Ariel Atom

This is from a write up i did for 'Detailing World' a few years ago of a detail on an Ariel Atom that took my detailing skills to a new level . I included the full write up as it gives a feel for the work that was undertaken as opposed to just a gallery of photos which wouldnt have done it justice. I hope you enjoy reading it as musch as we enjoyed doing it........


Before I start I will ask that you bear with me as I have deliberated long and hard on how to approach this write up. The main decision was to whether it should be written up in chronological order or sections. I have decided to go with sections of the car due to the size of the post as chronologically the feeling of what was achieved may have got lost in the write up. Here we go

.. This job started as any other with a phone call. The customer called and asked if I could take a look at a car that he wanted to sell, but did state that "You may not want to do it". My reply was a bold statement of "We can do anything, its only dirt". With that the customer said he would pop up to the unit that afternoon with the car on a trailer for me to take a look. A couple of hours later and I heard the sound of a trailer making its way up the black gravel track and ventured outside to meet him. After a short conversation we rolled it off the trailer to get a good look around it and discuss exactly what final results were required. All sorted, the car was now left with us for about a week even though it was already advertised for sale. The car is owned by a gentleman in Dubai who is a customer and good friend of my customer and has spent a fair bit of time in a shipping container going back and forth from Britain to Dubai and back again. This would explain the very thick layer of dust that covered the whole vehicle. This is the car as we viewed it...

 


 

 

 

 

 

Stripdown....

At this stage we were still unsure as to how exactly we should tackle this job as the closest thing I could compare it to is a motorbike in the sense that there are no normal panels, door shuts etc to work with and everything is very intricate with a multitude of nooks and crannies to deal with. Eventually after much discussion regarding what we wanted to achieve, the final charge to the customer and the time we had available it was decided to strip as many parts as possible so as to gain as much access a swe could to detail this vehicle as thoroughly as possible. First off the plan was to start by stripping all of the outer panels including the front nose cone, engine covers, air intakes etc. This also involved disconnecting some of the ancillary pipework such as the fuel tank filler neck, supercharger air intake, cooling system header tank, kill switch, seat/s and a few other bits and pieces....

 

 

 

 

 

  Plenty more bits still to come off still but we were now at the stage where we could start getting the wash procedure underway. This was going to be a bit different from the normal routine as you have probably already guessed by now, for one there would be no foaming. As this was the first stage and it was already late in the afternoon we wanted to get it washed off and inside before we went home so the camera had to take a back seat at this stage but a brief outline.. One of the main concerns of the wash was the large amount of uncoated aluminium that is used in the construction that is also prone to staining from any degreasers etc with an alkaline content. So with this in mind we decided to go with Malco Outrageous Orange APC and generously pre-sprayed all of the engine bay, suspension and anything else that was on show, including the cockpit area and flooring. Once it had time to soak in the whole vehicle was rinsed down and then mitted with a shampoo mix of Malco Ultra Violet Shampoo. A couple of the areas we weren't too concerned about at this stage were the wheels, hubs and suspension as these would be tackled individually at a later stage. The only areas that we had covered to protect from any water ingress were the dashboard clock binnacle, supercharger air intake and fuel pipe intake. All other areas were judged to be safe. Once it was given a final rinse down we dried her off and rolled inside for the night to dry off ready for a few hours work the next day. From this point the detail will be broken down by section rather than time order for reasons stated earlier. The next morning when we arrived at the unit the car was nice and dry ready for a fresh start and a fresh pair of eyes. First job was to get the car jacked up and secured with axle stands. We decided to tackle one axle at a time so first we tackled the rears.

 

 

 

  It was nice to bring the wheel stand out of retirement for this job and made it much easier to work with the wheels at a decent height rather than grovelling around on the floor. Once wheeled outside the wheels were inspected


 

 

 

 

 

 Not too bad really, just a bit of soiling and some remnants of tyre weight adhesive pads. So with this I decided to go with MarkV Ideal Wheel Gel and an Envy wheel brush followed by MarkV Qwik Solv .

 

 Once treated and rinsed Yellow Poly Clay was used to remove any further bonded contaminants that had survived the initial wash Not the best of pics to show the afters as too many reflections in the way

 

 

 

Now all that remained was for the wheels to be wheeled back inside for their two coats of Jetseal 109 at a later stage in a couple of days

Aluminium Spoilers

To be able to achieve the best possible finish on the aluminium spoilers it was decided to remove them from the vehicle and dismantle them down bolt by bolt. Once achieved another long discussion (one of many yet to come) took place deciding what was going to be used in the polishing process with regards to tooling and products. We then probably spent a good couple of hours experimenting with all the options available to us and eventually decided to bring my old 'Stayer' rotary out of retirement. After a bit of modification Marco managed to get an assortment of metal polishing felt wheels ready for a multi stage metal polishing process with another assortment of 'metal polishing soap bars'. Also at hand was a selection of conventional polishes which included 'Peek', 'Presta Metal Polish' and also some '00' grade wire wool and 'Presta Super Cut Compound'

Also to be tackled was some removal of dreaded vinyl graphics that had been baked hard in the Dubai heat and some straightening of a couple of front side fins.

