Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rear Bumper Fabrication Project – Part 2

Another several weeks have passed and A LOT of progress has been made on this new bumper project.  As in all things composite, the “tooling” phase is without a doubt the most expensive, in both dollars and time, of the entire composite part manufacturing process.  Well, this one sure is living up to that standard as well!

We left off with a rough plug that was “skinned” in light fiberglass and epoxy resin and ready for the final shaping and finishing processes.  The shape of the bumper was starting to emerge quite nicely, but to get the plug to an “A” class surface and as perfect as I could make it would take a tremendous amount of time and patience.  Fortunately, as the project continued to emerge, the encouragement I started to get from other 70 Mustang owner was really starting to build.  I must admit, it’s very motivating when others see your work and want to put it on their cars too!  Even though this bumper is a 1970-model only fit, even the ‘69 guys were pushing to have me do a version for their unique requirements.  We’ll have to give that some serious consideration once this one is done.  Anyway, enough of that, let’s catch up!

Finishing the Plug

With a plug is “near-net” shape, the finishing process is very similar to many aspects of regular automotive bodywork.  The surface has to be filled and smoother to a surface that can accept a finish that can be polished to a very high standard.  However, there is a detail element involved that is much more complicated that is necessary to ensure symmetry and “flow” in the part so its finished state is visually appealing without any areas that draw specific attention to themselves for being “out of place”. 

The final plug shape and finish is essentially achieved with multiple filling and sanding phases using various fillers, glazing putty, guide coat and a mountain of handmade templates and station markers to ensure the left matches the right, the top matches the bottom, etc.

To get the best guide surfaces I could, I used a combination of different colored high-grade body fillers along with dry guide coat to give me as much visual feedback as possible on the finer surfaces.  However, the human eye is simply not good enough to rely on exclusively to ensure the complex shapes are identical from one side of the bumper to the other.  So the first order of business was to create templates from the foam pattern that would work as precision guides to get the finished plug surfaces to match.  Now, a dumb old bumper project would theoretically be pretty simple to nail a shape.  Well…….nope.  By the time the shape could be truly documented, we had made some 37 different templates to characterize ONE HALF of the bumper so we could get the other side to match.  By the time all was said and done, I had been sanding and fitting templates for almost 6 weeks before we could work on finishing the gaps in preparation for pattern coating.

After skinning with light fiberglass cloth, a "scratch-coat" of body filler is applied to the entire plug surface to form the foundation of the final shape.

For the initial heavy filling, Evercoat Rage Gold body filler (a shop favorite) was used for it's ease of application, and smooth sanding characteristics.

As the shape becomes more refined and filling come sin thinner and thinner layers, we switched to Evercoat Metal Glaze for the final detailed surfaces.
Clearly seen here, several layers of fillers are used in contrasting colors along with dry guide coat in the process of refining the shape of the bumper plug.

Station lines and markers are added to the surface to allow accurate location of templates used to gage the final shape.

Over 37 individual pattern templates were made to ensure the most perfect final shape that we could achieve.

The simplest features often turn out to be some of the most complex.  The license plate aperture is so simple in appearance but incorporates many intricate details and compound curves to get the look just right.  In areas like this, precision templates are a lifesaver!

The end cap fit-up is really where a custom fit rear bumper shines.  The flow into the natural curves of the Mustang body are key to a good looking finished product.

This kind of symmetry from one side to the other is only possible using many precision templates when making a plug by hand.

And that's it!  The final finished shape is set and ready for the finishing touches to be applied.

Gapping the Plug for Final Shape

As a last step before applying the pattern coating, we needed to perfect the body to bumper gaps to precisely match the shape of the stock ’70 Mustang body contours.  This is not as easy a job as I had imagined and it required a rather creative solution to applying body filler to a gap while minimizing the work to create a precision edge.  The solution that I settled on was to use fluted plastic sign board as a slightly compressible backer that would allow me to install the bumper plug to the body with the sign board sandwiched in the gap so I could apply filler directly into the gap and against the sign board.  This allowed for a very precise and consistent gap to be shaped with a minimal amount of filler material and very little sanding to get the desired shape.  With the exception of the end caps which had to be gapped by hand, the gaps were very consistent and quite easy to achieve using this unique technique.

