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  1. #1
    Knows a Thing or Two darkknight1999's Avatar
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    How-to build a custom fiberglass upper windshield trim switch pod

    Note: Patent Pending

    So I built one of these for myself and I had a lot of people ask me how I did it. Some people have asked me to build them one, which I can if my schedule allows. The work itself is not hard, its more time consuming than anything. You'll also find that the material may seem cost prohibitive, since the quantities you'll end up purchasing out way the cost of having one made for you. It never hurts to learn a new skill and you may find that once you understand the mechanics of how to build something like this you'll give your own ideas a try. So if you want to have a go at building one of these yourself and learning a new skill, this how you do it, and the material required to copy what I did. If you have any question please let me know. Its best to plan out your build and ask your questions before you start.




    I have about 15+ years experience with building these types of things. There are always different ways to complete the same project... not to mention different brands of material. This is just how I built this project. If you want to see some other projects I've done as examples of what can be done with fiberglass just let me know... you can build a lot with fiberglass.

    In case you wanted to know you can fit 8 switches, or a 6 pack switch panel and a 52mm gauge in the open space between the sunvisors.

    Ok so this is the list of material you'll need for this build:

    1/4"x4"x8" MDF
    1 - Otrattw 6 port switch bezel VM6-01 (http://www.otrattw.com/proddetail.php?prod=VM6-01)
    6-8 Paint sticks (I use these for the rear structure instead of MDF because they are free, lighter weight and thinner than the MDF)
    Cyanoacrylate glue (5-10sec) (This type of glue make "super glue" look like Elmers... )
    Fleece (2-way flexible)
    40, 80, 120 Sand Paper sanding blocks work great if you don't have a machine or air sander
    Scotchbright pad (green)
    Fiberglass resin
    Rage Gold (bondo) Rage Gold is the best bondo. Its very easy to sand... regular bondo is like trying to sand concrete with a spoon.
    SEM Sand Free - #38363
    SEM High Build Primer Black - #42003
    SEM Texture Coat - #39853
    SEM Colorcoat - My color code is #5544/5545 however please reference the SEM color chart to make sure you have the right color as it can vary by model year. Honestly mixing black and gray comes out almost exactly the right color when mixed properly. http://www.semproducts.com/formulas/
    SEM Satin Gloss Clear - #13013 (whichever you prefer... I use a satin finish on mine)
    SEM Low Luster Clear - #13023 (whichever you prefer... I use a satin finish on mine)
    Beer... duh...


    Tools:
    Dremel with large and small sanding drums (5 each should cover it), dremel cut off wheels, saw cut off wheel
    Jigsaw or even better a a Multi-max tool (good for cutting the wood panel frame and of course sanding)
    Cordless drill with philips head bit
    Air sander if you have one... the Multi-max tool with the sanding head does the job fine, but a small head air sander is fastest.
    Ruler/tape measure
    Scissors
    Plastic gloves
    Razor blade
    1 - Wood screw whatever length you have is fine
    1 - Flexible sanding block (I use a 1/2"x2"x4")
    6 - Cheap disposable paint brushes
    4 - Mixing cups
    1 - Mixing board
    1 - Bondo spreaders
    Bottle opener

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ________________________________

    Well lets get this going:

    1) First thing you need to do is grab the MDF and the Otrattw.

    You want to take the 1/4" MDF and cut that so the outside dimensions of the MDF should be cut to 6.5" x 2.5" are the Otrattw panel and cut the MDF required for installation is 6.15" x 1.9" inches (or just trace it out onto the MDF )

    After you measure it all out, go ahead and cut its the panel and test fit the switch plate into the MDF. You want it to fit fairly tight.






    2) Once that's done, grab the stock trim panel... its time ruin it so we can fix it actually we need to rough up the stock panel so the fiberglass will adhere to the ABS. If you skip this part the fiberglass will peel off and you'll have to start over again... so make sure you do this...

    Grab the Dremel and the large sanding drum and rough up the panel like in the picture:




    Now grab the cordless drill and the wood screw... trust me it will be fine

    Now you need to drill holes around the area that will be fiberglassed. Using the screw instead of just drilling holes provides a larger contact area as well as a threaded hole for the fiberglass to fill and once dried, they will secure and bound the pieces into one.





    Once you have that all set and ready to go, you need to glue that switch frame in place. Now heres the thing... this part is up to you... other than making sure it centered on the trim panel... which it easy because of the center pin on the back. You have about 1 1/2" or so to play with with regards to the height. Mine is just slightly raised off the panel about 3/8" or so. But if you want your switches to sit a little lower just add a strip of MDF under the frame as needed. Double check the center of the panel and mark it with a sharpie. Using the Cyanoacrylate glue, glue the frame and whatever risers if any you use to the trim panel.

