One of my favorite parts of working with cars is being like MacGyver. Not sure who MacGyver is? Well, let me give you a brief description. MacGyver can defuse bombs with a stick of gum and a hair brush, so he’s known to be a crafty guy. In reality, I’m obviously not MacGyver status, but what I can do is figure out how to put things together from a hardware store that translates to race car parts. One DYI modification that is frequent, but not always documented, is splitter fabrication. The best part is that there isn’t just one way to make a splitter, in fact there are numerous ways to make a splitter. So, I have decided to share the method I used to make a splitter.
Step 1 – The first step of fabrication in general, is to write down your idea(s), research, and plan. You will need to ask yourself, what is the purpose of my splitter? Once you have your plan in place, you will need to mock-up the design. Don’t expect the mock up to be a one shot deal, unless you get extremely lucky or don’t mind imperfections. Just remember, any little flaws from the start tend to get worse along the way.
Step 2 – The second step is the mock-up or design of the splitter. To begin, place the car on jack stand, ramps, or a two-post lift. Depending on how far you want the splitter to extend rearward, you may need to remove the wheels/tires. Next, find a large sheet of sturdy cardboard without bends or creases. I started with a 6′ x 4′ sheet in this case, which was taken from a large furniture box. Place the cardboard sheet under the front bumper and use something to sturdy the sheet, like another box or stands. It’s best to have plenty of clearance to ensure easier, quality work. Once the sheet is steadied, use electric tape to form the shape or outline of the splitter. I’ve learned that electric tape is easy to shape with curves and manipulate throughout the process since it is less tacky than other tapes. After you’re satisfied with the outline, use a large, fine point marker to trace the edge you would like to cut. I use either a razor blade or utility knife to cut with. You may need to make multiple passes along the same line and groove to help prevent damaging the edges of the outline. I would advise using a new blade and working on one section at a time. Patience is key when cutting. Once you have finished cutting the outline, be sure to double check it fits as how you intended. ***In this particular instance, I cut only half and used the half that I cut as a template to mirror the shape to ensure both sides will look the same.
Step 3 – The third step is to use the cardboard sheet as a template. Once you are satisfied with your splitter shape, you will lay the template on the wood or material you intend to use as your splitter. From here on, I will be explaining how to shape the splitter from wood. There are many types of wood used for splitters, so after careful consideration and research, I felt birch was the best choice since it is sturdy and light. I picked up a large sheet of non-treated 0.5″ x 4′ x 8′ birch at the local hardware store. Once you have your sheet of wood, use the cardboard template as a guide for your outline that will be traced on the wood. In this step, use a pencil to trace your shape in case you need to make adjustments. Once the outline is drawn, measure different sections to ensure congruency. Besides the outline, the only other portion I decided to draw and cut were the holes needed for the brake duct inlets since it was going to require the jigsaw and sanding.
Step 4 – The fourth step is cutting, sanding, and preparing the splitter for the coating. Once the template has been traced, you will prepare to cut the wood into the splitter. I tried to use a jigsaw with a fine-toothed blade to help reduce chipping and “tearout”, but ended up using a closer tooth wood blade. I ended up still having quite a fair amount of chipping. The uneven, chipped edges were fixed by using a Dremel to lightly grind the edges, then they were sanded by using with multiple steps of grit sandpaper. Like previous steps, this takes patience and checking for imperfection, which might show up once the coating is applied. Since I didn’t use treated birch, I didn’t feel the need or want to sand the primary surface too much because I wanted to ensure a smooth surface without unnecessary grooves.
Step 5 – The last step was coating and installation. Once you have the splitter cut, sanded, and prepped, you will want to examine all of the coating options. Different coating options may include and are not limited to painting, fiberglass overlay, carbon fiber overlay, or using a spray truck-bed liner, like LINE-X. I decide to go with a LINE-X since it would provide an clean, easy solution that provides durability. After I received the splitter back with the coating, I ended up drilling the holes to match the mounting bracket that I purchased from Battle Aero. As an FYI, I didn’t use splitter rods since the Battle Aero brackets were chassis mount style and the birch wood was sturdy enough with the provided hardware.
It was an added bonus that the local LINE-X is around the corner from the shop. Nevertheless, I was really happy the way the coating and splitter turned out, even though I messed up one of the brake duct holes. If I were to make another splitter, the only thing I would do differently would be to drill the mounting holes prior to having the LINE-X applied. It feel it would give the holes a bit more rigidity and protect against the weather conditions. If I were to drill the holes prior to the coating, I would drill out at least one size larger than before to ensure the liner does not interfere with bolt passage through the hole. We often learn though our own and other’s trials and tribulations, which nowadays ends up being document through social media. This was a really fun project and I encourage others to share their experiences!
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