How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

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How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby TSchommer » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:06 pm

I have started to fabricate a few aluminum parts for my car, and I have started to think that skinning my interior with aluminum might not be too difficult. I have access to plenty of resources since I work for a sign company where we stock all kinds of aluminum sheeting, we have a 8' x 4' flat bed CNC router. and plenty of welding equipment and an aluminum shear and brake. I also know Christopher Runge of Runge Karosserie fame. I know that several members here have undertaken this task and I'm just wondering what advice you guys have to offer.

I have a plan already to undertake the project a few sections at a time so I don't have to park my car for half the summer - probably doing the floors in the footwells and under the seats first then maybe the firewall and the divider tunnel in the footwell (basically all of the easy flat parts). I would be interested in any advice any one is willing to offer though. Process photos, material thickness, creating cardboard templates or using the removed carpet for templates, using rivets or adhesive. Easiest places to start, particular issues or areas that caused the most difficulties.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby Mtflyr » Mon Apr 10, 2017 6:36 pm

TS,
Sounds like you'll do well with all the equipment access you have. I can't offer any ideas, hopefully others here will respond with some. To me it seems like thin cardboard/paper templates for your car would be the way to go. A while back I ordered and installed some hand made aluminum seats from Chris for mine and love them. I think they are Car Art as is all that I've seen Chris do. If I had the $ I'd have him build a car for me, love his all of his FF cars. Good luck with your mods. Post some pictures.

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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby DessauSpeed » Tue Apr 11, 2017 1:38 pm

I made a buck out of birch plywood to make my 3-hole side panels (and the one the inside of the bulkhead). I cut ovals and routed the edges for the rolled over finished edge. Another piece of wood lays on top of the panel, to keep it from warping in the press. It worked really well. I made them out of steel, as I did not have access to the right aluminum at the time, and I was planning on painting them body color anyway. Pics of the process here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/25693934@N07/
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby Mtflyr » Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:24 am

DessauSpeed,
Do you still have the buck? If so would you consider selling it?

Thanks,

Pete
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby TSchommer » Wed Apr 12, 2017 3:23 pm

Thanks for the plywood buck photos, its actually similar to the method that I used to bend the aluminum clutch and brake pedal covers. Since my car does not have the ovals cut into the fiberglass I may forgo that detail initially with the thought of going back and doing it at a later time. I think I Sized them at 5" x 8" in my templat, is that size bought right? Did you have to cut the ovals out of the fiberglass?

FYI for other Vintage Spyder owners, since I work in Adobe Illustrator all day I am going to document all of the measurements. I have already started taking measurements and created a file that I will use for cutting the cardboard templates. After I'm done and confident in my dimensions, I will make the computer file available to everyone.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby DessauSpeed » Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:14 am

Yea, I had to cut the ovals in the fiberglass. Not a hard task. I just made them a bit bigger than the panel holes, to retain as much strength in that area as possible. The real work comes in a solution for the raw glass inside the holes. I smoothed it with bondo, which was painful and time consuming. There is a thread on here somewhere with other solutions that don't involve tons of cuts on your hands and fiberglass in imbedded your wrists. One thing I can say, the left side of my car was different than the right. Double check before you cut both! I think the left 3-hole panel needed to be a bit longer (from the door to the frame rail) than the right side. The driver's side inner fenderwell was also a different shape, which required me to make the box panel inside the bulkhead a bit different than the right side.

Post pics of your progress...
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby TSchommer » Thu Apr 13, 2017 5:22 pm

Thanks, like I said I think my plan is to forgo the ovals on the initial changeover with the thought of doing them later after I'm more comfortable with facing the parts.

I'm also wondering what switching from carpet to aluminum does to the sound levels on the interior? Is there a big difference, has anyone used Dynamat or a similar product betweel the fiberglass and the aluminum. The extra sound might be kind of cool at first, but maybe not so much down the road.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby DessauSpeed » Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:02 am

From my perspective, there is no difference in the noise in the cockpit. There is no real negative aspect to removing the carpet. The more spartan the better. It's a race car.

