What material are folks using for black backing plates?

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dpmcgarry

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2023
Messages
27
Location
Chesapeake Bay, MD
Vessel Name
Le Chèile
Vessel Make
Selene
Over time various electronics have been upgraded in my pilot house. I am also looking to remove some item that are no longer needed. There is currently a “variety” of materials that have been used as the black blank panels to install new stuff. I think I have shiny abs plastic, textured abs plastic, and then some type of matte plastic. I would really like matte and for things to actually match versus a hodgepodge of different blacks. I think the panel that mounts my two Furuno FI-70s is the closest (though I would have gone with pan head screws with black covers so you aren’t staring at screw heads).

What material are folks generally using for this and where is a good place to source it from? Trying to buy generic plastic on Amazon and actually get what I am looking for has turned into a bit of a fools errand.
 

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Yes, have used black Starboard. For this boat I had custom panels made out of 1/8” aluminum and they cut all the holes for my electronics.
 
As mentioned, I used black king or Starboard over what was originally Formica. In the two below pictures, the air conditioning thermostat, upper VHF radio, inverter controller, and the fire suppression controller all have black backing plates.

Probably one point of inconsistency was not to spray paint the stainless steel screw heads black before installing the plates. If you mount the approximate size piece with the permanent mount holes on a piece of plywood, it's very to work squares with a table saw. Then a quarter rounding bit in a router with the guide bearing makes it extremely easy to dress up the edges. Counter sunk pan head screws are a nice finishing touch. Check out the fire suppression controller as an example of nicer work.

Ted
 

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Over time various electronics have been upgraded in my pilot house. I am also looking to remove some item that are no longer needed. There is currently a “variety” of materials that have been used as the black blank panels to install new stuff. I think I have shiny abs plastic, textured abs plastic, and then some type of matte plastic. I would really like matte and for things to actually match versus a hodgepodge of different blacks. I think the panel that mounts my two Furuno FI-70s is the closest (though I would have gone with pan head screws with black covers so you aren’t staring at screw heads).

What material are folks generally using for this and where is a good place to source it from? Trying to buy generic plastic on Amazon and actually get what I am looking for has turned into a bit of a fools errand.
I like Starboard. Comes in several colors
 
I do not limit my self to one material.

If I know I'm going to be adding more holes at a later date I go with ABS. This is the easiest material to work with. Almost unbreakable, just not the pretties and if not adequately supported it can warp, cheaper than starboard.

If I want a shinny back drop I go with Acrylic. I think it looks better than ABS or Starboard but it is the most fragile.

If I want a professional look or I want it to be thin, I go with a powder coated aluminum. Best strength and durability, difficult to DIY. "Front Panel Express" is a great company for having custom panels made.

I prefer ABS over Starboard because of cost, otherwise I find them the same product.
 
I had new aluminum panels made for my Formula by a guy named Steve, don’t remember the company name. He did excellent work and made all the cutouts for the specific electronics. I thought that he only did Formula panels but I asked him and he said that he makes custom panels for any boats. His number is 609-876-8959. Tell him you got it from me so to treat you nicely.
 
My redneck solution was just a scrap piece of 3/16" plywood and mat-black rattle can paint. Yeah, my thought was to go back and do something nicer, but frankly it looks good enough and I have other priorities.
 
I use Sintra. Black or white , pebble one side. Can be heated & bent, easy to work. Get mine from Total Plastics Inc, multiple locations. Reasonable price
 
Consider the affect of UV rays. ABS will not hold up if exposed to UV. Starboard will hold up.
From my understanding, dark colors of ABS hold up fine to UV. I've had a sheet of black ABS out in the sun as a masthead light glare shield for a few years with no significant degradation. Hasn't become brittle or anything, it's just gotten a little less shiny.
 
From my understanding, dark colors of ABS hold up fine to UV. I've had a sheet of black ABS out in the sun as a masthead light glare shield for a few years with no significant degradation. Hasn't become brittle or anything, it's just gotten a little less shiny.
Reading up on it, seems like you need to look for ABS that specifies it is UV rated. One comment stated ABS holds up to UV but it fades-as you stated. Probably not relevant in a pilothouse.
 
I use Sintra. Black or white , pebble one side. Can be heated & bent, easy to work. Get mine from Total Plastics Inc, multiple locations. Reasonable price
I like Sintra, very light and easy to work with. My only concern with Sinatra is edge appearance. If your edges are hidden then no issue. You can’t just quarter round the edge and call it a day with Sintra.
 

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