Filling 50 Cal Turret Holes

First things first, winter is coming and I have a 4 foot hole in the roof of my truck that used to house a 50 cal machine gun. Now I do enjoy the look of bungee cords and grey tarps in the summer, but I know tarps after Labor Day is white trash faux pas. I need a fix for this so I don’t need to add “fixing waterlogged electrical” on my growing list of things to do. The only factory fix I found was about $550 without shipping. The money isn’t the issue, I just wanted something to differentiate this build a little bit (you’ll find this to be an ongoing theme).

A lot of folks building these trucks place giant racks on the top for additional gear… and I do love a nice gear rack. BUT, these things suck at gas milage and I’m not sure adding a billboard to the top improved wind sheer despite the advertising opportunities. So onto a solve….

I contacted Plasticare in Englewood, CO and asked about materials and what might be able to work with my project. Once again, the top is made for a turret, so it’s reinforced for the weight and therefore there is not a lot of twist in the sheetmetal on the roof. After a brief discussion we went with 1/2 inch acrylic cut to 48″ round… 49″ was my preference but these sheets are 48″ on the narrowest side. Plasticare cut the circle to the tune of about $200. Here is the list of parts I ordered to make this pretty seamless using existing holes.

MEDIA & PARTS

  • 48″ round 1/2 smoked Acrylic
  • M12 x 1.75 x 30 Button Head Socket Cap Screw/ qty: 12, nutty.com
  • M12 zinc plated flat washers/ qty: 12
  • butyl caulk or roof and flashing sealant

TOOLS

  • small paint scraper
  • 1/2″ plexiglass drill bit
  • 1/8″ metal drill bit
  • drill (preferably cordless)
  • carbon burr bit
  • some sort of roto tool (Dremel or 1/4 pneumatic die grinder)

I started by removing any sealant that was on the roof to begin with using the paint scraper. Now with supplies in hand I needed to line up the holes with the existing holes of the truck. I took a 1/8″ drill bit and drilled from the top of the truck, through the bolt hole without dicking up the existing threads. Once all 12 were done I place the acrylic on the top of the roof with some weight on top of it to keep it from moving. I also marked the front of the truck with a marker on the protective paper. NOTE: Do yourself a favor and leave the protective paper on the acrylic so you don’t scratch anything up and you can mark positioning. I crawled inside the truck where I could see all the pilot holes I had drilled and proceeded to drill upwards to mark the acrylic.

Do yourself a favor and leave the protective paper on the acrylic so you don’t scratch anything up and you can mark positioning.

This isn’t a perfect science, and this would have been a lot easier with a template or an existing cover… but if I had a cover I wouldn’t be going through this. I also couldn’t find a large enough template.

With the holes marked on my acrylic drill through with a 1/2″ plexi drill bit. Once I was done with all twelve I realize they don’t quite line up because of the aforementioned statement. Use a marker to note the spots where you need to burr the holes to make the bolt line up. Once all of the holes line up remove the protective paper from the bottom only, run a bead of caulk on the truck and place the plexi back on the truck. Put in about 4 bolts, one in each corner… now you can remove the protective paper. Once other holes are exposed from the paper place the bolts and washers into place. Remove the last 4 bolts to get the paper from under the lip of the bolt, replace them with washers.

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