You are currently viewing 3D printed parts for my 1986 Transporter

3D printed parts for my 1986 Transporter

I have an old van which I love. It is old and simple, but also well worn! Last year I removed the dash pod to repair the electronics and found that the instrument cluster was mostly made of plastic. Plastic that is now 35 years old and has been baked in the sun many times! All the critical mounting points are crumbling to dust. At the time I managed to bodge it back together with insulation tape, but recently the round instruments just fell off as there was nothing left to support them. So, it was time to take the pod out again to investigate.

The VDO / Dash Pod:

The complete unit removed from the dashboard
From the top

The images above show the unit out of the van. In the second picture, you can see a Clustermaster unit in the top right. The last time I took the unit out was to refurbish the electronics using the Clustermaster kit. You can see my pathetic effort to hold things together with tape here – now let’s look at the damage…

The damage:

The instrument has a back panel which is made of plastic. The critical points that hold it in place have just degraded and snapped off.

The threaded sockets in the main pod enclosure are not looking great either. It seems I either have a socket or a corner, but never both!

The repair:

There are no replacement parts available to buy for this particular repair, so I decided to try 3D printing something. I thought that I could probably make a simple clamping piece for the instrument corners, and perhaps a bracket for the damaged sockets. Below are the 3D models I designed in Fusion 360:

Model in Fusion 360
Corners in Cura

I printed the corners and brackets on my Anycubic i3 Mega, which is similar to the printers we have in the makerspace. I decided to use PETG filament which has superior properties over PLA; PETG is a little more flexible, is a little stronger and more resistant to UV and temperature stress – I thought this would be sensible as the temperature in the cab varies quite a lot depending on the season and for the fact that I wanted a self-tapping screw to bite into the printed parts. Below you can see the corner piece:

The corner piece turned out to work really well, and gripped the instrumentation with the original screws and without the need for glue. The first iteration of the brackets were not a good fit, so I had to make smaller ones (shown below). The idea was that these might be glued to the pod unit to make some new sockets for the screws to bite into. I didn’t use these in the end as the corner pieces were working fine with what is still left of the pod! No doubt, I will need to improve on this repair at some point, but for now I can drive without my instruments falling into the dashboard nether regions!

The brackets which will no doubt be deployed soon!