24 April 2014

DeLorean Louvre Reinforment Strips

One of the unique features of the DeLorean is the louvres. While there are a handful of cars that have this sunshade, usually covering a rear window, the one the DeLorean acts as one of two engine covers.  The prototype DeLorean did not have any louvres, the rear is left open.  Some argue that it was added for better aerodynamics and aids in drawing heat away from the engine compartment. While others argue that the addition of the louvre was for pure aesthetics.

Because of its original design, with a thinner center rib, it had a tendency to break.  Later designs incorporated a thicker center rib and cross piece to help strengthen the area in hopes to prevent breakage.  Still, if you have weak struts holding up your louvre, it can slam down, causing it to break.  Or, if you have really strong struts, you can put too much torque on it when closing, and snap the center support.  Yeah, it is just one of those things you live with as a DeLorean owner.  Luck of the draw.

I stumbled upon some stainless steel louvre strips that I wanted to try.  Note that DMC offers a different designed Louvre Brace.  Both are designed to stiffen up the center rib and both are around the same price.  The DMC Louvre Brace requires longer struts so the louvre can be opened up more to hook the engine cover on the notch.  This way, you do not need to use the stock brace to hold up the engine cover.  Installation of either brace system should be similar.

DeLorean Stainless Steel Louvre Reinforcement Strips
The kit comes with two laser cut stainless steel strips and stainless nuts and bolts.

Dry fitting the reinforcement strips
These are precision cut to fit.  Since there are two (thin and thick) louver designs, there are two precision cut designs to fit the louvre you may have. Be sure to specify with seller when if you decide to order.  The DMC Louvre Brace is universal.

This is a great time to say this, follow the instructions when installing these strips.  While I did read through the instructions several times, the stupid voice in my head decided to do this a different way.  So what could have been a forty five minute (tops) exercise, turned out to be a two and a half hour workout.  Now, back to your regularly scheduled program to see where I went wrong.

Marking holes
I marked where the holes would do so I can drill them out later.

Spraying strips with SEM Trim Black
I thought about leaving the stainless steel finish, but I wanted the strips to blend in better.  There is an option to have a brushed finished, to match the body panels, at an additional cost.  Since mine were not brushed, I decided to spray them with good old SEM Trim Black. 

Dremel with attachment
One of the reasons I did not follow directs was I did not want to remove the louvre to do this.  Another reason, I did not have a drill that was small enough to fit into such a tight spot.  Luckily, I had a Dremel with flexible shaft attachment.

Drilling out the holes
Event with the attachment, you can see there is barely enough room to maneuver.  I was also limited to the size of the bit, so there was a lot of hand finishing with files.

Look at all that debris
Needless to say that marking the holes can lead to slight misalignment with the holes in the strips. 

Pre-installation of reinforcement strips
One of the obstacles is, you need to line up both holes of the reinforcement strip, along with the hole in the central brace...and you need to do this with all eight holes.  Even if I followed the directions word for word, there is a very good chance that all twenty four holes will not line up.

The laser cut holes in the strips leave little room for error.  If you drilled the holes at a slight angle, it would not meet on the other side.  Obviously, my holes were not at right angles, even with using the attachment.  Good luck getting right angled holes using a standard girthy drill.  To correct the misalignment, I had to dry fit each bolt with both strips in place and re-mark each hole. Then file away at the like I am breaking out of prison.  Luckily, the louvre is made of fiberglass and not steel.

Finished installation of the reinforcement strips
The bolts that come with the kit are a little long and can bottom out on the dome nuts.  These were provided since there are variable thicknesses in the center brace, even on the later wider versions.  To solve this, the instructions suggest cutting the bolts.  I have a tap and die set for such and occasion, but I realised that adding two washers is way easier than trimming and re-cutting the thread in eight bolts.  Last thing I need is to mess up these nice bolts...and I am already going into overtime on this as it is.

Close up of painted strips and exposed nuts and bolts.
The DMC Louvre Brace is one sided, so it would be a lot easier to install.  Although, you would need to factor in the time to swap out longer struts.  Knowing me, it would have taking me about three hours to do, also.

After installation, there is a noticeable difference in stiffness in the louvre.  I noticed that there was always a little flexing and torquing when closing a stock louvre.  With the strips, there is still a little of this flex and torque, but way better than without the strips.  It also seemed to fix the misalignment of the louvre as used to sit a little to the left and I would have to guide it down and to the right.  Now, it can just close straight down without rubbing the sides.

Final review, one less thing to worry about, totally worth it.


Martini said...

Isn't that always the way? Always requires extra work, and extra time. It is with me, anyway. Oh, and big time +1 for painting them black!

Unknown said...

I have been thinking about adding this to my car, but I have way more to worry about first lol as I just got it to start for the first time this last Sunday! Which is on my YouTube channel. Will you be at DCS this year?