To get the gap edges of the plug perfect, we used fluted sign board as a barrier to allow the plug edges to be filled with body filler to the precise shape of the body as translated through the sign board.  This technique worked flawlessly and allowed very precise gaps to be established in very short order.

With the bumper plug installed over the sign board barriers, body filler was simply applied to the gap edges as deep into the gaps as possible and allowed to dry.

Most of the excess body filler was removed before it set.  This is a good shot of how the lower gap edges looked after filling.

after the body filler had set into the gaps overnight, the sign board barriers were removed, revealing gaps that were perfectly set and requiring only a minimum of sanding to establish their final shape.

The end cap gaps were done by hand as the sign board was not flexible enough to conform to the tight curves in these areas.

Pattern Coating:  The Key to the “A-Class” Finish

A lot of composite pattern makers will apply standard epoxy automotive primer to a plug at this stage and sand it out to 800 or 1000 for the final finish.  This is certainly viable for many molded parts that will be finished along with the other bodywork on a car.  However, if there is any chance you decide to mold a carbon fiber part that will be displayed “raw”, the plug surface, and consequently the mold surface, must be polished to the surface quality you expect in the finished part.  The reason is that the mold surface itself will be precisely duplicated in the final part, so the better the plug surface is, the better the finished part will be and the less finish coating or polish work will be required on the final part.

As we have decided that we may offer copies of this bumper to other customers, it was decided to produce a polished, tooling-quality mold that would allow a very high quality surface in the part so minimal prep work would be required to fit.  Generally speaking, all composite parts used on older muscle cars will require a little bit of work to get them to fit each individual car properly.  That is usually because the composite part is actually much more consistent than the cars they are intended to fit.  As much as we would like to believe our old cars are exactly the same from car to car, the truth is they are sometimes unimaginably different (sometimes as much as ½” in the rear bumper area on a 69-70 Mustang!!!).  However, starting with a part at a higher grade of finish is always better than the alternative.

This leads us to the application of “pattern coating”.  Pattern coating is quite simply the composites version of an automotive high-build polyester primer.  However, true pattern coating has a unique chemistry that allows it to be wet sanded well out past 2000 grit if necessary and then polished to a true “A-Class” finish. That can be molded directly.  This is relatively “new” technology that has many valuable attributes in making composite parts.

I use a product called Duratec and spray it using a dedicated HVLP gel-coat spray gun with a 2.0mm tip.  A medium-heavy wet coat of about 40 mils is applied and allowed to cure overnight.  Then the bumper plug is reinstalled on the body and dry sanded with 220 paper to flatten and shape this “scratch coat” to the desired shape.  This first coat is designed to fill and level any imperfections left from the final plug shaping and seal all of the various materials, leaving a homogeneous surface that can be prepared for molding.

Once the first coat has been sanded, an additional 2-3 coats are applied, wet sanding to finish between each coat with 400 grit paper, until the surface is smooth and without any voids, pinholes or imperfections.  The final coat is then wet sanded in stages out to 1500 grit and the entire plug is then polished to a full gloss with Meguiar’s #105 & 205 compound and polish.  After a thorough cleaning with standard wax and grease remover, the plug is finished and ready for re-installation and mold construction.

The first coat of Duratec pattern coating was applied by brush as an experiment.  While it worked fine, it left a surface that required far too much effort to sand to shape.  All subsequent coats were sprayed with an HVLP gel-coat gun with much smoother results and a lot less effort to sand.
Back on the car and the bumper plug pattern coating was ready for initial sanding with 220 grit paper.  This gets the shape established very quickly in preparation for the additional "finishing" coats to come.

Dry sanding starts with 220 grit on the first coat of pattern coating, and progresses to 400 grit dry on the subsequent coats.  From there it's all wet sanding operations out to 1500 grit.

Wet sanding of the final coat of patter coating starts at 400 grit as seen here.

Once the plug is wet sanded out to 800 grit, a dull sheen starts to emerge and you can really start to appreciate the final shape of the bumper contours.

At 1000 grit wet sanded, the surface has a satin shine to it.

The final 1500 grit wet sanded finish is really where things get exciting.  From here, the polishing phases will bring the surface to a very high standard.

Polished to a "A" class finish is the key to getting a premium mold surface.  The reflections in the plug surface show just how nice the surface has turned out.

The corner details really pop with the polished plug standing out against the primed body panels.

