Started my fiberglass dash build. (pics)
Topic started by: Taijiguy, Date: 08-23-2009 10:02 PM
Original thread:

Taijiguy ( MSG #1, 08-23-2009 10:02 PM
      I recently decided to postpone working on my 4.9 engine swap in order to work on my custom dash. Mainly because I can work on the engine and swap in the winter, but I don't want to try and do fiberglassing in the winter. Doing it inside is out of the question (for obvious reasons) and it'll be too cold to do it outside. So I figured work on the dash while the weather is nice and I can take the whole thing outside when I'm ready to do the major glass work.

I had a very rough idea of what I wanted when I started this project. I knew I wanted something simple and clean. I decided to use the stock dash as a base and apply wood forms to the stock dash and lay cor-plast (corrugated plastic) over the wood for the general shape. I wanted to use the stock dash for a base for two reasons, first, so I can retain all the stock mounts, and two, so I can keep the stock HVAC ductwork and will still have lots of flexibility in how I apply the actual vents.

This is the cor-plast shell in for a test fit;

I ordered a set of 7 Glow Shift Elite gauges, which are black when off, and have selectable back lights. They also have peak recall, and high and low warning signals via audible tone, and flashing gauge needle. I built a pod to house these gauges. It actually underwent a couple of incarnations. I had originally designed and built it to have individual recesses for each gauge within a common cluster, but it ended up as a single common unit. This is the rough housing during fiberglassing:

The blue tape is covering an aluminum plate that will serve as the actual gauge mounting. The housing will be molded into the dash, and the plate will be held in with screws to facilitate gauge installation and removal.

This is a test fit of the cluster with the gauges just set in place. (I know they don't look even, but they are- they are just sitting in there loose, so they're sitting at different angles which makes them look crooked. Once mounted, they will be dead-nut on.

The dash is mounted to a fixture I built that holds it on either end. It's sitting on a rolling service cart so I can move it around as I need to. When I'm ready to fiberglass the dash I can just unfasten the end pieces from the cart leaving them attached to the dash, and carry the whole thing outside. Set it on some newspaper and glass away.

The tach and speedo will be mounted below the gauge cluster on an angle in a housing similar to the cluster, also using an aluminum plate. The plan is that the major area of the face of the dash will be covered in aluminum plate also. The balance of the dash will be covered in black All Sport vinyl. For the center section where the radio and heater controls typically go will receive a 12" touchscreen from a tablet PC. The PC itself will be mounted behind the dash. I'm using an Arduino based controller to handle HVAC as well as other various functions. Which of course will then make all of those functions managed by the tablet PC. I'm also looking to move to a pushbutton starter system, and relocate the ignition key from the column. Don't ask me why, it was just a wild-ass idea I got that seemed relatively minor compared to all the other stuff I'm doing.

Updates as they occur. I have a few more pics of the dash after it was cut, but before applying the cor-plast. They're just on the camera's internal memory and I have to find the cable to get to them. I'll throw 'em up once I can get to them.

Ang84Indy MSG #2, 08-23-2009 11:16 PM
      Hey, looks great so far. So this will end up being mounted on top of the original dash?

IMSA GT ( MSG #3, 08-23-2009 11:51 PM
      This is actually the first time I have seen you post outside of the O/T. I didn't know that you actually owned a Fiero. It looks like it is going to turn out really nice in the end. Do you have a rough sketch of the final product?

Taijiguy ( MSG #4, 08-24-2009 07:09 AM
Originally posted by Ang84Indy:

Hey, looks great so far. So this will end up being mounted on top of the original dash?

That's a good question. The plan is to use the stock dash during the construction and build of the new shell. Once the shell is done, the stock dash will be partly integrated with the shell, mainly along the leading edge that runs along the windshield, the side edges, and a few points along the bottom. Then I can go in afterwords and cut much of the stock dash away leaving a skeleton inside the shell. The skeleton will provide the stock mounting points for the dash assembly, as well as the HVAC ductwork. This will give me a lot of extra room behind the new dash for the tablet PC and other additions.

