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kristkustoms 11-16-2004 01:58 AM

Fiberglass Tutorial
I was just putting together an article for NSRA's Street Scene magazine, and I thought this part of it would be a great tutorial for this site. This should be a very easy project for anyone interested in working with fiberglass (even though fiberglass cloth is not used!)
1) Here's the reason for this little project. The AC unit is too close to the back side of the dash. As you can see the gauges do not even come close to fitting. A simple gauge pod will be built and upholstered to push the gauges outward, and allow clearance between the AC unit.
2) On a piece of 1/8" LuAnn plywood, the base pattern of the gauge pod is traced out. The dashes face is curved so 1/8" LuAnn is used because it is flexible. All six gauges are layed out, and the outline is traced for the pod. Get creative here if you like, i chose to keep it simple with an elliptical shape.
3) The pattern from step 2 is cut out with a jig saw, and any rough edges are sanded down. The LuAnn is then clamped to the dash and holes are drilled into the LuAnn, through the dash. This will allow you to screw your base LuAnn piece to the dash. Be sure and mark top and bottom of your LuAnn piece in reference to the dash.
4) Just like we layed out the pattern for the base LuAnn piece, a top piece is layed out on a piece of 5/8" MDF. I made my top MDF piece smaller than the Luann, so it will give the gauge pod a nice tapered effect. Router or sand the top edges to a nice curve. Drill pilot holes for the center point of the gauges, but DO NOT drill/cut out the entire diameter of the gauges, just drill a small (under 1/4") pilot hole.
5) Attach the LuAnn and MDF together with small spacers made out of scrap. The gauges protruded about 1.5" from the dash, so i went ahead and made the thickness of the entire gauge pod 2" to give us a little extra room. Cut the spacers accordingly and attach them in between the LuAnn and MDF. Two worked just fine for my pod.
6) Heavy fleece is stretched over the gauge pod "mold" you have made. It is stretched fairly tight, but still allowing the LuAnn to flex. The fleece is stapled on the back side of the LuAnn.
7) Tape off the area of the dash that the pod sits in. I used PAM high yield food release as a mold release. Spray it where the pod sits, and all around the surrounding area. I made this pod on a painted dashboard, so i had to be super cautious or i could have ruined the paint. Tape off every portion of the dash you will be working on to avoid dripping resin on it.
8) Screw the pod (with fleece) onto the dash using the holes you previously drilled. Be sure the base of the pod is nice and flush with the dash. Mix your resin, and apply it to the pod. Make sure the fleece gets "soaked" with resin. Let it cure on the dash, do not remove until it is cured.
9) Once the resin has cured, unscrew the pod from the backside of the dash. If you used a good coating of PAM (or other mold release) your pod should practically fall off. Congratulations, you are about done.
10) With a good quality hole saw or hole cutting tool, cut out or drill out the gauge holes to their exact size. Remember the pilot holes you drilled in step 4? This is where they come in handy.
11) One layer of heavy fleece is plenty thick for a gauge pod. This "plug" from one of the drilled out gauge holes is just showing how thick a properly soaked piece of fleece will get. The fleece starts at the black marker line. You can see its about 3/16" thick.
12) The fun part. Sand this thing until its smooth. I started with a 3" sanding disc on a air sander, then finished it by hand. I gradually worked down to 60 grit sand paper. If you are upholstering your gauge pod like i did, 60 grit is plenty fine.
13) Test fit your gauge pod to your dash. Check for uneven gaps where it meets the dash. If its not perfect, dont throw it in the trash, a little filler wont hurt a thing. Use duraglass or a filler similar and build up the gaps or low spots. Sand again until its smooth. Test fit and repeat until you have a nice smooth, and perfectly fitting gauge pod. Luckily i avoided any more sanding.
14) Upholster the pod, attach it to dash (once again using the holes drilled in step 3), insert the gauges, and you are done. Put that dash back in the car and admire your handiwork!

cboy 11-16-2004 07:02 AM

Very nice.

One question, is the fleece/resin capable of being sanded smooth and painted or will the fiber or fiber pattern show through.

