Tired of burning your butt on hot leather seats? A fix for the RX300
In researching CL for sun screens, there appears to be two groups of participants, those who fuss over Lexus aesthetics (bling) and those who believe in maintaining marital harmony. I belong to a third group. I prefer not to burn my butt on a hot leather seat that has been baking in the sun for hours. Since the sun can only shine in on one side or the other, only one shade is needed. When the sun is on the passenger side, my wife gets the shade, hence marital harmony. When the sun is on my side I get the shade. Since I first posted on May 12, I made two more shades in less than 2 hours each. One of them was for a Toyota Camry and the other was for an RX330. The RX 330 is about 2 inches longer towards the windshield. It almost doesn’t need an extension.
The best parking space in Texas is chosen by the availability of shade and not the shortest distance to the door. So, I decided to make a substantial sun screen for my driver or passenger window when no shade tree is available. After every election, many political voting signs are abandoned, so I recycled (free) some of them to make my screens. If you don’t have any political signs you can go to a home store and purchase (not free) “For Sale” sign of equivalent corrugated material.
Start out with a panel of material 18” high and X 36 long.” This will give you a few inches of room to cut and trim as needed. If you have one large piece, consider yourself lucky because the signs are usually smaller and you have to join them like I did.
Make the pattern on heavy duty paper or flip chart sheets. The only unusual dimensions are the opposite corner slants in the window. The diagram is obviously not to scale, but the dimensions are real close.
Words Of Wisdom or WOW (or learn from my mistakes)
WOW 1) Don’t make your pattern by tracing the outside window shape because you will waste a lot of time trimming. The inside measurements are smaller.
Be sure to lay out the panel with the corrugated channels oriented horizontally instead of vertically.
My window horizontal dimension was larger than the width of the corrugated signs so I had to join two pieces together with three 4 inch “dowel pins.” I cut the “pins” from the wires that held the signs into the ground.
WOW 2) With the two panels in front of you, the left panel will have the wire dowels inserted from the right edge to the left stopping at the push pins at 2 inches. The pins will prevent the wire dowels from disappearing inside the corrugation when you squeeze the panels together.
You will need to cut a “keeper” slot into the panel at the top edge, so don’t put the wire dowel there. You decide where to put the slot.
After I squeezed the panels together I used wide clear packing tape to keep them from separating.
WOW 3) Gluing the foil to the shade material
I replaced all of my A/C ductwork in my attic with insulated aluminized flex “tubing.” I had a few extra feet left over so I cut off the exterior jacket and used it because it has somewhat of a cloth backing to it. This has a little more durability than the kitchen aluminum foil I used to make my prototype. Or maybe you want to be creative and use foil wallpaper. Base your criteria on sun blocking reflectivity and durability. If you don’t have this ductwork foil, use the heavy duty extra width, kitchen aluminum foil. The foil is not going to be big enough to cover the panel, so you will have to patch it together. No matter how careful you are, the foil will wrinkle.
Tape down the four corners. The foil needs to be secured to the bench top so that it will not be disturbed as you align and place the panel onto it. Place some newspapers UNDER the foil to catch any overspray glue. Protect your work bench, but DO NOT attach the newspaper to your bench. As soon as you are finished spraying the glue, carefully slide the newspapers out from under the foil or else the overspray glue will glue your comic strips to the panel.
Lay the panel onto the foil and press evenly all over the surface.
Flip the panel over and use the small roller to securely attach the foil to the panel. If you don’t have a roller, use a dry cloth and “polish” the foil surface in all directions just like removing air bubbles from under wallpaper.
The keeper tab
Look at the outside photo. It shows how the panel is held in place with its keeper. I had some canvas material, so I cut a piece 3 inches wide by 8 inches long. I folded it over and glued a wood dowel, about the diameter of a pencil, inside the fold. You can use a stubby pencil if you do not have a dowel rod. Sew the pieces together with heavy duty thread or you can use dental tape. Dental tape is stronger than dental floss. You can even spray paint the cloth with aluminum spray paint if you want. In my newer versions, I re-cycled an envelope made of that material that is similar to Tyvek that is almost impossible to tear. I just glued it together instead of sewing. It is aesthetically more acceptable. But, you still must sew the bottom edge through the corrugated material.
When you put the panel in place, leave the window open about an inch or so and flip the keeper outside and raise the window. This locks the shade in place.
WOW 4). If you make the keeper tab too short, you will rip out the stitching when the glass goes up into the frame channel. Longer is better.
WOW 5) Sealing the edges
After you get all of the foil attached, you should seal the sharp edges. The quick and easy method is to just fold over any excess foil to cover the edges. I prefer using a heavy duty aluminum foil tape to give it a little more durability.
Masking tape, duct tape and other tapes will “melt” and ooze adhesive onto your hands or upholstery. The only reliable foil tape I found is the type you can find in Home Depot, Lowes or an air conditioning supply store. It is actually a heavy duty aluminum foil with super sticky glue. It will cost a few bucks, but it is good for a lot of other uses.
Don’t cover an entire edge with one long piece. Instead, cut segments of tape about 6 to 8 inches long and work with them. It will all blend in. Practice on the straight edges first.
Taping the curves
Align the “center line” of the aluminum tape over the edge of the panel. Use scissors to cut slits about every ¼ inch so when you fold the overhang onto the panel surface so it won’t bunch up and look as messy. There is no good way around it. Aesthetically it can look “messy” or “really messy” depending on how careful you are. I prefer sun blocking over bling.
Materials needed besides the corrugated sign material
Can of Elmer’s spray glue or head liner glue equivalent
Heavy duty kitchen aluminum foil (the lighter version tears easily)
Aluminum version of duct tape. (Air conditioning grade)
Piece of dowel or short pencil and canvas for the keeper
The wire frame from the sign.
Utility knife or stout X-Acto knife
Small roller to smooth out the foil when it is glued to the panel
Hacksaw to cut the wire dowel pins
Heavy duty sewing thread or dental tape and needle
When the sun shines inside it is not unusual for an inside temp of 120+ degrees F on the leather seats. Trust me, your spouse will thank you for being so considerate.
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