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Cowl & ABS plastic repair


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#1 FirefyterEmt OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 08:44 AM

I thought I would share these with you all. I do not have the tools, but I do know how this process is done. Maybe someday I will buy a plastic welder, but for now I have a good friend that is willing do it when I need something done.

First, this cowl was in rough, but savable shape. There was a chunk missing on the top lip and the typical cracking damage at the bolt holes. Someone had also drilled a hole in the side maybe for a switch.

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Using a really shot cowl, I cut out a patch for the missing chunk (seen above) and that was welded in using a process of a hot air welder and the ABS rod. It's kinda like a tig welder where the hot air welder melts the plastic (looks like a soldering iron) and you melt in the rod. (white stuff in the photo) I had also made a patch using a section of the bolt hole that was better than mine.

This kind of repair is far from "pretty" seeing as hot you are melting plastic almost to a "burn stage" and melting a plastic rod into it. Then it's pressed flat with what looks like a large soldering iron with a flat tip. It does hold as good as anything can hold though.

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Next I will show some photos when I sand down the repairs a bit and start the cosmetic rebuild with a plastic repair epoxy. :thumbs:

#2 Bolens 1000 ONLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 08:50 AM

Looks like that turned out quite well

#3 mjodrey OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 09:01 AM

That looks good.

#4 massey driver OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 09:56 AM

I've done that a few times just using a soldering gun and plastic from something with similar properties.It works just not pretty then like stated a bit of filler sanding and paint makes it look like new.Larry

#5 caseguy OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 10:20 AM

Thanks for posting that FirefyterEmt! I have heard of the process but never seen it done. I must also admit that I've had my doubts that it would be strong as some plastics loose their elastic properties when heated. But if you say it's sturdy, I'll have to give it a try. I can't wait to see the pics of the finished product! Great work so far!

#6 FirefyterEmt OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 12:12 PM

Thanks guys... Done right it's pretty strong, maybe not as strong as before it broke, but they say it should be. I am not sure I believe it 100% though. I am planning to attach some extra metal to the dash tower so that the entire cowl is supported by metal, not the two corners per side like it is from the factory. I am also going to make an insert plate that fits just over the bottom lip on the inside. That will be made of metal and epoxied to the inside of the cowl and will have the bolt holes drilled in it. I hope this will help keep it from breaking.

#7 massey driver OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 02:43 PM

Thanks guys... Done right it's pretty strong, maybe not as strong as before it broke, but they say it should be. I am not sure I believe it 100% though. I am planning to attach some extra metal to the dash tower so that the entire cowl is supported by metal, not the two corners per side like it is from the factory. I am also going to make an insert plate that fits just over the bottom lip on the inside. That will be made of metal and epoxied to the inside of the cowl and will have the bolt holes drilled in it. I hope this will help keep it from breaking.


One other thing to try is to use fiberglass on the inside.I've bought the kits that come with the resin/cloth/hardner and put a couple layers on the inside.It strengthens everything up nice and its drillable/paintable etc;.Just thougth I'd add this in here.Larry

#8 FirefyterEmt OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 03:16 PM

It could, but the bond from 'glass to ABS plastic is not that good. I do think that a "patch mold" that was made to fit inside the cowl, and bolted to the lower bolts, as well as the two lower bolts for the metal dash would work rather well. The extra bolts on the top would make it a mechanical "brace" and not a glued on patch. "IF" this was something that people would want, a molded brace.... there is somebody that might build them if the need was there.

#9 massey driver OFFLINE  

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Posted November 23, 2010 - 03:37 PM

It could, but the bond from 'glass to ABS plastic is not that good. I do think that a "patch mold" that was made to fit inside the cowl, and bolted to the lower bolts, as well as the two lower bolts for the metal dash would work rather well. The extra bolts on the top would make it a mechanical "brace" and not a glued on patch. "IF" this was something that people would want, a molded brace.... there is somebody that might build them if the need was there.


Yeah I should have added that about the bond it's not that great but like you mentioned above it's kinda like having a mold inside what you already have an if it's all bolted on together its actually quite strong. I've repaired some of my stuff this way but always looking for better ways.Larry

#10 FirefyterEmt OFFLINE  

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Posted December 12, 2010 - 10:05 PM

Figured I would bump this up with a couple progress photos. This weekend I used the Dremmel and some sandpaper to get the plastic cleaned up a bit and sanded flush. Before I add the adhesive filler I wanted to grab a couple new photos. I will be using Norton SpeedGrip which is a SMC / Fiberglass repair material and well suited for filling ABS plastic to smooth out what is left. But even now, just sanding it down makes it look so much better! I will update later on when the filler is all done and sanded out.

The side to side "stitches" are where the guy tacked them by just melting the plastic. This kept the patch in place while he melted in the ABS plastic filler rod.
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Then the bottom side damage was sanded down and ready for filler. I think I am going to make a metal plate the same shape as the inside bottom lip. Once cut to fit and the holes are drilled, I will lay a bed of the repair material all over the inside of the lip and clamp this metal plate to the inside. This will greatly strengthen the cowl and with all luck, solve the problem of it ever breaking again. Once the filler is smoothed and the edges hidden, the paint should make for a modification that really can't be seen easily.

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#11 DH1 OFFLINE  

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Posted December 12, 2010 - 10:16 PM

That looks like it's going to work good.
You know so many of those plastic dash's a busted up, I haven't seen one yet that wasn't cracked. When I did my 66 I thought it would be a good idea to make one out of fiberglass, about 3/8" or more thick, make something strong like the aluminum ones are, if somebody could do that they would sell.

#12 FirefyterEmt OFFLINE  

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Posted December 12, 2010 - 10:48 PM

Yep, I bet someone who was enterprising enough to build a reverse mold, could make them easy enough. I "think" you could make it as a once piece mold, but I have not worked with mold's like that too much. Even if it was a two-part mold that needed the cowl to be seamed into one after the halves were made would be nice. I had an idea for something in the lines of cowl repairs that I shared with GTReproductions so maybe they will come out with something down the line. I would LOVE to see them come out with a cost effective replacement that was better than stock. Even fiberglass with a metal insert at the bolt hole location (kinda like I am going to add to mine) would make for a great replacement.

#13 Texas Deere and Horse OFFLINE  

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Posted January 26, 2011 - 05:46 PM

Fire, Did you ever fill and paint this cowl? I would like to see some mo pictures when you do. Thanks for the info, I'm goin to start playing with my iron on some jd top grill pieces.

#14 FirefyterEmt OFFLINE  

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Posted January 26, 2011 - 08:02 PM

Not yet, they are hanging in my shop. This cowl will be the one that goes on my 12G (narrow front) project once I get the hydro up & running. I am going to steal the one that is on my tractor now and use it on the hydro. So I really have plenty of time to work with it, and that kind of stuff is better done in the warm weather. I do have a tube of special repair material that is made to repair plastic, SMC, flberglass and the like. Because it is a two-part kit and I need to borrow a special gun to use it, I want to get my John Deere hood ready and doe all those plastic parts at once. My Deere hood is better than most, but still needs some fiberglass work before the filler is applied over it. I could use a poly putty, but this stuff is made to not only smooth and fill these types of plastic, but is the same stuff that is used to bond things like Corvette body panels on so it will keep a better bond too. I will update when that time comes, but it may be late summer honestly.

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