bodywork. As I'm putting the original engine back in I decided to repair the bodywork and it has taken me hours. Here are a few shots of what it was like...




As you can see I had to replace bits of fibreglass 2 feet long and where I had bits missing I had to make them from scratch. The problem with this is getting it all straight afterwards!! So I've again sprayed 3 coats of polyester and put the guide coat on ready to block the area. Just to confuse the issue the car is now upsidedown...


Now fast forward about 5 hours and you can see it's pretty much there...


As I said earlier the problem with this is getting it flat and straight and the only way to check it is with a straight edge. The rule never lies!!!






Perfect B) Even if I do say so myself :sofa: Of course I didn't get it this flat with polyester alone, the repairs I made were pretty flat to start with as I spent countless hours making sure they were. With polyester you can get 0.5mm to play with without too much trouble, depending on how many layers you put on of course.

I've been blocking the polyester with 120/180 grit paper which does leave a few scars in it but next up is three coats of high build primer which will again be blocked but this time using much finer paper but I can't do any more spraying until I get and air fed mask.

It's sometimes easy to forget how far I've come with this project. It's not until I look back at pictures from last year, or the year before that I realise how much work I've done on this car - I've been doing bodywork now for about 2 years on and off, evenings and weekends. And after all this will I ever sell it? No!

Edited by Paul Coleman

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That's hard work Paul, but worth every minute for the result.

Looking at one of the photos, I see you finally found where you'd lost your keys :sofa:

Dave Everett

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Good work Paul,

I know how it feels as I spent about 2 years on and off doing my body prep and paint, finaly getting it painted last time I was home 6 months ago.

Im going home in 2 days and will be polishing it up and fitting a new wiring loom this time.

Im sure like me you cant wait to get it on the road:)


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Wow, very nice but tedious work. You must have the patience of Job...

Agreed! Impressive, Paul! :sofa:

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And the really sad thing is you never see this area :shock: Still, if a job's worth doing... and all that :) The engine bay was a major amount of work and when I first got the car I wasn't sure if I could ever put it back to how it should be as one of the 3 sides was missing and had to be made from scratch. Fortunately I had enough left to take a pattern off to replicate the lip the engine cover sits on which was my biggest headache. I'm now just hoping I can get the rubber grommets to fit the holes which are now slightly thicker dues to the extra fibreglass.

I sprayed a few more panels up in etch primer today and discovered another load of star cracks which need to be dealt with :sofa: The biggest ones are on the engine cover which is going to need a fair few hours put into it over the coming weeks. I'm really looking forward to the day when all the star cracks are dealt with and I can move on to the task of blocking the whole car. To me that will be the first milestone achieved but I think it's quite a way off yet as the front blade and rear valance also need a serious amount of work. In fact they are so bad that I may have to repair them and then use them to make a mould and the make some new ones. We shall see when I pluck up enough courage to look at them!!


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