fiberglass dashboard build thread - Interior Forum

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fiberglass dashboard build thread
Friday, December 27, 2013 7:57 PM
Well, my turn to give something to the org. I have torn out my dash and am in the process of building a new one from fiberglass. After tearing out my old dash (breaking it into many pieces in the process) I discovered several posts showing how people have fiber glassed over existing panels and retained the factory mounts, something that I probably should have done.
Anyways, since I canít really go back now I figured I may as well let everyone else learn from my mistakes. I couldn'tít find much on building dashboards, so there will be many mess-ups and re-doís, but hopefully it will turn out. Any advice, comments, and thoughts are welcome. Here we go!

This is how the dash sits now. I attempted to build a center console already, but that was scrapped because of excessive weight and bad fitment. Oh, and yes I am going to attempt to retain the factory airbags, though I may invest in racing seats and belts to avoid this if it gets too complicated.

from the outside: here you can see the temporary cluster mount-the big piece of steel with two little posts sticking up. (no clue what ďthe treatmentĒ is)

Passenger side, good luck cow, and the airbag cover.

and a picture of her from the outside, on unattractive steelies and snow tires, dangit winter.

So, now we begin. Iím going to build a new mount for the cluster so it is better positioned and a bit cleaner. this will be achieved by using the factory mount to make a mold for fiberglass, since i canít use the factory plastic because of adhesion issues.

I started by masking the part so I could easily remove the hardened foam:

finished masking:

Check fit of cluster:

from the back

and now spray foam!

great stuff, we shall see.

checking to make sure it went through the holes. otherwise the cluster wonít fit.

tomorrow Iíll check to make sure itís cured and hopefully removes easily. after that iíll build the a/c and defrost ducts. once those are done itís on to gauge mounts, radio mounts, a/c control mounts and so on before moving on to the skin of the dash.

hereís what I plan on
-oil pressure
-water temp (donít really trust the factory one)
-ventís out of a 95 grand am (the circular ball ones)
-black vinyl pleather wrapped
-red kevlar accent stripe (like carbon fiber, but red)
-57 chevrolet script trim on passenger side

-full Ďwaterfallí style center console
plus a new JVC head unit and maybe some sound system goodies later on.
Generally going for a more upscale factory look rather than something way out there.also looking to improve the factoryís terrible front defrost. I like to drive without leaning over to the center of the car.
Hereís my best rendition:

and a look at what the kevlar/cf hybrid stuff should look like, I think it looks sweet!


still not sure on flat vs. glossy finish for the kevlar, anyways, thatís all for now, any comments, observations, or advice is welcome!

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Saturday, December 28, 2013 7:49 PM
when i did my custom waterfall style rear console , i tried the insta-foam and it didnt work out. I used layers of foam board from Lowes and contoured it with a die grinder and a sanding wheel.
Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Saturday, December 28, 2013 7:50 PM

just a few threads down, hope it help maybe.
Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Sunday, December 29, 2013 9:39 PM
That is some sweet work! very clean car, I like it! and I'm not using the foam for shaping, just as a negative mold so hopefully it should work, my issue on the first try was I didn't use anything for a mold release so it all had to be chiseled out. hopefully try two will go better. After the cluster support is finished I plan on using MDF though, I can see how the spray foam could be hard to work with.

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Monday, December 30, 2013 10:40 PM
watching with interest

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Sunday, January 05, 2014 1:58 PM
Made some progress over winter break, hereís what happened

hereís what happened to the original mold- it wasnít fully cured when I tried to pull it, and it stuck to the dash pretty bad as well.

so I used this stuff (coconut oil) as a mold release, and lined the oiled dash with waxed paper and tape.

all lined

and foamed

in the mean time

layout for the gauge pod

clamp some scrap to the bottom to minimize tear out from the hole saw

doing the first check fit, and I may have to thin out the back some so the screw on clamp has some more bite, but fit is good otherwise.

all three gauges that I have mounted up, still need to get the water temp gauge

drilled a hole for the bottom of each trough, cut out the arcs, now needs some sanding.

all sanded now, hereís how it will sit in the cabin, maybe a bit lower.

...And back to the mold, after 5 days of drying, just in case, this is what I got:

It came out without tearing! yay!

now I need it to warm up outside for fiberglassing, and continue building under-dash stuff.

