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Old 11-02-2014, 10:32 PM   #1
Midwestdrifter
 
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Default DIY Window Flare

Greetings,

I am currently in the early stages of building out a 140” T1N. Since my design is dependent on the left-right oriented bed (I am 6’ 1”) I am starting with a custom made window flare.
Flare Space http://www.flarespace.com/ offers window flares, but for NCV3 body styles only. I have not seen anyone attempt to make of these from scratch… So here goes!


The sprinter is approximately 73 inches window to window (at the lowest point). In order to have room for insulation and about 74inches of sleeping room, the flare will need to be at least 4 inches deep. The final dimensions I decided on are 48” wide by 22.75” high by 4.5” deep.
I thought through several fabrication methods and decided to attempt a one-off fiberglass part. This method seemed best given the curvature of the sprinters window openings.

I am essentially creating a plug on the side of the van, and then doing the layup in place.

My plan is as follows.
1. Build up plug out of polyurethane foam (pink stuff from Home Depot)
2. Remove foam to create desired shape.
3. Coat plug with drywall compound, sand smooth, paint for mold release.
4. Layup fiberglass on plug and van skin.
5. Remove part from plug/van trim edges and finish as necessary.

To date I have finished the foam base and started apply the drywall compound. I have ordered a selection of fiberglass materials; several kinds of fabric and chopped mat, as well as some polyester resin. I have limited experience with fiberglass, so any advice is welcome!
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Old 11-03-2014, 05:55 PM   #2
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Plan on using a LOT of fairing compound, sandpaper, and time to get a smooth surface without
Taking a mold from your plug first and laying up into the mold. You also won't have a gel coat finish, so will need to paint after fairing. Lastly, get some PVA to spray over your last coat of resin on the outside so it will cure properly.

In case you were not aware, don't do the layup with finishing resin, which contains wax. That's only for top coating, but PVA works better in any case. For laminating you want the wax-free stuff.

If you are depending on the resin to glue the bump out moldings to the van sides you might want to consider epoxy over polyester, which does not adhere all that well to metal.

Added -- read the OP again, appears you will remove the molded part and fasten it mechanically -- best idea. In that case don't forget to use mold release on the van and plug! I'd wax the van first as well. Peel-ply or similar material on surface of plug a good idea as well. And be sure to taper the plug sides enough to get a good release.
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Last edited by chromisdesigns; 11-03-2014 at 06:05 PM.
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Old 11-03-2014, 07:35 PM   #3
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Quote:
Originally Posted by chromisdesigns View Post
Plan on using a LOT of fairing compound, sandpaper, and time to get a smooth surface without
Taking a mold from your plug first and laying up into the mold. You also won't have a gel coat finish, so will need to paint after fairing. Lastly, get some PVA to spray over your last coat of resin on the outside so it will cure properly.

In case you were not aware, don't do the layup with finishing resin, which contains wax. That's only for top coating, but PVA works better in any case. For laminating you want the wax-free stuff.

If you are depending on the resin to glue the bump out moldings to the van sides you might want to consider epoxy over polyester, which does not adhere all that well to metal.

Added -- read the OP again, appears you will remove the molded part and fasten it mechanically -- best idea. In that case don't forget to use mold release on the van and plug! I'd wax the van first as well. Peel-ply or similar material on surface of plug a good idea as well. And be sure to taper the plug sides enough to get a good release.
Thanks for the feedback, it will probably save me plenty of time later on.

I do plan on using peel-ply, and doing a full fair and finish on the outside. I also have wax free resin for the layup. Do I need to add a tack-free agent to my final layer? Since I will be finishing the surface, I thought I didn't?

Are you suggesting I use peel-ply on the plug before the layup? I was concerned that it might be hard to remove from the glass depending on how much resin bleeds through.

Thanks for the tip on the PVA, I didn't realize I needed to coat the exterior during curing. I will get some on order ASAP.
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Old 11-04-2014, 02:37 AM   #4
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwestdrifter View Post
Thanks for the feedback, it will probably save me plenty of time later on.

