Installing Cockpit Foam
- by Ian Carsten
Successfully installing cockpit foam on a derby car requires planning and
preparation for a neat, durable job. First, decide how much of the foam you
both the stock and superstock cars, the front piece is mandatory as a face
protector. The rear piece is optional. It is useful if you are trying to
close off the rear of the cockpit for a small driver. The superstock rules
also allow two sidepieces to close off the cockpit even more.
only adhesive that seems to work successfully to install foam is
conventional liquid contact cement applied in two separate coats. We have
had identical results with both Weldwood© and Liquid Nails© brands of
clear, thick Goop© brand sold in purple tubes doesn’t seem to work as well.
Goop is good, however, for repairing tears in foam or re-gluing small
separations between the foam and the plastic. We always carry a tube with us
to races for emergency repairs.
you have a superstock and you are going to paint it, use masking tape over
the area of the lip where the foam goes. Gluing over paint doesn’t work well
because the glue tends to dissolve the paint and gives a weak bond.
you already painted the lip of the shell, you should use masking tape on the
area where you want the paint to stay and use paint remover to get the paint
off the area where the foam goes. You need bare plastic for the contact
cement to stick to.
you have decided how much foam you will use, you need to practice
positioning the foam close to the cockpit lip and carefully pushing it
against the lip a little bit at a time to adhere it. Perfecting this prior
to applying the glue is important because the instant the two glued surfaces
touch that is where they will stay. It is nearly impossible to lift
out-of-position foam from the lip once the two glued surfaces touch.
like to make a small reference mark with a pencil on the front center of the
cockpit just above the lip and a corresponding mark on the top center of the
foam. Then the foam is bent back sharply in the center. We carefully line up
the marks with the center of the foam flush to the top of the cockpit and
move the foam forward until it touches the lip.
you need a second pair of hands to help steady and guide the foam into
position, don’t hesitate to get help. If you get it wrong, it usually spoils
the piece of foam
next step is to slowly work one branch of the foam away from the center and
press it against the lip a little bit at a time until that half of the foam
strip is against the lip. Then we do the same with the other branch until
the entire length of the foam has been pressed into position against the
you are satisfied you can position the foam accurately, you can prepare the
lip for gluing. Contact cement is sold in small bottles with a tiny
applicator brush. It is too small for our intended purpose. It’s more
practical to buy a pint or quart can. You should also purchase a one or
two-inch wide paintbrush, a can of contact cement solvent to clean the
brush, and some 400-grit abrasive paper.
the lip with alcohol to remove any grease, oil, or fingerprints. Position
the foam against the lip to determine what part of the lip has to be
roughened. Mark the ends of the area with pencil. Now roughen the lip with
the 400 grit paper to provide some “tooth” for the cement to stick properly.
the index marks on the foam and the shell as mentioned above. Use the
paintbrush to apply a first coat of cement to both the lip and the foam.
Since the foam is so porous, be generous when coating it. Immediately clean
the brush in contact cement solvent and rub off the residue onto a rag.
Allow the first coat to dry 40 ~ 45 minutes.
a second coat of cement to both the foam and lip and allow it to dry 15
minutes. Re-clean the paintbrush thoroughly while the adhesive is drying.
Using the positioning technique you practiced earlier, apply the foam. Press
it firmly against the lip of the shell along the length of the foam.
the same technique to attach the rear piece if wanted. If you want side foam
on a superstock, first attach the front and rear pieces. Then you can
practice positioning the sidepieces before gluing them. It usually works
best to first butt one end of the side piece against one of the previously
installed front or rear pieces and slowly bring it against the lip a little
bit at a time until the entire sidepiece has been nested into position.
the bond to harden overnight before putting the driver into the car. This
technique gives a neat-looking, strong bond that holds up well.
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