Custom S14 Climate Control/Vent Trim Panel Part 1

Posted: April 10, 2011 in Custom Interior Fabrication, Toby Broadfield's Work
Tags: , , , , ,

Getting close on finishing up a S14 Climate control panel for a customer. He wanted a very OEM look, which is always my style. This one however I wanted to look ultra OEM and I went to extra lengths to accomplish it. Originally he wanted the three Stack gauges in place of the climate controls, a S-AFC in the location of the vents and a Greddy boost controller mounted in place of two of the buttons along the bottom. However, he got back to me before I started and had me swap the location of the gauges and S-AFC.

So here is what we are starting with:

Unfortunately a friend was borrowing my camera when I did the first few steps of this project. So I’ll try to explain a little since there was a lot of work that went into it, that you would never know I did, by simply looking at the finished pictures. I obviously popped the vents out and hacked out the center support to make one large opening up top for the gauges. Keep in mind “ultra” OEM look here… so I wanted a “flush” look for the gauges and I also wanted to keep the natural contours of the OEM piece. I think most in this case would simply just mold over/fill the top opening in the OEM panel and cut out holes to drop in the gauges. Grant it, it would look nice… but not OEM. If you look at the first pic, you can see how the opening rolls over and fades back to the original vents. If I simply molded over the hole, these contours would be gone. So I ground away all the extra crap on the backside of the opening so I could rear mount a plate of 1/4″ ABS. This would be my new mount for the gauges. However, the original opening was not tall enough to flush the gauges in. So I enlarged the opening on the top side to make room. This in turn made the contour disappear along the topside edge of the opening. I was left with just a flat edge… which meant I would have to go back later and reform the edge to a nice roll over to mimic the original one… FUN! Also, the opening is not flat on the backside even after grinding… the piece has a nice slight convex shape left to right. So when I butt up my ABS to the back side, it only touched on the outside corners. I was left with a 3/16″ gap along the top, bottom and even a little on the sides. So I killed two birds with one magical 3M product. It’s a glue I use from time-to-time that bonds to plastic and can be sanded, painted etc. So I super glued the panel in the corners to keep it in place and then used the 3M stuff to fill in the gaps and provide a “filler” that I would later sand down to help in the aid of re-forming the contour along the top side.

As stated earlier, this is where I started taking pictures. Here are a couple of pics of the 3M glue and the backside of the panel:

I then rough sanded the 3M glue on the front side and finsished off the contour with Kitty Hair and standard bondo. You can also see in the pic that I already used a hole saw to cut out the holes. Unfortunately a hole saw does not exist to get the right size for flushing the gauges. So I had to use a drum sander on a die grinder to get it perfect.

This picture shows the finished contour on the front side along with the finished sizing for the holes:

I can’t wait to see this thing with final sanding, texture and final paint. Stay tuned for part 2… the lower section with Greddy boost controller.

  1. Impeccable as always man! Can’t wait to see the end result…

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