Oh, and I made my 3-holes 4" x 5". The real car has taller ovals, but there is no curve in the panel, like our cars. I kept it to 5" so the ovals would not dip into the curve.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby beck688 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 7:22 am

I did mine several years ago I am quite proud of it. Dont make individual floor plates. Take the floor off It actually takes less than an hour. put the floor up on saw horses and use it for a template I use .o63 3030 for the floor. I got it from a sign shop to. I cut the panel to fit on the fiberglass glue the aluminum to the floor with construction adhesive. drill all of the holes for seats fasteners pedal cluster. Replace the floor easy. For the panels with the lightening holes I made posterboard templates cut the ovals and use a tool that I found reading the Homebuilt aircraft wesites. To make tool I found a bar of aluminum about 18" long I cut a 45 degee slot in it as deep as I wanted to make the flange. Then you just work it about the oval bending a little at a time until you have the flange - don't try to bend too much at a pass or you will crack the aluminum. Al will work harden pretty quickly. You can anneal it again with a torch.

The best tool I had was a seamer made by Vice Grip -- I have had that tool since about 1960 and I never new what it was for until I did the project a good seamer is vital the Vice grip one was great because it would lock.

I did not have a torch nor have I any experience welding Aluminum - I ended up using a lot of rivets. Not quite kosher but they look great - people are always asking about the aluminum and it many times makes them ask if the car is real or not. It is the best thing I ever did for the car.

The trick is planning - while you are making a part you have to be thinking how it will fit with the part next to it how you will finish the joint.

I did this project with a good jigsaw, the seamer, a set of right straight and left shears, an orbital air sander (critical It finishes and straightens the cut edges), and electric drill a set of cheap ball peen hammers, various clamps, a couple of sharpies (critical) And enough poster board to supply an entire middle school science fair.

There are pictures on this site if they aren't here I still have some.
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Last edited by beck688 on Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby beck688 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:00 am

A couple of more shots
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby beck688 » Sun Apr 16, 2017 9:05 am

DessauSpeed wrote:Yea, I had to cut the ovals in the fiberglass. Not a hard task. I just made them a bit bigger than the panel holes, to retain as much strength in that area as possible. The real work comes in a solution for the raw glass inside the holes. I smoothed it with bondo, which was painful and time consuming. There is a thread on here somewhere with other solutions that don't involve tons of cuts on your hands and fiberglass in imbedded your wrists. One thing I can say, the left side of my car was different than the right. Double check before you cut both! I think the left 3-hole panel needed to be a bit longer (from the door to the frame rail) than the right side. The driver's side inner fenderwell was also a different shape, which required me to make the box panel inside the bulkhead a bit different than the right side.

Post pics of your progress...


Much much much easier way to do the inside of the opening - from the home depot/lowes - get some aluminum flashing - in the roofing department. You can cut this stuff with scissors. The front part of my door sill was open to the front - I whittled down some poster board till I could get it int there - I think I rolled it and put it in the hole. Cut piece of aluminum to fit the poster board pattern. Spread construction adhesive (comes in a tube like caulk Put the Aluminum through the hole - flatten it up against the outside surface. The flashing is mill finished Al and is the same color or will become the same color as the rest of the interior. I was worried that it would be too fragile. It isn't I store things like a spare fanbelt and valve cover gasket in there and the holes actually work as a cup holder.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby TSchommer » Sun Apr 16, 2017 6:03 pm

Thanks, your interior looks great! The tips regarding tools will be very helpful too.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby beck688 » Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:02 am

Thanks - sorry about the stream of consciousness prose. I really enjoyed this project. We have a car show every month 2000 cars and about 10,000 visitors. The most common thread is that the interior adds an incredible amount of authenticity to the car. That and the fact that the car is 15 years old the paint shows some wear and the interior has a real business like look to it. The rivets are also a crowd pleaser, people seem to love rivets.

It was a fun project, there are a lot of little puzzles to solve and esthetics to consider. If you get into this project I would be happy to provide photos, suggestions and cautionary tales.
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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby Mtflyr » Mon Apr 17, 2017 1:19 pm

Wow beck688 both you and DessauSpeed have done fantastic work on your interiors. Very cool.

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Re: How About a DIY Aluminum Interior Thread?

Postby Mtflyr » Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:20 pm

Hey beck688,
Really like your Al interior work sent you a PM.

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