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Another way to make a tail light bracket

1501 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Twowheeler
We're still having winter here and some parts I ordered are on back order so I've had some time to fiddle with making a tail light bracket out of 3/16" ABS plastic. I guess it's done. It bolts up and the light works. Now if it lasts a few years I'll be happy
I'm going to make another from the same pattern for the '08. Not sure yet if it will be plastic or aluminum. Here's a few pics of what I ended up with.

I cut down the stock turn signals too.

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Very, very nice. Good looking fit. How did you do it? asked..... and thanks for the comments.

I made it from a 12x12 sheet of 3/16”ABS from Amazon. I had already made a cardboard mockup so I traced the flat shape and cut it with a band saw. I started cutting with a sabre saw but it basically melted the cut and closed back up behind the blade. It was doable but I have a band saw so I used that. It was a lot easier. I cleaned up the edges with a bench belt sander.

The only way to get a clean bend is to focus heat in a small area right where the bend will be. There are a number of homegrown ways to do this with a transformer and a piece of NiCr resistance wire. That’s the wire used for heating elements in toasters, space heaters, etc. There are a few videos on youtube showing how to do it. I didn’t have any laying around nor did I have a transformer. Also, it would have required too much dinking around trying to find the right combination of wire diameter and voltage setting to get the “right” temperature to bend without melting. Anyway, I ended up using a heat gun and shielded the area around the bend with wood, allowing the heat to only hit the bend area. I heated slowly and when the material got soft enough to bend I could easily pick it up and work the bend for a little while before it cooled. The top bend needed to be exactly 90 degrees for the gussets fit. I held them in place while the bend cooled to make a nice fit. I cut the gussets from corners of the sheet when I cut the flat shape, again from my cardboard patterns. The bend to tilt the license plate area is only about 5-8 deg.

I experimented with different ways to attach the gussets so I practiced plastic welding with a woodburner tool and a zip tie as filler rod. That wasn’t very strong so I switched to a strip of ABS as filler rod and it worked pretty good but still broke with a medium tug (probably due to my lack of experience and tools to plastic weld properly). The next trial was to use JB Weld. That held pretty good but when it did break you could see that it didn’t bond to the ABS real well. Next I tried ABS cement from the plumbing dept at the hardware. It did “melt” and bond at the joint real well so that’s what I used. It just took a little practice to get it only where I needed it to keep it sort of clean looking. After gluing the joint (which requires holding it tightly in place for a couple of minutes), I put a bead of glue on the back side of the glued seam.

The rest is just drilling/cutting holes where you want them and mounting whatever light you decide on. I used an ebay LED unit. It’s nice and bright. I added the rubber grommet behind the plate to keep vibrations down.

A couple of thoughts I had while making this…… I wanted to bolt the top with 4 bolts to keep it solid so it bolts to the rear tabs and the back frame crossmember. I might have to adjust that area to make sure the bracket surface meets the tabs & crossmember accurately. I'll just bolt it up then hit it with the heat gun to make sure it's not binding. Also, using gussets helps with stability plus might help keep splash from the rear tire a little confined….like a mini rear fender.

That’s about it.

MrBracket, I don’t mean to suggest people shouldn’t buy your bracket (or anyone else’s) by making one. Yours is a well made work of art. I just have the time and like to make things.
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