Thanks IMSA, No drawing really. I have the concept in my head, and wasn't really able to translate it to paper very well. It's not that I can't draw, I'm actually pretty good with construction drawings, but for some reason I had a hard time translating it to paper. It's a very fluid design right now. A lot of standing there looking at at it and letting ideas form as I go. I have a lot of pictures of the shell in the car with a measuring tape running in various directions so I have some sense of what kind of room I have, like, between the top of the dash and the windshield, the dash to the steering wheel, etc. That's how I can build it out of the car without having detailed drawings.

I'm surprised you've missed all my posts about the 4.9 swap, and the big discussion about the stock 4.9 vs Delta cam profiles.

Taijiguy ( MSG #5, 08-24-2009 08:30 AM
      Managed to get the pics off my camera. You can see here where I'm starting to cut the stock dash. I cut both end vent outlets off, and cut out all of the center that serves as a guide for the console:

This is the wood forms for the cor-plast already set in place ready for the sheeting.

I'm using a heavy duty hot glue for all of the attachment of parts at this point, as after construction, everything will come apart, the wood will be removed, the inside of the dash will get a few layers of fiberglass leaving the cor-plast as a core, and then the shell will be glassed to the skeleton as I described earlier. Then I can fab up my HVAC vents I'm ready to go.

Taijiguy ( MSG #6, 08-25-2009 04:35 PM

I was inspired last night. I've wanted to give a nod to the stock dash, but wasn't sure how to pull that off. In a (rare) moment of brilliance I came up with a plan. Started it last night and should have an update tonight if anyone is interested?

Ang84Indy MSG #7, 08-25-2009 06:57 PM
      Heck ya I'm interested!

Rolling Thunder ( MSG #8, 08-25-2009 07:35 PM
      If you need to make new grills on your dash, maybe for ventilation or speakers, I have some good sized scrap that you can have for cheap. A whole sheet costs about $50 and I'm sure you wouldn't want to pay that for a few small patches.

pm me if interested. If not, free idea

Taijiguy ( MSG #9, 08-26-2009 12:14 AM
      PM sent.

So I made some pretty good progress tonight. Well "pretty good" being relative.I'm moving kinda slow on this, being really careful to get the measurements right and everything lined up correctly. Plus, all the parts are being hand fabricated, so in order for them to fit right I have to spend a pretty fair amount of time on the sander, with a hand file, and hand sanding. A project like this really needs to have a nice fit and finish or it's a waste. I only want to do it once.

Anyway, I got my idea well on the way and I have to admit, the image I have in my head is a nice one, and the project is starting to take a similar shape. It's late, but I got a couple new pictures to toss up. Will get them posted tomorrow. I'll be finishing the instrument clusters in the next day or so (hopefully) and will start in on the 12" touch screen this weekend if all goes well. I'd like to have all the glass work done by next weekend., but don't know if I'll be able to spend as much time on it as I have the last few days.

Speaking of which, if anyone has, or has a line on a good price for some glass mat and cloth I'd be very interested, I could order some off Ebay, but hope I can do better through someone on here.

americasfuture2k MSG #10, 08-26-2009 12:21 AM
      pretty good taijiguy.

Rafe Zetter ( MSG #11, 08-26-2009 06:38 AM
      Looks good sar far,
As im going to be building a custom dash over the winter i'll be watching this thread with great interest, more to see how its done and avoid the pitfalls rather than copying your design.

Good luck and keep us posted.

Taijiguy ( MSG #12, 08-26-2009 07:51 AM
      I don't know if I'm the guy to watch for a "how it's done" or not, but I appreciate the confidence.

OK, so like I said previously, I kind of wanted to acknowledge the stock Fiero dash in some way, without being too obvious, and having my own design. Soooo....I took a saw and grinder to the stock dash pod and did some careful measuring, and lopped off it's "ears"-

The shape of the area around the pod is pretty close to what I want. The almost straight-back shape on the right is necessary as the edge of the switch mount on that side is right next to the center section which will house the LCD screen is going to be recessed, so no real room for flaring or feathering on that side. I was originally planning to cover the lower dash area with aluminum plate, but now I envision this area painted with a nice high-gloss paint job, with the aluminum fascia/gauge surround. The upper area will still get the All Sport vinyl.

I'm using a set of S/W gauges I purchased from a forum member some time back. I have a matching tach and speedo set.

