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Instrument panel redo: SS OK?

1018 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  MarkSF
I need to replace my instrument panel in my cockpit. It is the vanilla standard....plastic....slanted to protect the gauges....old and cracked. I have some stainless steel of a applicable gauge, and was thinking about asking the local SS shop to replicate it. It would be stronger, and I could make room for the new tach. I like the stainless panel and gauges look in cars. Is this a good material for this application? Any drawbacks? Other than cost? If I lay out the dollars, I would hate to end up cutting it up for backing plates.
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I'd use plastic.. you can however order black anodized aluminum to make a panel. Stainless is tough stuff.
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I would be hesitant to put something with that much reflectivity in front of me in the cockpit. With the sun behind you or a bit of light in the cockpit at night, you just might regret using something shiny like S/S.
brushed stainless works well, however drilling it will have to be a one time deal...

it will most likely stain too...

aluminum, anodized, plastic, wood would be my preffered choice...
Here's a pic of a little extra panel I made out of stainless plate from McMaster Carr. It's the same stuff I use for backing plates. I think it worked out really well. It also covers a hole where a defunt auto pilot panel used to be.

If I were doing a whole panel, I would create a drawing and look for a company that can water cut it. I got through 2 Bosch hole cutters, one per hole!

The finish is brushed with 1000 grit.
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awesome job
Another suggestion : there are companies like this that make custom panels :

Front Panel Express: Custom Front Panel Designs & Enclosures - Instrument Panels

and another suggestion :

Catalina Direct have blank and populated panels.
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Thank you.

I am looking for something stronger than the generic plastic panels. Reflectivity and SS's propensity to eat cutting edges (Bosch...$....ouch!) does slow me down some. Coated aluminum....I didn't consider that....I could look for a plater around here.
Anyone know of a made to order panel company that offers other than plastic material choices?
Yes, the company in my first link does aluminum.
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