Custom Dashboard in one afternoon

As an installer/fabricator you must continually add to your skill set just as you do your tools. The more skills you master, the faster you will be; and, we all know that time is money. In the following images you will see the dashboard of a Chevy S10 Z71 being modified to hold a Lilliput touchscreen monitor, an equalizer, and a DIN head unit in place of the center dash vents. The heating controls have been relocated to the center console to accommodate for this modification. Now, the quote for this dash to be done is the same whether it takes me one day or three. So, obviously being able to get it done in one day is much more profitable than three. I hope this helps some of you understand how easily you can make this happen with just some basic skills and knowledge.

The number one reason most people cannot do these types of modifications has nothing to do with skill but rather knowledge. They do not know where to get the materials they need or they try to do the job with inferior products. The following items will be needed for this project:

1. Airsaw, jigsaw or Dremel,

2. Medium thickness CA Glue and activator,

3. Duraglass heavy weight body filler (any body shop),

4. Rage Gold Extreme light weight body filler (any body shop),

5. ABS plastic 12" x 12",

6. Sand paper 80, 120, 210, 320 grit,

7. Primer fill (any body shop),

8. SEM texture spray (any body shop),

9. SEM color match (any body shop).

First, the dash removed. The time is 10:30 A.M.

Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon

Begin by cutting the opening to the size needed to hold the equipment. Then, using strips of the ABS plastic, LCD frame and CA glue to fill the edges so they are square. It will look like a mess and that's just fine. Your just roughing in the new areas. The time is now 12:13 P.M.

Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon

Now break out the Duraglass and Rage Gold Extreme to start building up the areas and shaping the dash. On a piece this small, there is no reason to use spreading paddles. Just put on gloves and use your fingers to get the material on the piece. Once its cured, sand it down and you should have something like what you see below. The time is now 1:33 P.M.

Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon

After you are happy with the smoothness of your part, you can then shoot it with a coat of primer. This will allow you to see all the imperfections that you still have to attend to. The time is now 2:55 P.M. 

Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoone Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon

Once you have corrected the flaws that were present in the primer you can then lay down a coat of colored primer that closely resembles the color of the dash. You may still have some slight imperfections, but the SEM texture spray will cover those. The time is 4:16 P.M.

Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon

Time to test fit the products before doing the texture spray and color matching. Everything looks good and after a couple coats of texture spray and color matching you can reinstall the dash in the morning. The time is 4:55 P.M.

Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon Custom Dashboard in One Afternoon

Now, obviously, if you are willing to work until 9 P.M. or so, you could have the dash done and installed, which equates to a $1,200 quote and, after materials, $1,100 profit in one afternoon by one person. Now, imagine if your shop had four guys that could do this for you daily. Knowledge is key to all things and with the correct knowledge and skills a shop can do very well for themselves.

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