This design also allows me to use the stock gauge cluster for warning lights etc. But I'm not sure if I'm going to go that direction, or if I will have this plate laser cut with custom symbols. Still deciding on that one. You might also notice that the housing for my Glow Shift gauges is different too. I don't think the straight across design of the gauge cluster I first made will look right with the curved top of the stock face plate. So I decided to build a new one that will be one piece and integrate the gauges and the center vent. I *might* also wrap it down along the right side of the center area to provide a shape to define that area and allow for some switches or whatever other features I decide to include.

BTW, I discovered that the stock fascia is NOT symmetrical.
Ya gotta love designing as you go....

[This message has been edited by Taijiguy (edited 08-26-2009).]

grkboy707 ( MSG #13, 08-26-2009 08:28 AM
      cool! nice work!

Taijiguy ( MSG #14, 08-31-2009 07:37 AM
      Got to spend a few hours on the dash project this weekend.

I've been pretty much working my way left to right. Got the instrument pod more or less the way I want it, and got it feathered in with foam on the sides, so started to work on the portion of the gauge housing that will extend over the LCD screen, and the area for the screen itself. I cut out the center section and moved it back a couple of inches, as well as made it more vertical. I also gave it a radius on the right side, and made a flat area to allow for any switches or other components I might want to add as I go. Then I feathered it with foam.

Close-up of the area where the 12" LCD will go.

I've completed the gauge surround, and extended it over the center section. I'm pretty sure I'm going to move the center vent up into that space. I laid my first layer of fiberglass over the foam around the gauge pod. You can also see where I defined a sort of frame around the flat area to the right of the LCD screen. I think one thing that makes projects like this look amateurish is the lack of detail and depth. When everything is just flat and smooth it doesn't have that "finished" look. I'm adding small details as I go that will give this dash a nice refined look (I hope) while not going overboard.

Here I've taken the bezel from the laptop I'm using for the Car PC and placed it just to give an idea of the size and shape. I'm not using the bezel itself, although I will be scrounging parts from it to use. It has a fingerprint reader, as well as other controls. One side note, it's an IBM X41 tablet PC. As many computers as I've worked on, I've not worked on that many tablet PC's. All of the tablets I've worked on (Mostly Toshiba Toughbooks) would recognize finger taps to the screen. Apparently most tablets don't, they actually have a digitizer attached to the back of the LCD, so they aren't actual touchscreens, and will only respond to a stylus. (D'oh) I only realized that after tearing this one apart. I considered the situation, and realized I didn't want to have to deal with a stylus when using a this. Fortunately, there was a guy selling 12" touchscreen overlays on Ebay for a pretty cheap price, so I snagged one of those and separated the digitizer from the back of the IBM screen.

Anyway, here's the bezel in place just to give an idea of how the screen will fit in that area

This is how it looks at the moment. A little refinement and I'll be ready to move over to the glove compartment. Yes, I'm putting in a real glove compartment.

Taijiguy ( MSG #15, 08-31-2009 07:59 AM
      I thought I would throw these out for anyone who might be curious as to how this dash compares to the stock dash in terms of height, and where the center section is actually going to be. The dash is set in my jig here so that the center console section would slide right in, and be sitting on the work surface. So I placed the console in here this way to show you the extra height of my dash design. I figured I could add about 5 or 6 inches to the overall height of the dash and still be able to see the bottom of the windshield. It looks like my dash is about 3 1/2- 4 inches higher than stock.

Here, I flipped the console around so it would slide under (since the outside lip is lower than the back lip) this gives you a general idea of how far I set my LCD back from the stock location. I'm guessing it's back a good 1 or 2 inches. Little chance of interference with the shifter in this set up.

And finally, I flipped the whole thing over so you can see how it all fits together. The stock dash is providing the main support right now, but much of it will be cut away when all the glass work is done. In fact, I've planned this whole project out so that I can completely remove the stock dash from the new shell once I have my glass laid on the outside surfaces. Then I can lay glass along the entire inside surface, and put the stock dash back in place, trim away all of the excess and unneeded material, and then glass what left to the new shell. This gives me all stock mounting for the dash itself, as well as original mounting and positioning for the HVAC ductwork.