Making the Mold

To ensure as accurate a mold as possible, we will lay up the bumper mold directly on the car.  This ensures the most support to every area of the mold and ensures the best fit and finish of the mold.  Naturally, this can be a very nervous endeavor as many valuable surfaces of the car are at risk if there is any issue in building the mold or separating it from the body.

The first and arguably most critical step, in preparing the molding surface is to mask the entire rear section of the car in a layer of masking tape. This provides the ultimate barrier to any of the mold making materials and ensures there is always a sacrificial layer between the mold and the sheet metal.  On top of the masking tape, a layer of aluminum “foil” tape (as used in the HVAC industry) is applied to the body surfaces where the mold will be laid up.  This tape has a natural self-releasing characteristic to it and works very well in “on-body” molding like this.  It readily accepts a thin layer of release wax or liquid releasing agent and will sacrifice its bond from the underlying masking tape rather easily if necessary.

Then the bumper plug is carefully mounted on the body, ensuring the fit is precise and alignment is exact.  This is the last time the plug will be fitted before the mold is made, so extra care at this stage is important.  Once installed, the bumper plug can be cleaned once again with grease and wax remover and all of the gaps filled with filleting wax and smoothed.  Filleting wax is a special beeswax-based formulation made especially for composite molding.  Each gap between the bumper plug and the body is carefully filled and smoothed to allow a clean blend between the surfaces that will ensure a clean mold transition and avoid mechanically locking the mold to the body or plug.
Next, the entire surrounding surfaces of the car are masked off and tooling gel coat is sprayed onto the surface to create the foundation of the mold surface.  Tooling gel coat is a very thick liquid polyester resin that is difficult to spray without a proper gel coat gun.  However, it is essential that gel coat is sprayed rather than brushed to ensure the absolute highest quality mold surfaces.  Two to three coats is usually required to get the proper film thickness and once the last coat has cured to a firm tack, the first “lock layer” of fiberglass is applied to the mold area using a high-grade isophthalic polyester resin and few layers of light fiberglass cloth and allowed to cure overnight.  This light cloth lock layer prevents the heavier chopped strand mat (CSM) from printing through into the gel coat layer and reinforces the gel coat in the process.

Over the next several days, an additional 7-10 layers of CSM is added to the entire mold surface to build thickness and strength into the mold.  We were looking for a mold thickness between .250” and .375”.  On larger parts like a full body panel, this thickness would need to be about 0.500” to provide proper structural integrity for accurate parts reproduction.  After the final layers of fiberglass mat are applied, they are allowed to cure for several days to ensure complete integration of all layers.
At this point, the mold will look rather ugly with fiberglass “hair” creeping from around the edges in places and drips of resin covering the masking paper on the body and drop cloth/paper covering the floor.  The mold will be very rigid to the touch and inevitably, the creeping fear that it will never come off will start to invade your brain (ask me how I know!).

Masking the body surfaces starts with standard masking tape and is followed up with aluminum HVAC "foil" tape. Note the tail light openings have been covered in thin sheet metal panels to allow a smooth molding surface all the way across the back of the panel.
Once the foil tape is down, it provides an excellent barrier to the polyester molding resin and has excellent self-releasing properties with even small amounts of release was or chemical release agent.

Special filleting wax is used to fill all of the gaps around the bumper plug before molding.  This wax is a beeswax based material that softens to a moldable consistency with the warmth of your hand and is easily smoothed and shaped.
Filleting wax is carefully smoothed into all of the gaps around the plug to ensure a leak-free and smooth fillet.

Another view of the filleting wax used on the outboard gaps of the bumper plug.

A small piece of fluted sign board was used to fill behind the license plate recess to provide a smooth molding surface and filleting wax was used to seal and radius the inside corners prior to molding.

The final step before applying gel coat is to mask the entire rear of the car from overspray.

Gel coat should only be applied by spraying using a special gel-coat spray gun.  We used a 2.5mm tip in our gel coat gun and the product sprayed beautifully.

The finished mold included about 10 different layers of fiberglass reinforcement to achieve the desired finished mold thickness of between 0.250-.375".

Pulling and Trimming the Mold

If all of the proper molding steps and precautions have been strictly followed, this phase of the mold making process stands to be very rewarding.  Also, if ever there was a time to NOT get impatient and in a hurry, it’s now!

