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Technical ABS interior panel construction

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Mr T body, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    The last part of the build of my wife's '31 coupe is putting an interior in it before a show she wants to take it to next month. There isn't money in the budget to have an upholsterer do it right now, so I'm doing what I can to make it presentable and give the upholsterer usable panels when that time comes.
    After reading a few threads about using ABS I decided to give it a shot. I kind of like the look and after researching different types of clips it keeps a somewhat original look. I've already done the easy panels for the doors and kick panels, so I'll be showing how I make the curved upper panels. This is my first attempt so if anyone has any feedback, by all means jump in. I've already made the left side so follow along as I make the right side.
    Here's the door and kick panels. I couldn't use the original style panel clips because of the thickness of the windlace, so starter researching clips. I've used them before on cars for wheelwell splash shields and are not only easy to install (and remove), but has a neat industrial look.
    [​IMG]
    The upper panels need to be bent and that's where it gets interesting. The rough panels are more easily cut with a cutoff wheel as the ABS tends melt back over cuts of thin blades. Below are the tools required to start.
    plastic1.jpg
    Painter's tape is perfect for this and you'll use a LOT of it to keep things organized. There's a little thinking required before you starting cutting plastic so take your time. The framing square is a necessity because you'll need to determine what your primary plane is and reference everything from that. You'll see as we get into it.
     
    chop job likes this.
  2. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    After cutting the panel roughly to size, do yourself a favor and mark the front and top with the tape and a marker. If you've bought a large sheet, the edges are factory sheared which means you have 4 straight edges and true 90* angles.
    plastic2.jpg
    On the side panels I'm making, the bottom edge is flat so that is my primary plane and what will be referenced. It's tempting to make one of the vertical edges the other reference, but remember we're bending this panel so things are going to change. The only reference that WON'T will be the straight bottom.
    Our other reference will be the middle of the bend. This bend is not consistent, so we're going to move forward knowing we need to leave the ends long and trim them as one of the last steps.
    After putting tape on the radius of the package tray, I took a ruler and layed it flat on the back and side and marked where they intersect. This is what will be assumed is the middle of the bend. I also mark where the bend "starts" on each side. This will be important later when we put heat to the plastic.
    plastic3.jpg
     
  3. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    One note if you're space challenged like me. You'll probably be working with the plastic sheet on the ground. When you cut ABS it leaves sharp melted flash all over that can scratch the finished surface. Since we'll be marking the backside for cuts and bends, that means the finished surface is on the ground and it's imperative that the we sweep up the debris constantly.
    Here's a sneak peek at how our panel will come out.
    panel7.jpg
     
  4. cracker head
    Joined: Oct 7, 2007
    Posts: 968

    cracker head
    Member

    How easy was it to bend and shape after heat? I made all my door panels out of aluminum just because I had it...
     

  5. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    There's definitely an art to this. That's one reason I'm doing this thread..... some things you are SURE would work just don't. You just don't know until you've created scrap WHY it didn't work.
     
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  6. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 14,845

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    Great tutorial.
    Just figuring out what works best for cutting was a learning curve for me, as you noted ABS wants to melt back on itself when cutting, tried a few different blade tpi's.
    The dingleberries were tuff to remove also, don't remember what I used as it was ten years ago, may have been a coarse wood rasp.
    Looking forward to the bending segment.
     
  7. evintho
    Joined: May 28, 2007
    Posts: 1,722

    evintho
    Member

  8. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,563

    325w
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Cut it with a sharp box cutter. Then bend it breaks loose. Smooth with belt are sanding pad.
    It will work well with half of the fasteners picture. On mine I used trim screws. Sometimes when are if you cover the pad the buttons might show.
     
    brEad likes this.
  9. D.Conrad
    Joined: Jan 8, 2010
    Posts: 450

    D.Conrad
    Member
    1. 1940 Ford

    I use big old tin snips to cut ABS with great results.
     
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  10. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,052

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    I made all the interior panels for my 26 RPU out of 1/8” abs, it’s definitely an art bending it.

    A tiny bit too much heat and it’s all over :D
    It works really nice however.

    A sharp olfa knife and a snap is the easiest way to cut it.
    I used a couple of saw horses and a 4x8 sheet of 3/4” plywood with the outer edge framed with 2x4s for a work table.
     
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  11. Lone Star Mopar
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 3,076

    Lone Star Mopar
    Member

    Has anyone tried electric sheet metal sheers to cut this ABS ? I've seen em used to cut these new PVC/Vinyl plank flooring that's almost 1/4" thick. Might be worth a try.

    Sent from my SM-J727T1 using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
     
    jaw22w, loudbang and Blue One like this.
  12. Frankie47
    Joined: Dec 20, 2008
    Posts: 1,869

    Frankie47
    Member
    from omaha ne.

    For my door panels I used political signs I gather them up after elections when I run low....lol...also you get the benefit of some free wire supports with them.
    [​IMG]
    And they are sandwiched and corrugated, very strong and waterproof.
    [​IMG]
    now back to ABS.
     
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  13. 34Phil
    Joined: Sep 12, 2016
    Posts: 292

    34Phil

    The ones I bought had a directional grain pattern so make sure you run them all in the same direction.
     
    loudbang likes this.
  14. Bugguts
    Joined: Aug 13, 2011
    Posts: 704

    Bugguts
    Member

    Subscribed. Show us more.
     