Dewey 11-16-2004 07:39 AM

Great info. Also you can do it the way I did on my buddie's '42 Willys pickup. Here too, the AC unit took up the entire area behind the dash. I made some cone segments of 18ga sheet metal with the apexes sized to accept the gauge body. Welded them to the dash panel, a little bondo and sanding and paint finished the job. Born totally of necessity, that dash is one of the most popular features of the truck!

Since yours is a fiberglass dash, the cones could be made with your wood/cloth buck system and bonded to the dash. A feature of the cones and one that could be easily added to your dash module is to angle the gauges for easier viewing by the driver.

kristkustoms 11-16-2004 05:38 PM

Cool, i was going to angle them, but the builders and I chose the keep them straight. By the way, this was for the 2005 NSRA Give Away Vehicle.

If i get a decent response to this (if people actually find it helpful) I have a bunch more things like this I can do. Step by step of door panels, headliners, insulation, carpet padding, carpet, basic panels, etc. Its takes me a decent amount of time to upload the pictures to my site and link all the pics, but if people find it useful Ill definitely do it again.

Oh and the fleece can be painted. I usually get less "fibers" when sanding fleece than i do with chop mat. A gel coat or a high build primer would be beneficial though.

LuckyCustoms 11-16-2004 07:01 PM

I know that this tutorial has helped me to understand how to create things using the fiberglass. I would appreciate anything else you put up on here. Thanks for all your expertise. 11-16-2004 08:31 PM

By all means, post those tutorials. Most sound like topics I need info on.

Suggest you put them in a Journal so they stay readily accessible.

horvath 11-16-2004 11:24 PM

This is a wonderful tutorial, bro'!

Yes, YES! Please post all your stuff -- I can't wait to read your door panels info because I've been preparing to do mine.

54 Chevy Pickup

kristkustoms 11-17-2004 06:19 AM

Actually, below the black marker is the wood, above it is the fleece.

cboy 11-17-2004 06:58 AM

As has been mentioned a number of times in the past, you are a great asset to HR.Com, KK, and it is always a learning experience when you respond to a question or problem. I think most of us here would like to pick your brain 24 hours a ANY tutorials you have the time to post would be greatly appreciated. You are a skilled and talented craftsman and we are quite fortunate you are willing to share your expertise and techniques.

Dewey 11-17-2004 07:59 AM


Originally posted by horvath
Note: The fleece reads 3/4" thick ... you have 3/16" posted.

This is a wonderful tutorial, bro'!

Yes, YES! Please post all your stuff -- I can't wait to read your door panels info because I've been preparing to do mine.

54 Chevy Pickup

Hey Horvath, where you been? Thought you had left us!

Dave E Shank 11-17-2004 09:12 AM

HEY KRIS: great job! You made a simple solution to a complex problem. I will look forward to your article in Street Scene and seeing the car in Louisville....DAVE:thumbup:

Stinkin_V8 11-17-2004 01:06 PM


Originally posted by kristkustoms

If i get a decent response to this (if people actually find it helpful) I have a bunch more things like this I can do. Step by step of door panels, headliners, insulation, carpet padding, carpet, basic panels, etc.

Consider this some decent response! :thumbup: Nice job!

IMO, there aren't rearly enough buildup threads. :)

horvath 11-17-2004 05:39 PM

Thanks for the clarification KristKustoms (I thought the wood was the part ABOVE he line!)

Hey Willys36! -- I've been checkin' in here pretty regular, but have been busy with some musical projects and having fun driving around in my truck.

I just made templates for door panels and an experimental arm rest last month ... I'm trying to get around to doing my interior up and anything from KristKustoms (and you, too!) is inspirational, so here I am.

54 Chevy Pickup 11-17-2004 06:54 PM

I'm hacking on my interior as we speak! A few shots are in my Journal. Have a creative block on what design to use in the upholstery. Want something sort of 50s but not tuck-'n-roll. Also want to use the modern paneled look, probably in light and dark gray tweed or light tweed/dark vinyl. Decisions, decisions!

302 Z28 11-17-2004 07:35 PM

Thanks KK, your tutorial gives me some ideas on a console for my 34. The fleece looks like a much easier animal to deal with than mat or glass cloth. Where do you get the heavy fleece, I looked at a fabric store this evening and didn't fine anything near 3/16" thick?


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