I do plan on using peel-ply, and doing a full fair and finish on the outside. I also have wax free resin for the layup. Do I need to add a tack-free agent to my final layer? Since I will be finishing the surface, I thought I didn't?

Are you suggesting I use peel-ply on the plug before the layup? I was concerned that it might be hard to remove from the glass depending on how much resin bleeds through.

Thanks for the tip on the PVA, I didn't realize I needed to coat the exterior during curing. I will get some on order ASAP.
The PVA will work same as tack-free additive.

Resin won't really adhere much to the peel-ply, especially if you spray it with mold release. In any case it will be easier than if you get adhesion to the plug itself.
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Old 11-04-2014, 01:43 PM   #5
Cole
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

I've thought about this quite a bit.

Would like to just toss out an idea or two on the topic in general if you don't mind?


I've considered just making essentially a bolt on spacers that bolts on just like the stock windows would. Then on the outside you could either bolt on a steel skin or a window.

You could shape the spacer to give a angled contour for looks/aerodynamics. etc.

You could easily put insulated curtains up or use the fancy double pane windows.(or both) for insulation on cold nights. But the rest of the time you could have windows if you like.
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Old 11-04-2014, 02:18 PM   #6
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Cool project. You are probably not done shaping your plug so have a suggestion. Taper the sides and especially the top. Looks like you have an area along the top edge that might pool water.
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole View Post
I've thought about this quite a bit.

Would like to just toss out an idea or two on the topic in general if you don't mind?


I've considered just making essentially a bolt on spacers that bolts on just like the stock windows would. Then on the outside you could either bolt on a steel skin or a window.

You could shape the spacer to give a angled contour for looks/aerodynamics. etc.

You could easily put insulated curtains up or use the fancy double pane windows.(or both) for insulation on cold nights. But the rest of the time you could have windows if you like.
I am having a bit of trouble visualizing these spacers. Do you mean something to change the curved opening to a flat/plane one?

I considered several other options for making the flare. My first choice was to have a local fab shop bend/weld up a box with mounting flanges. However, the curvature of the window cut outs (in the cross section) made that option unworkable. This curvature makes fabricating matching parts much more difficult.

Quote:
Cool project. You are probably not done shaping your plug so have a suggestion. Taper the sides and especially the top. Looks like you have an area along the top edge that might pool water.
Thanks Hein, your are right that area might collect some water. I do plan on having a flange where the fiberglass meets the van skin. I should fill that area in some more to prevent water retention.

I plan on using some fasteners to attach the flare, but I would also like to use a structural adhesive. Any suggestions on what to use?
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:19 PM   #8
Cole
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwestdrifter View Post
I am having a bit of trouble visualizing these spacers. Do you mean something to change the curved opening to a flat/plane one?

Basically just a big flange that mounts to the body just like the stock windows do. Using the same mounting surface as a window would.

It would fit in the recessed window cutout surface, whatever that is 2" wide? Then just follow it around.

You could then essentially mount a factory style bolt in window to it with long bolts. (probably not the ideal solution but give an idea of what I'm talking about). Or, mount some other material to it. If it had a lip on the outside edge you could even mount the factory sheet metal you cut out of the van to make the opening.


Maybe just think of it as a 4" thick window gasket The neat thing is if you make them in 1-2" stackable versions you could customize the width.

Last edited by Cole; 11-04-2014 at 03:25 PM.
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Old 11-04-2014, 03:58 PM   #9
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Quote:
Originally Posted by Midwestdrifter View Post
I plan on using some fasteners to attach the flare, but I would also like to use a structural adhesive. Any suggestions on what to use?
Not sure I would use fasteners. Window weld or VHB tape would work and then seal the weather edge with Dicor or equivalent.
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Old 11-11-2014, 12:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: DIY Window Flare

Another possibility is to have a shop to weld a box in aluminium (or steele)-. Then cut the sides so it follows the curve over the window cutout. When it fits, you have a one inch flange welded on the edge.

Then cut a hole in the van and fit the box from inside with, for instance SikaTack car glass glue or if the box is made of Steele, spot weld it on.

At last give it a strip of Sikaflex.

I hope this make sense. I´s a bit difficult for me to explain in English
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