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Old 09-28-2013, 10:11 AM   #1
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Black plastic panel material

Hello. The helm station on my boat has a black plastic like panel material, which has been cut-out to accept my instrument panel and Morse controls. I've seen this type of material on other boats--I don't believe it is Formica.

Can anyone direct me to where I may find a sheet of this material? I'd like to redo the top of my helm. I checked Google to no avail.

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Old 09-28-2013, 10:17 AM   #2
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I think your looking for a product called "starboard". West marine and many other marine stores carry it. Google it.

Cheers
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:18 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Vashon_Trawler View Post
Hello. The helm station on my boat has a black plastic like panel material, which has been cut-out to accept my instrument panel and Morse controls. I've seen this type of material on other boats--I don't believe it is Formica.

Can anyone direct me to where I may find a sheet of this material? I'd like to redo the top of my helm. I checked Google to no avail.

I've attached a photo--yes, that is me with my annual winter facial growth... got my first greys!
Ask Flywright.
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:27 AM   #4
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Hello. The helm station on my boat has a black plastic like panel material, which has been cut-out to accept my instrument panel and Morse controls.
Starboard will work but if it is thin enough to substitute directly it will be too thin to provide structural integrity over any length of time and will look nasty after a few months in the heat.

Best results might be obtained by working with a company like this:

Front Panel Express:*Custom Front Panel Designs and Enclosures - Overview

If you want to do all the work yourself, look for thin acrylic (engravable) plastic and apply it to an aluminum backing for structure.

The Cutting Edge

You don't have to have it engraved, you can buy really nice engraved labels off-the-shelf fairly reasonably.
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Old 09-28-2013, 10:37 AM   #5
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Thanks all. The material is screwed directly on top of wood, which has been cut out as well to accept the controls and panel. It is fairly thin (more cosmetic I guess) and provides no structural support.

It may certainly be black starboard--didn't think of that. I honestly didn't know they made it in black--I assumed only grey and white. I checked Google and found some thin sheets in black (as well as other colors).

I'll look into everyone's advice and the links. I appreciate the guidance.
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Old 09-28-2013, 11:52 AM   #6
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Starboard will work but if it is thin enough to substitute directly it will be too thin to provide structural integrity over any length of time and will look nasty after a few months in the heat.

Good point Rick. I have used some 3/16 on my dash and so far it has lasted and still looks new (2yrs). But I was covering holes about 3x6 so no warping etc.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:04 PM   #7
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How's this?
Acetal Sheet - Delrin&#174 (Thermoplastic Polymer) : TAP Plastics
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:14 PM   #8
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Sheet aluminum has been the go to material for me in the past. If you can't find what your looking for finish wise(typically anodized) having the material powder coated after fabrication comes out nice.

We did have a member that would make panels to order with a CNC machine. I think Kevin Sanders bought some for his Bayliner. Can't remember the members name though.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:20 PM   #9
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Sheet aluminum has been the go to material for me in the past. If you can't find what your looking for finish wise(typically anodized) having the material powder coated after fabrication comes out nice.

We did have a member that would make panels to order with a CNC machine. I think Kevin Sanders bought some for his Bayliner. Can't remember the members name though.
That'd be Mike, AKA SomeSailor. He has a shop that does exactly that type of work.
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Old 09-28-2013, 12:36 PM   #10
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That'd be Mike, AKA SomeSailor. He has a shop that does exactly that type of work.
That's it, thank you sir. It was going to bug me all day not remembering his name.

One tip I offer for the DIY'r is masking tape is your friend when fabbing panels by hand regardless of material choice. Makes layout changes disappear and prevents chipping while drilling. I like the green frog tape personally.
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Old 09-28-2013, 01:11 PM   #11
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Wow! This is a great site--thanks! They have several options that may work and I found some materials for other projects!
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Old 09-28-2013, 05:00 PM   #12
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You can use High Density Polyethylene. It comes in various thicknesses and is easy to work with. I have gotten it from 1/4" to 3/4", it cuts easy and you can rout the edges for a nice finish. I have used it for the dash on my helm. Look for plastic fabrication shops in your area. The one local to me has a cull bin clearance the 4th Friday of each month and I can usually get what I want then. If you have to, it comes in sheets up to 4'x8'. If you can't find what you want/need let PM me I may have some 1/4" with an orange peel texture hanging around depending on the size you need.
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Old 09-28-2013, 06:46 PM   #13
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I'm tying the ABS that looks just like textured starboard at a fraction of the price...

ABS Sheet - ABS Sheets GP Forming Grade - Order Online Here

when I ordered a 2X4 panel..the second was free except for a tad bit more shipping..so if you need it ask if it's still valid.
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Old 09-29-2013, 01:52 AM   #14
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Im assuming that the original panel is being removed and used as a template.
What would be the best way to cut the holes in the new panel?
Im thinking different tools for different materials. Holesaws, jigsaws? KJ
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Old 09-29-2013, 09:28 AM   #15
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Im assuming that the original panel is being removed and used as a template.
What would be the best way to cut the holes in the new panel?
Im thinking different tools for different materials. Holesaws, jigsaws? KJ
Great question. Yes, my existing panel is being removed and will serve as a template. There are no circular cuts needed--all I require are a few square/rectangular cut outs. I'm buying the "cut to size" sheet with finished routed edges and corners (I specify the corner radius), so I only have to worry about the cuts for the Morse controls and Volvo instrument panel--they can be a little rough as no one will see the cuts. I plan on using a Dremel with a cutting bit or disc--hacksaw blade could probably work as well. If you are working with ABS, you could melt the plastic with a Dremel if not careful.

I'm open to other suggestions!
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Old 09-29-2013, 12:18 PM   #16
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Take a look at the multi-tools for clean straight cuts with minimal dust at maximum noise.

I agree with the Tap Plastics and Front Panel Express recommendations. I have used both and have been pleased. Great link on that acetal sheet, Pau Hana. That looks like the right material for the job and at a fraction of the cost of Front Panel Express. If you have the need to engrave a panel for items like switches or circuit breakers, FPE is hard to beat.
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Old 09-30-2013, 05:54 AM   #17
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Anyone have an easy source for <engine turned> aluminum to build a dash out of?
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Old 09-30-2013, 08:45 AM   #18
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Not sure what <engine turned> aluminum is, but Front Panel Express made my panel of anodized aluminum.
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Old 10-01-2013, 12:05 AM   #19
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Engine turned panels.

Take a gander at this site:

https://www.google.com/search?q=engi...&bih=639&dpr=1

Not often used except in very custom work as it is time consuming and a boo boo can ruin many hours of work. These days I guess it would be easy to program a cnc milling machine or such for the pattern.

Usually produces a stunning panel or piece of work.

A really beautiful panel, but expensive, would be engine turned aluminum that is then anodized.
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Old 10-01-2013, 03:50 AM   #20
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I believe Home Depot sells plastic in sheets! If necasary your local sign shop can drape in black plastic and label as desired!
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