[This message has been edited by Taijiguy (edited 08-31-2009).]

Arns85GT ( MSG #16, 08-31-2009 09:07 AM
      Taji you're a brave guy to take this on. Looks like you are doing, as usual, a quality job.

On style, please forgive my observation here, but, I think the dash looked better before you cut into it for the Fiero bezel.

If I were doing it, I'd leave out the stock Fiero template and look entirely. I would give it the custom rod look. Maybe a custom indentation with overhang to give the guages some shade and reduce glare.

The new guage pod with blacked out guages is very cool, and the tablet PC idea brings you right up to date.

I think I'd leave out the stock Fiero touch though.

Good luck on the project


Taijiguy ( MSG #17, 08-31-2009 09:34 AM
Originally posted by Arns85GT:

Taji you're a brave guy to take this on. Looks like you are doing, as usual, a quality job.

On style, please forgive my observation here, but, I think the dash looked better before you cut into it for the Fiero bezel.

If I were doing it, I'd leave out the stock Fiero template and look entirely. I would give it the custom rod look. Maybe a custom indentation with overhang to give the guages some shade and reduce glare.

The new guage pod with blacked out guages is very cool, and the tablet PC idea brings you right up to date.

I think I'd leave out the stock Fiero touch though.

Good luck on the project


LOL Now you tell me....

I don't know if this changes your opinion, but really, the only thing that will have any resemblance to the stock dash is the shape of gauge cluster there, and the location of the switches. I'm definitely not using the stock gauge bezel, I'll either paint or powder coat that aluminum plate for the bezel. Also I'm not using the stock fuel or water temp gauges, so those rectangular cutouts won't be there either. I may move my fuel gauge down into that area as I intend to add a wideband O2 gauge at some point. I'm not going to use the stock switches either. I'm going to fab aluminum plate to replace the stock switch bezels and use later model illuminated switches. Also, the "idiot lights" are going to be different. I have a good working relationship with a sign company here that has a CNC. I'm going to have him cut symbols into .030" aluminum sheet which will be bonded to the back of the 1/8" plate that you see in the pictures. I'll attached colored gels to the back of the .030 sheet, or use clear plexi with colored LEDs for the indicator lights.

I'll take your advice into consideration though. I'm not attached to any particular idea, it's just what I came up with, but I always welcome ideas. It's part of the reason I posted this thread. I know I'm not going to think of everything. And I'm not afraid to tear something apart and do it over..such as the original gauge pod shape.

Taijiguy ( MSG #18, 09-02-2009 12:45 AM
      Not much progress on the build the last couple of days. We have out of town guests coming for the weekend, so lots of hunnee-doo stuff coming first. I did get a chance to stick the dash in for a test fit tonight.

Looking from outside of the car

This is the view from the driver's seat

The height is perfect, still have full view out of the windshield

Arn's comments got me to thinking. The dash pod was built to be removable, so I had to part it from the dash anyway as it's a separate piece. Once I got it off I started to consider other alternatives. I spent a little time doing this just to get an idea of what it would look like. I'll shape the foam when I have some free time and get some pics up. (Hey Arn, Is this what you had in mind...? )

So how about a consensus and some suggestions? The first design, or the second design? What do you like or dislike about each one? Let's have some feedback. Obviously, you aren't going to hurt my feelings, I'm more interested in good ideas than in preserving my ego...

Ang84Indy MSG #19, 09-02-2009 02:35 AM
      Looking good. IMO a completely custom gauge cluster would look better than the stock cluster in the middle of a custom dash.

Taijiguy ( MSG #20, 09-02-2009 09:30 AM
      ...hard to believe there's so few people with an opinion around this place!

I'm actually coming to like the second design better. I have a lot of cool ideas developing around that layout.

Blacktree ( MSG #21, 09-02-2009 01:52 PM
      OK, since you asked...

Just out of curiosity, what are your plans for surface finish? Are you going to paint it or cover it in vinyl? Will it be all one color, or multicolored? Are you going to use accent panels (wood, carbon fiber, stainless steel, etc)? I ask, because the shape of the dash looks very simple. Without some styling cues to spice things up, it may end up looking clunky.