Any ideas or the defrost vents? how to make them, what they should look like, where to place them?

once again, any and all advice is welcome,
Thanks! -TbirdIV

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Sunday, June 01, 2014 3:31 PM
Well, progress has been slow (obviously) but there has been progress, for one, the defrost vent is mostly finalized, just needs wrapped in fiberglass and the frame carved out:

heres the mock-up, got me through the fall/winter and clears the windshield a whole lot better.

the frame for future fiberglassing.

The new cluster mount is on its way, has a few layers of Ďglass but Iím going to wait to finish it till I order the good stuff from US composites.

Also started (and mostly finished) a new center stack, Iím gonna have to add a rear support for the radio for long term durability, I believe, but otherwise it is holding up well.


installed, this base seems much sturdier than my initial attempt.

front, with gauges sitting on top

Gauges are all wired up, even soldered and shrink wrapped Ďem, I was feeling motivated.

I think I am going to make separate cups for the gauges though, because when sitting in the drivers seat with them straight out, you canít see some of the gauge face. just turning the plate would look awkward, so I think some 2Ē pvc will find its way in there.
Also, some exterior work:



(Yeah, theyíre vinyl, but they look pretty dang good in my opinion)

anyways, thatís all for now, wish me luck.

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Monday, June 02, 2014 5:11 AM
The dash is looking interesting. I'm curious why the radio, HVAC, and gauges are all completely vertical and not angled back slightly. The desing you drew out that flows into the center console would look a lot better IMO if you angled the center stack back maybe 10į to flow from the dash to the center console.

Definitely subscribed to see where this goes.

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Monday, June 02, 2014 3:07 PM
Sub'ed. Didn't see this the first time around. Interested to see how it turns out.

"In Oldskool we trust"
Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Friday, June 20, 2014 5:13 AM
How's the project going?

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Monday, June 30, 2014 7:07 PM
Back from the dead, sub'd.
First post in about 2 years... better make it worth it!

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Monday, June 30, 2014 7:14 PM
Draft I started a long time ago. If you need a visual, I may be able to help.

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Tuesday, July 01, 2014 2:34 AM
Spalattero wrote:

Back from the dead, sub'd.
First post in about 2 years... better make it worth it!

Who are you?

"In Oldskool we trust"
Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Friday, July 04, 2014 5:09 PM
don't worry, some progress has been made.
spalattero, thats some cool CAD work, how are you with compound curves? I need some help making a bezel for the factory cluster. it curves in multiple directions so Ii'm not really sure how to go about this. anyone have any ideas?

Also, Mr. Quick, I have been working on the slope of the main stack, not sure how far back i can/will go back with it due to space constraints.

i'm working on an update with pictures, should be up in a few days to a week depending on free time.

-tbird IV

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Thursday, July 17, 2014 10:20 PM
A real progress update! yay!

first off, I made a new gauge cluster. i figured out that having the gauges face straight out doesnít work, and angling the whole piece would be awkward, so I decided on this:

hooray for hot glue

In the car:

I also added a rear brace for the radio, I donít entirely trust the mdf to hold up to the torsional stress of the radio bouncing around.

And yes, I made the stack angle back a bit, I want to go a bit more but weíll see what happens.

Creative use of clamps to finish the glovebox support, which didnít end up working out anyways.

Also been working on the airbag. I hate the airbag but I donít have the money to drop on racing seats and harnesses and such. any ideas are welcome and needed, I donít like how this current idea is going anyways.

issues with making a mold of a 3D surface without destroying itÖ probably gonna hit up the u-pull-it soon.

oh, and the ugly steel cluster mount is out!

it sits all nice and low now!

Iíve also been working on re-doing the shifter/center compartment area, and trying to get the whole thing in one piece, ill get pictures of that stuff up later. hopefully good progress will be made tomorrow, i have a full day to work for once.

any thoughts on airbag cover mounting? please?

-Tbird IV

Re: fiberglass dashboard build thread
Thursday, September 04, 2014 10:21 AM
Well, I'm in college now, (Go Hardrockers!) so until I get certified on all the welders/cnc/woodshop equipment progress will be slow. on the up-side I got the entire center stack together, radio, a/c controls, a/c vents, gauges are all in one piece (minus the water temp gauge) and held up to the full eight hour drive up here no problem. I'll post a picture of that when I can, but for now it's study time for me.

Wish me luck -TbirdIV

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