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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is rather unrelated to audio; but the process could be used in trim pieces, etc. if necessary.

I bought a '77 Chrysler LeBaron. If anyone here is familiar with m-bodies (Diplomats, New Yorkers), you'll recognize the gauges in my car. They gauge faces are made of stamped brushed aluminum; and the illumination for the gauges is dim at best.

My thoughts are to buy some .062" Lexan, heat it in the oven, and let it form itself over the gauges faces ( they are flat for the most part, with a slight curved lip around the edges). Purchase some flexible brushed aluminum vinyl, such as this , and have it cut in the same "negative" pattern as the stock gauges. Tint the Lexan to mimic the stock black lettering, but allow the lights behing the gauges to shine though the lettering at night. Essentially making the gauge light up like modern gauges do.

My questions are:

Will letting the Lexan heat up in the oven and laying it over the gauges work to form the Lexan well?

Anyone have any idea how or who would be able to cut the vinyl?

Anyone have any suggestions on how to tint the Lexan while still allowing plenty of light through?
 

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You could vacuum form it... which is difficult in the set-up, but easy in the excuition..

You would need a vacuum table, easily made out of some 1/4" hardboard (masionite) some 3/4" strips of whatever and some pegboard...

Make a 24"x24"x1 1/2" box, one large panel of the box being made of pegboard... oppisite of the pegboard, a hole, you can put the hose of a shopvac in...

now you would need a frame to hold the lexan, a frame that will seal to the top of the vacuum table you just made...

And finally a heat source.. you coule easily make a simple frame to hold 4-8 heat lamps, maybe on stilts to hold it directly over the vacuum table...

Warm the lexan till it starts to sag in the frame, press (and lock somehow) the frame down over the vacuum table (with part in place) and turn on the shopvac..

BOOM... vacuum forming..

You would be best of vaccum forming the vinyl on them as well, you just wouldn't need the same amount of heat..
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The lexan that I found becomes flexible at 350*. Whould the heatlamps be enough to get the lexan to that point? I guess if worse comes to worse, I could always preheat it and lay it on the box. Not sure how quick it would set up at room temperature, though.

Either way, that box is brilliant! Thanks a bunch!
 

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No problem, I can get you close, the rest is up to you... lol...

Good luck, post up if you do end up building it and using it..

AFA the heat, heat lamps can do it, you just have to get them close, that's why I mentioned the rack for you to mount them in an array, you really only need the center, but you want the whole thing to be flexible..

You could get a single lamp and test a small part to see what happens to..

Good luck..
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks!

Win or loose, I'll post up pics when I get it ready to go.
 

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im not sure because i've never worked with lexan, but be careful because plexi when over heated starts to produce bubbles on the inside, not very appealing. my plexi bender is a pain in the ass.
 

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That is why lights are good, it's a more controlled heat... Obviously a small test would be on order, before trying a whole panel... But for ~30-50$ you can easily make a small vacuum forming set-up..

I remember once bending some 1/4" over a 4" PVC pipe to get the curve I needed... Took what seemed like an hour of running a heat gun back n forth, so as to not bubble it... It bent though, bent good to.. it was also about a 35" long bend..
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for the heads up!

I should have plenty of wiggle room with the project. I found the sheets online in 12x24" sheets for $4. With the gauges being, at most, 4.5-5" long at the mounting points; I'm HOPING 2 sheets will do me.
I tend to be a slow starter at things like this. Actually, more often than not, it's the SECOND time around that the gremlins pop up on me. It would seem that I do better with my guard up.
 

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The lexan that I found becomes flexible at 350*.
I just bought this beast at auction cheap. My intent was to flip it and pocket some cash. However, in the week that I've had it I keep finding more uses for it beyond its original intent, laminating posters. The heat is variable up to 350-degrees and the platen is 24" x 36"! I could form polycarbonate, acrylic, kydex, do T-shirt iron-on transfers, press a week's worth of boxers in one shot, golly, so much I can do!

:D

 

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You would have to try, but I think that would distort the plexi....
 

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that stuff will cool in 30 seconds if you just ran a fan over it after the heat is off.

i use to work in a sign shop that would thermo form faces for texaco, shell, dollar general. huge working machine. would run 12'x30'
 

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that stuff will cool in 30 seconds if you just ran a fan over it after the heat is off.

i use to work in a sign shop that would thermo form faces for texaco, shell, dollar general. huge working machine. would run 12'x30'
Cool job, you could form body panels with that monster!

I completely forgot about a book I was given for Christmas one year. It is on the building of the Fast & Furious cars by the owner of the shop that did the work. Some interesting stuff on polycarbonate in it. All the clear hood panels, etc. were vacu-formed PC. The methods for making the plugs was pretty cool. Just blocks of wood over a base as it did not have to stand up to detail scrutiny. The book is not a "how-to" but it does give you some insight.

In addition to the above I also scored a laboratory grade Gast vacuum pump for the vacu-form box I want to build. I am really not sure where I am going with all this gear but I am sure having fun along the way.

:confused: :rolleyes: :D
 

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Cool job, you could form body panels with that monster!

I completely forgot about a book I was given for Christmas one year. It is on the building of the Fast & Furious cars by the owner of the shop that did the work. Some interesting stuff on polycarbonate in it. All the clear hood panels, etc. were vacu-formed PC. The methods for making the plugs was pretty cool. Just blocks of wood over a base as it did not have to stand up to detail scrutiny. The book is not a "how-to" but it does give you some insight.

In addition to the above I also scored a laboratory grade Gast vacuum pump for the vacu-form box I want to build. I am really not sure where I am going with all this gear but I am sure having fun along the way.

:confused: :rolleyes: :D

damn i never even thought of that... could be done pretty easily too. if you ever look at some shell signs they kinda have a gpod curve to them. i think they one they had was like 30in. hg.... pull the skin off your body:eek:
 

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damn i never even thought of that... could be done pretty easily too. if you ever look at some shell signs they kinda have a gpod curve to them. i think they one they had was like 30in. hg.... pull the skin off your body:eek:
You should see some of the vacuum pumps I use everyday for PECVD (Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition)

The vacuum we pull is close to the vacuum of space (EXTREMELY hard to achieve on earth really)

I have a turbo pump you could fit your head in... it has to be backed with both a blower pump (literally a car blower, but vacuum instead of pressure) and a mechanical pump to back that..

If anyone knows vacuum here, we get base pressures of ~4x10-7 milliTorr of vacuum... lol..

once you get so far though, vacuum doesn't "suck" anymore, it's just to remove molecules.. lol..
 

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You should see some of the vacuum pumps I use everyday for PECVD (Plasma Enhanced Chemical Vapor Deposition)

The vacuum we pull is close to the vacuum of space (EXTREMELY hard to achieve on earth really)

I have a turbo pump you could fit your head in... it has to be backed with both a blower pump (literally a car blower, but vacuum instead of pressure) and a mechanical pump to back that..

If anyone knows vacuum here, we get base pressures of ~4x10-7 milliTorr of vacuum... lol..

once you get so far though, vacuum doesn't "suck" anymore, it's just to remove molecules.. lol..
jesus thats insane :eek:!! what would you need that much vacuum for?? is this some chemist crap were talking here?

btw i love MSI
 
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