    I use this glue... you can buy it at Home Depot:



    Whatever glue you use make sure it is a Cyanoacrylate glue:




    Using the glue attach the frame and any risers to the trim panel. This is the time when you can decide at what angle the switches will be set at. Although the glue takes but a few seconds to dry it will remain pliable for a little while... say about 15-30minutes depending on the glue you use. This will give you time to prep for the next stage. I also recommend you prop up the frame and risers with something to make sure the frame stays at the angle you'd like it to be at, remember its pliable still. Another tip too... only apply the glue to one surface, otherwise the drying time can turn out to be much longer.






    So while the frame is settling in, grab 2 of the paint sticks. We are going to use them to create the rear frame. To do this you simply need to cut the paint sticks to form the rear box like the pictures below. I can't tell you an exact size as it will vary based on the angle of the front frame. Also sanding the sticks to the right angles so they rest together with little or no gap is best. Simple put the sand paper on a known flat and level surface and run the ends of the paint sticks over the forming them to the right angle.

    Once you cut them and sand in the right angles you can glue them all together like so:





    You should allow the glue to dry for about 30 minutes or so... so grab a beer. Your about a 1/3 of the way there.


    So now that you have your beer... Take a few minutes to sand the frame so it has more rounded corners... That's my OCD talking. But it looks much better as the finished product doing this.

    Now that you have the frame all set and its solid its time to grab the fleece and wrap the frame. Again make sure the fleece is 2-way stretch... You can also use t-shirt material, however that will require a lot more work to make the structure strong enough. You can get fleece at most fabric stores. Even Walmart's with a craft section will have it.

    With 2 way stretch fleece you one direction will stretch a lot more than the other... at least most of it does. Once in a while you find the good stuff that will stretch almost equally in both directions... that's a good day

    Its handy to have a socket to press the fleece into the glue... you'll glue your fingers to the panel if you try to use your finger to press the fleece into the glue

    Anyway its best to start in the middle. So what you need to do, again using the cyanoacrylate glue, is glue the fleece to the front side of the switch frame. Once that's done, pull the fleece down stretching it over the front edge. Glue the fleece to the bottom edge of the trim panel, pulling the fleece so it's fairly tight. You should be able to bounce a quarter off of it. Once you have the front side wrapped and the glue is dry, stretch the fleece pulling it away from the frame and tight to the panel again gluing it in place as you go. Once you have both sides done move to the back. This is done the same way however you need to pull the fleece tight enough to remove the pleats that can form.

    Once completed it should look like this. I'll add more pictures of this stage once I make another one. Once you get it all glued up, you can use a razor blade to cut the switch panel section out... no sense glassing that since you need to remove it anyway.





    After you have the fleece wrapped around the frame, its time to grab the fiber glass resin. (DO NOT DO THIS INSIDE THE HOUSE, YOUR HOUSE WILL SMELL LIKE FIBERGLASS FOR A MONTH. GO OUTSIDE! LOL )

    Anyway, you need the fiber glass resin, a mixing cup, paint stick, cheap brush, gloves and a way to support the panel I use a my fire pit... don't tell the wife You want the temp to be at least 65` outside with as little humidity as possible.

    Ok so follow the directions on the can of fiberglass resin. Normally the hardener to resin mix is 10 drops of the hardener to 1oz of resin. You should mix 12 oz of resin to complete the fiberglass resin application. Once the resin is mixed you should have roughly 5-10 minutes of work time.... so lets go... mix it up and brush it on. Get the entire outside and as much of the inside as you can. Make sure you have sanded the whole area of the panel around the is being molded so its certain the fiberglass will adhere to the ABS plastic. Once you have applied the resin... its beer time depending on the weather out, it will take 15 minutes to and hour for it to dry and cure. It will feel a little tacky still, but its the way it is.





    Well now the work starts... Once the fiberglass is dry, you need to sand down the high marks in the glass... you'll see what I mean. The glass will feel like 30 grit sand paper before you sand it. Don't go crazy as we need to apply the bondo next.

    Once you have that knocked down the high spots, and your happy with it, we need to mix the bondo to help smooth it over. Now this is a little trade secret... If you mix bondo and fiberglass resin, you can literally paint the bondo on, and in doing so the bondo will mostly self level and flatten itself out.

    So you want to mix about 1/2 a cup of bondo with a 1.25 inch of hardener. Take the bondo and scoop it onto the mixing board, grab a bondo spreader and mix the hardener and bondo together with the spreader. Once you have that all mixed up, we are going to mix up another batch of fiberglass resin. You want to mix up about 6oz and hardener. Once you have them both mixed, using the bondo spreader scrap it up and put the bondo into the resin... then using the paint stick mix it up really well. The mixture if done right it should be like thick honey. If the mixture is still loose mix up another small batch of bondo and add it into the mix.

    If you are happy with the consistency of the mixture, paint it on. It should look like this once you apply the mixture:



    Thankfully its beer time... You need to let the bondo dry well.

