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Old 05-28-2002, 07:56 PM
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Question Recovering a Dashboard

Greetings,
I am looking for information on how to recover a stamped steel dashboard. In stock condition it had a padded vinyl cover which as you might guess is cracked in numerous places.

What I am envisioning is having to strip the dash down to the metal, installing new padding and then recovering with vinyl or leather.

How can I get more info on doing this? Are there books that cover this that you would recommend?

How are details around insturment openings done? This dash has profile around the opening. Does this profile exist in the steel dash?

I'm a rookie at upholstry with more perseverance than knowledge. I'm willing to dive into anything , including this.

thanks
Scott in MN

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Old 05-28-2002, 08:10 PM
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I've done all of my interiors and its basically what you said, strip it down pad it and cover it. I don't know of any bookbut I'm sure their are some. Talk to Vintage on this board, he does interiors for a living.

Faust
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Old 05-29-2002, 12:22 AM
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I don't know how you are going to make the detail in the vinyl. The way they do it in the factory is the lay some vinyl in a mold, heat it up, blow in the heavy density padding, then press the metal shell into the padding and vinyl. All the detail is in the mold and is made in the padding when they heat it and compress everyting together. The metal backing is just designed for mounting and structural integrity. What model car is this. Have you checked on what a new one costs or even availabilty of it. I sense you are not able to find one or you are trying to save some money.
-Idea 1: Take some liquid foam or some thin foam padding and fill the cracks. Apply some contact cement to the dash and stretch a new layer of vinyl over the dash. Use a hairdrier to stretch the vinyl to fit the dash perfectly. This is the easiest way of fixing the dash that I can think of.
-Here is another idea, kind of a crazy one but it might work. Don't do this without talking to a profession fiberglass guy. Here goes: Get a clay mold made of your dash, either do it yourself or have someone do it. Lay some vinyl and press it in to the mold tightly, heat it with a hair dryer to conform. Then lay in some fiberglass fiber, resin and glue in the mold until you get a close resemblence of how thick you dash padding is. Let it set up then take a look at it. If nothing else, put in more than less because you can always sand it down if you have too. Then take the stripped down metal structure, apply some fiberglass glue to it and presse it into the mold and screw it down with some short wood screws, not too tight the glue will set up around them. What you will end up with is a custom made fiberglass dash with the vinyl covering to give it that correct texture. If you need then you can use a heat gun to get any wrinkles out. You might talk to a fiberglass professional before you take this on yourself. It might not work. What you will not get is the padded feel of the original style. You can always add about 1/4" felt padding to the vinyl underneath to give it a little bit of feel. This is all adapted from making fiberglass patches in bodies so it may not transfer but it might work. Like I said, talk to a fiberglass professional. He'll say that a custom sculpted dash is very expensive but you have a possible mold to use.
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Old 05-29-2002, 04:30 AM
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What type and thickness of foam padding is usually used? How about the contact cement, can I use the regular stuff that I use for plastic laminates in cabinet construction? Is there a certain type or weight of vinyl that is usually used on dashes?

Recovering the old covering without stripping it down sounds interesting. The mold idea is also fasinating but probably more than I care to do. I think I can live without the profile details.

Correct that new dashes are not available.

thanks
Scott in MN
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Old 05-29-2002, 02:56 PM
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I would suggest you talk to someone at your local upulstry shop. We make some really wild contours on our dashes and I have had them covered in everything from leather to vynil. Do not know how they do it and do not want to know as I am sure it takes time and practice to get it right.
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Old 06-01-2002, 07:37 PM
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Sorry for not replying, was out of town. Take your dash straight to the trim supply and not the upholstery shops, they will tell it is not possible. The trim supply, however, will have a diverse variety of supplies. For foam, use something dense that can be packed and then trimmed. What route are you going to take? Are you going to fill the cracks or try building it from the ground up. I suggest filling the cracks. The trim SUPPLY (i have to emphasize the difference between a supplier and an upholstery shop) will be able to help you choose the right type of vinyl to cover it and the right type of foam to fill the crack. You can even just fill the cracks with foam insulation used in houses. Spray it in, remembering it has an expansion rate of 5:1(you spray 1 oz. and it expands to 5 oz.) and then trim it down to surface level. Cover this in a dense 1/8" or thinner foam sheet wrapped tightly and held in place with contact adhesive to cover the cracks. Then stretch the vinyl tightly over the whole thing, using a heat gun or hairdrier to comform it to the shape of the dash. You might lose some of the dashes shape because you are going to add about 1/4" of thickness to the surface all the way around. You can shape the thin foam sheet with an X-acto knife and careful craftsmanship. I had two dashes that had cracks. The first one I gave up and bought a new one on after every shop in town told me that the cracks couldn't be filled. On the second one, I did something like what I have describe above. It came out nicely but I lost some of the detail because I didn't carve the foam.
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Old 06-03-2002, 06:30 PM
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Cool

Thanks for the informational feedback. Turns out I got lucky. Palco Industries, Inc. makes a DashTop for my car. Car is a '83 Alfa Romeo GTV6.
Folks have reported good success with these so I'm going to go this route. The DashTop covers the whole dash, top and front. It is held on with a silicone adhesive.
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Old 06-19-2002, 07:04 AM
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I had a Dash Topper installed as you describe on a late 80s chevy. It was a hard plastic blow molded piece with the texture and shape molded on. Glued on with silicone glue. Looked like a hard plastic blow molded piece with the texture and shape molded on! Wouldn't recommend this for a nice restoration.
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Old 06-21-2002, 04:04 AM
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leather works best...dashtoppers suck!!
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Old 06-21-2002, 08:15 AM
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Red face

OK, these are the first negative comments I've heard, but after receiving the dash cap I'm not surprised. It is a hard plastic shell, nothing compared to padded upholstry. I agree, if you are looking for a quality restoration this is not the way to go. I think it will work for my purpose and budget so I'm going to go ahead and try it. I might have put more consideration into recovering it myself if I had some more information originally. Oh well, if I don't like it ...
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Old 10-10-2002, 06:25 AM
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Just a follow up. I did install the dashtopper and at least in my case it looks great. On my car there are plenty of bezels and other flanges that screw into place that cover the exposed edges. I applied the dashtopper with the dash removed. This way I was able to use about 24 clamps to thoroughly clamp around the edges. I agree that this is not the way to go for a concures restoration but for my purposes it worked great.
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Old 10-11-2002, 05:37 AM
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Scott,
What you could have done was had the dash topper covered in a leather or vinyl. This would have made a good base to start with and the leather or vinyl could have been streched to fit. This would have done away with the plastic look. E-mail Vintage and see what his thoughts are on this as from his pics he does some fantastic work. Maybe this would be something you could ship to him and get done. Just a thought.

Kevin
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Old 10-25-2002, 12:41 PM
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Look at www.justdashes.com They have some neat info on restoring dashes.
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Old 10-26-2002, 06:11 PM
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Be VERY careful with Just Dashes.

Their advertising is good but they have a plethora of complaints with every governing body in California as well as various car clubs around the country.

If you do send something make sure every piece of foam and vinyl is stripped from the metal parts and that they are rust free and sealed.
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Old 10-27-2002, 07:07 AM
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Very interesting warning about Just Dashes. For me it was a question of $500+ for them to do it or $80 for the cover. On a car that I plan to only have ~$5000 into, there was only one way to go.
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