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Thread: First Time Fab - 2003 Ford Explorer - Please help! - A lot of pictures...

  1. #1
    Constant Bitrate diosagain's Avatar
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    First Time Fab - 2003 Ford Explorer - Please help! - A lot of pictures...

    UPDATE FEB 21, 2007
    I am way past my first intial help question, but if you are reading this for the first time you can track the progress of my 2003 Ford Explorer LCD fabrication with a factory oem look and an indash computer right behind it. Feel free to read and comment or just look at the pictures.
    ************************************************** *********

    **Original Post**____________________________________________

    Let me start off by saying the forums are great and from what I read over the last couple months everyone seems really helpful. With that said, I am open to all opinions and am open to any help you can provide. I am a first time CarPC builder and definitely a NOOB when it comes to Cars in general. I have a lot of experience building PCs, but not in this fashion. Anyway, here is the problem. I started off wanting to build an In-Dash PC and don't know if I can go that route anymore. I purchased the Metra dash kid for my 2003 ford explorer and a Lilliput 629 LCD. I started Dremeling the bezel and realized that its going to need a ton of work to get into the spot that I wanted. I then had dremel the bottom of the Metra kit so I can push the LCD between the Bezel and the Metra Kit.

    Pictures Below:








    Besides the fact that I still have to glue it all together this was just a test run to see if everything would fit in the double din spot of my Explorer. It turned out that this plastic piece between the radio and the two HVAC vents was bumping up against the bottom portion of the LCD screen that was hanging out of the bottom of the Metra Kit and Bezel. I then got dremel happy and sanded that black middle piece down so that everything can fit in the double din slot. I realize now I might of dremeled this down a little to much. There is now a significant gap between this plastic middle piece and the bezel and metra kit. My problem is that I was going to build this CarPC in-dash and now it seems that I am going to have to Bondo/Sand/Prime/Paint this middle piece and the Metra/Bezel/LCD into one piece so that it can still look factory. The problem with that is if I merge these into one piece then the brackets for the metra kit will be pushed right up against the black middle piece and I won't be able to secure the in-dash pc like I would a factory radio because the "merged" dash and LCD will be in the way and I won't be able to attach the fabricated case to the LCD and the metra kit. It seems I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. Please any suggestions or help would be greatly appreciated.

    Here is the LCD and the dash together. You should be able to see clearly the gap between the black middle piece and metra kit. You should also be able to how my Dash kit mounts are on the bottom and not the side like other cars and it seems I won't be able to build a an indash pc if I now how to bondo the screen to the middle piece for a good clean factory look. Please disregard the tape as nothing is glued just yet. This was just a test run to see if it will work.







    Here is the dash before and after I dremeled that middle piece so that the LCD would be able to go into the dash as there wasn't room with it sticking out before.






    What I would like to accomplish is a good clean factory look for the screen and dash but also be able to connect that metra kit to a custom indash pc case. With my situation I just don't know if that is going to be able to happen now. Thanks for any and all help! Special thanks to Joe's post for being my indash pc inspiration.

    Complete bolt in Screen/CPU/HD/PS - indash

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    Constant Bitrate diosagain's Avatar
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    Further update.

    Well, after further consideration I think am stuck just epoxying the metra kit and the lcd bezel right into the dash. I will then FB resin the areas with gaps in them. I masking taped the rest off and already started the glue process. What I think I am going to do is still build an Indash pc using another metra kit but just grinding that one down to the point where it can lay flush against my new built-in lcd in the dash. I think this is the only way I can do it. If anyone has any other suggestions please let me know. Here are two pics of the dash taped off and then one with the metra kit epoxyed into the dash. After that I will then expoxy the LCD bezel inside the metra kit.




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    my question is how the hell did u fit that screen above the little bar? i have a 2002 mountaineer and my bezel is the same as urs and i had to cut that little bar off to fit my screen which i just bondo'd in. But now i cant fit my fans back in. Ok i think i just figured out my own question i put the screens original cover in which is much bigger then the screen itself.

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    Constant Bitrate diosagain's Avatar
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    Reponse

    I thought about just removing the middle black bar entirely also, but the clip that holds the fans is on it. If I remove it then there is nothing to latch the fans onto. So instead what I did was grind/sand the black middle peice down a little with my Dremel, so that the Metra trim kit, my modified bezel, and when the lcd goes in it would butt right up against it basically becoming the bottom of the frame around the LCD screen. I hope that was clear enough. I would love to see a picture how yours turned out.

