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Author Topic: Any suggestions for fasteners to build an wood dash?  (Read 4119 times)
belfert
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« on: July 05, 2010, 09:05:40 AM »

I am building a wood dash for my bus.  One of the issues I am running into is how to fasten things together in a way I could get it back apart later if necessary.  I also need to be able to attach the hoses from the defrost to vents I am building into the dash.  There is kinda a hood that opens in the front of the bus that allows some access, but not a lot.

Any suggestions?  I am including a picture of the area I need to cover.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2010, 10:08:01 AM »

What kind of wood - eg chunks of timber or sheet material? How will the wood be finished - eg. will it be covered in cloth or some sort, or will the wood itself be visible? (please don't say it's going to be varnished oak). Can the fastenings be visible, or even be made into a feature - eg brass woodscrews (horrible, horrible). Or would you rather the fastenings be hidden or invisible? Is this the entire structure of the dashboard we're talking about, or just a removable panel? Lastly, how often will access be required - for routine maintenance, or theoretically never (ie. only when something has gone wrong at some point in the future).

Jeremy
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2010, 12:51:51 PM »

I left out a few details.  The plan is to make sort of a U shape as the dash needs to be taller than the metal framework to accomodate the defroster ductwork.  My thought is use a combination of plywood and solid wood.  The flat piece across the top would be solid due to exposed edges.  I plan to use pocket screws where possible.  Yes Jeremy, I am planning to make this from oak.

I would like to find some sort of hidden fastener that could be removed only if necessary for repairs.  I would include a photo of a rough sketch I made, but I can't find my camera battery charger.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2010, 01:27:28 PM »

My old Mercedes (RIP) had swathes of real wood on the dash and doors.   The door cappings had simple push-on clips glued to their back sides that popped into holes in the door inner panels, so they were easy to R&R.   The dash's wood was secured by threaded studs, again glued to the back sides, that went through holes in the dash structure and had nylon/plastic knurled thumb nuts holding them in place.   I removed and reattached some of this wood at different times without too much bother.

One safety factor to consider:  Mercedes realized that real wood can splinter in a bad accident, so they also used to laminate thin metal onto the back sides of the wood to make it less dangerous in a crash.   My car predated this new-fangled safety nonsense, instead relying on Teutonic massive over-engineering as a way to insure its occupants' safety!

You may also want to think about how to preserve the wood in such a hostile environment.   Even UV-resistant varnishes don't last that long when next to a windshield.   Perhaps the vintage car and wooden boat folk have some ideas for this.

John
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« Reply #4 on: July 05, 2010, 01:45:41 PM »

The idea of threaded studs with nuts might work out pretty good.  I'll have to check if there would be clearance to get to them to tighten or loosen them.  It is raining pretty good right now so I can't go look at the moment.

I'm open to other suggestions besides oak for a dash.  I already destroyed the original fiberglass dash removing it so no going back to the original.  Would something covered in vinyl or something be better?  The sun beats down through the huge windshields every day

There is sorta a firewall below the dash that is covered with a thick rubber material (Like a floor covering).  I was going to put oak wainscoating on there like I plan for the rest of the bus some day, but would that look bad if the dash isn't oak?  If the dash was covered in light gray would that clash with oak in the other areas of the bus?

I probably would have been better off leaving the original dash and covering it with vinyl, but hindsight is 20/20.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2010, 02:00:30 PM »

Brian, one of the big things to consider in wood construction, is wood movement.  You probably know this already, but we have some new members just starting their conversions - who may not. 

Wood expands/contracts, across the grain, with humidity.  That's why tabletops are fastened to the apron with buttons, figure 8 fasteners, or some such, and the reason raised panel doors are used.  The wide panel floats in a slot, so it can expand/contract, while the movement of the rails and stiles is minimal, so the way the door fits in the cabinet doesn't appear different summer/winter. 

If I recall, the number is approximately 1/8 inch for each foot of width (across the grain).