Also, I noticed you changed the size/shape of the speaker holes. Keep in mind that the stock speaker recesses have screws that attach the dash to the chassis. If you nix those screws, there will be nothing holding the top edge of the dash in place.

I agree with Arn that the stock gauge cluster is kind of a "buzz-kill". It looks out of place on your dash. I think disguising the instrument panel, like you did with the round holes, is a good idea. You might even want to add an ovoid bezel around the cluster, to match the gauge panel above.

Are you going to redesign the rest of the interior to match? If so, now is the time to decide which elements of your theme to repeat across the interior. If not, then you should consider ways to blend your new dash and the stock interior together, so the dash doesn't look out of place.

Best of luck. And I hope you accomplish your goal.

Taijiguy ( MSG #22, 09-02-2009 02:45 PM
      I *did* ask.

Just to emphasize a point about the stock dash thing, I was NOT planning to use the stock cluster. I don't know if anyone caught that detail. I was merely integrating the SHAPE of the stock gauge cluster, not the cluster itself. My plan was to use the aluminum plate I cut. I'm using the Stewart Warner gauges for the tach and speedo. None of the other openings would be there, except for a couple of the idiot lights, and even those would be of a custom design. Also the switches would be replaced with aluminum plate housing different switches. The aluminum plate would have likely been powder coated or painted. If I were to stay with that design, then I would paint the lower half of the dash, and cover the top in All Sport vinyl.

The second design I'm undecided on finish. I could go with paint on the lower part and vinyl on the top. Or, I could go with aluminum plate on the bottom and vinyl on the top.

As for the rest of the interior, I'm focusing on the dash and console all the way back. Any door treatments will be to mainly to carry over the dash finish, paint, aluminum, and vinyl. I probably won't do much in terms of any major modification to the door panel shape, except to possibly add speaker pods. The changes will be mainly aesthetic.

And yeah, I agree about details. I even mentioned that in some of my narrative. If you look at some of the description of the area around the LCD you'll see where I talked about that very thing.

Thanks for the input!

Tony Kania MSG #23, 09-02-2009 04:12 PM
      I think that you are on to a great concept. Do you have your guages already? I like the look of the three round areas. Looks much more modern. I have been keeping an eye on this thread, and cannot wait to see where this goes.


grkboy707 ( MSG #24, 09-02-2009 06:21 PM
      this is gonna look really cool! i cant wait to see it finished!

aeffertz ( MSG #25, 09-02-2009 07:56 PM
      I'm liking the 2nd cluster a lot more.

Taijiguy ( MSG #26, 09-17-2009 10:31 AM
      It's been a very busy couple of weeks. Had guests over the holiday weekend and spent all last weekend doing some cleaning in the garage. So time working on the dash has been a rarity. I have tried to spend a few minutes here and there, but it's hard to get much done when time is so fragmented.

Anyway, after looking over the two design ideas I figured I would invest a little more tim in the second design to see how it would look a bit more finished. I decided that I didn't want to try and shape the foam so it would match left to right, so instead I made a form and stretched material over it and fiberglassed it like a speaker box. In this pic I've applied a thin coat of fiberglass gel. The finish came out fairly smooth, so there will be minimal work in getting it smooth. I'll apply another layer of fiberglass from the inside. I'm undecided about whether to mold this into the dash, or to attach it as a separate piece in order to facilitate installation and maintenance.

I know there are guys who are watching this for a sort of how-to. I wasn't able to get pictures of the form before stretching the material, but if you guys want a detailed description of what I did just let me know and I'll write it out for ya.

Here it is with the aluminum plate set in place. I'm either going to polish, powder coat, or paint the aluminum, I'm really torn on what to do with it.

In the above pic you can see the pencil marks on the plate on the right. The plates are actually quite a bit larger than the gauges. The penciled circle oriented towards the bottom is the size and location of the gauge for that side. The crescent shaped area above will be where indicator lights will be located, and will be designed so as to follow the contour of the crescent shape. Both sides of the pod will be done that way.

Here's the assembly stuck to the dash for a photo op.

Same shot, different angle to emphasize the shape.