We started the de-molding process by removing all of the masking paper from around the mold and most of the surrounding masking tape.  Then, using a few flexible plastic wedges, the mold was gently pried off of the cast aluminum end caps and allowed to sit for a few minutes.  This mild separation pressure started to allow the mold to release from around the complex ends with audible light “cracking” sounds.  Next, a bit of air pressure was directed between the lower valence and the mold which allowed a very substantial separation of the entire lower mold edge.  At this point, the mold was simply lifted free of the car with more light “crackling” noises until is lay in our hands as a perfect female mold of our bumper plug.  No mold damage, no plug damage and no body damage!
Immediately, all of the residual filleting wax was scraped off the mold with a Popsicle stick and the mold was cleaned with wax and grease remover to remove the bulk of the mold release and filleting wax residue that remained.  Then, the flange surfaces were trimmed using an air-powered body saw and the mold edges were sanded smooth with a DA sander and 120 grit paper.

With careful forethought and preparation, the mold should pull cleanly from the body with a little help and patience.  Our mold pulled cleanly from the body with very little force, leaving the bodywork undamaged and the mold in near-perfect shape. 
After trimming and smoothing the edges, the mold is ready for final finishing.

Finishing the Mold

In similar fashion to the plug itself, the mold requires a little finish work to ensure the best molding surface condition is achieved prior to making the first part.  Sometimes, there are slight imperfections (a grain of dust or stray mold release residue, etc.) that causes a small blemish on the surfaces well.  So, using the same technique of wet sanding (starting with 800 grit then out to 2000), we condition the mold surface for final polishing, once again using the Meguiar’s #105 & 205 polishes to bring the surface up to a mirror gloss.  The flanges themselves are also hit with compound and polish to smooth any small snags that may hurt the vacuum bagging materials or snag skin during the molding process.

Small blemishes and textures can be easily wet sanded out of the mold surface using the same techniques used to finish the pattern coating on the plug surface.  This small correction has been wet sanded in 800 grit and is now ready for final finishing and polish.  
The surface correction has been finished and polished out and is now absolutely invisible.

The finished mold ready for the first trial part to be molded.

And that’s it!  While this post rounds out several months of work, we are finally at the point where we can start planning the first molded part.  We have all of our vacuum infusion molding equipment in place and we are well on our way to having the exact reinforcement schedule figured out along with the resin selection.  The target layup will be a 0.125” thick part with a hexcel core material in an epoxy/fiberglass composite.  This should result in a very strong and light finished bumper that can be finished in the same method and standard as the rest of the body.  Part 3 should be fun!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Custom Wheel Sneak-Peek!

Just a couple of little little teaser shots during mock-up of the custom wheels we had made for the Boss  Schott Wheels make absolute jewelry for custom aluminum wheels.  The machining tolerances on these wheels are almost unbelievable (check the fit on the billet center caps for a hint)!

More will follow as we go!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Rear Bumper Fabrication Project – Part 1

While this blog showed little activity throughout most of 2017, the fact is, there actually was a bit of progress being made on a somewhat ambitious endeavor I decided to undertake.  The following update spans several months of time in the project and MANY hours, but is condensed for easier reading.  As of this writing, we are working consistently on the project in hopes of moving the project forward with much more energy.  But first, a little background:

A few years back, I was on the hunt for a ready-made composite “tucked” rear bumper and in the market; there were a few commercial outfits that offered them.  So, I set to doing my “homework” and communicating with a number of builders who had experience ahead of mine, I was able to quickly eliminate two of the offerings for either fit issues or quality issues (or both).  That left a single source that talked a very good game and frequents most of the larger Mustang forums on the net (mostly to maintain a passive-aggressive advertisement campaign that is clearly frowned upon by most forum admins, but that’s another story).  Anyway, with some trepidation, I ordered a tucked fiberglass bumper from the outfit and was assured I would love it and that “countless” customers have installed them without a single problem.

The day came when my new bumper arrived and I headed straight out to fit it to the car and admire the end result.  Ya………never happening.  While the gel coat surface was pretty decent, the bumper fit like absolute CRAP.  So, trying to be the “good feedback” customer, I documented every issue with pictures and verbal description, along with measurements where needed and sent it over to the supplier.

