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Thread: how to: make a factory bezel

  1. #1
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    how to: make a factory bezel

    "THE PERFECT BEZEL"... or at least pretty close to it







    Recently, I have been requested to do a screen install by a good friend of mine, up until now he has been using a tablet in his car, mainly for navigation alone. He never really considered butchering his brand new altima, & would never consider doing such a thing, until I assured him that I could install a touchscreen in his dash, & have it look 100% factory.... his requirements were that it had to look like it belonged in his dash, it had to look perfect & factory.... on top of that, it had to be totally readable during the day.

    This is the results... first a shot of the original dash... not much to look at, but all I see is a really nice wide open area once the factory radio & the storage compartment are ripped out.... it looks like the PERFECT spot to put one of my 10.4" transflective screens, & in my favorite possition, portrait mode


    before & after pictures:

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  2. #2
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    I started this project by buying a new bezel for his car from nissan... this was necissary for 2 reasons, 1, that he needed to use his car in the weeks it would take me to build this, & 2, he is located in texas & I'm in ny....

    this bezel comes from nissan painted the color of the dash... I decided early on that for me to have this look 100% perfect, my first goal is to maintain the factory finish.... had I decided to just graft it into the bezel & then paint the whole bezel, I'm sure I could have got it to look great, but not anywhere near as factory as I could if I kept the original finish & texture.... this bezel has a really deep checkerboard type patterned texture.... to match it would be impossible, & if I did graft it in, I'd wind up having to smooth the whole thing.... would have looked nice too, but more custom than factory....

    in order for me to be able to maintain the factory finish, I have to actually build the bezel for my screen outside of the factory bezel.... all of my sanding, priming & spraying will happen totally seperate from the factory piece, but in the end it will have to fit perfectly togeather & ultimately end up as one piece...

    I first start with a trim piece from some donor laptop/tablet/whatever.... this is only used to give me my final screen opening... the screen opening is critical, & whenever any bodywork is done, this edge off the opening MUST BE PROTECTED... if you nick this edge even slightly you'll never be able to get it to look as perfect... this is one of the most important parts of building any bezel... avoid even touching this edge untill final prep... you should build up no excess material on this edge too, a couple of coats of primer & then sanding, then a coupla coats of paint, & you'll wind up with a buildup that takes away the crispness..... protect the edge..

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  3. #3
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    I needed to pull a mould... I wrapped the factory dash bezel with tin foil, as it is easily formable, thin & does this job well... I don't use bondo or fiberglass, they are not apropriate materials for a bezel, sure many guys use it, & some even get good finished products, but in order for a bezel to be perect it should be done with a material that is close in properties to the material being worked with... in the case of a bezel, your fabrication should remain as flexable as the original... what I use is 2 different materials... the first is called dynatron, it is a 2 part epoxy type product that dries very strong... it dries with most of the properties of plastic... it expands & contracts through temp extremes the same as plastic, & it is just as flexable as plastic.... this product is used by professional bodymen to repair plastic bumpers & such, & is available at bodyshop supply stores... this is used to give me my basic mould, & graft the screen trim to my newly forming bezel...


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    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    ... filling the void that I created with the tinfoil..

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  5. #5
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    after this stuff drys like 15 minutes I can fold the tin foil back & pop it out, & I have something to work with... in like 15 min this stuff is dry enough to handle, but soft enough to sand & shape easily... as it sets up it gets harder & harder to sand, so do all of your rough shaping while it's still fresh.... cleaning up the piece to remove the foil...

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    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    my first moulded layer is the only layer that I let get totally hard before any shaping... my main concern there was to have it set up in the right shape, so i had to get it back in, positioned & braced to dry overnight..

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  7. #7
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    ....

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  8. #8
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    a rough cut to shape it, then apply another coat to shape a bit more.... rough shaping, test fitting... I guess it's hard to explain the whole thing, but the pictures should help... all of this rough sanding is done with 36 grit paper.... really rough stuff.... one of the biggest mistake most guys do with there bezels is there afraid to use corse paper.... 100 grit & up will NOT be good for any sort of shaping at all really... you shouldn't think of using anything80 grit & up until the shape is perfect, the piece is as flat & contoured as you need it to be.... well, the pictures should show what i mean...


    after I have a good rough shape, by rough shape I mean a good fit, & an even straight piece, I then move onto the second material I use, which is a product by 3m... it is similar to my first product, but it is a bit softer & easier to final shape & finish... it does not have the structural strength of the first product, but at this stage it is not necissary, my base is already solid & strong.... this layer is kinda used the way a softer putty or glaze coat would be used in conventional bodywork... I would never use any sort of polyester putty on a piece like this, it is just not as compatable, it does not flex & expand/contract the same, & it can actually crack..... not what I'm using though, there is no chance of cracking or anything with this stuff...

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  9. #9
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    more shaping, apply another layer, shape some more... it will get to the point that it will only need addl material in maybe a few small spots.... at this point, I still haven't used anything but 36grit really rough stuff... it is not necissary to start to smooth until the piece is really ready to be smoothed...

    of course I constantly test fit & alter accordingly... I need this bezel to fit perfect, there are a few complicated curves & angles involved here, & patience is the key.... anyone can do this if they have enough patience & don't move onto the next step until the current step is as good as you can do it....

    once I have a nice fit & everything is straight & there are no high spots or low spots, THEN I can move onto lighter papers... 100 followed by 180..... I will use no other cheater products like puttys or anything, the only materials are the 2 repair products I mentioned, then primer...

    now primer is also miss-used, as a lot of guys will use the primer to fill, which is a good thing, but they usually leave way to much primer on the whole piece.... primer is soft..... too much primer & you'l be able to stick you fingernail into it & make an impression even months later... the right way to use primer to fill, is to sand the bulk of the primer off between coats... IE; 2 nice coats of primer... let it dry.... sand it & shape it further, sanding through the primer... in most spots the primer will come off.... that's fine... we have more... when you first wet the piece with primer it will be the first time you will actually be able to see your shape, learn to feel the shape before you see it... every time you touch the piece with sandpaper you are shaping the piece... if you just hold a piece of sandpaper & press it with your finger you'll get streaks from your fingertips... learn to keep flat even preasure... you are shaping... you want to shape it flat... run your hands over it... does it feel smooth & flat or does it have a dip?

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  10. #10
    Super Moderator. If my typing sucks it's probably because I'm driving.... turbocad6's Avatar
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    prime again.... the voids & low spots still have primer from the first round.... sand again... the low spots will retain primer.... this is the fill.... when my piece is ready for paint the overall film thickness of primer is minimal, even sanded through at spots.... the really low spots will have a bit more buildup as necissary... the end result is silky smooth perfectly flat... or at least it should be

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