It's a bit difficult to see in the pictures, but openings are angled with the bottoms extending out further. The reason for that is that the gauges need to be angled somewhat upward, and bringing the bottom out just seemed to be better aesthetically

PaulJK MSG #27, 09-19-2009 05:51 AM
      Rolling Thunder - PM to you about the grill material

Taijiguy ( MSG #28, 09-21-2009 08:40 AM
      OK, Ver.3 on the way. I wasn't entirely pleased with the last design. It was kind of boring to me, and I couldn't think of a way to make that particular design more interesting. I think I might have a winner this time.

My first design was at least interesting of nothing else (I think) even though many didn't really like the hint of original Fiero dash. So I thought I would work up a design that was shaped and angled similar to the first design, but move away from the Fiero pod influences..

I took some "in process" pics this time for the guys wanting a sort of "how to".

This is the pile of cut parts. It took me most of the day to cut and shape all of this to my satisfaction.

Just a quick non-sequitur, our local Sears Paint and Hardware is closing and had everything on sale. My old Skil saber saw has been a great piece over the last several years but last week started acting up a little bit and I figured it was time to replace it. This Craftsman was on sale 20% off so I grabbed it up. It's amazing the advances in technology since I bought my Skil (it wasn't a cheapo) This saw cuts almost as straight and true as my DeWalt circular saw and has some great features. I'm glad I bought it. The only thing I *don't* like about this saw is that it takes the Bosch bayonet type blades, and not only are they twice as expensive as standard blades, but the release on the saw is cumbersome.

Back on topic- this is the rough frame almost assembled and ready to cover.

Here it is covered and ready for fiberglass.

After applying the resin

After releasing the main faceplate and removing the tape and back for a photo. Obviously I still need to do that to the plate on the left but I ran out of time.

I think this is probably the final design. This will be completely molded into the dash as one piece and will blend in at the top with the bottom of the larger gauge cluter that runs along the top of the dash. The small plate on the left will house probably the headlight switch. Which will NOT be the Fiero switch.

IMSA GT ( MSG #29, 09-21-2009 10:02 AM
      The final design is the way to go. In the end, it will flow better with whatever final dash design you make. I will be honest though, I really like the first fabric covered picture. It reminds me of Amidas dash when he builds the Ferrari kit. I gazed at that for a while thinking "that really looks nice". Either way, it looks great.

Taijiguy ( MSG #30, 09-21-2009 10:16 AM
      Heh, well, there was only the frame under the cloth, so no actual support. (Obviously) So no real choice but to apply resin as it was built. That's not to say it couldn't be covered in some sort of fabric or vinyl. Although, the lower portion of the dash, including this pod will *probably* be painted, and the upper part covered in All Sport vinyl.

Thanks for the comments.

Taijiguy ( MSG #31, 09-25-2009 08:18 AM
      Just a very quick update. Had a really productive day yesterday. Here in Delaware they ran "The Little Brown Jug" which is a big horse race. Anyone into horse racing knows it's a major event. Everything in town pretty much closes up for that day, me included. I took the day to work on the dash. In progress pics up to this point are pretty unremarkable, so I'll spare you those and just show where it is at the moment.

Obviously still a long way to go, but definitely starting to look like something. I also got the aluminum plate for the center area cut and bent, just some minor shaping and cutting left to get it in place and trimmed for the LCD screen.

aeffertz ( MSG #32, 10-08-2009 01:04 AM

Blacktree ( MSG #33, 10-08-2009 12:38 PM
      Finally, this thread is in the Construction Zone where it belongs.

Bdub ( MSG #34, 10-08-2009 08:19 PM
      This is looking sweet man. It's shaping up to be pretty unique.

RumbleB MSG #35, 10-10-2009 09:45 PM
      Looking good! Updates?

DefEddie ( MSG #36, 10-11-2009 11:55 PM
      Definately need some updates.
I've got a 12" resistive touchscreen panel that I plan to build into a custom dash.
You are going to tilt/orient it towards the driver and not flat on the dash like that aren't you?

I plan to try and move my shifter a little closer and towards the driver,and bring the center controls closer.
I really like being able to change radio/climate control with my finger from the shifter handle.

Taijiguy ( MSG #37, 11-04-2009 08:54 AM
      Hah! I thought this thread was dead. I actually got a bit frustrated with the instrument cluster section of this design and decided to go back to the drawing board entirely. I started construction of a completely different shape dash that so far, I'm really happy with. It's more curved and lower in the design. I'll throw some pictures up in the next couple of days.

