I’ve been working a lot on the dashboard over the last few days and have been saving up the photos and updates for this post. So there’s lots of detailed photos and progress to show 🙂
Making sure that the dashboard and dash lid are finished properly will save lots of re-work time down the road. So I wanted to pay a lot of attention to detail, fitting and mounting points so that everything was thought out and there are no surprises when I start to cover the lid and dash face with black vinyl.
The very first step was fabricating some mounting points for the dash face. These would need to be out of the way and not in your line of sight. Everything is pretty much held in place with pressure, so I just needed a couple of anchor points on both side of the dash. I started off by creating myself four little 90 degree angle brackets.
I then moved the dash into position and held these brackets up one at a time behind the mounting locations above and below the canopy rail. I marked their positions and screwed them to the side walls of the cabin.
Then I pushed the dash face back into position pressing it up against these new brackets. That allowed me to mark where I needed to drill the holes for the screws. Each mounting point was then secured with a nice black trim screw which will blend in with the black vinyl that will cover the dash.
Now that everything was secured and not moving anywhere, I needed to tackle the shape of the dash face around the steering column. This whole area needed to be re-shaped, so I cut off the previous flange, re-installed the steering wheel and created a new template/form out of bristol board.
This area was then fiberglassed from the back-side of the dash, the bristol board was removed and the area was filled and smoothed down with 80 grit sandpaper.
Now that the steering wheel had been taken care of, it was time to tackle the PlayBook mount. I started off by using an existing PlayBook holder that has both a prop stand and a connector to hang on your headrests. I used two strips of steel and screwed them to the back of the plastic holder.
I also had to trim some of the material off of the sides of the holder because it’s such a tight fit between the switches on the sides of the PlayBook dash panel.
I then cut some pieces of plywood that would act as the core material to build up ridges to secure the metal tabs. Once these were held in place I covered them with a couple layers of fiberglass matt/resin and screwed the metal tabs to the ridges.
Here you can see everything finished and looking like it will when the dash face eventually is installed in the car. I’ll still do a little bit of trimming of the fiberglass and also paint all the edges of the dash panels flat black. I’ll also stick some foam strips between the PlayBook and the dash so that there’s no gap between the fiberglass and the PlayBook’s glass surface.
Now it was time to tackle all of the test fitting, do inventory and bag of all of the dash panels, switches, LEDs, knobs etc. The first spot was the area right beside the PlayBook.
Most people don’t know that there was a kill switch and two red buttons there. It isn’t in very many photos. You can see it below on the far right from one of the behind the scenes photos which was taken when the monitor was removed from the movie car.
I needed to build up a mounting area to install the kill switch. This was done by using some 1/2″ MDF drilled to fit the shaft of the kill switch. I screwed it to the back of the dash and then covered it with a couple layers of fiberglass matt and resin.
Then it was hours-upon-hours of placing each dash panel in place and test fitting all the hardware item by item, one dash panel at a time. Each one needed either some small adjustments or major surgery. So I must have assembled/disassembled the panels dozens of times.
Most of the knobs are fake and were secured by placing a bolt through the back of the panel and then using the set screws on the knob to secure it.
So… here comes all of the pictures of each of the dash panels that were individually fitted and then all hardware was bagged and labelled for later.
These photos can be used for reference by anyone else out there building one of these cars. I had a master map/diagram that I used which had every knob, color of LED, switch etc. along with reference photos used to complete each panel.
They look a little strange against the raw fiberglass dash color, but they’ll look awesome with the black vinyl!
There’s one last item that needs to be fitted when it arrives, and that is the 2″ tweeter just to the left of the steering wheel. I was lucky to have another Batmobile builder track down this screen accurate old Radio Shack tweeter from the late 80’s for me and is on its way courtesy of eBay
When everything was completed this was the pile of bags which had been filled with parts for each of the panels. There are still some panels on the rear of the cabin and the ceiling of the canopy that will need to be created, but that will be for another day.
I also managed to finish smoothing out the dash lid and gave it a couple coats of black primer just to seal everything up. The lid is sanded down with 40 grit so it will help the glue grip when I add the black vinyl.
Overall it has been a pretty productive few days of work. Even with those pesky fall wasps/bees bugging all the time. There were so many of them I started keeping track of how many I swatted. Today’s count was 22 🙂