They said it couldn't be done, so I did it...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by buggman, Sep 7, 2012.

  1. buggman

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    The Ranger/Raptor Grille


    Well, I haven't done it yet... rather I'm doing it.
    I've seen a few conversions that look pretty awful, so I wanted to try my hand at it. I didn't want to have an exact copy and I didn't want to deal with changing the entire front end for a full conversion... don't really want the oversized fenders & all that stuff anyhow.

    I've got the actual grille almost finished now. Needs to be sanded & painted a few more times to make it look presentable, but it's came a long way so far.

    This is the first time I've worked with fiberglass & so far it hasn't been too bad. The real fun will be making the molds for the FORD letters & getting the fiberglass laid in them & hopefully getting some semi-decent letter blanks pulled out.
    If anyone has any tips & tricks for working with fiberglass, post 'em up... I need all the help I can get. :huh:

    If this turns out nice, I might make molds of the entire grille along with the letters to do a few more. These will only fit the 96 style grilles and their appropriate years, but if I can locate some cheap grilles from other years, I may try modding them as well.

    The background material I'm using is finally available somewhat locally to me, so I may even offer some custom cut inserts for other stock grilles. I'll have to get some pics & mounting info for the other grilles, but I should be able to cut some oversized pieces that you can trim to fit your particular application.

    Stay tuned...
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  3. AGreager18

    AGreager18 Member

    I too have been on the hunt for a nice raptor grill conversion but haven't found any I like withoit buying the full conversion. Def keep us updated and good luck
  4. timbits588

    timbits588 New Member

    can't wait to see how it turns out! it definitely sounds like a very time-consuming project.
  5. 03walkalot

    03walkalot New Member

    The pic didn't come through! Would really like to see the work in progress! Thanks
  6. SalRanger2

    SalRanger2 Ranger Lover

    pic no work! i wanna see!!
  7. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!


    I did that on purpose HA! :D

    Here's a couple pics of the progress so far...



    I still need to finish sanding the grille and add a few more coats of paint to smooth it out & drill mounting holes for the mesh, then it will basically be done.

    The FORD letters still need to be trimmed (the F & D) then I'll start making molds for them out of plaster for the fiberglass.

    I may taper the ends of the F & D front to back or I may just cut the ends off flat. I kinda like the idea of tapering them, but the D is gonna be a PITA to shape the contour around the rounded parts.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2012
  8. SalRanger2

    SalRanger2 Ranger Lover

    nice! i was worried for a sec, then you said you were trimming the f and d. lol
  9. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    yea, I made 'em extra long on the ends so I can trim 'em down & set the spacing between all the letters.

    They're just kinda setting on the mesh right now, still need to make the molds & fiberglass letters & figure out how to mount them.

    The letters are the same thickness as the distance from the front of the grille to the front of the mesh. :shifty:
  10. doyouquaxu

    doyouquaxu FUUUUUUUUUUUUU

    it's gonna take a lot to impress me. your wizardry with LEDs and the like have not failed to impress, and i hope this doesn't either.
  11. finn611

    finn611 happiness is a warm gun

    If this goes good, I want one
  12. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    Didn't make much progress today/tonight considering I waited out the cup race 'till almost 2am.

    I did get one of the letter molds poured but had to cut out all of the wooden form I used for the shape :(
    Threw down about 3 or 4 layers of fiberglass in that mold & let it cure for a few hours & finally got it pulled out of the mold & it turned out ok.

    Considering I don't have any of the proper fiberglassing equipment or stuff, I think it came out pretty well. From what I've read & videos I've seen, I should have sprayed a layer or PVA poly vinyl alcohol into the mold, let that dry & spray on a thick gel coat layer before glassing... but since I have neither I had to improvise. I sprayed cooking spray in the mold & wiped it in good then started fiberglassing over that. This made the surface of the "finished" letter kinda bumpy & uneven, but it's nothing some sanding & bondo won't fix.

