Panel Overllay

Panel Overllay

The black panel overlay material in my 172A is starting to split and crack. Is there a company the makes a repo of a cessna panel overlay. I'm not able at this time to even consider a custom panel. I just want to improve the looks of what's there. Also I've considered pulling off the overlay and leaving the aluminum showing. Has anyone done that and been satisified with the results?

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Re: Panel Overllay

Plane Plastics has replacement plastic overlays for the 172A.

<http://www.planeplastics.com>

Click on "172/175" under "Models". The panel overlay is part number K0513133-32 on page 17.

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Re: Panel Overllay

Jay; I am in the same boat.  I thought about pulluing the overlay off and expose the underlying structure.  Mine is not pretty so some sort or fabrication will have to happen if I do that.

Stan; I will check out what Plane Plastics has to offer.  Thanks!

     Dave

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Re: Panel Overllay

I just checked it out.  The upper panel piece doesn't look ANYTHING like what's in my '56 model.  I like their panel better than my current one.  Wonder if I can somehow retro fit it?!?

    Dave

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Re: Panel Overllay

Dave, the part shown on page 17 of the Plane Plastics catalog clearly isn't designed to fit the '56, '57, and '58 172 panels. I've looked at most of the aftermarket manufacturers and can't find a replacement panel overlay for the '56-'58s, which are completely different from the '59s and later.

The Cessna part number for the '56 panel overlay is 0513004-26, and the cessnaparts.com <http://www.cessnaparts.com> website says "Call for availability". Their number is 1-800-998-7832. You might give them a call (I usually talk to Ron) and ask if they're available and if so, at what price. When you ask the price, you should probably be sitting down. :-)

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Re: Panel Overllay

I wonder if I could pull out the current panel, have anew one fabricated out of aluminum, powdercoat it and put it back into the plane and forget all about the overlay piece.

     Dave

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Re: Panel Overllay

Thanks for your help Stan. Dave, my panel is aluminum and I'm thinking I may do what you suggested. I'll check on the price of the new overlay but I'm not committed to replacing it. I'm thinking of making some upgrades on instrumentation and the original style overlay doesn't lend itself very well to what I may end up with.

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Re: Panel Overllay

David,

Getting a new panel cut isn't as bad as it might seem- especially if you're handy with a computer and can pick up CAD sofware which exports to AutoCad .DXF format.
If you do the measuring and layout, a waterjet cut typically runs about $175 (which cannot be touched for the labor cost of cutting the panel by hand).

Most of the instrument hole measurements (like the altimeter cut-out) can be found on the web or in print.  Then it's simply a matter of layout.

After the layout is finished, give your local FSDO a call and be sure to ask for the Avionics inspector.  Talk to him about the layout and be ready to informally submit your design for perusal.  Once those ducks are in a row get a water jet to cut the panel out.  I typically use 2024T3 at .090". 
I normally don't powdercoat because the powdercoating can get pretty thick and not let your instruments fit anymore.

Also make sure you use a newer waterjet company.  The older waterjets didn't compensate for thicker materials which resulted in undersize cuts (coning).

If you're going for a more "traditional" look, you can purchase black "wrinkle" paint which will provide a rough surface (which is almost impossible to attach decals to ;-)

I typically use a flat grey- but that's just me.

Replacing the instruments should take most of a Sunday.

While you're back there, why not replace the vacuum hoses too?

Best regards,
RH

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Re: Panel Overllay

Roger,

With all due respect, waterjet is not the most economical way to go. Some by hand and some by CNC milling center is. Also, if you talk with a powder coater, they know within a few mils of the finished coating thickness. In your layout, you compensate for the additional thickness + .005-.01 thousanths.

Paint is a bad idea, unless you intend to remove the panel and repaint it every 6 months. With Powder coat, especally the epoxy based coatings, you can drag your keys over it with force and not damage the finish.

With regard to the layout, it is a fairly easy thing. Get posterboard, scissors, and tape, and start cutting and taping until the exact exterior shape is obtained. In a Cessna, nothing about the outside shape is a true radus, square or paraell line. To transfer from the physical shape to a CAD file is nearly impossible without making several test templates. Even with 3 or so patterns, you wont be happy. Cut the outside shape and cutout for the radios by hand,  by transfering the posterboard template to the aluminum. The instrument holes are easiest obtained by CNC mill, since the some of cutouts are notched for the setting knob. The Aircraft spruce catalog has the dimensions for the standard cutouts.

Also DXF file format is old hat. Industry standard is .IGS (or .IGES) All the CAM software packages can read it. Not so with DXF. Autocad is also old hat.

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Re: Panel Overllay

Thanks for the information Jim. 

You are absolutely correct about the outside shape being an absolute bear to transfer to CAD.

As for powder coating...

I do use powder coating in places where the part receives heavy, repeated contact (eg rudder pedals and control yokes).
I do not use powder coating where future machining may take place or where metal fracture may occur (eg engine mounts).

And for Old Hat...<sigh>
For someone who still has an Osborne "portable" computer with repleat with C/PM operating system, I think the only desperate excuse I can provide for not keeping up with the times is- My machine shop hasn't required me to change yet <grin>.

I will certainly consider CNC milling.

Best regards,
RH

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Re: Panel Overllay

Lots of great responses to my original post of what to do about old worn plastic panel overlays. I checked with Plane Plastics and I'm not satisfied with what they offer. If I'm unable to find a company that provides a factory type replacment panel I'm considering pulling off all the plastic and exposing the aluminum panel underneath. Now the problem is how to best finish off the exposed aluminum and how to best label everything that requires labeling.

Anyone have suggestions? Would paint work OK? I was thinking about a wrinkle finish look. Do I have to etch the aluminum before painting? Has anyone done this?

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Re: Panel Overllay

Try anodizing it, in lasts a forever!

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Re: Panel Overllay

Four years ago, I took the plunge and installed an Avion Research <http://www.avion.com> panel in my '63 172D.

"Before" and "after" photos are at <http://home.earthlink.net/~k4drd/index.html>. The panel is STC'd, powdercoated aluminum, and makes the airplane a real joy to fly.

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