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Old 11-28-2007, 02:53 PM   This thread is in the EcoModder Project Library | #1 (permalink)
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DIY: plastic rear wheel skirts (Geo Metro)

plastic wheel skirts, attached with velcro. (EDIT: see update, June 21, 2008: now attached with brackets. Not because they fell off, but because they were too hard to remove.)

why plastic: lightweight, non-rusting, easy to work with.

why velcro: i didn't want to drill any part of the sheet metal in the wheel well, because it's one of the most rust-prone areas on a car, and ontario is in the rust belt.

that said, drilling and using some other kind of fasteners would definitely be faster and probably easier. also, metal would be fine, or if you're good with fiberglass. the basic layout/planning steps will be similar.

supplies:



- black krazy karpet ($2 ea., 1 per wheel)
- 1 in. wide velcro strips (free - junk drawer)
- tube of sticky silicone-type glue/sealant ($4)
- newspaper
- cardboard
- scissors
- duct tape
- aluminum strip ... the thing that goes across a doorway to trim the transition between different flooring materials (free, in workshop - 1 per wheel)
- not shown: heat gun

btw, for those not familiar, this is what krazy karpets are usually used for! crazy ***, psycho-slipperly fast, unsteerable fun on snowy hills.

many an injury has been caused by these things, including yours truly, whose karpet ended up in front of me in a childhood crash, and its thin edge jammed into my face between my lip and nose and carved a nice gash. krazy!



step 1:

tape newspaper over wheel well. try to make it taut and wrinkle free. trace wheel arch outline.



step 2:

use the arch tracing to make up a cardboard prototype. when cutting the cardboard, don't cut right to the edge of the tracing. you need extra material to fashion the curves to get around the tires and leave space from the wheel. and depending on your attachment method, you may be forming a 90 degree lip as i did, to mate to the lip in the wheel arch.

take your time getting the cardboard shaped right. probably the most important area is the lower part of the arch. the length of the skirt material here determines how much room you'll have to fashion the right curves and leave enough room to clear the tire & wheel/cover.



step 3:

making the plastic version...

- i cut the velcro into 1/2 in. strips, lengthwise, glued one strip to the wheel arch lip (inboard as much as possible), and the other in sections to the corresponding "tabs" which make up the lip i cut & formed in the plastic



step 4:

making the plastic version, continued...

- to give the plastic some rigidity and to hold the proper shape to clear the tires/wheel covers, i taped, then drilled and attached 3 screws through a strip of flat aluminum trim on the back of the skirt. (the trim is what you find on the floor in a doorway at the transition between different flooring types.)

i dremeled off the extra length of the middle screw to keep it from touching the tire/wheel cover. (the side screws are ok like that



step 5:

that's it. i didn't have to paint my skirts because the black plastic is a fair match for the paint (a coulple of shades lighter). fyi, the skirts don't look quite as nice as the pics suggest, but i'm happy overall.

the only thing that needs paint are the screw heads. a couple of dabs of black will hide those.

i used the heat gun to soften the plastic enough to form a character line at the bottom of the skirts that continues a line above the rocker panels.



time to complete:

4 to 6 hours.

velcro notes:

i'm confident the velcro is going to hold the skirts in place in all normal situations. the only thing i wouldn't do is subject the gap between skirt & wheel well to the blast of a pressure washer.

the velcro is tricky to get into place when finally installing the skirt without it sticking where you don't want it to. one way to get it done is stick tape loosely in sections on the velcro - so you can get stuff into position, then pull the tape out and press the velcro together.

there's just enough room beween the wheel and the skirt that i can reach my skinny arm up behind and press the "tabs" firmly in place.

the adhesive i chose to stick the velcro to the car and the skirts wasn't the best - it's not strong enough. i won't be able to remove and re-install the skirts frequently or i'll be pulling the velcro off. one way around this is using a thin putty knife or screwdriver to separate the velcro, rather than just pulling on it when taking the skirt off.

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Old 11-28-2007, 02:56 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Feedback from the wild...

Sitting at a stop light, a guy in a purolator van pulled up in the next lane and yelled over "what's that cover over your rear wheel for?" i told him, and he said "so you burn less fuel? cool!" and he drove off.

Made me wonder if he's looking for ideas to save fuel. Companies sometimes reward employees who suggest ways to reduce costs. i guess if we start seeing wheel skirts on purolator vans, we'll know the answer.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:57 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Update:

In retrospect I learned: the plastic I used is too light. It wasn't an issue when I made them when it was cool outside (and the plastic was stiffer), but in the peak summer temps it got much softer and the skirts were pretty ... wobbly. I need to glue something on the backside to stiffen them.

If I were making another set (still haven't done my front wheel tests ), I believe I'd go with fiberglass.
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Old 11-28-2007, 02:58 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Update 2:

My beloved wheel skirts have been off the car for most of the summer.

When I took them off late last fall to have the car rust treated, a lot of the velcro came off too, despite trying to be careful. I duct taped them back on for the rest of the winter, but pulled them off entirely once the tape started disintegrating this year.

I need to:

1) add a coroplast backing to stiffen them (the krazy karpet plastic is too soft in hot - ie. 25+ C - weather

2) make clips / fasteners to replace the velcro

I got a good start on "1" over the weekend.
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Old 01-19-2008, 01:07 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Ya Might Try

For a Glue for your velcro you might try some 3M weatherstrip Cement. It ought to do the trick. And have ya thought of just applying some fiberglass to the back of your plastic? And maybe laying a small dowel rod on the plastic first as a strengthening girder? And as for drilling and rust... drill, and then dip your screws in paint before you thread them in, that ought to keep the rust out. Just a thought. John
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Old 01-19-2008, 06:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Why not drill the required holes then spray with underbody coating(entire wheel well) the dip screw in the same stuff and then attach. It'll be a b!tch to remove but it'll hold like nobodies business. I agree with you about inserting small metal rods shaped like the skirt and then plastered there with fiberglass, the only problem it would possibly cause is if it detaches due to flex, maybe using some sort of harder plastic strips to secure to the back for support without the possible tire puncture issue.
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Old 03-31-2008, 09:15 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Talking hot????

Quote:
Originally Posted by MetroMPG View Post

1) add a coroplast backing to stiffen them (the krazy karpet plastic is too soft in hot - ie. 25+ C - weather
hot - ie. 25+ C Now that's crazy talk! we rarely drop below that on a cold winters day, a hot Summers day here is more like 40+ C. I guess I can't use krazy karpet then.

Thanks for the ideas though, I will have to come up with something else for my plastic stock.

Dave.
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Old 03-31-2008, 10:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Well, considering you need SNOW to be able to buy Krazy Karpets anyway, it's looking like a moot point!

You might want to look at AndrewJ's method. He used thicker ABS for his skirts, if I'm not mistaken. http://forum.ecomodder.com/showthread.php?t=312
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Old 03-31-2008, 11:00 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Actually that was the first post I read in this site, also very inspirational, I especially liked his mounting method, been thinking that over....

Snow, I've heard of that, it's that white stuff on Christmas cards from way up north :-D
Seriously though I have seen snow, I just choose to move to a warmer climate for health reasons.
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Old 03-31-2008, 12:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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After this season, I've been thinking of moving to a warmer climate for mental health reasons.

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