Reproduction Instrument Panel Instruction Sheet
*** MUST READ ***
Acrylic Reproduction Instrument and Switch Panels
Congratulations! You have just purchased the highest quality reproduction Instrument/switch panels available. Your panels will provide years of trouble free service with proper care.
To prevent DAMAGE to your new panels, please read this instruction sheet entirely.
Your panels are made from cell-cast acrylic which is a petroleum based plastic. Ordinary fine woodworking tools can be used to sand, router, drill, cut and form this material. Moderate heat can be applied to conform to curves. Petroleum based solvents will cause severe damage.
Be sure to test fit and perform all modifications to your panels before removing the clear protective film from the surface.
Your panel set was designed using original equipment Panels as a template. In many cases, panels are modified and trimmed at the manufacturing facility for a proper fit. Several different molds are used in building the same model boat and each mold is slightly different. You may find that your panel needs minor trimming.
If you decide to drill additional holes, we recommend using a steep point drill bit which will prevent chipping at the entry and exit surfaces. If drilling holes for additional gauges/electronics, a hole-saw works well when drilling with the panel shiny-side-up. When cutting rectangular or odd-shaped holes with a jigsaw, use a fine tooth blade to avoid chipping the panel surfaces. Apply masking tape to avoid scratching the material surface. Test the cut on an area that will be discarded to determine if a shiny-side-up or shiny-side-down cut will work better.
Caution must be used when cutting with a jigsaw or circular saw. Be sure the material is securely fastened and flat. Any vibration that occurs when cutting will possibly cause chipping and fractures. These panel sets are multi-layered and separation may occur with blade vibration. Fine tooth blades and slow, patient cuts will prevent most problems.
Ordinary sandpaper in 80-180 grits will accomplish most tasks easily. To fine-tune edges and corners, 120-150 grit sandpaper wrapped on a sanding block works well. To trim inside curves, try using a small piece of pipe or other firm rounded object as your sanding block. If you find that a round hole needs to be enlarged more than 1mm, use a piece of 80 grit adhesive backed sandpaper and stick it to the outside of a smaller size hole saw. If a drill press is available, you can enlarge holes very quickly with nice results. A hand-held drill will work as well. Files tend to create vibration which can separate the layers of material. However there are circumstances, such as enlarging a mounting hole, where a small round file is necessary. If you see material separation, it is typically insignificant because it will all be held together by gauges, electronics, switches, and mounting screws.
Preparation & Installation
WARNING: These panels are not designed to hold the weight of electronic instruments such as radios, radars, chartplotters, etc. The panels are 3/16” thickness and will handle switches, gauges and small instruments such as the Raymarine ST 50,60,70,80 series, small depth finders, and small displays. You must have structural support behind these panels to hold larger instruments. The mounting bolts for the larger instruments must pass through the structural material.
The installation holes on your replacement panels may or may not match the locations of your existing holes. Typically the original holes have been enlarged over the years from vibration and removal/replacement of the panels for maintenance. We recommend preparing your dash area before scheduling the installation of the panels. It is always easier to install new, fresh panels using new fresh mounting holes.
The quickest way to prepare the dash is to fill the old holes with a quality 2-part epoxy. There are numerous products available at any hardware store. 1st clean the area thoroughly, making sure to remove all grease and dirt. Clean the old holes out with a file or drill bit. Also clean the inside of the dash (the backside) and be careful not to cut yourself on fiberglass spikes! Install masking tape on the backside of the dash. Mix your epoxy in a small quantity, maybe enough to do 3 or 4 holes. You do not want to mix a large quantity and find out that the epoxy hardened before you finished a few holes. Use a putty knife or plastic squeegee and an old drill bit to work the epoxy all the way into the hole. You want the epoxy to ooze out the backside of the hole and into the masking tape you installed on the backside of the dash. The object is to fill the hole completely with the epoxy. Smooth the outside surface with the putty knife and move to the next hole. It only takes a few minutes.
Before installing any gauges or switches in your panel, follow the steps below to insure a snag-free installation. Once the panels are loaded with the weight of gauges, electronics and switches, they are more vulnerable to damage.
The panel sets are pre-drilled for #8 screws. The pre-drilled holes in the panel are large enough to allow some clearance for the #8 screws. These panels will slightly expand when exposed to the sun and this clearance is critical to prevent the panels from distorting In the heat. If you are trying to use your pre-existing screw holes in your dashboard and they do not match the holes in the panel EXACTLY, you will be putting the panel under stress and it may crack or distort when exposed to heat. A chainsaw blade file works perfectly if you would like to enlarge the holes to create more clearance. If you choose to use different screws, use only #8 truss head screws, DO NOT use a countersunk screw as this will prevent the panel from expanding and contracting
Carefully check the surface of the dash to be sure it is level/flat. The two most common causes of cracking in the original panels are over-tightening of the screws, and uneven surfaces under the panel. If you have to use force on the screw to draw the panel flat with the mounting surface, then investigate for an obstruction. Shave and shim as necessary.
IMPORTANT!!! Using Foam Sealing Tape IMPORTANT!!!
If you choose to use foam sealing tape, you MUST be sure to
completely surround the mounting hole with the tape so it is properly supported
when you tighten the screw. If you do not properly support the backside of the
mounting hole, you will create an extreme stress point when mounting the panel
and it will crack at the installation hole.
Be cautious when installing switches. They are a tight fit and the switch bodies can vary in size making it difficult to push the switch into place. You may enlarge the holes with a file or a piece of 80 grit sandpaper wrapped on a paint stick to avoid forcing the switch into the hole and cracking the plastic.
In order to ease the removal of the clear protective film, do
not push the switches all the way in to the hole. After attaching all wiring,
remove the film and then push the switch until it is flush with the panel. Test
fit gauges and instruments before removing the film. After removing the clear
film, there may be residue left behind. Automotive paint polish or cleaners
will remove this residue and leave a nice smudge-free surface. For final
installation of the “loaded” panel assembly, drop a dab of caulking on the installation
screw threads to help prevent them from backing out. Tighten until snug. For
added sealing and cushioning, you may install a thin strip of foam rubber, or
permagum tape to the backside of the panel where it can seal with the
fiberglass dash surface. This type of seal can be found in the door/window
section of a hardware store, or at an autobody supply store.
Care and maintenance:
The best way to clean the panels is with a damp soft rag. Treat the surface of these panels like the finish on your vehicle. No harsh solvents, no petroleum based cleaners. Use diluted Simple Green for any stubborn dirt. A light coat of wax will help shed the dust and dirt and allow for easy cleaning with a soft damp rag.