Naturally, on review of my notes, the response was the usual “nobody else ever had a problem with it until now” and “there must be something wrong with your car” routine.  Given that data and Ford body assembly manuals and specifications don’t lie, I returned the garbage bumper for a refund and set off to thinking about alternatives.  At the end of it, the options that were out there really didn’t have the right “look” I was after anyway, so I guess there was little lost in the end but time.

Selecting the Fabrication Method

First on my mind was to just knuckle-up and chop and section a factory steel bumper and get on with it.  But, if you have ever done a chopped, sectioned and tucked steel bumper for a Mustang, you will understand my hesitancy in choosing that route if other viable alternatives exist.

After a number of “happy-hour” conversations with friends and colleagues in the “biz”, I was encouraged to build a bumper from scratch.  But instead of steel, go to the trouble of making a tooling-quality mold and fabricate the bumper from vacuum-bagged, resin infused epoxy/carbon fiber (or epoxy/fiberglass) laminate.

My first thought was; “Sure!  Let’s pick the one way to build a rear bumper that likely involved more work that working one up in steel!”  What a great idea!  As it turns out…….it was the perfect idea.  Will it be faster?  Nope.  Will it be less expensive?  Nope.  Do we have all of the tools to produce the mold?  Nope (but close).  Will it work to make a bumper exactly the way we want?  OH YES.  Will it allow us to make extra parts, exactly like the original, over and over again?  You betcha!  Are we just a wee bit crazy?  Beyond the shadow of a doubt!  So………..guess what we’re gunna do????

Building the Plug

On a complex shape like a rear bumper, the first order of business is to make a full scale model of the exact shape you want in a medium that can be easily shaped.  This model is often referred to as the “plug” or “buck” and in its finished form, will be a beautiful “A”-class surfaced model of the exact shape that the composite rear bumper will be.  From this plug, the tooling mold will be pulled and all finished parts will be molded in it.  This is a rather gross oversimplification, but you get the idea.

After countless hours walking my brain through the entire process I would use to create my unique, tucked rear bumper, I decided to construct the plug using a simple steel support structure with 2-part pourable, closed-cell urethane foam poured around it to perfectly match the plug form to the body.  This would allow the foam plug to perfectly index to the body every time so even the smallest details could be maintained and were repeatable each time the bumper model would need to be taken off the car for work.

After protecting the entire tail of the car with masking tape and waxed foil tape for easy release of the foam, a temporary box was fastened to the back of the car to contain the 2-part expanding foam we would use to produce the core of our bumper plug.  With an expansion ratio of roughly 30:1, we would need less than ½ gallon of foam base stock to complete the plug core.

A simple piece of 1/2" steel bar is used as the inner structure of the foam bumper plug for support and to provide a place where hard mounting points can be welded so the bumper can be easily mounted to the body.  Also, you can see the masking that has been applied to the rear bodywork to prevent the urethane foam from sticking to the body.
The steel support structure was bolted into place through the factory bumper bracket holes and the urethane foam components were mixed and poured into the temporary box and allowed to expand to match the body contours and cure overnight.  The next day, the box as cut away from the rigidly cured foam “blob” now stuck to the back of the car.  The mounting bolts were removed and the plug core was gently pulled away from the body, revealing a perfectly molded inner surface that registered very securely into the features of the rear bodywork.

A simple box structure was attached to the back of the car in order to keep the liquid, 2-part urethane foam from leaking and to provide an outside boundary to keep the foam against the body as it expands and cures.
Next, the plug core was bolted back on and the rough trimming of the shape began with very simply hand saws, an electric knife and Surform tools.  After about an hour, the bulk of the foam core was carved away and the very slightest vestiges of a new bumper shape were starting to emerge.  At this point, there would no longer be a need for the crude tools of rough shaping and all other work would involve very delicate sanding, measuring, sanding, measuring, sanding, and………measuring.

After the foam has expanded and cured, the temporary box is removed and the rough foam buck is rough trimmed to get rid of the extra material.
There really is no secret to establishing the final shape of the bumper.  In its simplest description, it’s pretty much the “artist’s eye” that guides the form.  I have had the image of what I wanted in a rear bumper clarified in my mind’s eye for several years, so I would often close my eyes and envision what I wanted and then open ‘em up and remove bits of foam that didn’t look like my mental image.

With simple sanding boards and Surform tools, the basic bumper shape is roughed-in.  The shape is roughly 1/2" to 3/4" larger than the final shape will be.

