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I am new and just registered. I have read several postings on this topic but still need help. I am attempting my first headliner install on a 69 firebird. It has the metal rod bows and center clips. I cannot seem to get all the wrinikles out. I purchased a headliner kit (ribbed pattern) . No instructions. The front is tricky as it gets tucked under a metal strip and screwed to the roof. It must be done first. Anyone have any tips?
 

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i did one on a old mustang and made the mistake of not putting the rods back in the exact spot they came from, if you didn't number them this might be your wrinkle problem. i found that if you work from front to back putting one rod in at a time and working with one section at a time- pulling and streching- that its alot easier. you might try laying it out in the sun to get out some of the wrinkles too.
 

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First name...............Shawn
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Heres how i do them..........

Install the labeled bows into the headliner, and put the bows and headliner back in place in the car. Pull the center of the front piece and attach (glue, clip) it the the front header. Pull the center of the rear flap to the rear header (back window). Dont be afraid to pull it pretty hard. Then I go to each corner, and pull the crap out of each corner and attach them. Then attach the rest of the headliner at the front and the rear headers. Then onto the sides......I pull right where the seams are and attach them first, again, give them a good tug before you attach them. Then do the rest inbetween the seams. Sometimes a good steaming might be needed to get all wrinles out, my theory is that you should always be able to stretch the wrinkles out. Like I said, dont be afraid to tug the crap out of the headliner. My fingers are always sore for a day after i do a bow style headliner. My shop doesnt have, and probably never will have a steamer. But if you want to try and steam the wrinkles out and dont own a steamer, just get some very hot water in a spray bottle, and quickly get it to the car before it can cool down and mist it on. The key with steaming is to steam the backside of the material.
 

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First name...............Shawn
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631 Posts
Well, theres really nothing wrong with steaming i guess. I never had one when I started doing upholstery, learned to work without one, and now i realise that i dont need one. Steaming cloth or convertible top material could come in handy, but when you steam leather, it has a tendency to get hard. Ive heard of guys steaming parts of headliners that are made out of leather to get them to unwrinkle, i dont think i would do that. And I guess i dont do hardly any reproduction tops at all, a steamer would come in handy for those. The few that i have done have required a lot of tugging and stretching. 99% of all the tops i do i make on my own (hand sewn, hand made patterns), and I guess a top sewn from good patterns shouldnt need to be steamed to get the wrinkles out. But a production made top cannot be made vehicle specific, and even though the cars were made on a production line, they still will vary. I didnt want to sound like I was saying steamers dont work, cause Ive never really used one. I guess id rather make a few more pulls to get the wrinkles out.
 

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Acoustic Rock ... for real.
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I'm glad to hear this, KristKustoms. Steamers sound like a lot of trouble to use and maintain.

I've only done 2 headliners ... first one was in my '54 Ford Ranchwagon, back in 1970 when I was only 19 years old. I used a soft leather, took out the old (ripped and torn) headliner and used it for a pattern(s) and fortunately had the good sence to number everything including the bow-rods. It came out great!

Then, in 1994 I helped my nephew put a new interior in his '69 Dart. I put in a repro-headliner, seat covers, etc. (I don't like repro stuff at all! I'd much rather fab my own creations) and it all went well enough. Later, a pro-shop was looking at his car and asked who did the headliner -- they said they'd never seen a better job done!
:D
Good words to hear!

Now, this summer, I'll be doing the interior of my truck. Looks like I'll be making and covering panels -- never did this before, but I'm looking forward to the challenge.

Thanks, bro' ... it sure is good havin' you around here!

Alan Horvath
<a href="http://AlanHorvath.com/54chevy/" target="_blank">54 Chevy Pickup</a>
 

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First name...............Shawn
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631 Posts
Ive had customers bring there car in, and theyve pulled the old headliner out themselves, and they hand me 3 or 4 unlabeled bows. Basically trial and error will help you to figure out where the bows go. Generally they will all be the same, or the top will gradually get wider or narrower towards the rear. You will be able to tell if the bow doesnt fit right.
 

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Be the MIRACLE!
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Thanks Krist. I won't get that far til maybe next year but I'm keeping you in mind when I do. Fort Wayne is only about an hour and a half away from me.
 
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