It’s funny, the side panels are one of the few things you’ll not see discussed often on the Y! Group or on builders blogs. I’m not really sure why. My theory is that most likely this is the last thing that you work on before rushing off with your new droid for the first time – and sadly overlooked when sharing building tips.
What exactly are the side panels, well they’re the small nondescript flat square pieces that fill the holes below the side vents. They’re typically not included with frame or skin part run, unless you’re using a fiberglass body. So material and implementation is left up to each builder to figure out.
Here’s a shot of the side panel on the the ILM Uber R2 – which incidentally has them molded into the skins.
I’m guilty as most builders and left this part to the last minute – but thought I’d do my duty and share the solution I came up. At the time I thought it would be a temporary fix, but most likely it’ll stay this way for a while.
The plan was to cut the panels out of aluminum and attach them to the frame using the same bolts that attach the skin mounting blocks to the frame. Here’s a good shot of a skin mounting block.
I started off by cutting some spare aluminum sheet to fit in the gap.
I cut it slightly too long as I wanted to bend it over and create an L shape. Don’t ask how wide the plate is – I made it to fit snug in the groove in the lower ring of my aluminum frame, and in this photo it extend all the the way down and touches the frame ring where the mount block is attached.
I cut a few notches from the corners as it needed to fit around the frame vertical supports.
I then bent it along the line I’d marked earlier, making an L shape
I marked and drilling the mounting holes
Then test fitted and tweaked the edge until it was flush with the skirt and skins
I added a couple of quick coats of paint using the same formula as the skins (metal etching primer, gray primer Rusoleum satin white)
Here’s the final version of the panel bolted to the frame ring and skin mounting block
I’m pretty happy how it came out, and it’s one of those parts that nobody really pays much attention to anyway.
However, one of the issue with the panels sharing the same bolt with the skin mounting block is that when putting on the skins I find it easy to get them to fit by keeping the mounting blocks little loose. But once the skins and panel are in place it’s incredibly hard to then get inside to tighten the screw up to hold the side panel firmly in place. It’s hard to explain, but trust me even with small hands it’s really difficult to juggle the skins, side panels and mounting blocks to get everything tight and aligned.