02 July 2014

A/C Vent Plugs For The DeLorean

A/C Vent Plugs available from delorean.com
Most would agree that the vent system in the DeLorean is not the best.  Like most cars, there is a central vent in the middle of the dash.  While most cars a have vents located towards the ends of the dash, the DeLorean has vents in the arm rest.  A tube is routed from the central vent to to the doors, these tubes are located behind the knee pad and run into the front of the door.  Good idea, but if there is any gap between the door and vent tubes, you lose airflow.  Besides, I have not noticed much air coming in through the arm vents.  Maybe because I rarely use vents.

Anyway, one solution is to block the airflow before it reaches the doors.  Above is the A/C Vent Plugs available from delorean.com.  It is a great design, meaning it is a simple design that I think I can replicate.

Rough drawing of discs
Luckily, I have access to a laser cutter.  I made some rough measurements, and drew something up in Illustrator for cutting.  The hold can be easily plugged by a three inch disc.  The DMC design simply snaps into the tube, removing the rubber gasket, or Duct to Door Adapter Seal (105213).  My 'design' is just a disc and will use the rubber gasket to hold said disc.  I admit that this is definitely not a better design than the one you can get from DMC, but a cheaper one...at least for me.
Laser cut discs with logo
I wanted to have a DMC logo on the disc.  The only way to do this, on a laser cutter, was to have the logo cut out and have a backing piece.  Holes in the disc would defeat the purpose of the plugs.  The alternative would be to model up a disc, this would basically resulted in a direct copy of the ones you can purchase.  No fun in that, I want to do something a bit different.

Removing protective backing
The thought was to cut these out of styrene, which is white, then maybe paint them with SEM black.  There was some black acrylic laying around, so I had my file cut in that.  I removed the letters, which I hope to use on another project, to create the negative logo.

Using solvent to bond the discs
Pieces are bonded together with a special solvent for acrylic.  The bonded disc create a negative, recessed logo.  I do not have a nice outer ring like the production version.  Again, that could have been created by modeling in 3D program.

Open tube, nice place for rats
Above image shows were the vent plug goes.  It is a big three inch hole.  Wait, I just had a thought, I could have used two hockey pucks and shoved it in the hole.

Peeling the protective layer before installation
I left the protective backing on the discs to preserve the high gloss of the acrylic.

Installed vent plugs
After installation, I felt the plugs were way too glossy.  I was trying to find a good angle to get the photo above as I kept getting weird reflections.   I had a hard time getting close up photos in general since I kept getting reflections of lights, background, or camera.  A glossy surface also means that it would be hard to keep finger prints and scratches off the discs.  So, I decided to sandblast the discs.

Sandblasted discs
Yep, I have access to a sandblaster, too.  A few passes with the sandblaster and a nice matte finish.  No more glaring reflections.  Of course, I could have achieved this same look with styrene and paint.  Instead, I wasted used up some nice acrylic.

Matte finish disc
Installed the sandblasted discs.  Not sure if this is looks better than gloss.  Oh well, I could always have another set cut out and swap between gloss and matte.  If you have access to a laser cutter, or lathe and mill, you too can make yourself a set of vent plugs.  But, if you are not a cheapskate like me, get your authentic vent plugs from DMC.

Vent hole in the door
Oh, you noticed that I have two sets of discs, total of four.  The other two are for plugging the hole in the door.  Since there is no rubber gasket or any way to hold the discs, double sided tape was the only option as it is.  Another option is to model up a full vent plugs for the doors.

The problem is, the surface is slightly curved and one of my Retainer (105519) is warped...which makes poor contact with double sided tape.  I will need to straighten the warped Retainer, or get a new one, before installing caps for the vent hole in the door.

Added ribs to door vent caps
My solution to this is to add some ribs to the caps.  It is a little messy as I could not use any solvents to glue the styrene strips to the acrylic cap.  Cyanoacrylate glue (super glue) was used to bond the two different plastics.  Luckily, no one will see this.  Heck, I do not think anyone really notices the holes in the door in general.  They are surely not going to notice my custom plates.

Fitted cap on retainer
The friction of the ribs will keep the cap secured to the retainer.  No need for any adhesive.

Installed door vent caps
 Now, my vents are sealed...well, not sealed, more like covered.  In theory, this should pipe all the air through the center vents.

On a side note, my car is in the shop now and one of the things they are doing is look over the AC system.  This includes charging it with the cool stuff.  Do they still use freon? They will also check the system for leaks.  After this, I may want to remove my vent caps and see if I can get any air from the door vents.  If it works, all this was just another 'fun with the laser cutter experiment'.  We will see.

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