RB26 S13 – Interior Work

Over the past couple months, I have done a bit of interior work to get things started, now I just need to add all the fancy bits to make it usable.

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I know there are millions (exaggeration) of people who have done the S15 dash conversion before, but that didn’t stop me from doing it. This story starts in 2011, when I bought this dash.

There was an S15 being parted out and the complete dash was up for sale for a stupid price. I made an impulse decision and jumped on it, told myself that I would use it in the S13 when I finish building it.

Four years later, here I am trimming the edges to make it fit in the S13, just like I had planned.

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So here is the start of my new office!

First thing to do was make it a bit narrower so it could go around my cage. Instead of just cutting a massive chunk off each side of the vinyl, I went with a slightly different method.

But, I didn’t cut all the way through the dash. There are three parts to an S15 dash, first being the plastic, second being the foam lining and third is the vinyl, which is that fancy leather looking part you see on top.

I grabbed an air hacksaw and started going through the plastic bits.

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I wanted to cut out the plastic and go down to the foam so that the dash would basically flex itself into place.

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Obviously there was still some pieces that needed to come off completely.

But for the most part, I was just trimming through the plastic.

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Take away the plastic layer and you are left with this.

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Which then means it has some flexibility and can move around things without having to worry about breaking the plastic.

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See? Cheap flexibility.

To make it a bit easier on the other sections, I got another air tool out of the tool box.

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Air die grinder with a 2.5mm drill bit. Instead of running this thing full blast, I ran it at about 10%. This was to stop it from grabbing on the foam and potentially cutting through to the vinyl.

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This was the top part of the dash.

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Now imagine trying to cut that with a hacksaw and not ruin it!

I trimmed the other side of the dash quickly..

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…and tested it in the car.

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I still need to do a final trim on the edges so it’s a snug fit, but it’s sitting in there for now.

The next thing I wanted to focus on was my cluster and switch panel templates.

I have already been over how many switches I need and what is going to take up space in the switch panel, so I cut that out of my sketch book and taped it onto the stereo surround.

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Next thing was my gauges.

If you have seen my 180sx, you will know I have a cluster full of gauges in the factory slot. The plate in the car is something I designed myself in 2011 and I am incredibly happy with it.

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I wanted to replicate that but with something to fit in the S15 dash, so I grabbed the standard cluster from the dash and cut out a template.

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I brought along my old gauge templates (these had been sitting in a folder since I made the original template) and threw them on to get an idea of how I wanted everything to sit.

People with a keen eye will see that I have a cutout for a Defi control unit. If you are wondering what gauges I will be running, that answers your question. I will be using another set of Defi gauges identical to those in the 180sx. I love the things and I will never run anything else!

Everything looked ok with the layout so I started drawing up a design.

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The one thing I wanted to do different to the 180sx version is incorporate the control unit for the gauges in the bottom of the cluster.

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Now, the drawing is the easy part, the hardest part of this job is what comes next.

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The housing that the standard cluster sits into doesn’t have a flat backing like S13 and 180sx versions. Instead it has a weird backing that curves both horizontally and vertically. This is because the clear plastic screen on the front of the standard cluster is curved downwards to alleviate the sun glare.

If I want to make a cluster plate out of steel and have it fit with minimal gaps, I’m going to have to make something that follows these curves.

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I’m yet to come up with anything yet, but as soon as I do I will throw up another blog post.

I have been asked about my 180sx cluster plate a few times since making it and thought I might just make some more and sell them, but I’d like to get the S15 version done as well. I’ll have to get back onto the other design and see if anything needs tweaking, then might throw some up for sale.

I will definitely post more updates as the interior comes together. I’m hoping to have templates of both panels done in the next couple weeks.

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