What’s up ladies and gentlemen of the car audio world? Today I bring to you the all inclusive Fiberglass Amp Rack 101 Lesson! Allow me to insert my shameless plug and say that if you enjoy any part of this tutorial, or learned something new, please post a comment, rank this thread, and share with your friends! Also I love when I get new subscribers on my YouTube channel! (The SECRETS of Car Audio Fabrication! - YouTube ) Other than that let’s review what you will learn shall we?
First off I know I know, this looks like a ton of reading, and a ton of work, but it really is not, it just seems that way because I am outlining every thing I have learned over the years of many car audio installations. When I started learning this I would have done ANYTHING for a write up with the tricks and techniques I am going to show you, but it didn’t exist, so again while it might seem like a lot to read it WILL be WELL worth your time to read through this and watch the videos. Note that some of the videos or somewhat of an “update” to my progress within the step, where as others are much more of an actual step by step instruction. The videos have a run time of a little over an hour, so grab a frosty beverage and some food and sit back! That being said there are a million different ways you could construct an amp rack, this tutorial will cover what I have learned and found to be very effective means of building a professional quality amp rack. Note that for the sake of length some sections of this lesson may refer to previous lesson posts I have made, in these cases I will provide a link for you to visit so that you may learn that technique as well! Also note that the quality of my videos improves throughout the series. Please watch all the videos to gain the full experience! In order to watch all of the YouTube videos is one go, please view the YouTube playlist here:
How to - Fiberglass Amplifier Rack Car Audio Tutorial - YouTube
Note that each step within this write up also has the video thumbnail, with a link to the video below it.
Before we begin allow me to briefly outline the process that will be covered. By understanding each step involved you are well on your way to an amazing fiberglass amp rack!
1. Designing the Layout
2. Skeleton – The Foundation of your shape and Making Templates
3. Prepping Templates and Skeleton for Molding
4. Applying Fabric – The Skin of your shape
5. Glassing and Strength
6. Smoothing and Prep for Finish
7. Adding Plexi and Inserts
8. Wrapping the Amp Rack – Vinyl, Suede, and Carpet
9. Final Thoughts
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1) Designing the Layout:
Before you even cut your first piece of wood you are going to want to carefully consider your layout. First off most all amplifier racks should be designed with two pieces in mind. They are 1) The Mounting Structure and 2) the Beauty Panel. The mounting structure is what your amps and equipment will mount too and the beauty panel is the structure that will hide all the wiring and effectively show off your amps. Note that your amp rack could be designed that both these functions are in one piece, but in my case they are separate.
Next you need to layout the equipment. To effectively do this take a picture of the bare trunk and sketch where each piece of equipment will be, and then what you want the finished product to look like. Luckily I have access to modeling software so I perform this step on a computer. The video shows my first step of the design. This is also a great phase to consider the materials you will use to finish the amp rack and their seamless integration into the vehicle. I strongly advise you to consider the “less is more” philosophy in this phase. Often times the best installs are those that are the most simple.
How to Design an Amp Rack Layout - Car Audio Custom Fiberglass - YouTube
Fiberglass Amp Rack Update! Explanation of How to coming soon! Templates ready to go! - YouTube
Before continuing to your skeleton here is an excellent list of questions to ask yourself about your design to minimize issues throughout the build.
• Have I accounted for enough room for all amplifiers, distribution blocks, equalizers/crossovers, and wiring?
• How will the wiring reach my equipment?
• Is there enough airspace around my equipment for proper cooling per the manufacturer recommendations?
• Will my equipment be secure in the way I plan to mount it?
• Can I easily access all fuses, and adjustments on the equipment?
• Are all functions of the vehicle still possible? (Moving Seats, Trunk Closing, etc)
If the answers to the above questions are yes, lets continue onto making your wooden skeleton.
2) Skeleton – The foundation of your shape:
So its time to get to work building your skeleton which will be the foundation for your amp rack. I recommend building your Mounting Structure for your equipment first. This will require basic building techniques so I did not outline much of it within the videos. Some tips are to utilize good mounting techniques for securing the base of the mounting structure. Some of these techniques are to use nutserts (threaded rivets) for mounting to the sheet metal of the vehicle and t nuts for mounting equipment to wood. They are outlined in the following two videos:
Thread Setter! Tool of the Week! Use to mount car audio items to sheet metal! Threaded Rivets! - YouTube
How to Use a T Nut ! How the Car Audio Fabricator Installs them - Used in my Fiberglass Amp Rack! - YouTube
Once your mounting structure is complete you will want to start determining what shapes you would like to use for templates that will cover the amplifiers or be around them. I cover how templates are made in a totally separate how to series, as they are pretty involved steps, but once you learn them you are on your way to taking your install to the next level. Check out that how to series here:
How to make car audio templates! - YouTube
When it comes to making the Beauty Panel skeleton you are going to want to utilize techniques like router tricks to make pieces that fit within one another perfectly. You will also want to use techniques that allow you to mesh similar pieces of wood into one another to create separate pieces of the amp rack so that the amp rack is an assembly, rather than one permanently conjoined part. Having an amp rack that is multiple pieces that are joined together by bolts and screws is much more effective than an amp rack that is glued or otherwise permanently joined. You want to have access to the equipment.
The methods and steps to effectively doing this are outlined in the following video:
How to build a wooden skeleton foundation - Amp Rack 101 - Car Audio Fiberglass How To - YouTube
Once you have all your skeleton pieces built for both supporting the equipment and hiding the equipment you are going to want to prepare the skeleton for fiberglass, the professional way.