For glue removal Mark V Qwik Solv was used with a plastic filler spreader.

On with some pics……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Note the screwdriver is to stop the part flying off through the air...

 

 

 

 Once the aluminium parts have been polished a solution of warm water and fairy liquid was used to wash the residue off...

 

 

  Starting to get somewhere now...

 

   A few more hours passed with polishing the various bits and pieces we had accumulated during the stripdown and were placed to one side whilst the exhaust was tackled. This was another item that had one of those debated discussions on the best way to tackle it. Eventually we both gave in and decided that the silencer and ?up? pipe were to be removed so we could access all the visible areas and do a job we could be proud of. It was however decided to leave the actual manifold in place along with the lambda sensor etc as although still visible not to the extent of the parts that were to be removed!!. Parts laid out and awaiting work to commence...

 

 It was decided that the first approach would be made with an assortment of air tools and wire wheel attachments to remove any accumulated rust and more severe tarnishing of the metal finish.

 

 

  As you can tell by the pics above this is not the cleanest job and by the end of the day both Marco and myself went home looking like a Victorian chimney sweep from 'Oliver'. But results were good and the rough start approach was showing promise which was further aided by bringing out the Mirka to remove any scarring caused by the use of the coarser tooling..

 

  Which started to get us to this stage

 

 Then onto the previous method of felt heads and polishing soap to bring us to this...

 

 By now we are starting to see something for our efforts as the task was starting to look a bit daunting at one stage with no end in sight.....just a workshop full of parts and panels and pots of nuts, bolts and fasteners. But onwards and upwards.

Next on the list was the wheel ends of the car. For this we started by jacking up the rear on axle stands with some carefully cut rubber floor mats placed between the stand and the spaceframe so as not to mark the paintwork. Then off with the wheels, back to them later. The first thing we noticed was the rust on the rough casting of the centre hub. The rest of the surrounding area such as calipers etc were pretty clean from the wash and would just need a minor tidying up later. First task was to get rid of the surface rust. Once again we opted for the use of air tools and wire brushes to make short work of this task. But first a quick degrease with some Malco Red Thunder APC

 

Test area for rust removal...

 

  The method....

 

 

 The result...masked and ready for painting

 

 So once all four wheel ends were completed the calipers were masked and the paint was mixed. For this it was decided to go with black hi-build primer after thoroughly cleaning all areas to be painted with Panel-Wipe.

 

 

  Once dried we applied three coats of lacquer to finish

 

This was then left overnight to fully dry and cure so that in the morning we could once again mask up the painted area so as to remove any unwanted overspray and clean up the discs.

 

 The end result.....

 

Time for a bit of polishing for a change. Although so far this job has provided a diversity of methods, products and techniques which are not normally employed in the 'normal' course of a detail and has indeed made a change, by this stage I was quite glad to get on with a bit of rotary use, something I never thought I'd say. You may remember that all panels have been previously removed apart from the wheel guards which has both its own advantages and disadvantages. To start I thought I would get a feel of what I would be up against by making a start on the wheel guards as they are static and have some support. I started off trying a variety of Menz and Presta polishes and was quite surprised by the hardness of the paint?more like granite. And this coupled with the panels being made of GRP (fibreglass) meant that heat dissipation would also be more of a consideration than normal. Eventualli decided to go with Presta Ultra Cutting Creme on a yellow Lake Country foam pad. The more I worked at the paint the more I noticed that there were some actual marks in the underlying gel coat itself which was more than a touch disappointing as a full correction was not going to be achieved so I worked towards the best that was possible The following pics are a combination of front and rears in no particular order.

Before..

 

 During-rear

 

 

 After about two hours on the wheel guards alone I moved on to the panels that were removed earlier in the sequence. For this instalment some more 'sponsor sticker' removal was needed with the help of Mark V Qwik Solv and a heat gun. The nosecone cover...

 

 

Ghosting quite evident here...

 

Same polish and pad combo as before...

 

 

  The air intake cover

 

  A bit of trim removal....

 

 

A 50/50 of the air intake scoop......

 

  Thought I'd see how things were hotting up with a laser temperature detector at this stage and surprised at how cool the panel was actually keeping although I am using my knee as a worktop and that feels hot.