    -R

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    o i think im just gonna build a grate over the middle to make it look like i have a fan cuz the fan still works but it just looks stupid. or option 2 is that i can just cut the top part of the fan and it would still look fine but im not sure if it would fit and i dont really wanna cut it off if it doesnt fit.

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    Constant Bitrate diosagain's Avatar
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    I have officially reached the "what the hell did I get myself into" part of fabricating. I used lightweight bondo to build up around the frame of the trim kit and the bezel. I really don't know how guys get such perfect edges. Its so hard to get in between the little nooks with 40 grit sand paper. I really hope this comes out nice, but at this point I am not so confident. I also don't know how people apply the bondo so smoothly. I guess I just have to keep sanding and then sand some more. Tomorrow I will apply another coat of bondo and then see where I am at. I did notice that while sanding I cut into the side of the tape and now have to bring my bondo up even higher then originally thought. Otherwise I will have to paint the whole thing black and don't really want to do it. I guess I will just see how bad it is after I take off the tape. I still don't know if I am going to be able to fit a indash computer behind this screen yet either, but I guess one thing at a time. Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I can use some at this point.


    Here is the bondo before sanding:



    Here is the bondo after first round of 40 grit sanding:

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    Newbie kftqq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diosagain View Post
    I have officially reached the "what the hell did I get myself into" part of fabricating. I used lightweight bondo to build up around the frame of the trim kit and the bezel. I really don't know how guys get such perfect edges. Its so hard to get in between the little nooks with 40 grit sand paper. I really hope this comes out nice, but at this point I am not so confident [...] Any help or suggestions would be greatly appreciated as I can use some at this point.
    Let me preface this by saying that I have not bondoed a bezel into my dash (yet), but I have used it for years for repairing surfing/windsurfing boards... The trick to it is just apply it in loads of layers, until you get the hang of it...

    For your first layer, I always find it easiest only apply enough filler to fill any gaps that exist. That way there's little (if any) sanding to do (though you do need to give it a light sand to allow the next layer to stick well). Once the gaps are filled, you'll have a really good base on which to apply subsequent layers. If you're trying to get a nice straight surface between two edges, use a squeegie or a steel rule, and simply scrape all the excess bondo off. This will usually leave little pits and puckers in the bondo, but if you do it really slowly and have the squeegie nearly parallel with the direction you're pulling it (see attached image) it comes out ok.

    Once this layer dries, it's just a matter of giving it a quick sand and then apply a very thin layer of bondo (maybe 2) in order to get a perfect surface finish.
    Then lots of wet and dry with a fine grit, prime, paint and serve.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Constant Bitrate diosagain's Avatar
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    OK, I bought all the squeegee's i could possibly need. I can't wait to get home and apply the other coat of bondo. I also bought Fiberglass Resin Jelly. Do you think I should use this instead of the lightweight bondo? I know a lot of people on the boards are against lightweight bondo because it cracks. I tried the FB resin jelly on the back and it seems like its stronger but even more of a pain in the *** to sand. My fingertips are all cut up from sanding arleady. I should have more pictures tonight.

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    i wish i had a place to put my mac mini in my dash so i could pop DVDs and CDs in easy (not that i do but it would be nice to be able to). Also i have the electronic AC unit at the bottom and i guess id rather have that there then the mac mini.

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    Newbie kftqq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diosagain View Post
    OK, I bought all the squeegee's i could possibly need. I can't wait to get home and apply the other coat of bondo. I also bought Fiberglass Resin Jelly. Do you think I should use this instead of the lightweight bondo? I know a lot of people on the boards are against lightweight bondo because it cracks. I tried the FB resin jelly on the back and it seems like its stronger but even more of a pain in the *** to sand. My fingertips are all cut up from sanding arleady. I should have more pictures tonight.
    In retrospect I would have advised you to start off with the resin (reinforced with fibreglass) to fill the gaps and get the rough shape... Then finished off with the lightweight bondo to get a nice finish.

    What I would do in your current situation is as follows: If you think that you can get a complete layer of resin and fibreglass over the existing bondo and over onto the bezel/centre console, then do this. It will strengthen it up no end and should prevent cracking. However, if you're just covering a little bit of the bondo and not the whole area, I can't see the point of doing it as it'll do very little to reduce the cracking and just be a nightmare to sand, I should imagine... Have a search and see what other people are doing... (I'd do it myself but it's bedtime!!!)

    Oh and if the resin is just resin (without fibreglass reinforcement) I'd save yourself the time and effort and just stick with the bondo, as resin by itself cracks just as easily...

    Happy sanding!!!!!!!!!!!

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