With the abundance of reproduction and aftermarket parts available today why would anyone even attempt to make their own? Oh, let us count the ways. Better yet, we’ll let Frank Wallic count them.

When it came time to insulate the firewall in his Deuce roadster he considered the stock-type replacement firewall made expressly for the application. In fact, he even ordered one. But then something struck him. “I just hate the way the stock firewall insulator looks when you don’t run the gauge tunnel,” he recalls. “Even when you’re sitting in the car you can see where it’s dimpled for the tunnel,” he adds. “It just looks bad.”

Something else struck him too. The replacement insulator looked and felt remarkably similar to a material he found at a local upholstery shop. “The stuff was just ABS plastic,” he reveals. “Upholsterers use it to make door panels and things.” Assured that heat formed it easily—and that it cost a tenth of the price of the Deuce-specific panel—Wallic gambled and bought a sheet.

It paid off. The sheet bent as promised, both by heat and by conventional sheetmetal brake. A bead roller, Wallic discovered, left convincingly professional-looking ribs in the board, albeit at the expense of some stress markings. Whether by tin snip, saber saw, band saw, table saw, or circular saw, it cuts easily, and the right bit in a router will handily shape the edges. It can also be “welded” together with the same solvent used to join black irrigation and drain pipe. The stuff really is pretty remarkable.

What follows is how that flat sheet of anonymous plastic turned into a firewall insulator—a remarkably stock-looking part with one exception: it had only the divots, undulations, and creases that Wallic’s particular car needed. Though this particular one fits a ’32 Ford, there’s nothing saying the same technique couldn’t be applied to create an insulator for any other car.

Frank Wallic

f1932hog@aol.com