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TUTORIAL: Vacu-formed headlights

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  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Cape Coral Florida
TUTORIAL: Vacu-formed headlights
Posted by BigTallDad on Monday, December 28, 2009 3:17 PM

A few months back I showed you the el-cheapo vacu-form box that I built

 

/forums/p/77171/797840.aspx#797840 

 

and hinted that I’d like to try some headlights. Well, here goes nothing (and hopefully no one-post wonder will flame me on this).

 

THE BUCK. I glued three layers of coffee-stirrer wood together and sanded it to shape. I made it extra deep because the plastic tends to curl up at the base of the buck, so this gave me room to sand the drawn plastic to shape.

 

 

THE SETUP. Rather than use a whole lot of plastic for one tiny object and to avoid having to make multiple bucks, I resorted to aluminum foil to seal off the area surrounding the piece to be drawn.

 

 

THE RESULT. Using scrap plastic (from a blister pack), I made about six of these, then selected the best of the lot. I found that the heat gun needs to orbit the plastic around the buck; otherwise one side will draw down farther than the other.

 

 

"In order to teach a dog, you must first be smarter than the dog" P.R. Ferguson

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Cape Coral Florida
Posted by BigTallDad on Monday, December 28, 2009 3:18 PM

AFTER SANDING TO SHAPE. After using fingernail clippers to get the rough shape, sandpaper came into play for the final portion. I held the backer with a surgical clamp to avoid the “pling, I wonder where it went” disaster.

 

 

AFTER BMF. I laid the first piece of BMF on the inside of the backer, placing it slightly over the center of the diagonal, then burnished it down. The second piece was applied in the same manner and overlaps the first piece just a little bit. The finished product is actually smoother than it appears in the picture.

 

 

THE LENS. Using more of the blister pack plastic, I created a straight edge, measured, and cut to size (in this case the height of the lens opening). After scoring the horizontal and vertical lines, the plastic was cut roughly in half. The two pieces were then placed side-by-side and cut to the proper length (actually the width of the lens opening). The white stuff you see is double-sided masking tape, which held the plastic firmly and allowed a certain amount of precision for scoring and cutting.

 

 

"In order to teach a dog, you must first be smarter than the dog" P.R. Ferguson

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Cape Coral Florida
Posted by BigTallDad on Monday, December 28, 2009 3:19 PM

FINAL RESULTS. Five minute epoxy was used to glue the backer to the lens. The part on the left is an ’85 SVO assembly and yes, I’m actually making progress on it.

 

 

"In order to teach a dog, you must first be smarter than the dog" P.R. Ferguson

  • Member since
    March, 2008
Posted by lorider on Monday, December 28, 2009 4:47 PM

Very nice. As nice if not nicer than kit parts. I will be trying that just to experitment. Thanks for posting this.

  • Member since
    December, 2003
  • From: Nova Scotia
Posted by Bainford on Monday, December 28, 2009 4:54 PM

 Nice work BTD. Very helpful. I've been experimenting with methods of improving headlights myself.

Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
       - Antoine de Saint-Exepury

Trevor

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Cape Coral Florida
Posted by BigTallDad on Monday, December 28, 2009 5:12 PM

Bainford

 Nice work BTD. Very helpful. I've been experimenting with methods of improving headlights myself.

Thanks very much. I did this one specifically for the SVO, but I'm thinking about a more generic headlight for the tri-five Chevies (and that genre). The only problem I envision is getting straight lines on the backside of the lens after it has been curved during the vacuum process. I'd probably borrow a woodworking technique and use a thick (1/2 inch), square piece of wood to ensure my Xacto is properly aligned in the vertical axis.

On this one, I was tempted to drill a tiny hole and insert a filament, but the kit isn't worth the effort. Maybe next time.

"In order to teach a dog, you must first be smarter than the dog" P.R. Ferguson

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Cape Coral Florida
Posted by BigTallDad on Wednesday, December 30, 2009 4:55 PM

I guess it isn't that interesting.

"In order to teach a dog, you must first be smarter than the dog" P.R. Ferguson

  • Member since
    May, 2008
  • From: Lakeland, Florida
Posted by darkwanderer on Wednesday, January 06, 2010 12:11 AM
Excellent BTD. Thanks.
  • Member since
    February, 2010
Posted by ace-garageguy on Sunday, January 08, 2012 8:47 AM

Hey BTD.....I just saw this work, and it's really great. I've seen some other of your projects, and have been impressed by your willingness to work "out-of-the-box". I've been thinking of getting more involved with vacuum-forming for a while now, and seeing this has pushed me over the edge. Nice work indeed.

Plan your work, work your plan.

Measure twice, post once.

  • Member since
    May, 2004
  • From: Great White North
Posted by plymouth71 on Saturday, May 24, 2014 9:37 PM

Very Nice ~

  • Member since
    January, 2005
  • From: Canberra, Australia
Posted by aussiemuscle308 on Saturday, May 24, 2014 11:19 PM

it's pretty wild. the results seem worth it.

  • Member since
    October, 2008
Posted by oldcarguy on Wednesday, June 11, 2014 5:19 PM

Hi ;

  Hey nice going there . Now , I have to say I cheat . I find a blister pack that is what I want and use that . I don't really want to use that Mattel "  Vacu - Form " I have that is still unused in the box ! Nah , I copied it years ago and use sunlamp bulbs for heat  .Works great too ! Keep on keeping on !    OldCarGuy

gjgeracci

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