Although I really can't tell much from the picture, how about using a man-made product (medium density fiberboard, paralam).  Glue it up to a solid mass the size/shape you need, then form it with router, surform plane, rasps, etc.  Sand to about 150 grit, then laminate sheets of veneer (look at Sauers Veneer website for options).  You could get very fancy if you want.  That would take the wood movement out of the equation. 

Finish should have a lot of UV protection, or you could go with one of my favorite products -- General Finishes Arm-R-Seal.  The wood will change color over the years, (like Cherry matures), which you may like.

For fastening, my first reaction is threaded inserts, then screw the panel(s) to them with brass round-head machine screws.  Just my 1/50 of a dollar.

Arthur

 

   
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
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« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2010, 02:24:42 PM »

  Here's a picture of the dash in my Eagle I don't know if it help , but here ya go
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« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2010, 02:26:28 PM »

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« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2010, 02:41:49 PM »

Notwithstanding Eagle Andy's fine looking creation, I would strongly consider the benefits of using a cloth, vinyl or leather covering over your wooden dash - I suspect it will make all aspects of the job much easier, and there's nothing to stop you incorporating a bit of oak trim as well if you're keen on having some wood on the dash. This is pretty much what I plan to do with mine, except I won't be using oak...

It will be much quicker and easier to make the basic timber dash structure in the knowledge that the aesthetic quality of your woodwork won't be staring you in the face every time you drive the bus. The vinyl (or whatever) covering can be glued down fully over most of the surface, but with perhaps some areas held by trim clips (see pic below), so it can be partly peeled back to expose the timber (and screws / bolts) underneath when dis-assembly is required. Alternatively, as Iceni John suggested you could use the wooden trim pieces themselves as covers over the fastenings.



Jeremy

PS. I would agree with the comments about timber 'moving' in hot vehicles; I made a varnished timber lid for the centre console in one of my vehicles that matched the wood trim on the doors and around the gear stick etc; Looked ok for a year or so, but gradually the wood dried out and shrank, which made the glue joints open up.

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« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2010, 02:43:36 PM »

Actually you might try christmas trees like ACE used to hang ceiling
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« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2010, 02:47:50 PM »

The bad part about my dash is that the bottom of the windshield is lower than the edge of the firewall or whatever you want to call it.  I can't just go straight across like you did.  I actually need to go up to accomodate all of the defrost ductwork.  I wish it was as simple as going straight across.

Andy, how did you deal with the defrost ductwork and vents?  Also, did you use plywood for the top or solid wood?  It kinda looks like solid wood, buy I never know for sure.  Thanks for the pictures.

Arthur, wouldn't MDF be kinda heavy?  I would also worry about water if the windshield or anything ever leaked.  The only thing I have personally used MDF for is a countertop I made a dozen years ago.

I'm starting to think that vinyl for the dash with maybe laminate for the firewall might be better although Andy's dash is the look I was originally going for.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2010, 03:06:28 PM »

The problem with Christmas tree type fasteners is they are not intended to be reused.  I have reused them, but they aren't as tight the second time around.  I have also broken some of them off when removing them.  If the material is covering them then it is a pain to replace them.

I'll have to put some more thought into how this project is going to go together.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2010, 03:17:58 PM »

Yes, MDF or other manmade products would be heavy.  That's a down side.  The upside is that they're dimensionally stable, and can be "sculpted" with various tools.  You could build up a large blank, sculpt the showing side to what you need, veneer it, and remove part of the back (hidden) side to shave weight.  One other thing to note, such products are made with a large amount of glue, so tools dull quickly.    

If you were bending only in one plane, bendable plywood might be an option, but that won't work with compound curves.  To be fair, veneering isn't easy on flat planes, curves, especially compound curves, can be very difficult.  Since you want your veneer sheets to go cross-grain to the substrate, that complicates bendable plywood.  Since you also want to veneer both sides of the substrate for stability, that also complicates matters.  

