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Plastic Vehicle Body Answered

Hey, people. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask questions about this sort of thing and I can't find anything on the web on the subject. I guess not too many people want to build a vehicle body from scratch. Anyhow, here's my situation. I have a large mobility scooter which I would like to transform into something nice for a Halloween parade. I can't do anything too fancy or professional looking because I don't have the resources for something like that. What I think I'll do is build a frame over which I'd bolt sheets of plastic that are cut in particular forms. Then I'd paint the whole thing with spray paint and touch up with an airbrush. What I need to know is which materials to use. There are all sorts of plastic out there. I won't be forming anything with heat, so at best I'll only need plastic that's not too thick and has a good surface for painting. Also, I don't know what to use for the frame. If you don't know about the materials, any sort of advice or encouragement would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!


You know simple heat forming isn't all that complicated, with a simple heat gun, don't discount it...

I'm afraid that while attempting to form plastic into specific shapes (something I've never done before), I'll make too many mistakes and ruin the plastic which is something I can't afford to do. Perhaps when after this project, I'll practice some heat forming. Thanks.

Oh fair enough, I was just offering encouragement but if plastic is very tight then by all means be cautious... One idea to help sculpt shapes though would be use polystyrene or the like with a hot wire cutter to sculpt nice looking curvy bits, just an idea to help fill out the body work...

Not using heat makes it a right bit tougher. The frame would be easy enough to build with wood from your scrap pile or the hardware store. As for plastic, #2 plastic ios common and easy to work with. I dunno if it takes paint, but I've never had it melt unexpectedly, and that Krylon plastic paint sounds just the trick. Hope that helps!

Yeah, I wish I could form the plastic with heat, but I don't have the equiptment or the know-how. I'll look at the plastic you mentioned. Thanks a lot.

I'm not sure if I'm looking at the right one, but if #2 plastic is HDPE, that's what I've been leaning toward. The only thing is, I'll need some transparent colored plastic for windows and such. I guess I can work with white HDPE and some thin transparent acrylic sheets, but I'm unsure of how flexible acrylic is. Thanks again.

Since this is sort of a parade float, you can probably do PVC/metal pipe frame or even a wood stud frame. Skin it over with masonite or thin plywood. Even laminate several layers of corrugated box cardboard. Easy to shape and it gets real strong if you alternate the direction of the internal ridges. You could probably use some wall joint compound to smooth it out with some paper/fiberglass tape for drywall. Or else go with papier mache for the details. Plastic sheet would be hard to paint unless it was primed properly and probably need to use some superglues to attach other stuff. The other porous materials take regular glue and paint well. And if anyone can sew, you can do fabric panels from a tarp attached by several nylon tie-wraps. You are just going for the illusion of a shape. Add a smoke machine and lights to the rig. Good luck.

Smoke and lights are great ideas, but I'm not too sure about everything else. Your method sounds complicated and messy. I don't think I have to time or experience to experiment with materials. Thanks a bunch for your advice.