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Old 09-14-2013, 07:06 PM


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Write Up: DIY Custom Grille

I've recently had lots of interest recently on how I made my grille for my truck so here it is. The grille is already finished(and has been for 2 years now) so I will do my best to show everyone what steps I took, measurements, cuts to make, bolts I choose to use...etc

Step 1: Removal of the Grille
Remove the four small 5.5mm bolts on top of the grille.

Then use a flathead screw drive and press down on the 5 mounting bracket/clips as you slightly pull the grille outward.

The clip will not come all the way out but as you pop out more clips the grill will come right out.

Step 2: Measure for Cutting
Measure out your cuts and use painter tape so your measurements are easily seen while cutting. (Keep in mind my grille is complete already) First start with the bottom and make a mark 2" up all the way across the center section to be cut out.

Then mark out each side of the grille from the outside inward measuring 2" from the crease.

Picture of the edge (crease mentioned earlier) I measured from (middle of my finger)

Last but not least was measuring from the top down at (you guessed it) 2". The grille is not straight on the top so I used one mark on each side of the grille and made a straight mark across the whole grille. It's hard to get an exact point to measure off of (on the top) because it rounded very smoothly... Just pick a point and make sure to use the same spot on the other side (measurement can be off a little because these cuts are completely hidden. Once all 8 measurement are taken, simply connect the dots using a marker.

Step 3: THE CUT
First thing I did was was take a deep breath and.... Drink a cold one! I'd recommend the silver bullet but hey... That's just me. Simply use the cut off wheel and follow your marks. This doesn't take long as the wheel cuts right thru the plastic.

Step 4: Making the Grille Center Section
I went to a local metal store and purchased a sheet of expanded metal 36 3/4"x 13" for the center piece of the grille. Next I decided on the actuall width of the piece of metal that surrounds the cut-out. I choose to go with a width of 1 1/2".

The diementions of that piece of metal are 39" wide and 15 1/4" tall. Next is determining the location of the hole for the bolts. I choose to go with 8 holes vertically and 18 holes horizontally. The spacing worked out to be an exact 2" apart. Notice that my bolts on the vertical side didn't exactly line up with the horizontal bolts but I was happy with the results and actually like the way it looked. (If you change the number bolt holes and spacing keep into consideration that the hole isn't to close to the outside edge). Choose your bolt size before the CNC machine cuts the holes (or before you drill your own holes). For that piece of metal I took the easy route and went to a metal fabricator and had them input my measurements into a cad program and they cut out the metal, cut the holes for the bolts and welded the expanded metal onto it all for around $40 total! Make sure the expanded metal is only covering a 1/2" of the new center section. I then purchase my bolts, nuts, and lots of washers. I choose a rounded Allen head type. Can't remember the exact size... But I got 32 bolts 3/4" long for top and sides, 14 1/2" long for underneath the bottom plastic mounting bracket/clips and 6 1" long for going over the top of the plastic mounting bracket/clips. (You could do this to almost all bottom bolts but mine is more than strong enough) 52 in total bolts and nuts. I also bought a whole BUNCH of flat washer and locking washer as well.

Step 5: Drilling Bolt Holes in Grille
Aligning your new rectangular piece of metal with the grille itself is a pita. I used some clams to help hold the metal into place while I drilled from the center out. The measurements I used for centering was 1/2" from the bottom of the grille to the edge of the new center section. Next was 1 1/8" for the sides (roughly within a 32nd or so) and for the top I measured 3/4" down from the top (on the corners, Hopefully that isn't sounding). Since the holes are already cut out of the new center section all you need to do is drill the plastic. I removed the plastic support from the backside of the grille first. (Its probably off already) After all the holes were drilled I placed the plastic bottom support bracket/clips back in the grille and decided that I'd use the long bolts only in six locations... two on each end and two bolts in the middle. If you look closely you can see that only a few bolts go all the way thru the grille and grille support and the others sit under it.

Once those where drilled I was ready for the paint process. Having a friend helps A LOT in the alignment and drilling because the grille is not square (round on top and side) and is not flat either.

