PDA

View Full Version : Making new instrument panel



BrianK
03-20-2006, 09:13 PM
I am going to make a new instrument panel for my Clipper soon so I can rearrange some things and do an IFR upgrade. On all of the panels I have done in the past I have drawn them in AutoCad and had them cut out of .090 aluminum sheet with a CNC turret punch by a company we use at work.

The Clipper panel is a little different because it is thinner and formed with a bent back curve at the top and thetop of the dash screws down to it. I think I have two options and I really don't like either one. The first option is to punch the panel out of the thinner material (it needs to be punched before it is bent) then make myself some form blocks and bend the curve in the top with a mallet and fluting pliers. I don't like this idea for a few reasons. I like panels made out of a little thicker material, it will be a real pain to make the forming block and do the bending, and it will give me a radiused bend at the top which will really interferres with the walnut veneer I plan to put on the panel.

The second method would be to punch a flat panel out of the thicker material then cut off the radiused top of the old panel and use a bunch of screws to screw the top of the new panel to the old one. This method really doesn't appeal to me either.

Anyone have any comments or other suggestions?

I am also assuming that making the panel with the bent thinner material like the old one would be easier to get the FAA to give a field mod for. Can anyone that has done a new panel give me some comments on how it went with the feds?

13010
03-20-2006, 09:35 PM
I haven't done this since the "kinder and Gentler" FAA but I did it similat to you suggest. I used 1/2 X 1/2 aluminium angle to form the lip. The curve I am de by snipping out Vees. I flush riveted the angleto the panel. Using the old panel would work, but you might want to keep it. I used the original panel bottom part riveted to the new panel.
Used to be the FAA was looking for basic "T" instrument layout and structurally OK. They are not as concerned with the panel if it is not structural (as far as the aircraft structure is concerned).
Ask the FAA inspector. You can complete the 337 and attach a drawing as you intend to construct it and submit if for approval before you start.

taildraggerpilot
03-20-2006, 11:19 PM
If you have a shrinker, you can form a new angle to fit the contour of the panel.

13010
03-21-2006, 02:01 PM
The shrinker would make it a lot prettier and more professional. If you can heliarc well you can weld the flange on. The panel cover will cover this area. In the original the boot cowl attaches here. On my 1950 Pacer I cut this out like the later Tri-Pacer so I could have access th the behind the panel and raised the top of the panel for more instrument room. I fabricated the instrument cover from aluminum after using cardboard cut to fit for a template. I used rivnuts set in the flange to tie it in. Remember to level the airplane to set the panel "square" for the gyros.
I used 5053 h ?? which is a weldable alloy ( If I remember correctly).

BrianK
03-21-2006, 09:59 PM
I thought about cutting the curve off the old panel and welding it to the new one, but I was figuring that it was probably 2024 or something that could not be welded. I do have a shrinker and that does sound like a good idea. With a thicker panel I could use flush rivets or weld it. I guess I could even flush rivet it to the old panel if shrinking the angle didn't work good. I think I have a plan now.

I kind of like the idea of maybe changing the shape a little bit and then cutting a new sheet for the top of the dash if that will make the layout better.

13010
03-21-2006, 10:29 PM
Before you cut it out try making a cardboard template layout with your instruments laid out where you want them. Make sure that there is no interference with the working parts behind the panel. While you are at it you can center stack your radios. Look back in the postings for some other threads on panels. There are a few pictures also.
J.D.

taildraggerpilot
04-12-2006, 07:23 PM
Attached are a couple pics of my new instrument panel. I designed it with a CAD program and had a company cut it out with a Water Jet machine. The thing is perfect. The blemishes around the holes are where the media abraded the clad, but the holes are indeed perfect. The panel was cut from .080 2024-T3 sheet. It is the same height as the original panel, but I just removed the bump from the panel.

sdtripacer
04-12-2006, 09:36 PM
Ben:
Look's great. You are certainly doing things right. Can't wait to see photos of the finished product.

MikeM
04-12-2006, 11:48 PM
What's the big rectangular cutout on the left side for?
Similarly, what's the long rectangular one at the lower right?

kindel
04-12-2006, 11:54 PM
Hi Brian,
I have punched a few panels out myself! (aprox. 3000).
Most were flat, however I did run into this problem before. I made one out of a sheet of aluminum that was soft, (T-0) Its a lot easier to form. You need to slow the punch down and spray some solvent on the top, but it came out OK.
Then heet treat it.
If you put it directly into a freezer after the heet treat, it will stay soft, and make it easy to form around a form block. We would use a lead bar to smack the flange down over the form block, this worked really good because the lead bar would form to the curve that you were smacking.



