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  #1  
Old 05-15-2005, 10:16 AM
bobclose bobclose is offline
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Building Center Console

I have an old 20' Sabre Fan Tail. The original center console was stolen (???) and replaced with a plywood version. Its ugly and square - it dont belong there - well you know the rest of the song......

Im too cheap to buy a new console and would really like to build my own. I have no experience with fiberglass but lots with wood working. Can anyone here help me with a design?

Should I use marine plywood and cover with FG or will the plywood be good? If I use FG, how do you get it smooth?

What angle should the steering controls be mounted?

Is there a more economical solution? Am I biting off more than I can chew with the FG? Would I have more luck smoking crack?

Thanks for your help,

Bob
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  #2  
Old 05-15-2005, 11:09 AM
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Corpus Skipper Corpus Skipper is offline
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'Glass over plywood is probably the easiest and cheapest solution. AC exterior will work fine. I'd cover it with 2 layers of light cloth inside and out, then "hot coat" it with resin mixed with surfacing agent (wax) for an easily sandable surface if you want it slickety smooth. The hot coat also helps ensure the thing will be totally sealed. Then paint to match. As far as design, get in the boat with a tape measure, angle guage (a protractor will do), and your imagination and draw up your console. Think about if you'll be sitting or standing to drive, what kind of storage you'll want, instruments, electronics, binnacle or side mount controls, seat in the front, livewell, drink holders, grab rails, and on and on.....
One other thing, before you 'glass it, radius all the corners (about 3/8") with a router or by hand if you're steady with a grinder. This really makes the thing look good and is all you need to avoid the "box" look. Put a few degrees of angle inward from bottom to top and it'll really look good. A little harder to build but well worth it. Good luck
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Old 05-15-2005, 11:24 AM
bobclose bobclose is offline
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Thx Craig.

Should I use 3/4" AC or smaller? What is hot mix?

thanks,

Bob
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  #4  
Old 05-15-2005, 01:49 PM
kmorin kmorin is offline
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Console design

bobclose,
sometimes helm designs get built before they're really finalized because you get the sketch done and don't mock them up. The old "it looked good on paper" deal. I suggest it might be worth the time to get some cardboard, tape & razor knife and tack up a design; mock it up in cardboard w/ taped joints.

I agree with Corpus Skipper that taper in body section is nice looking, but I also think that the forward panel sloping aft a few inches lends to better seating forward and looks better for similiar reasons. If you'll have a seat or locker/seat infront of the console then that slope might begin just above the seat plane and continue to the top forward edge.

Tape and cardboard allow you to walk around the model/mockup before you spend the time to cut plywood and mix the resin. If the battery will be stowed below the main body of the console and wiring will run to the side or stern you can also take this time to understand how you'll need to accomodate the instruments, wheel and engine controls.

If you have the wheel you can stand with the helm in your hands and make decisions about the angle of the console top. With a cooler and some floats or life jackets as a seat you can make good decisions about how that same helm will sit. Once the entire cardboard mock up is taped it will hold a wheel by taping a pc of 1x2 or 1x4 across the top of the console with a small nail of screw to hang the wheel on. This means you could stand and sit without holding the wheel but still test the two positions if they're going to be important.

If you're going to have a wind screen that frame is probably easier in aluminum bolted onto the top. These can be welded or mitered from extrusions shaped for this purpose. The mitered shapes require some type of corner reinforcement drilling & tapped into the metal. Most often they require a special extrusion of rubber that holds the glass and would have to be purchased with that manufacturer's aluminum framing. I suggest that you consider a wind screen base at the forward top edge of the console if you'll have a windsheild. This is most often a flat 3 or 4" fore and aft the forward edge is the front of the console and the after edge the top of the sloped top where the instruments and wheel is located.

Some designs raise this wind screen base a few inches (4-6") and mount the instruments along this raised (vertical) plane. In this configuration the instruments are more vertical and may have a 'shade' overthem by extending the top surface (now raised above the top of the console) aft an inch or two.

When mocking up in paper I think its worth the time to put a ridgid bottom or shelf a few inches from the bottom to give the box more stiffness and make it more easily free standing. I usually work in welded aluminum and live in AK where its accepted you WANT a wind shield- but I've sure used this method to confirm size and function of the control station- many times. Most often avoiding mistakes like no room for the steering cable turn radius inside a console, wheel too close to the shift or other commonly made errors.

for rough dimensions why not take your tape measure to a boat lot and do some "tire kicking?

Cheers,
kmorin
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  #5  
Old 05-15-2005, 10:33 PM
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Corpus Skipper Corpus Skipper is offline
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Good advice from Kmorin. Hot mix or hot coat is simply poly or vinylester resin with a surfacing agent which is a liquid wax concoction that allows laminating resin to cure tack free and sand easily. I hot coat things so I can sand them smooth before painting without cutting into the fiberglass and creating a bunch of pores, which the hot coat also mostly eliminates.
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  #6  
Old 05-16-2005, 01:39 AM
yokebutt yokebutt is offline
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Bob,
I definitely second the idea of making a mock-up from cardboard or doorskin or whatever you happen to have handy. (Hot-melt glue is great for that)

Just to give you some options to consider, I'll tell you how to build a fiberglass version of the console, it probably isn't any cheaper or quicker than the plywood version, nor will it be a hell of a lot better, but, it will reduce the sanding and fairing by quite a bit.

You start by building a female mold, ie, you build the console, but with the right shape on the inside rather than the outside from melamine coated particle-board. Then you use light-weight body filler and a radius tool (a stick of wood rounded at the end) to make fillets of desired size. Once the fillets are lightly sanded to shape, żou wax the surface several times with mold-release wax, then you paint the surface of the mold with gelcoat a couple of times until you've built up a reasonable thickness. After the gel is cured up a bit, (say overnight) you build up the actual part with fiberglass and resin, you can use core-mat or thin plywood to stiffen up large flat areas. (See the DIAB website for a primer on cored laminates)

When the fiberglass is fully cured up you disassemble the mold and pull the part out, the corners will probably need a bit of sanding and polishing, so make sure you have enough gelcoat in those areas, but other than that, it should be just about ready to install.

A couple of more details, I'd suspect that you want a glass thickness in the neighborhood of 1/8" to 3/16" thickness, but do make some test panels the length of the biggest flat area first, both to practice fiberglassing and to find out how much stiffness you need, another good thing to do is to put a couple of inches of flange on the open end (the bottom) of the mold, so you have something to fasten it to the floor through, although it may be easier to glass in place after making the main part.

Whatever method you choose, Good luck!

Yokebutt.
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  #7  
Old 05-16-2005, 06:22 AM
yokebutt yokebutt is offline
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And, if you want it lookin' real perfessonal like, you can wet-sand it 600-800-1000 grits and then polish with rubbing compound.

Yokebutt.
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  #8  
Old 05-16-2005, 10:19 AM
tom28571 tom28571 is offline
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If there are to be instruments on the console, I like to make a bottom hinged panel for them. This allows installing or replacing them and doing wiring work while not lying on your back and trying to decipher a rats nest of wire. Works for me.
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