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Tom Martinez

Bakelite repacement material?

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I'm looking for a replacement for the Bakelite type material commonly found on 20's and 30's cars. It's the black, dense, hard type, similar to an old fashioned telephone housing from the same period. I need rods, sheets or blocks to manufacture small items that are nearly impossible to find, a steering wheel horn button is just one example. I also could use some very dark brown for door lock knobs. My car is an uncommon 1931 model.

I have experimented with black UHMW, and some other common black plastics but they are usualy softer than real Bakelite and do not polish or finish quite the same.

Some of the pieces I want to replicate appear to be cast, such as terminal boxes and the like, but I will be machining from solids.

Any leads would be appreciated. Yes I know about McMaster-Carr and Google.

Best Regards, Tom in SoCal.

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Go to McMaster Carr and look up "Delrin". It is a hard black plastic that is available in rod, flat stock & sheets. I have used it to machine various bakelite parts including mag/battery switch knobs with knurling on the edge. Delrin will buff up but it doesn't get the sheen that some bakelite parts have. You might try a clear coat if you want a sheen. Cast parts can be made with "Quick-Poly" and mix in the proper dry paint powders to get the color you want.

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Go to McMaster Carr and look up "Delrin". It is a hard black plastic that is available in rod, flat stock & sheets. I have used it to machine various bakelite parts including mag/battery switch knobs with knurling on the edge. Delrin will buff up but it doesn't get the sheen that some bakelite parts have. You might try a clear coat if you want a sheen. Cast parts can be made with "Quick-Poly" and mix in the proper dry paint powders to get the color you want.

You beat me to it. Delrin is a great material for machining into just about any shape you want it. Tough stuff that will almost last forever.

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I too have used Delrin material as a Bakelit replacement. It machines nice and can be buffed. Another casting solution is from Smooth-On plastics (Smooth-On, Inc. - Mold Making & Casting Materials Rubber, Plastic, Lifecasting, and More). Their white urethanes can be tinted and they also have clear which can also be tinted to make tranlucent parts.

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You can also use phenolic plastic... either the cloth or paper based versions. McMaster Carr sells it under the trade name "Garolite." I buy odd bits of it on ebay. Micarta is a phenolic plastic. It was developed around 1910 by Westinghouse using Dr. Bake's phenolic resin and filler material formed under high pressure so in a sense, its a close relative of Bakelite. I'm in the process of making a distributor cap and rotor out of it.

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