To tell the truth, I'd look for the original part(s) from a scrapyard.  That area takes a beating from the elements, so painted metal (maybe powdercoated?) would be the most durable.  If there's a vocational school in your area, maybe the sheet metal class could fabricate something.  My second choice after paint would be vinyl.  We bought a roll of vinyl from a local fabric store, and we're using that (with 3M #90 spray adhesive) on the inside side panels - replacing the original vinyl.  We're trying to keep the 4107 as close to original as possible.

Arthur  

    
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Arthur Gaudet    Carrollton (Dallas area) Texas 
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« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2010, 03:33:34 PM »

Unfortunately, there are very few Dinas in scrap yards.  I know of two Dina buses that parts are being sold off of, but the dash is one huge piece that is basically impossible to remove without breaking.  It appears they fiberglassed two pieces of the dash together to make it look like one 8 1/2 foot wide dash.

There are vocational schools in the area, but I assume they are mostly closed for the summer.  Metal isn't a bad option other than trying to get it right the first time.  The curves that would be a bit hard to do in metal.

Keep the ideas coming.  I am hoping to have a design by this coming weekend so I can start construction.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #14 on: July 05, 2010, 03:57:09 PM »

brushed or spin etched alum: or wood stacked sideways( Horizontal) then cut out to make dash this was in a old issue of BC magazine and was awsome..lots of work but definitely a focus point...defroster outlets on your blower box? can they be relocated and longer flex hoses used to redirect flow to fan out close to windshield.?.simular to prevost set up.one bus nut even suggested using a vacum cleaner spread tool in reverse..fastners use screws thru snaps like on you jeans and button covers to match:I have them if you decide to do something like that and the machine to make covers..won't cost you a thing..you would need to mail me a piece of your interior.fabric if you want it to match..Bob
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« Reply #15 on: July 05, 2010, 04:07:11 PM »

The defroster already has flexible hoses from the defroster unit itself to the vents.  If you look at the picture I posted you'll see two of the four 4" outlets.  They are covered in blue tape right now to keep debris out of the unit.

I can't quite picture how the wood on edge would look.  I would buy the back issue if I had any idea what issue it is in.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #16 on: July 05, 2010, 05:32:51 PM »

If it were me I wouldn't be thinking of wood or metal to build the dash - much too difficult to get the curvy shape I'd want. My approach would involve a big block of foam, a bread knife, sandpaper and some fibreglass. A lot of time and a lot of dust later and you could have something like this:



Jeremy
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« Reply #17 on: July 05, 2010, 05:52:49 PM »

Someone on these boards some years ago had an Eagle with the complete dash out of a Volvo truck.  It was way cool!
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« Reply #18 on: July 05, 2010, 06:03:29 PM »

Brian,

I am currently redoing the front of my bus.  The original front was very dated and it is time for a more modern look.  With that said, I took out the POs wooden dash and I am going retro with an original instrument cluster as the centerpiece.  I opted to go with upholstery.  I went to a local auto upholstery shop thinking I would spend a little money to save a lot of time, but WOW was it going to be pricey.  I was quoted $4,000 with the possibility of hitting $5,000 if the shop ran into issues.  Keep in mind I am only doing the area from the rear of the driver's window and forward.  So far I have the door and the two panels below the dash completed.  It is turning out pretty good for my first time.  I am certain I can do a better job next time (the Prevost is next!).  I was able buy material to match my seats perfectly.  I used a place called Gary's Upholstery in Tampa.  I mailed him samples and he sent back several remnants for me to look at.  

I shot a quick video to capture what I have done so far and what I have left to complete.  The only challenge I see is the curved area under the instrument cluster.

MCI Upholstery Work

Brian S.
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« Reply #19 on: July 05, 2010, 06:12:29 PM »

If it were me I wouldn't be thinking of wood or metal to build the dash - much too difficult to get the curvy shape I'd want. My approach would involve a big block of foam, a bread knife, sandpaper and some fibreglass. A lot of time and a lot of dust later and you could have something like this:

What type of foam would one use for this?  I could see this being not too bad on passenger side, but I have to have a good size hole on the passenger side for all the wiring and such.  I've attached a photo of all the wiring under the dash.