P.S. Would I do it again?......... No, I would use the flush rivots Idea and knotch the angle!

Mike

taildraggerpilot
04-13-2006, 04:23 PM
What's the big rectangular cutout on the left side for?
Similarly, what's the long rectangular one at the lower right?

The left side is for switches and the right lower slot is for circuit breakers. The cover plates were also cut with the water jet, but are not shown.

p_everette
04-13-2006, 07:14 PM
That is a great looking panel! I am looking to do the same with my Tri Pacer. Any chance of getting a copy of your cad drawing? I have access to a water jet but couldn't fill a bottle cap with my knowledge of Auto Cad.

Phil

idahopacer
05-07-2006, 11:03 PM
Look in the Oct. '98 AOPA Pilot mag. They did the Timeless Tri-Pacer as a give away
that year and this issue was the panel re-do and it is a beautiful job, I'm using some of their ideas on my panel. Suprised no one else brought this up.

Bob

Don Petty
05-08-2006, 08:37 PM
For the very best panel look at Jim Younkin's Mystery Pacer in the March 1989 issue of Sport Aviation. Yes I have a copy of the article!
My panel copies his and I have photos I tried to post on the Flying Pictures Forum but they take up too many Mbytes! Send me your e-mail address and I will forward a copy to you.
Don

BrianK
05-08-2006, 10:48 PM
Can you send me a copy at brian@engalt.com. Thanks.

Wayne
05-28-2006, 10:00 PM
I have done major panel mods on both my Navion and my PA22/20. Both were upgrades to IFR panels. On the Navion I cut out all of the panel except the portionswhich attached ro structural panel supports, The portion that supported the yokes and portions of the top which curvedover and attached to the fusloge under the front window. I made the new panel in 4 pieces. the joints were made at the radio racks where almost no metal is left anyway and to facilitate an angled engine instrument panel at the far right. I powder coated the panels and the heads of the 6-32 and 8-32 flat head fillips stainless screws I used to mount it with. I used .090 aluminum which was hevier metal thenwhat was origionally there.
Because I didn't change the structural integraty of the panel, used thicker metal to compinsate for installing more instruments closer together thus weakening the panel
and didn't installany panel mount IFR GPS units (which do require a 337 form) both my IA and the radio shop said I didn't need to do a field approval, that this is only a minor mod. requiring only a log book entry.
On the Pacer I didn,t change the gyro instrument panel nore the engine instruments. I re-worked the radio stack and about half the panel to the right of the stack. This was also concidered by the radio shop and my IA a minor mod and thus only requiring a log book entry.
Also, a friend of mine with far more IFR flight time than I have gave me a couple panel layout suggestions. First, mount all of your switches just below the glare shield rather then across the bottom of the panel. When flying along in turbulance and you reach up to tune a radio or a vor and hit a bump and your hand slams down and turns off your radio master and your pito heat and you don't notice it for 15 min. when you think gee i haven,t heard from that controller for tooooooo long. Far better to have the switches accross the top and accidently turn on your overhead light or something.

GalaxyDrvr
05-30-2006, 09:30 PM
Bob,
By the way, how has that A2B I sold you a couple of years ago working out for you? Well, I trust?
Neal Thompson
N8638C

clprcpt
06-13-2006, 10:14 PM
Hi Brian, I've just finished a new panel for a Clipper, not IFR, but replacing the original panel that had been modified (but not well by any means!). Anyway, I "cheated" and cut the curved top from the old panel and flush riveted to the new thicker panel which was then powder-coated when done.

2wRanches
06-24-2006, 08:05 PM
Attached are a couple pics of my new instrument panel. I designed it with a CAD program and had a company cut it out with a Water Jet machine. The thing is perfect. The blemishes around the holes are where the media abraded the clad, but the holes are indeed perfect. The panel was cut from .080 2024-T3 sheet. It is the same height as the original panel, but I just removed the bump from the panel.
Hello Ben Taildragger
I have read with great interest and viewed your new Panel. I am battling my way through a resteration of a 1958 Tri-pacer that I am going to convert to a tail dragger. Is there any chance of obtaining a copy of the drawing or disc for your new panel. I don't know of any water jet machines up here in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but I am sure we are not all that backward up here and I should be able to find one. I would be very appreciative if your could share your expert knowledge. Thanks Bill