Step 6: Prepping Grille for Paint
I painted my grille while the to pieces where separated from each other because I wanted white bolts (big mistake!... I'll get to that later). If your going to paint this yourself, make sure you sand the bare metal the same day as you plan to paint the grille. Otherwise rust starts to form within 24hrs (even though its not visible) First wash the grille and bare metal center section. I then simply sanded the plastic grille with a 600 grit (wet because the grille didn't have any imperfections in it) and red scotch brite on the bare metal. Use some alcohol and rags to get rid of finger prints and then use a tack rag and wipe all surface completely clean. Then I sprayed an epoxy of the bare metal and an adhesion promoter over the plastic. Once that dried I sprayed a some primer over the top of that and sanded again using wet 600 grit sand paper. Once that dried I applied three coats of black over both pieces and five (yes 5) coats for clear coat. I also painted my bolts white while I was at it.

Step 6: Grille Assembly
Once everything is completely dry you can start the assembly process. I started with the center bolts and worked my way towards the outside as I went so the rectangular center section would form to the grilles arch type design. When bolting the bottom of the grille, use the small 1/2" bolts, lock washers and nuts to secure it to the grille. Be sure to leave out the 1" bolts that are going to support the mounting bracket on the bottom. Then use then 3/4" bolts for the sides and top of the grille. After all the bolts are in the grille new center section should be contouring nicely on the grille and looking good! Now put the plastic mounting bracket/clips on the bottom of the grille and use several washer with the 1" bolts to help support the mounting braket. Once all the 1" bolts are in, work your way around the grille re-tightening all nuts again just to make sure.

Here you can see the 1" bolts with washers used to help keep the mounting bracket supported supported to the inside of the grille.

Step 7: Install Grille
This ones pretty simple.... Pop the five clips in the bottom of the grille into the trucks grille/headlight support and put the four 5.5mm bolts back in the top. That's it! It's actually not to hard since I was able to do it! All it takes is patients.

Side Notes:

One thing I want to point out is the honey comb style grille insert on the grille itself never comes out and gets painted with the plastic part of the grille. Yes two of the tabs that holds it to the opening of the grille get cut, but I've had mine on for two years and have yet to have a problem with it! Each honey comb insert is in the grille so well I can pick the entire grille up by only holding those inserts.

Others may choose different measurements for the center section and grille cut-out. Basically I choose to only cut the grille where the bars that start to run across the grille. If you look closely you can still see the molder pieces of the OEM center section. (Its not cut crooked)

The possiblitiltes are endless when you considered what design to have the metals shop cut. I choose a simple rectangle but someone else could choose to have a design incorporated into the frame of the center section.

My adobe photoshop isn't working right now, but when it is I'll edit the pictures to help with measurements and captions. Hopefully others will do the same because even though my Allen bolts rusted (because when tightening the paint flaked off and I didn't touch it up ) I always get asked where I got my grille and when I tell people I had it, I always get compliments. Someday I'll get off my lazy arse up and sand the rust off the bolts and touch up the paint. It would be very time consuming so I haven't bothered with it yet. Good luck fellas!
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Old 09-14-2013, 08:47 PM


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I've got a photo or two on my old phone (before painting) of the grille after my first test fit of all the bolts and bare metal. I'll see if I can dig it up.
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Old 09-14-2013, 10:17 PM
The Maddawg

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Looks nice! Pretty easy to follow the directions! (even without a cold one)
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Old 09-15-2013, 03:53 AM
Compression Ignition Addict

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Thanks for the write up! Ive still got my old oem grill out in the barn,this looks like it could be a cool Saturday project! Thanks again!
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Old 09-15-2013, 04:48 AM
Compression Ignition Addict

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Looks good did you notice any cooler engine temps? I would figure this would allow more airflow to the radiators.

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Old 09-15-2013, 11:46 AM


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My temps did lower a little... Actually I would say instead of seeing 198-205 hot rodding around town and thru the mountains my ECT stay closer to 190.
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Old 09-15-2013, 11:52 AM


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Even though the grille looks hacked up from the back... It's really hard to notice once the grille is on. I actually asked several friends to pick it apart they couldn't find anything. But after pointing it out and getting really close, then they can notice. Someone could always take a piece of plastic thats 3/4" wide and 40" long and lay it over the raw cuts on the bottom and mold them together in a few spots with a soldering gun. But like I said its really hard to notice anyway.
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Old 09-29-2013, 06:49 AM

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Nice!! Really like the look!

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