I think a dash from a semi would take way too long to custom fit.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #20 on: July 05, 2010, 06:37:57 PM »

Well the defroster on the Eagle dash comes right up against the windshield like in a car and so they worked around them , I have a blower unit under the dash behind those doors and flex hose goes to each vent . The wood is solid birch. If you would like I can take some up close pictures . Good luck Andy
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« Reply #21 on: July 05, 2010, 06:48:59 PM »

Room for a 90?for defroster...maybe inside (smaller than Id) to cut down on height..or change to side discharge..just throwing out there.on ours I pad the original dash with quilt batting and covered with leather.the padding gives a cushion feeling and allows for tufting in any pattern you desire.can be stretched around and put under any shape...wood dash with leather over flat area in front of and passanger side down front. Ultra suade looks great also..combination is clean looking..
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« Reply #22 on: July 05, 2010, 07:15:52 PM »


If the old dash was fiberglass, why not just put it back together with some fiberglass.    And/or use it for the base to cover
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« Reply #23 on: July 05, 2010, 07:28:38 PM »

The original dash is in so many pieces now it could never be reassembled unfortunately.  It was neer intended for removal once installed.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #24 on: July 05, 2010, 08:11:23 PM »

belfert dont say it cant be reassembled fiberglass is easy to use i had my custom mirror riped from my pickup by a runaway mack
it was all over the road it now looks new again a trick i have used is to superglue small parts then fiberglass you can use screws
and strips of metal to hold things while you fiberglass then remove try it john
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« Reply #25 on: July 06, 2010, 01:18:51 AM »

What type of foam would one use for this? 


Standard polyurethane insulation foam sheets, sold by DIY shops. (Not polystyrene - that melts when touched by fibreglass resin). Note that the foam doesn't necessarily form part of the finished structure - it can all be removed if required once the fibreglassing is done, although leaving a layer of foam behind the glass where you have space to do so will add greatly to the stiffness of the fibreglass.

I just Googled to find a website that showed the technique (ie. carving foam and then fibreglassing), and amazingly came across a site where someone has actually made a dashboard this way. Note that this guy has used liquid-mix foam rather than foam sheet, which is another approach (but looks pretty scary in the early stages). You could equally well use the large aerosols of expanding foam also sold by DIY shops.

For the complete site from which the photos below come see http://englishrussia.com/index.php/2008/05/29/lithuanians-and-pu-foam/













Note that I'm not necessarily recommending you try this - it's a lot of messy work, and if you weren't confident about what you were doing might well leave you in a bigger hole than you are already. But it's interesting to know what's possible - you might for instance make the main structure of the dash out of wood as originally planned, but use foam in a small area where you needed a strange shape.

Jeremy
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« Reply #26 on: July 06, 2010, 07:36:34 AM »

Bontragers and rv surplus had complete dashes that were really nice set up with instrument clusters, I don't know what they want for them or what is set up as far as the instrument clusters were, I don't know what they were, but I noticed them and thought they looked kinda cool.  Probably from a monaco or something like that.
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« Reply #27 on: July 06, 2010, 09:45:41 AM »

Bontragers and rv surplus had complete dashes that were really nice set up with instrument clusters, I don't know what they want for them or what is set up as far as the instrument clusters were, I don't know what they were, but I noticed them and thought they looked kinda cool.  Probably from a monaco or something like that.

That is a good thought, but I expect the work required would be more than just building my own dash.  A further issue would be the fact that newer dashes tend to be electronic running off J1939 instead of discrete senders.  If I were to go this route I would probably go the local truck salvage place and pull a dash from a semi.  I'm not retired and right now I don't have time for a three day trip to Elkhart.

I'm going to post a new thread asking about upholstery.  I've never done it, but it can't be that hard can it?
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