My aim with this is to cut up the original (white) shell to find out just what I need to do in order to:
a) Get the fibreglass wide arches to fit properly and have a proper inner arch that'll keep mud & crap out of the car and out of the inner arch bit
b) Fit the 12 Gallon Fuel Cell that I'm going to order as low down and sturdily as possible.
So, firstly the arch, I started by working out where roughly the inner arch would come to if it were extended out another 4 inches or so from where it starts to curve down to meet the current bodywork. I then cut the original inner arch itself so there were slots in it to make it easier to bend up, the idea is to flare the original inner arch up as much as possible to give me something to work to. This is what I was left with afterwards:
So, as it goes not too bad, should be enough to work with. What I think I'll do on the new (black) shell is a similar thing (obviously neater now I know how things attach and where I need to cut to). Then create either a metal insert and weld it up to the original arch liner tabs that I've created, or I'll end up creating a liner out of the tonnes of fibreglass that I've got laying around. It should bond pretty well to the metal itself then to the fibreglass arch that I'm putting on. That'll make sure that mud etc keeps out of the way and the rear arch is pretty study plus we won't loose too much weight from the back end by cutting out excessive amounts of metal (as the car is inherently front end heavy.. so removing it from the rear isn't the best idea).
Now, onto the fuel cell mounting, the original idea was to cut out the massive lump in the middle of the floor pan that the original fuel tank sat up into, however after doing a little bit of investigative cutting.. I discovered something that I really should have noticed before.
Now those last 3 photos show the discovery, there's basically a large box section that runs from one side of the car to the other and up to the top of the mound. This isn't good news because I can't completely remove the lump, I could completely remove it if I wanted to as there's enough depth in it to box it off again after adding extra strength inside it and create a completely flush floor pan in the boot. However that's probably not a great idea as the originally Nissan engineers probably calculated the tensile strength of that beam to be a particular number.. and if I start messing with it then it'll cause all sorts of unknown things to go wrong. So against the original plan, the idea is now to cut up-to the beam from the front of the car. Then the fuel cell will sit on a flush piece of metal in front of the beam and everything will work out nicely. The fuel cell I'm looking at is one of the Pro Sport II's by Jaz, and their 12 Gallon one is roughly 54 litres which should be more than enough for a little hatchback. It measures 18 inches by 16.5 and is 10.5 inches deep. So I've laid out the tape measure to see just where that comes to:
That should be more than fine, it doesn't intrude too much onto where the driver/passenger are and is a completely self contained unit with metal boxing etc so should adequately perform to SVA regulations if it turns out I need to go down that route once the re-shelling is finally completed.