After rough shaping, the first stages of intermediate shaping can begin.  This takes the shape to with 1/8" or less of the final bumper profile.

Since the shape is essentially a mirror image from left to right, I made a series of almost 20 templates to document the final shape of the plug and allow me to replicate the shape from left to right as closely as possible.  The process to arrive at the final shape took roughly 80 hours of hand work before I was happy with the shape and fit of the base plug.  And once I had that shape completed and all of the templates made and massaged to fit perfectly, I removed the plug, placed spacers between the body mount and plug and reinstalled the plug again.  Naturally, this placed the entire plug surface proud of the body by the thickness of the spacers, so I had to once again shape the entire plug back to the desired shape.  However, since the templates were now fully complete, the process of “drawing down” the final plug shape was only about 8 hours.

Final shaping begins with lighter grit sandpaper boards and blocks and once a shape is defined, a template is made to ensure the shape is maintained and can be repeated later on.

The final foam bumper plug shape is established and checked many times with the templates to make absolutely sure the shape is correct.

“Skinning” the Plug

With the plug now in the exact shape I want, it needs to be protected from damage so the final bodywork and finishing can take place.  The foam plug surface is now very delicate and is easily damaged by even the slightest impact.  So, to protect the plug, a thin covering of an epoxy/fiberglass laminate must be applied to the plug to allow the shape to be preserved and protected and to provide a solid base on which body fillers, primers and paints can be applied to finish the plug.  The process of applying the protective laminate surface to the plug is called “skinning”.

This very light, 2-oz fiberglass veil cloth is used in the process of skinning the plug.  This material is very shear and when wet-out with epoxy resin, it virtually disappears into the laminate skin.

A layer of regular masking tape is placed around the perimeter of the bumper to help with releasing after the epoxy laminate has cured.

All of the fiberglass cloth is carefully cut ahead of time and numbered or lettered to aid in placement when the skinning process begins.  This saves huge amounts of time and ensure accuracy in the layup.

Quite simply, skinning the plug involves wetting the surface of the foam plug with a special epoxy laminating resin and embedding (laminating) a few thin layers of very light fiberglass cloth into the resin surface.  Special tools are used to roll out any air bubbles that may be trapped in the resin and cloth and the matrix is left to cure for several days to ensure complete hardening of the resin and stabilization of the plug.

The skinning process is a rather straightforward process of wetting out and filling the closed-cell foam surface with epoxy resin and embedding two layers of light fiberglass cloth into the resin.  Then all the air bubbles are rolled out of the matrix and the entire lot is left to cure overnight.

Trimming the Plug

Once the epoxy laminate “skin” has fully hardened, the plug is pulled from the body and any excess flash is trimmed off the plug back to the original shape.  Now, the bumper plug is much more stable and solid and it can be handled with confidence that no damage will occur and the shape will be maintained even when the bumper plug is not bolted to the body.

Prepping the Plug for Finishing

With the plug now fully skinned, the heavy masking was removed from the body and the plug was test fit to the body to begin to establish the scope of the finish work required.  In the “skinned” state, the plug is still pretty rough on the surface and will require very fine detail work to get all of the gaps perfected and the surfaces filled and finished to the perfect, class ”A” surface necessary to pull a mold from.  The bottom line is simple:  To get a perfect part, we need a perfect mold surface.  And to get a perfect mold surface, we need a perfect plug!  Needless to say there is a TON of work left on this plug to get where we need to go, but at this point, the shape is exactly what I want and it achieves the exact look I want in a tucked rear bumper.  When mocked up on the car with tail light bezels in place, the look is very clean and changes the look of the 70 Mustang tail substantially without looking odd, angular or “industrial.”

The skinned plug is now well protected and offers an excellent foundation to begin the final plug finishing process.  When completed, the plug will be a fully finished, "A"-Class surface from which the actual mold will be pulled.

This shot really captures the look of the bumper nicely.  This bumper shape is exactly what I have kept in my mind's eye for years and we will soon be able to reproduce it in either an epoxy/carbon composite or an epoxy/fiberglass composite.

Now, the process will slow down once again as we begin to refine the plug edges to achieve the desired gaps all the way around the surface and to begin final shaping of the license plate aperture.  Then we will move on to preparing the surfaces for final finishing on our way to mold making.  LOTS of work to go, but in the end, I think it will all be worth it!