    Well the bondo is all dried up... so its time to get dusty... grab all the sand paper, sand blocks, and the black primer.

    You want to sand it down to 120grit. The high build primer will fill those lines in easy enough. So get sanding... start with the roughest grit you have to knock down all the higher spots, slowly stepping it down all the way to the 120grit paper. As you sand if you need to see the low spots, give the piece a quick light spray with the black high build primer. As you sand you will see the low spots. The low spots will remain black.





    Once that's done, you might find that you need to level out a few more spots... depending on the amount and location of the spots that need work. If they are small then just mix up bondo only, using the spreader apply the bondo. If its smaller or a tighter spot that needs work, cut the spreader in half or a third. Keep in mind the more hardener you add the faster it will harden.




    Repeat as needed...

    If you're satisfied with the levelness and smoothness of the part, its time to start painting. Grab that can of high build primer and give the build a nice even coat. Remember light even coats dry much faster and therefore save waiting time. It should take you 3-4 light coats to cover the build. Once thats it done grab that sand paper again making sure its as smooth as possible. Repeat as necessary.

    Last edited by darkknight1999; 01-05-2015 at 03:33 PM.
    -John
    07 JKUR
    "If you're not going to do a job right.... then don't touch it, because then someone has to clean up the mess you've made."

    My build thread
    "How-to" Build a custom fiberglass SPod

    KCCO

  2. #2
    Knows a Thing or Two darkknight1999's Avatar
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    When it comes to painting... its all about PREP WORK! Bad prep = bad finish... every time.

    Once the priming is done and your happy with the smoothness of the part (which should be pretty close to glass) You need to make sure you spray all the stock plastic with the SEM Sand Free or Plastic Adhesion Promoter. I've tested it both ways, and both do the job equally well for me. Spray a layer on and wait for about 5-10 minutes for it to being to dry up (or flash), then spray it again. (The directions on the can will give you rough times for drying, however if you spray in the sun, on a reasonably warm day (above 60`) you'll find the UV from the sun dries the part much faster) Once this is done get ready to spray the texture coat. If you've never used this product or never seen it used, grab a piece of cardboard and spray that a few times, to get a feel for it. The distance from the nozzle to the part being painted makes a huge difference in terms of the size of the texture. For the Wrangler texture you should spray from roughly 2-2.5 feet away. This is not exactly the same as the stock pattern, but its about as close as your going to get.

    ok... Now that you've practiced a little bit, lets spray the part with the texture coat. Remember light coats letting the texture build up. You've practiced so you know what I mean. Remember to softly blend it in with the factory texture. Apply the texture coat twice. Once you have done that let it dry. It should only take a few minutes. While its drying grab the Scotchbrite pad. Once the texture is dry you'll use it to very gently knock it back down... its a good idea to practice this too.




    Once your happy with the texture and the blending job... its time to paint.

    Remember light coats...




    Then test fit the panel...







    Once you have completed the build you should let it rest and cure at least a day (24hrs)
    During the installation after you have wired up all the switches and you install the switch panel into the frame for the final time apply a small amount of glue to the frame to make sure the switch plate frame stays in place. You don't want it coming loose while your crawling around... so glue it in.

    Last edited by darkknight1999; 10-16-2014 at 04:50 PM.
    -John
    07 JKUR
    "If you're not going to do a job right.... then don't touch it, because then someone has to clean up the mess you've made."

    My build thread
    "How-to" Build a custom fiberglass SPod

    KCCO

  3. #3
    Knows a Thing or Two darkknight1999's Avatar
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    I have more work to do on this but its 1:11am and I need to get some sleep... I just wanted to get it mostly done...
    -John
    07 JKUR
    "If you're not going to do a job right.... then don't touch it, because then someone has to clean up the mess you've made."

    My build thread
    "How-to" Build a custom fiberglass SPod

    KCCO

  4. #4
    Old Timer DA RUNT's Avatar
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    So glad you did a write-up, that came out bad ass!!!
    2013 Jeep with some stuff on it

  5. #5
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    All those pics are photobucket, shame.

  6. #6
    Knows a Thing or Two darkknight1999's Avatar
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    I'll fix the pictures later so people can see them on there phones and what not
    -John
    07 JKUR
    "If you're not going to do a job right.... then don't touch it, because then someone has to clean up the mess you've made."

    My build thread
    "How-to" Build a custom fiberglass SPod

    KCCO

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by darkknight1999 View Post
    I'll fix the pictures later so people can see them on there phones and what not
    Cool! Looked like a good read too.

  8. #8
    Nothing but a Thing LoPo's Avatar
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    that came out awesome!

  9. #9
    Nothing but a Thing pvanweelden's Avatar
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    Excellent writeup John ! Thank you for taking the time to document and provide all the information for people to attempt doing this themselves :thumbup:

    Sent from my SM-N900V using WAYALIFE mobile app

  10. #10



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