Building the Bulge Mesh Grill for 97-99
Some have commented on Dremeling out the vertical slats in the grill openings but that is entirely up to you. If the grill mesh is painted silver your eye will not see the slats underneath. The only time you'll ever see them is when you are up really close or when the sun shines from a certain angle. If the grill mesh is painted black you will definitely see the slats which defeats the purpose of the grill mesh. The mesh just disappears.
Roughly 2-3 hours
- Canadian Tire/Home Depot brand Gutter Guard (pkg comes with 4 sheets and comes in either silver or black)
- 12" Black Zip Ties
- Flat Head screwdriver
- Vise grips
- Masking tape
- Scissors (you know, the cheap kind that is supposed to cut paper, chicken, metal, etc.)
- Permanent felt pen
- sheet of paper (long & wide enough to cover one side of the grill)
- cardboard piece (not the corrugated kind & long & wide enough to cover one side of the grill)
- leather gloves (optional, so you won't draw blood - I did mine barehanded)
In my first attempt at the mesh I cut out the hand access for the hood release. You have that option to do it before you mount the grill. Every time I looked at it I felt like it A) looked like a ram air inlet or B) it doesn?t belong there.
Of course for me option B won out but its up to you.
Removing the Grill:
The grill is held on by two retaining clips on top at each end and two vertical pins on the bottom. To remove the top part of the grill slide the flat head of the screwdriver in between the grill and the car body. Try to press down as far as possible and then twist so that the retaining clip clears the body. Do the same at the other end. Once both are free, tilt the top part of the grill forward and lift off.
Top half of the Grill Template Steps:
1- Take the piece of paper and carefully press it up against the grill so that you feel the inner ridge around the opening. The ridge is present on the bottom half of the grill only. For the upper part of the grill this will be a little tricky. Press the top part of the paper against the edge to get an impression.
2- Take the felt pen and mark where the centerline of the grill is.
3- Take the paper and with the felt pen give about 2" more on the top of the upper impression. The reason for this is because the upper part of the grill is not in line with the lower part. As you can see in the pic below you can see how the mesh extends out and then slopes down.
4- As you look at the corner of the grill mesh in the pic you'll see how I've finished it. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the whole project, next to mounting it. Draw on the paper the corner so that it looks something like the pic below:
5- Once you have the outline done on the paper take your scissors and cut out around the impression. Cut right on the centerline you marked.
6- Take the half paper impression and draw the outline on the piece of cardboard.
7- Again mark the centerline on the cardboard.
8- Flip the paper template over and outline the other half of the grill onto the cardboard.
9- Cut the cardboard.
10- Fit the cardboard against the grill and carefully trim to fit. It should rest on top of that inner ridge around the opening and lie flat against the slats. It should also cover the whole opening.
11- Use masking tape to cover the shiny areas closest to the inner ridge. This will prevent scratches from the sharp edges of the mesh grill when test fitting.
Bottom Half of the Grill:
Since the bottom half has a ridge all around creating the template is a bit easier. Use the same method described above so that when you're finished your cardboard piece sits right on top of the slats and covers the whole opening.
Cutting the mesh:
Each sheet of mesh can make two grill pieces. The sheets are also pre-curved.
We will be working on the inside of the curve which will be the backside of the mesh. I used the cardboard template for the upper grill on the top half of the mesh and the cardboard template for the bottom grill on the bottom half of the mesh.
1- Mark a centerline with the felt pen on the grill using a ruler.
2- Mark 3/8" from the bottom of the mesh.
3- Starting with the bottom half template line it up with the centerline and position it starting at the 3/8" mark. Draw a line around the template. We now need to add an extra 3/8ths around the whole template. Use the vise grips to hold the template in position. Using the felt pen mark the 3/8" line around the template.
4- Remove the template and you should have the outline marked on the mesh.
5- Using the scissors start to cut the mesh on the line. Take your time as your hands will start to hurt later on.
6- After cutting the mesh use the pliers to bend the edges at the 3/8" mark. It should be bent at about 90 degrees. The top edge will be resting on that inner ridge I was talking about. The bottom edge will be wrapped around the bottom edge. You'll most likely have to trim the ends in order to fit. Its better to have more mesh to cut away than not enough mesh to cover the opening.
7- Test fit the mesh against the grill. Although the mesh is already pre-curved you may want to bend it a bit more.
1- Take the upper template and position it on the upper part of the mesh sheet. Because we've compensated 2" of mesh you can have the template right up to the edge of the mesh sheet. Center the template and use the vise grips again to hold it in place. Draw the line around the template on the mesh. Add an extra 3/8" around the bottom of the grill. This part will sit on the inner ridge of the grill.
2- Cut on the 3/8" line you marked.
3- Use the pliers to bend the 3/8" into a 90 degree angle. This only applies to the bottom part of the mesh grill.
4- Here?s the trickiest part: Bend both ends of the mesh so that it can fit inside the end of the grill. You?ll have to make cuts to allow the mesh to curve. Check out the vertical and side view pics below: On the side view below cut out the red part.
4- Test fit the bottom part of the grill to see how it sits.
5- Press down on the upper part against the upper leading edge of the grill and determine where the cut line will be with the felt pen. (I originally had the mesh covering the whole top part but it looked tacky.) Be careful where you mark this line. It has to be able to tuck underneath the leading top edge so that it looks nice and neat like mine. Leave maybe a 1/4" of mesh for the tuck portion.
Painting the Mesh:
Before finally attaching the mesh it?s a good idea to paint it. I chose the hammered silver paint finish. Gloss black will not work as the mesh becomes practically invisible and you can see the slats underneath! Chrome paint would be interesting as well! I would give it 2 coats of paint followed by 2 coats of clear coat.
Attaching the Mesh to the Grill:
Here?s where you get to use the black zip ties!
Here are the mounting points where I put my zip ties:
The ones with the stars next to them are threaded through the mesh differently. Here I?ve threaded them from the top and underneath, coming back out where the white arrows are. To achieve this I had to drill a small hole in the grill (big arrow below). You can see the zip tie coming out through the hole.
I?ve tightened the zip ties with the pair of pliers and then snipped off the extra part right up to the connector.
For the bottom half of the mesh I used my pliers and pressed it against the edge so that the mesh folds over. This smoothens out the edging.
You may notice that the grill will probably not be right up against the top and bottom part of the logo bar (see pic below). That?s ok as the mesh?s 3D bulge effect is still enhanced.
To protect your hand whenever your fingers grope for the hood release I cut a piece of plastic door edge protector to fit the gap.