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Panoramic-roof gear for the FA

The panoramic roof of the 2nd-generation Libero (1994-1999), also referred to by the model code FA, sometimes does not open anymore. This often goes hand in hand with a rattling sound.

If this is the case, it's most likely a sign that a gear is worn. And since Subaru only supplies the whole motor unit, and not the gear alone, I want to reproduce this gear.

I have finished the technical drawings and made them freely available via this link. The only thing left is to find a company that can produce these gears for a reasonable price.

Of the 10 emails I sent to different companies, I only got 2 back. Since it is a non-standard gear, producing it is quite expensive. On average, the cost for one gear is estimated to bea 40 to 60 Euros a piece. That is just a bit to expensive for such a small gear I think.

Do you know someone who might be able to help? You can post it below, or if you prefer not to create an account feel free to send me an email.

Subaru Libero = smal, vierkantig geval op wielen met veel te veel glas. Super veel ruimte en een geweldig zicht rondom dus.

After contacting about 10 machine- and precision parts factories, it has become clear to me that producing this gear won't be getting any cheaper than € 36.60 including VAT. If you add a small profit margin of aournd 4 to 5 euros for me and the shipping costs of an envelope into the equation, you'll end up with a selling price of around 44 to 45 euros a piece.

I find that too expensive for what it is.

That is why I will try something completely different: nowadays it is possible to 3D print steel. If those printers are accurate enough and the gear comes out well, the producing costs will be a lot less. What also strikes me about this 3D printing of steel is that the yield strength of 445 MPa of this 3D-printed steel, is about one and a half times higher than ordinary S275 construction steel, interesting!

The gear has been ordered, and should be here on August the 2nd, according to the website, so we'll see..

Subaru Libero = smal, vierkantig geval op wielen met veel te veel glas. Super veel ruimte en een geweldig zicht rondom dus.

The gear arrived in the mail!

A few adjustments to the gear were needed to make it fit. The black color is gone as I blasted it in my blasting cabinet.

But after all it fits, so that's great.

One thing still needs to be dressed, as the gear didn't fit over the motor shaft in one go. I've dimensioned the gear a little different now, and ordered a second testpiece. This one should fit in one go.

As my van is completely stripped, a follower of the club has tested it in his van. The panoramic roof worked nicely with this custom made gear!

Subaru Libero = smal, vierkantig geval op wielen met veel te veel glas. Super veel ruimte en een geweldig zicht rondom dus.

Time for an update.

Version 2 came in the mail some time ago. The fitment of this one was basically just how I wanted it to be.

In the meantime I got a tip from someone through the American Subaru Sambar page to have it nickel-plated. Nickel is harder than the material from which the gears are made, so the teeth wear less. An additional advantage: the nickel plating of the gear did not cost anything extra at Shapways.

So, with the Shapeways design guidelines I adjusted version 2 to take into account the thickness of that nickel layer (Shapeways specifies a layer thickness of 100 micrometers, that's 0.1mm). In other words, the diameter of the hole was increased by 0.2mm.

So a few days ago the nickel-plated version arrived in the mail. And you guessed it, now it fits way too wide again ...

It looks classy, but I was disappointed that those design guidelines were not correct, at least not with the gear I'm trying to make. In addition, Shapeways has now also increased prices, making producing the gear more expensive, processing costs have also increased and nickel plating the gear is no longer free. In total I have now lost € 31.46 (that includes the expensive Shapeways shipping) to have a new nickel-plated gear made, which has become more than € 6 more expensive. Because the previous 3 sprockets each cost around € 25 to make (including shipping).

Subaru Libero = smal, vierkantig geval op wielen met veel te veel glas. Super veel ruimte en een geweldig zicht rondom dus.

I don't think € 40-60 is a redicilous amount if you don't have to worry about it anymore. Perhaps there is something to be gained from a price point of view if companies produce the wheel differently (eg make it much higher, and then saw it into pieces?

Citaat van Dennis op 3 november 2020, 20:05

I don't think € 40-60 is a redicilous amount if you don't have to worry about it anymore. Perhaps there is something to be gained from a price point of view if companies produce the wheel differently (eg make it much higher, and then saw it into pieces?

Hey, someone on the forum, nice! Your spotted van is published by the way.

The 40 to 60 euros are only the production costs of the gear, excluding VAT, so with VAT I pay between € 42.80 or € 72.60 per gear. For those amounts, the teeth are milled, but most of the companies could not produce the shape of the center hole as it is too small. I found one company that could produce the gears including the center hole for € 36.30 including VAT each. The condition was that the minimum order quantity was 20 pieces. In total I would have spent € 726 incl. VAT on 20 gears. That became a bit too much for me to pay in one go.

That was actually the thing with all other companies, the minimum order size is around 20 pieces. That is so great that you quickly go towards € 1250 incl. VAT for 20 gears. Which is a bit too much for me.

That is why I ended up which Shapeways. The production costs per gear are around 19 euros, including VAT. For that price the center hole is in there nicely and even the text on the face of the gear printed. The tricky part is that the final dimensions of the gear after pinting do not exactly match with the 3D-model. This is caused by the shrinkage during the baking-step in the production process. That shrinkage depends on the shape and size of the part, so there are no real guidelines for that. The real expense are the shipping costs: that costs €10 per shipping and sending in an envelope was not possible unfortunately.

I think it's not a bad idea, to indeed make a longer piece of rod with bevel teeth and then saw it into the correct 'slices'.

Spark machining is maybe also possible, however I have no idea whether sparking at an angle is also possible. I thought that wire EDM was mainly used for straight things. But I can sometimes ask a number of wire EDM companies for a quote.

Anyway, I've just ordered another nickel plated gear from Shapeways with other dimensions than the last one. Hopefully it now turns out to be just fine.

Subaru Libero = smal, vierkantig geval op wielen met veel te veel glas. Super veel ruimte en een geweldig zicht rondom dus.

Ha, not three, but four times is the charm! The gear arrived in the post today and now fits just the way I want it, so without play.

Subaru Libero = smal, vierkantig geval op wielen met veel te veel glas. Super veel ruimte en een geweldig zicht rondom dus.