Taijiguy ( MSG #38, 11-09-2009 08:31 AM
      As I stated in my last post, I got pretty frustrated with the last design. I liked it, but it wasn't what I *really* wanted. From the start I had said I wanted a more simple design, and the first incarnation was just too complicated. Way too much contour, and the instrument cluster area was giving me fits. I couldn't really decide on a design that I liked for that space. I drew out probably a hundred different variations and none of them really appealed to me. I didn't really have all that much money invetsed in the first design, mostly just time, so I decided to just deep-six it and start over from scratch.
I was also frustrated by the amount of smoothing that would have been required to make that dash look right, so I decided that the second design would be from a mold as opposed to stretched fabric like the first one. I'm pretty good with wood. I can just about make it do anything I want, and my shop is very well equipped for wood work. So I decided I would make a wood plug and do a female mold from that and cast the final part from the mold. This design will come out in three parts, the top, including the lip around the dash face, and bottom, also including the lip, and then the face itself. I'll *probably* make the entire face out of aluminum, but have a fiberglass skeleton behind it to mount the gauges and other hardware, and just have the aluminum as a sort of bezel. The final result is still sort of forming in my head.

The front obviously. The holes aren't the absolute final locations of the gauges, they're just close enough for reference.

Here it's mounted in my jig. I took the top of the original Fiero dash and cut it straight across the front to give me a just the flat section that tucks up under the windshield and the defroster opening. I then added a section of 1/8" hardboard to the front edge to give me a total depth of about 14". Then I put the front face in place. In this picture I have the speaker pods attached and was waiting for the foam to set up so I could start shaping it.

The top pf the dash will be pretty deep, and will be quite a bit higher than the stock Fiero dash, but so far I'm *really* liking the way this is coming along. I have a very cool idea about how to manage the idiot lights and switches, all in the spirit of keeping this design very clean and simple. Stay tuned, I'm really stoked about how this is going so far.

[This message has been edited by Taijiguy (edited 11-09-2009).]

fieroguru MSG #39, 11-09-2009 07:34 PM
      I like where this latest design is going. Curious as to what it will look like in the car (elevation) and scale to the rest of the interior stuff.

Keep up the good work!

aeffertz ( MSG #40, 11-09-2009 07:36 PM
Looking a lot better than the original plan. Keep it up!

Taijiguy ( MSG #41, 11-09-2009 08:25 PM
      Thanks for the comments. I'll do a test fit tomorrow night and grab a couple of pics of it in the car to give an idea of how it'll sit.

Blacktree ( MSG #42, 11-10-2009 10:35 AM
      Wow, that's a lot of gauges. But I agree that the new design looks better than the old. The old one looked "art deco" to me, which is fine for your living room but not for a car.

I'm curious as to how you'll handle the ventilation?

Taijiguy ( MSG #43, 11-10-2009 03:24 PM
Originally posted by Blacktree:

Wow, that's a lot of gauges. But I agree that the new design looks better than the old. The old one looked "art deco" to me, which is fine for your living room but not for a car.

I'm curious as to how you'll handle the ventilation?

Art deco....hadn't really thought of that, I'll have to take another look, although, it probably would have looked different with paint and vinyl.
I don't have A/C and probably won't be installing it, so the ventilation is a relatively minor issue. I have space on the ends for the ducts there, and the center vent, well, I could put it below the LCD screen, or split it and put a half a vent on either side. On the ends, I'll divert some air flow to vents in the doors as well. I'll be making door panels that will mate to the dash (I hope).
As for gauges, there are 7 aux gauges, including fuel level, fuel pressure, oil pressure, temp, volts, trans temp, and vacuum. I'll most likely add a wide band O2 gauge at some point, but that may have to go to the A pillar.

Taijiguy ( MSG #44, 11-11-2009 10:38 PM
      Did a quick test-fit of the plug tonight. I like the way it sits. Obviously still have to finish the sides and make some small section for underneath. The top including the lip will be vinyl, which will cover the end piece as well, but only about half way down. The bottom half will be painted. The face of the dash will probably be mostly polished or aluminum. I'm still working that part out.

