Precision Street Rods & Machines - Building Quality Cars Since 1982
Precision Street Rods & Machines
"How We Make Fiberglass Parts" 
 
 
We’re going to show you how to make a fiberglass throwaway mold, how to make the piece from the mold, install that piece and lastly install the gauges.
 
 
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Lead Photo
Lead Photo
This is our fiberglass 1940 Ford dash as it looked when we were finished modifing it.
Photo 1
Photo 1
Photo: 1: These are the gauges that we’ll be using for this project. Their gold face with chocolate brown numbers and indicator arms give you an older look with modern technology. The gauge faces measure 41/2-inches in diameter. One gauge encompasses the Speedo with odometer while the other encompasses the oil pressure, volts, water temperature and the fuel level all in one.
Photo 2
Photo 2
Photo 02: We used a pair of ABS plastic pipe caps for our basic outside shape / diameter. You can purchase these from your local hardware / pluming supply store. The reason we used pipe plugs is that the one end is already closed creating less work for us.
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Photo 3
Photo 03: These are the materials that we will be using for this project. Masking tape, fiberglass resin and hardener, acetone, fiberglass mat and cloth, paint brushes and mixing buckets.
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Photo 4
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Photo 5
Photos 04 & 05: Fiberglass doesn’t stick to masking tape very well, so we wrapped the outside of the plugs in tape until we achieved the outside dia. we were looking for. Then we placed a spacer between the plugs twice the thickness of the cardboard and tape that we will eventually wrap the plugs with. This will assure us that we will have equal spacing on all sides of the gauges when they’re installed.
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Photo 6
Photo 06: After we wrapped a band of cardboard around the plugs, we completely wrapped the outside as a whole with masking tape. This will serve as the inside of our throwaway mold as we’ll be laying applying fiberglass on the outside of the mold.
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Photo 7
Photo 07: We placed the mold onto our fiberglass mat and traced it three times (for the back). We followed this by cutting three layers of mat 2-inches wide the length of the mold (for the sides). The three layers will give us the thickness we need for a sturdy foundation. Lastly, we also cut a few strips of fiberglass cloth 1-inch thick, the length of the mold. These will be used to wrap the edge.
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Photo 8
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Photo 9
Photos 08 & 09: The first thing that gets fiber-glassed to the mold is the edges (the ones that we made from the 1-inch strips of cloth).
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Photo 10
Photo 10: This is followed by the three pieces of mat we cut. They will go on top of the mold giving us our gauge mounting face.
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Photo 11
Photo 11: When all of the glass has dried, we lightly sanded any excess away that might have dripped down the sides.
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Photo 12
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Photos 12 & 13: Now we can begin to apply the sides. We applied a wet coat over the working surface before we applied the mat. This assures us that the finish will be both smooth and free of air pockets.
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Photo 14: The day we did this project, it was too cold for optimum drying /set-up time. What we did to speed things up was use a heat gun on a low setting.
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Photo 15
Photo 15: After things had dried, we used a 5-inch air grinder with a 36-grit disk to knock off any heavy globs and give us our basic smooth shape. A gentle block sanding using 80-grit paper followed this.
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Photos 16 & 17: Now comes the removal of the mold from the piece that we just made. The first step was removing the spacer that was between the two plugs. This gives us enough room to pry and wiggle the plugs away.
Photo 18
Photo 18
Photo 18: This is how our piece looked after we removed the masking tape. Not perfect yet. It will need a gentle sanding first (the tape lines left an impression).
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Photo 19
Photo 19: We used 80-grit paper to sand the surfaces smooth. A thin wet coat of resin was used to re-seal things again.
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Photo 20
Photo 20: Next we primed the inside of the dash panel. The reason for this is it is easier to see our gauge and dash trim lines.
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Photo 22
Photos 21 & 22: We made two paper templates the diameter of the gauges to represent the gauges. These were then placed onto the panel and centered. When we were happy with the placement, we traced their shape onto the panel.
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Photo 23
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Photo 24
Photos 23 & 24: We used a 4-inch hole to drill our gauge holes. We drilled them slightly undersized so we could fine-tune their placement if we were off.
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Photo 25: We turned the panel upside down and traced the shape onto a piece of cardboard. This will be our panel cutout template.
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Photo 27
Photos 26 & 27: We wanted our dash panel to be the same height as the line in bodyline in the dash. The way that we did this was by clamping a colored pencil to a “T”-Square, then moving it across the bench marking the dash face.
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Photo 28
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Photo 29
Photos 28 & 29: We traced the cardboard shape onto the dash giving us our cutout.
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Photo 30
Photo 30: This is how our gauge panel cutout marks looked when transferred to the dash. Make sure that you’re centered left-to-right and the dash has the look that you’re looking for before you drill your cutout.
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Photo 31
Photo 31: Just like the gauge holes, we drilled our holes just under size. This way we could come back and trim to size. You want your pieces to fit snugly and not fall through.
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Photo 32
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Photo 33
Photos 32 & 33: We used a degree finder to make sure that the dash and gauges run on the same plane. When we were happy, we marked our trim lines. This portion of the dash isn’t straight and curves inward slightly.
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Photo 34
Photo 34: This is how our trimmed panel looked before being installed. We sanded all surfaces at least 1-inch back from the edge, inside and out including the dash. This way, our fiberglass strips will adhere better.
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Photo 35: Just for giggles, we checked our level before bonding the pieces together.
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Photo 36
Photo 36: We trimmed several strips of fiberglass mat 1½-inches wide. These will bond our pieces together. We will use two layers in both the front and back.
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Photo 37
Photo 37: As before, we moistened our working surfaces with a coat of resin before applying our mat.
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Photo 38
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Photo 39
Photos 38 & 39: We ground a chamfer 1-inch back from the gauge opening. This will allow us to bond the pieces together and grind the excess material away without affecting the integrity of the dash. We placed masking tape around the panel opening so that any excess resin won’t run down inside. Then we glassed in the front side just as we did the backside.
Photo 40
Photo 40
Photo 40: If done correctly, it should look something like this.
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Photo 42
Photos 41 & 42: We used a 5-inch grinder to knock down the excess material. Block sanding with 80-grit paper followed this. Any small imperfections were filled with Bondo plastic filler.
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Photo 43
Photo 43: As you can see, it looks like it was made this way from the get-go. We used a black epoxy primer over the raw bodywork.
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Photo 45
Photos 44 & 45: Finished!
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