Winter Doldrums...or...Having fun with foam.

With the mechanical parts in, and the work all planned out but yet to be done - engine machining, rebuilding brakes, steering, and suspension, I got sort of side-tracked by working out the interior.

I don't feel bad about this since it needs to be done and it has given me a creative outlet away from the detailed engineering and 3D modeling I've been doing at work in the last two months  So here's the work I've been doing on the "R's" interior.

Overall plan was to do a custom center console with storage, and fit in a decent sound system. - gotta be able to jam to Radar Love or Life in the Fast Lane.  On the list were a small but high SPL sub driven by an amp with a decent amount of power to give a wide range of bass, rear-mid base, and front mid-highs.  CD head unit combined with a CD changer.

Since all the fiberglass parts are one-offs, there was no sense using the traditional plug / mold / lay-up approach.  For the console, the plug will remain inside the glass.  For the speaker enclosures, I used what I call the lost-foam process.

MDF speakers plates with foam glued on.  3M 77 spray is applied to both foam surfaces, allow to flash, then pieces stuck together. Foam is sculpted using rasps & coarse sandpaper.  I cut in a groove between the MDF and the foam to form an interlock.  The lay-up was done using FMC epoxy resins which will not eat into the blue insulation styrofoam.  After the lay-up is cured, its trimmed with a saber saw, then the edges routed with a round-over bit.  Screws through the 'glas and into the MDF are countersunk into the 'glas.  Dig out as much of the foam as possible, working through the speaker opening, then pour in a solvent (acetone or lacquer thinner) to dissolve the remaining foam ( work in WELL ventilated area if you cherish your brain cells!)

Here's the sub-box being finished on the outside with "bondo".  The box's volume was designed and calculated in 3D CAD to match the specs. for the square Kicker L7 8" square sub. You can see some of the remaining goo from dissolving the styrofoam.  Encapsulated into the top surface of the box are two aluminum strips which the rivnuts for the amp will grab into.

The enclosures for the mids were made the same way.

Made two end covers for the amp which is secured to the top of the sub-box with threaded aluminum thumbscrew rivnuts.  The amp and covers sit on a piece of closed-cell art foam cut to match the contours ( its shifted slightly in this trial fit). I will be glassing in the two "bridge" pieces, flowing them into the sub-box and mid housings with generous radii.  These are to keep the sub-box centered during spirited cornering!  The front of the sub-box with be anchored to the package shelf lip.

Top view showing how it all fits between the rear down tubes of the roll-bar. Radii indicated in red.  Though I didn't take a pic with it down, the top frame folds nicely and the mids will still be visible, although initally the "R" isn't going to have a ragtop....

I had to relocate the head-unit higher in the factory console due to its DIN chassis.  There is a custom fabricated bracket at the rear which ties the two side panels together, and supports the back of the stereo.

For the console, I scavenged the box out of a Neon, but had to cut down both the steel support frame, and the box itself. The plastic box was put back together with JB weld reinforced with some glass cloth.   The urethane pad will get dyed to final color once I figure out what its going to be..

The console needed some cupholders and some doo-dad trays, so I found a plastic "console" at Autozone for $3, and used it as a plug to make a mold for the cupholders. I used clay to sculpt a bridge between the holes since I needed two individual holders.   This was to save a lot of finishing work downstream.  The green stuff is PVA film, a brush or spray on mold release film.  Washes off with water.  The small slots held flexible plastic fingers for holding different size cups that I will be using in the finished console.  I molded the coin-holder, but I'm not sure if I'll end up using it.  You can see the detail the 'glas picks up.

Finished pieces parts.

These show the console plug bare, with parts fitted, and with foam filler pieces to be in place during lay-up.  Its going to be a lot of finishing work on the outside of the 'glas, but it would have to be done on the plug if I was making a mold instead.

Three other views of the same progression.  The black lines indicate the trim line for the 'glas.  The holes for the box and shifter will be cut after the lay-up is cured.

The cupholders and doo-dad trays will be laminated in during the lay-up to become integral with the console.

Detail shot of lighter, ashtray, and cover release.

Sub-box and console visually flow together, and curved cupholder area of console matches the curves of the seats.

This shot shows the dash with the master disconnect, flip-to-arm ignition switch and push-button starter.  Everything ignition related will be yellow - plug wires included.  You can also see the rudiments of the door panel mid-high pods which will be integral with the custom door panels I've yet to start on.