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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
OK - so I see this carbon fiber dash panel on eBay for an 88, possibly later Esprit:

Lotus Esprit Carbon Fiber Dash Panels | eBay

Now, I've pulled my dash pod to upgrade to a mechanical vacuum/turbo gauge, so I know how the gauges install. Here's my take on this item:

UPDATE 4/8/14: In contact with seller, it looks correct as far as dimensions. The camera view are playing really weird tricks. While it doesn't change the original position of gauges,it's still an nice panel set.
 

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hmmm... I almost think it's just designed as an overlay. IE, it wouldn't replace your dash, but would stick to your panel with maybe double sided tape or some such... At least, then the holes would be large enough to just slip over your bezels without issue...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
hmmm... I almost think it's just designed as an overlay. IE, it wouldn't replace your dash, but would stick to your panel with maybe double sided tape or some such... At least, then the holes would be large enough to just slip over your bezels without issue...
ERROR:You were dead on - the seller confirmed to me that it's an overlay.

CORRECTION: seller clarified this is NOT an overlay. So I'm confused about the spacing - the panel is far too narrow compared to the original. Unless the side panels are extra think (which they appear).

Admittedly, the picture he sent me didn't look as flattering as a full panel REPLACEMENT. But certainly easier to install and great for anyone with an existing cracked wood dash.

So it won't obviously relocate the gauges lower - that was my primary reason to consider it.
 

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Hi.
What about the holes for the rheostats?
 

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Most of the time, the Flimsey Vac Formed Black IP Mask is not flat around the rectangular warning lights openings. It took a considerable amount of time to flatten bumps at the front and adjust the height of the extruded flanges at the back. If I had to do it for a second time, I would use a flat surface of my driveway instead of the large file.

Gauge holes in the FVFBIPM are not centered about the gauge bezels. I took another day and rounded file to even the gaps. Since one could see the un-painted metal fascia behind the mask I have painted 1/4" black rings around the gauge holes.

Usually, the FVFBIPM is wavey and does not stay flat whilst installed. Lotus tried to mitigate the issue by attaching a couple pieces of two way foam tape in the middle and on the sides. After 25 years of service, all what is left of it are a couple wet guey marks.
To give the FVFBIPM some uniform spacing and support, I have installed square buna-N O-rings (black) over the barrels of all gauges before re-installation to the metal IP panel. (I have removed all gauges for cleaning)
Here, you can buy them (I used 3/16", if I remember well).
McMaster-Carr
 

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Nice.
So you cut out the holes for the rheostats and other anomilies?
 

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Yes,
and I've made gauge holes "round" (again), when making them larger. If you use 3-D overlay vinyl you have to make holes larger by 1mm on the diameter (not per side!), to account for the additional material vinyl thickness.
Overlay does not stretch that much (especially the 3-D) and it has a "memory". Therefore you have to use a fast setting high viscosity super glue (Gorilla Glue*) for all toy-tabs, bends, corners and folds. Total cost under $50 + your time.

______________________
* There are two different glues (or more?) sold under the "Gorilla Glue" label.
The "super-glue" stuff, clear liquid in a small bottle, sets fast and dries up pclear.
The brown glue sold in larger bottles sets overnight, dries up white-ish and (surprisingly) "swells up" in the joint.
 

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I know the thread is dead but I thought I would put this hp/ere rather than making a new thread. I am building a set of fiber panels as my center panel was destroyed by a P/O and a sticker and some epoxy.... Crying shame as the wood had a sweet pattern. I had some fiber laying around. This is a temp as I may go back to wood if I ever wanted to restore it back to 100% stock but really this may live with the car a long time so I am doing it semi right. This piece could easily be wet sanded and polished but I am lazy and the weather isnt friendly to that sort of thing at the moment. This is 5 coats of lacker over sanded epoxy resin all the dips and such are mistakes as this is only my third fiber part. The final one is sitting by the dryer hardening up to be lackerd, it looks so good that I might redo the left panel as I had trouble getting it to stick down and its got some dippy do's right neat the button press.
Heres my hot tip list:
1. DONT try to cut corners itll bite you in the ass.
2. Always wrap your carbonfiber parrts that either have bends are cosmetic or need to stick to something if its all three use a semi rigid yet pliable plastic sheet if your not bagging the part and wrap it virgin tight to the part I use clear tape to pull the pastic to near deformation causing a snug bond while drying.
3. Vinylester is friendly to most plastics and wont eat it so plastics are a great way to cheat and get a smooth finish on your first coat on the first try without a lot of resin.
4. Carbonfiber hates to drink its not like glass and wont wick.
5. IF your using ester it needs some heat to finish the job in the century a hot day and a heat source wont hurt. I baked my panels. (DO NOT BAKE ESPRIT DASH MASKS THEY WARP!) Mine are dickered so it dont matter but if yours are straight all the wetsanding and heating will warp em.
6. This ones the biggest. when you go to cut on the part make sure its good and dry. Theres a window that people like me use that most should steer clear of. If you got big cahones and a steady hand when the fibers are stiff test drag a razor knife along where you will cut your excess fiber. If any of the fibers move STOP put more resin on and wait. Once thats good and in that delicate window carefully drag the razor along the fibers again and if they dont move keep slicing along the whole cut line and eventually the razor will fall through. No force. If the part lifts off the panel its supposed to be stuck to stop try to fix it and leave it. Its way better to use a diamond abrasive or something to the like to cut the fiber when your all done. The part will look nice with a little wet sanding and laquer.
7. It might not be trash even though its got fingerprints ect. Its amazing what laquer and wetsanding can do for a messy part. IF you look closely on my dash mask you can see where I patched it but in the car its not noticeable.
8. tape off anything you dont want covered in resin.
9. Have fun its not a job.
 

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Well I got it done for now and it left me with more questions than answers. I swear if your an experienced tech... Which I am. But never worked with carbon fiber before. It is going to teach you a few things.
Problems I hit that I didnt expect because I followed what I thought was procedure:
The latest but certanly number 1: Crazing. How I got crazing I dont know but it could have been alcohol.
2: runs,sags and bubbles. Appearently Vinylester has a nasty case of gas. This along with Vinylesters poor adhesion promotion... The clear.... I used lacquer instead of 2k. In retrospect It is easier to sand out defects in an epoxy type paint than lacquer, because lacquer cures slow in high build.
3: If you got a nasty base like I did. Maybe the tow is showing through the epoxy you need to build up that epoxy at least 1 mil. IF you dont good luck.
4: solvent pop is a huge issue with fiber and even some of the finest vacuum bagged products are riddled with the little buggers. It looks like specs of fly S***. Either wait weeks for a good hard cure or live with them.
 
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