    Did something similar when making the mold... I sprayed the letter to be molded with a few coats of primer & sanded it smooth then put on a couple coats of carnuba wax, then sprayed cooking spray & wiped it in. Unfortunately when the mold hardened the wood form wouldn't come out so I had to chisel all the mdf out. It did leave a really smooth surface inside the mold though.
    Lucky for me I didn't use my pattern letters for the molds, rather made an extra set of letters from some scrap mdf.

    Had to give the outside a thin layer of resin/hardener to fill in some places that didn't get filled in properly, but all that should sand down nice & flat next time I get to work on it.
    Had to make my own "rollers" that don't actually roll the air bubbles out, rather they kinda push them around. Still not the best method, but I gotta use what I have or whatever I can make up.

    If the rest of the letters go like this, it's gonna take 2 weeks just to get the molds done & lay fiberglass in them. Not too sure how bad these are going to be when it comes to sanding & final shaping them before I lay down a thin layer of bondo, but time will tell.
  13. Brinker88

    Brinker88 Black sheep o' the family

    Looks B.A. dude. You should see what it would cost to have them laser cut out of billet aluminum... :D
  14. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    ... don't give me any ideas :D

    I'd polish them suckers like I did my wheels :yes:
  15. hazard-maine

    hazard-maine northern ranger driver

    do what brad said!
  16. klinger86

    klinger86 Moderator

    im still waiting on pics of "said" grille hahahahaha
  17. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    Scroll up, those are the only ones I have right now.

    I did a little to the F & D today... got the blanks cut down but I didn't like the long ends even with them tapered front to back so I cut them off. That should make those letters a lot easier to make a mold for as well as getting the fglass into the molds.

    The O & R are in the initial sanding stages getting them into better shape before I fill in any voids with bondo.

    Don't know if it's just me or if the fglass resin doesn't seem to go very far... I've done 2 of these letters & I'm down to almost half a can of resin already. I'm soaking the molds & fiber pretty heavy to try to make everything form to the molds, but I don't have a real roller to get the air bubbles out from between the layers so I made my own little right angled tool where I can kinda push the air bubbles around. Not the best, but it's working.

    Don't know if it makes any difference, but after the O & R were cured overnight, I sprayed some foam insulation in between the voids on the back of the letters & around the wooden blocks, it gives them a little more solid feel & it should make turning the corner to the back easier when I bondo that part... plus now I won't have to fill half the back up with bondo :D

    It hasn't been too bad, but if I do another set of these letters I'm seriously thinking about making the letters 1/8" smaller so I can just fiberglass over the wooden blanks & not have to deal with the mold process.
  18. Justincredible

    Justincredible BLACKOUT

    my friend made one too, looks so sick!
  19. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    Did a little modding to the letters... I didn't like the look of the angled ends of the F & D so I cut 'em off. Even the tapers didn't seem to feel right, so off they went.

    Got all 4 molds done & f-glass in all of them. Unfortunately the O & D molds broke when taking the finished parts out, so I'm gonna have to make new molds or come up with a new method for any future parts.

    Spent most of the day bondo-ing the letters & sanding 'em down. Still have a long way to go, but at least now they're starting to look like something :thumbsup:
  20. OP

    buggman Do not touch the trim!

    Seems I forgot how much I dislike sanding & finishing stuff that will be painted gloss black. I haven't painted anything gloss black since the last guitar I did about 10 years ago.

    I got all the letters sanded as smooth as glass, primed them a few times & sanded a few times... sprayed on a couple coats of black & all these microscopic little holes show up & humps & bumps that weren't there when I sanded 'em... at least I couldn't see or feel them.

    Oh well, a couple more days of sanding & I may have the letters all smoothed out. If not I'm gonna rough sand them and spray on bedliner and be done with them. I think the texture would look pretty cool & I won't have to deal with any imperfections in the paint.

    If there were only a way to add LED's to this project...
  21. oh you can add led's, drill some holes and pop a few leds in each letter then seal em up
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2012

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