  15. cracker head
    Joined: Oct 7, 2007
    Posts: 968

    cracker head
    Member

    They also make good targets for shooting.....
     
  16. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    The main reason for that many fasteners was because of the windlace and curve of the door in the front. Those are all original Henry holes and rather than have that many on the front and as needed on the rest, I just went with it throughout.
     
    loudbang likes this.
  17. ClOckwOrk444
    Joined: Jun 15, 2017
    Posts: 46

    ClOckwOrk444
    Member

    In my avatar OT picture you can see my ABS air dam. It was cut using an electric sheetmetal shear. It creates a pretty nice edge, just make sure your shear has a good edge on it or it will just "squish" the plastic and not fully cut it. Also if you go to menards or home depot into the ABS/lexan section, they usually have an end cap with different styles of cutters in there. The one for lexan works pretty good for both, its just a scoring tool and then you snap the plastic (as mentioned here before)
     
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  18. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    As I found out there is also differences from one panel to another. I finished the driver's rear lower panel yesterday and used material from another sheet. I'll post up a pic later, but there are also color differences from different sheets. Hopefully, this evens out over time.
     
    loudbang likes this.
  19. Latigo
    Joined: Mar 24, 2014
    Posts: 661

    Latigo
    Member

    Good info. I'll follow along.
     
  20. Bob Labla
    Joined: Aug 15, 2012
    Posts: 69

    Bob Labla
    Member
    from mitten

    You can use acetone for gluing ABS to ABS. Works incredibly well.
     
  21. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,052

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    It's better to use proper ABS solvent cement ( glue) sold for that purpose. It's available in most building supply stores in the plumbing department.
     
  22. Bob Labla
    Joined: Aug 15, 2012
    Posts: 69

    Bob Labla
    Member
    from mitten

    Why? I've done many times with acetone, its handy, and has lasted for years.
     
  23. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,052

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    Acetone won’t work as effectively as the proper glue.
     
  24. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    Alright, time to bend! I didn't take pics of the actually torching 'cuz it takes both hands as it is and no time to grab the camera.
    Remember the marks on the tape? Transfer them over to the backside of the ABS with the factory edge (primary reference) on the bottom and lines at a 90* angle to the bottom. When you start bending this it's going to try to move in ways that will confound you, so SOMETHING has to be a constant. These lines will be your guides for the torch. The tools? A torch and a cloth.
    panel8.jpg
    When you start heating the ABS, line the flame up with the OUTER lines because the overlap will heat the center. If you mostly heat the center, you'll have a sharp bend and inconsistent radius. Long, even, rapid strokes VERTICALLY. Trying to hold and heat it horizontally will give you a nice fold whereas vertically lets you control the bend. Play with some scrap to get a feel for how much heat you'll need, how the surface of plastic changes when it hits different temperatures and to get the feel of what temp to bend it and how much.
    panel9.jpg
    You'll find it will tend to wave as the temp across it changes. Keep the heat as even as possible both horizontally and vertically to get an even bend. You'll see where an edge is cold has a hard line, so apply a little more heat. The cool thing about it is you can "knead" it on the concrete floor. With the towel, knead it flat on the concrete until you can feel it stiffen up (the concrete will help it cool quicker). It doesn't have to be molten to knead it either..... you'll have a decent amount of time to work it. The idea is to bend it with as little EVEN heat as possible to bend it.
    panel10.jpg
    Here's the finished product. You will be tempted to keep heating and working it, but keep in mind where it's going, what will be trimmed off, and if working it is worth the effort.
     
  25. BJR
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 6,900

    BJR
    Member

    Couldn't you use a piece of 6" diameter pipe to bend it around to get an even bend?
     
  26. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    I tried a form before and when you use a form it tends to be a series of small bends rather than a consistent radius too. It takes too much heat for it to flow over the form and does some really bad things.
     
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  27. Blue One
    Joined: Feb 6, 2010
    Posts: 11,052

    Blue One
    ALLIANCE MEMBER
    from Alberta

    Yes, absolutely. One of those really bad things is wrinkles and permanent wavy bumps and distortion that is pretty much impossible to get rid of.
    Another can be some really noxious outgassing chemical fumes from the plastic being too hot.
     
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  28. Mr T body
    Joined: Nov 2, 2005
    Posts: 2,189

    Mr T body
    Alliance Vendor
    from SoCal

    So, after bending it's time to start trimming. The shortcut is I can use the other side and mirror it. I can't trim it exactly as the other side because it's a '31 and no matter how "production" it was, tolerances were mere guidelines. The most critical area is trimming around the 1/4 window trim. I left about 3/8" of material (using a small cutoff wheel) so I can just sneak up on it and get a tight fit. The interesting thing is that no matter how clean the bend is the panel is under tension. When you start cutting and trimming it'll start to pop and move. Tomorrow I'm spending some quality time with the die grinder for finish trimming. There's only 2 weeks until the show so I have to kick it in gear.
    panel11.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
    brEad, loudbang and chop job like this.
  29. Watching and learning..mine needs it bad! And where did you buy that torch setup? 34inside11_13.jpg
     
    loudbang likes this.

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