 

  The polish still working nicely with no dusting at all which is good as the daily temp is about 27 at this stage and the Presta Ultra Cutting Creme is an aggressive cut that I would compare to the likes of Menz Power Gloss or 3M Fast Cut +.

 

  Once done all painted panels and wheel guards were given a further polishing with Menz 106fa on a Rubbishboys Red Waffle polishing foam pad followed with an IPA wipe down ready for some Duragloss Bonding Agent.

 

  This was left on for a while so I turned my attention next to the fasteners that were to hold all of the panels to the chassis/frame

 

 


For this I simply used a mix of Bilt Hamber DeoxC and warm water in a plastic drinks cup and left for ten minutes After 10 minutes this is the result  

 

 

 As you can see there is some blackening occurring due to the pins having some alloy content but this is easily cleaned up with a bit of metal polish later And hey presto

 

 And the same process for the rest. The engine cover is unpainted and needed a good clean down with Red Thunder APC 

 

 

 And clean.....

 

 Now the difficult bit...what to use on large areas of untreated smooth plastic that wont smear or go patchy when dried. The next hour was spent trying various products without much success mainly due to the large areas involved. Then a thought hit me?I had been given some Malco Nano Spray Wax to try which so far had been very successful on paintwork and on reading the label stated that it could be used on virtually any type of material inside and out so I thought I'd give it a try. A 50/50 of two coats applied and buffed ..

 

Not bad so finished off the whole panel and all parts put to one side ready for the rebuild in a day or so

 

 Next was onto the various parts of the suspension, engine and anything else that was in the vicinity. All of these parts were first cleaned with a variety of brushes and Red Thunder and then any marks polished out then treated to the spray wax once again. The photos tell the story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  Engine cleaning...

 

  The cockpit This was possibly one of the easiest areas so far although still presented a challenge which wasn?t helped by the elephant tape down the frame to prevent damage from getting in and out..

 

 

 

 Once again Qwik Solv to the rescue and my poor fingernails ...

 

  A good clean followed by Lime Prime by hand

 

  The above only shows a section of frame worked on but as you will see from the finished pics there is an awful lot of it and a few more hours work involved. Once done all interior surfaces given a thorough cleaning with Red Thunder once again and once dried treated to Malco Appeal dressing mixed to give a high gloss shine to maintain that 'Bling' effect that seems to becoming the theme as we move along towards the completion.

Before...

 

After...

 

  All interior metalwork/aluminium and stainless steel polished by hand with Presta metal polish A 50/50 sample of the effect of this product...

 

  Please bear in mind that some of the above cant be seen once the seat/s are put back in but this is a thorough job after all. Rebuild now ...the good bit!..putting it all back together again Most of this is fairly straight forward, even the exhaust which just required the addition of some exhaust gasket sealant and cleaned up gaskets. Luckily Marco had foreseen the fact that a week later we wouldn't remember what bolt went where so...

 

 The first parts to be refitted were all of the exhaust sections and aluminium spoilers,. with the sole exception of the front spoiler which I was itching to get back on with the rest.

Front spoiler

 

 

 Exhaust sections were next and loosely tightened until everything was back in place and then tightened finally so that the exhaust could be lined up to its previous mounting points perfectly..

 

  

 

Spoilers

 

 

 

 

  All pipework and ancillary connections redone and checked as the covers went back on ..

 

 

 

 

Now it feels like we are actually starting to get somewhere as the car starts to take shape again. The hardest part of the rebuild was actually getting the double seat back into the car. Like most jobs of a mechanical nature the putting it back together can be the hardest part. Another few hours on and repeated checks revealed two wires were all that remained to be sorted out. These were originally from the 'kill switch' and that was not to be reused so were reconnected back together to complete the ignition circuit and she started up first time....to our amazement I might add. Another wipedown and a coat of Dodo SN onto all of the frame/chassis and out she goes into the midday sun..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  And back to bed for the night ready for the customer to pick up in the morning...

 

 Whilst waiting for the customer the next day we were a bit apprehensive as over this period of time we had lost track of the visual progress we had made in our own minds. Luckily the customer hadn?t seen it since dropping it off and the look on his face said it all when he arrived....he was amazed at the transformation and very complimentary towards our efforts which was much appreciated by Marco and myself. In total we spent 54 hours between us on this vehicle actaully working (although many more scratching our heads) and went through an extremely educational learning curve as there was nothing about this detail that could be compared to any previous work we have carried out.

A couple of arty shots I couldn't resist..

 


If you've made it this far without nodding off at the screen I thank you for taking the time to read this write up.