Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Ferrari Life Posts: 11,703
How to Repair the 575M A/C Panel Mounting Tabs
I recently attended an FCA NM Chapter luncheon in Santa Fe and had a really great time. As I started for home and reached up to lower the window, however, the top of the entire A/C panel shifted down and out. No problem, I thought, Aaron and John, my techs in Albuquerque, would just tighten up the mounting screws and all would be OK. Wrong. When Aaron removed the two outer switches on either side to access the two mounting screws, all kinds of plastic bits disentigrated and there was no way to tighten the panel. Turns out all the heat from the window and other switches had embrittled the plastic.
So what to do? For 575M owners, the one thing you want to do so this does not happen to you is to hold the panel in with one finger, while operating the window switches with another finger to keep from putting any stress on the mounting tabs. That should help prevent the problem from occurring.
For the rest of us, though, the damage was already done and the panel needed repairs. Mine was particularly bad, with not only the tabs broken, but one of the plastic bars between the switches gone. It turns out a friend of mine, Jurgen Otto, had the same problem and fixed it with a piece of sheet steel he had formed into a channel that spanned the top of the entire A/C panel. I attacked the problem in a different way, with reinforcing panels for the mounting tabs themselves. Robbie, of Sticky-No-More, came to the rescue and loaned me an A/C panel from a Euro 575M that was damaged, but not destroyed, as my panel was. This allowed me to get some good measurements and make drawings for two types of repair panels, one like Jurgen had used on his car, and two reinforcement panels for those panels where the tabs were still relatively intact. In all honesty, Jurgen's repair is probably the easiest to use, but both are presented here so take your choice.
I repaired Robbie's panel with the two tab reinforcement panels and also made one of Jurgen's repair pieces for my more severely damaged panel. Aaron and John were kind enough to allow me to use their industrial band saw and belt sander to make the repair pieces.
So here is how to repair the panels. Take the attached repair piece images, which are exact size, and glue (do not tape) them to a piece of 0.50 aluminum. Cut out the pieces using a band saw and them sand or file to final shape. At each of the bend mark lines, cut about 1/3 through the inside of the aluminum piece(s) with a triangular file, half round file, or hack saw. Put the aluminum piece in a vice, and make the 90 deg bends. For the two small repair pieces, drill the mount holes before bending. For the large single piece, the holes can be drilled after bending. Clamp both repair piece types securely with wood blocks to prevent the drill press or drill from grabbing the repair piece and jabbing you or bending where you do not want it to bend.
Some hand filing or sanding may be necessary to get a perfect fit. Bend the two arms to get an interference fit, and glue with your favorite epoxy. i used JB Weld, which is long curing, but very tough when completely cured.
Here are images of the damage to Robbie's A/C panel, which is actually in pretty good shape compared to mine, the fitted repair pieces, and templates to be glued to the 0.50" aluminum. I used 5052 aluminum from onlinemetals.com, who sell 12"x12" sheets of aluminum that are perfect for this application. Thanks to Dave (ferraridriver) for pointing me to an excellent source for the metal I needed.