This is what the drivers view is. This shot was at my eye level sitting in the driver's seat.

Another shot just looking over the dash, obviously a clear view.

From outside the car. I think I like it.

The speaker pods are too high, but I suspected they may be, so I already have a plan for dealing with those. Basically, I'll cast as-is, and when the final part is made I'll cut those out, and switch sides and mold them back in upside-down so they're recessed instead of extruded.

Sofa King MSG #45, 11-27-2009 10:14 AM
      Great work so far! Don't give up. Keep going and post those update pics!

Taijiguy ( MSG #46, 12-02-2009 03:42 PM
      I'm still on it. I actually cut it down some so it's not quite so high. Not a lot of time to work on it lately with the holidays. I'm going to (hopefully) get a little time on it the next couple of weeks before Christmas.

Ang84Indy MSG #47, 12-07-2009 09:33 PM
      I haven't checked this thread in a while, it's looking great! Keep up the good work.

fourpoint9 ( MSG #48, 12-08-2009 01:38 AM
      Progress pics ?

Taijiguy ( MSG #49, 12-08-2009 11:49 PM
      No recent progress. It's been too hectic over the last couple of weeks, and there's no sign of letting up until after Christmas. We're taking a vacation to Key West between Christmas and New Years, so I won't be back to work on it until after then I imagine. Hopefully January and February will be productive on my projects, including the dash build.

rogergarrison ( MSG #50, 01-13-2010 03:49 PM
      I like the last one best myself John. My only suggestion might be to make the whole front face angled upward a little to make the gauges easier to read. It looks to me in the pics that the face is nearly 90* to the top. A sloping face would look better to me astheticly than straight up and down. Just something to think about. If youd like it, it shouldnt be that hard to remodify. You wouldnt even need to completely cut them apart. Just a cut 1/2 way thru clear across and bend it, clamp and reglass it.

Taijiguy ( MSG #51, 04-06-2010 04:19 PM
Originally posted by rogergarrison:

I like the last one best myself John. My only suggestion might be to make the whole front face angled upward a little to make the gauges easier to read. It looks to me in the pics that the face is nearly 90* to the top. A sloping face would look better to me astheticly than straight up and down. Just something to think about. If youd like it, it shouldnt be that hard to remodify. You wouldnt even need to completely cut them apart. Just a cut 1/2 way thru clear across and bend it, clamp and reglass it.

The visibility is actually really good with it more or less straight up and down like that, although, I did cut some off the bottom front edge to make the whole face a little shorter all the way across, and lowered the front an inch or so and re-angled the face a bit. It has a much sleeker look now, not being quite so high overall. No pics at the moment but I'll grab some. I'm still on this project, I just get very de-motivated in the middle of winter, it really drags me down. But now with summer fast setting in I'm starting to feel my energy return. I'm hoping to get some stuff done on the whole project this year, including the 4.9 install.

Sharkman MSG #52, 04-07-2010 07:16 AM
      Nice work

Taijiguy ( MSG #53, 07-20-2011 04:10 PM
      It's been a long time coming, but I'm starting to get fired up about my dash build. I've spent a lot of time lately getting my shops organized so I could get back to work. I pulled the dash (which will actually serve as a plug when it's done) and got it back on my work table. I cut it down some, as it looked a little slab-faced to me. It doesn't look like much from this angle, and a crappy cell phone pic, but here it is at the moment anyway:

You can tell I cut about two inches off the bottom. I'm working on the re-placement of the gauges. From the beginning I said I wanted a very simple design, and I keep having to remind myself of that, as I tend to move into more complex designs without intending to. At the moment, I'm teaching myself Google Sketch-up in order to try and get a more accurate rendition of the end design. So far it's been a lot of trial and error (including two completely trashed dash designs) which has taken a bunch of time, wasted effort, and dollars needlessly spent on wasted materials. (Huh, design *before* you concept to me) The fact is, I usually design as I go, but this probably isn't the best project to use that approach with.

Anyway, I'm fired up and should be working towards some good progress over the next couple of months. Once I get the design/plug/mold/part process down I have some cool ideas in mind for the rest of the build, including some trim pieces for the 4.9.