August 2006 - January 2013 (Corrections)
The problems surrounding the radiator grille have formed quite a saga over the years but I have summarised them here as two basic issues.
My original method of attaching the radiator grille to the cowl (see Front Cowl) involved building up pedestals of fibreglass resin inside the cowl and using self-tapping screws into these.
The problem with this arrangement was that the screws loosened with vibration (even after using shake-proof or sprung washers) and it was almost impossible to re-tighten the lower fixings without removing the cowl (which is quite a major job). It was just possible to use a small right-angled screwdriver and usually with only one hand - very awkward indeed.
My solution was to drill the fixing pedestals in the cowl to accept studs and use nyloc nuts and washers to hold the grille (August 2006). It wasn’t until I finally glassed them in with resin that the solution became permanent (photos 1 & 2, April 2008).
The original supplied grille quite quickly became rusty brown. It could be partially successfully cleaned with a soft wire brush but the quality of the chrome must have been suspect. Eventually I managed to purchase a “stainless” grille from NG (Findhorn Cars). Also, a little delamination of the top of the cowl had taken place, so I removed the cowl for a full nose job (this entails removing bonnet, headlamps, spot lamps, etc.). I then refitted the resprayed cowl with the new grill onto the car (photo 3, April 2008).
Again, within about a year, a light rusting had dulled the appearance. After finding the grille was magnetic (so not a good grade stainless steel then) I decided to have it chromed (photo 4, August 2009) but alas this did not last either (photo 5). In desperation (as my daughter’s wedding drew near) I cleaned it up, sprayed it with wheel silver and lacquered it (June 2011). Although not so bright, it did look quite respectable (photo 6) and lasted quite well… until a pigeon collided with it (feathers everywhere!) and bent it (although I did manage to straighten it out again).
Finally, I had found a supplier of stainless steel mesh (Fine Mesh Metals) and had bought a panel of Crimped Mesh ss316 Diamond 10mm x 10mm x 1.5mm which closely matches the original style of grille.
The pigeon incident was enough to encourage me to use this mesh to make a more lasting replacement (photo 7, January 2013).
I used the old grille as a template to cut the mesh. The main difficulty was to make a good fold down the centre for which I clamped some sheets of MDF either side so I could concentrate the fold in a fairly narrow strip. The mesh did not bend easily, as it was very strong and springy, but I finally managed to achieve the correct angle.
I then added some clip-on edging (as used on metal panels) to cover the sharp edges and bolted the new grille onto the cowl using my now well-established studs. The grille does move a bit now if you push it but it fully springs back and is still looking good on the car 5 years later.