ElectroClassic EV
Classic Cars Reborn into the Electric Future

Mad Dash

Don’t let anybody tell you that installing a dashboard is easy. This was a two-day process, involving a complete reupholster as well as reassembly.  Merely reskinning the dashboard would have been easy enough, but reinstalling the entire dash requires a lot of focus and attention to detail. The dashboard is the brain stem of the vehicle, where all the electrical functions converge, in addition to mechanical functions such as steering, signaling, air circulation, and speedometer operation. It’s a complicated affair that didn’t leave me time to actually connect any wires.  Let’s jump to pictures:

In this first picture, you can see the upholstery vinyl being laid out, taped in place for positioning, and being cut to fit the dash deck.  All of this material was purchased for a good price at Veteran Company in L.A., as well as the Pro Tack upholstery adhesive used to attach these pieces to the dashboard frame.


Next, the foam padding is laid out and taped in place to the dash deck, while it is cut to the exact shape of the deck area under the windshield.  The foam will be glued to the deck, and the vinyl will be adhered over it.


The existing dash face material is used as a pattern to cut the new vinyl.  Rather than replicating the exact size and shape of the originals, I am going to cut and glue the vinyl on as one long piece, excluding the glove box.  The material for the glove box door can be seen at the top of the above picture.


Here is the vinyl stretched over the foam with everything glued down as planned.  The vinyl is attached directly to the dash deck at the front, and then is stretched over the foam and rolled and glued under the deck at the windshield.  The material had to be cut and shaped into the cutouts for the defroster vents, and also cut away from the holes where the dash pad will mount.


New OEM dash pads are still out there for purchase, but they are very expensive.  Refurbished dash pads are less expensive still, and then the next drop in price is a reproduction.  All of these options are currently outside of my budget, so I purchased a Cover Lay dash cover from Pelican Parts that will form fit and glue to the top surface of my existing dried-out dash.  Above is a comparison of the new dash cover to my original dash.  See what 36 years of UV light will do to rubberized plastic?


The instructions require that the original dash surface is rid of any bumps or ridges, smoothed out with sandpaper if needed, and then wiped clean with an ammonia-based solvent to remove any oils. The silicon adhesive they supply is applied along the prominent edges of the dash (or cover), and never in the open surface areas of the dash, lest warping should occur at a future date.


The above image might look like a joke, but I assure you, the instructions suggested using anything at your disposal to keep the cover held firmly against the dash for the entire 8 hour drying time.  I used every clamp and zip tie I had to insure the cover conformed to every curve of the dash pad.  I don’t want to run into any separation problems down the road.


Here is the dash pad with new cover installed on the dashboard frame.  Although it is harder and doesn’t have that spongy texture that the original dash pad must have had, it still looks very good.  That dimple you see in the deck vinyl just to the left of the instrument cluster was a result of accidental over-spray of glue on the foam.  That dimple is where the underside of the vinyl has adhered to the foam underneath.


As tightly as I clamped the cover to the pad, there was still one breach where the ragged edge of the dash pad shows from underneath the edge of the cover.  It’s located on the back of the instrument cluster box where it joins the dash deck.  Rather than obsess over making it right, I will probably just mask it and squirt some black silicon into the crack.


The steering linkage and column run right through the face of the dash, and require quite a bit of maneuvering to reinstall once the entire dash is in place. The whole apparatus is a pretty tight fit.  I  recommend installing the column and linkage first, so you avoid all of the frustration.  Another note:  The splined ends of the steering shafts in either ends of that U-joint above have a flat area that aligns with the fastening bolt that runs through each collar.    I had to remove the entire steering column three times before I discovered that.


Et voila!  Mostly reassembled, including the steering column, the heat and fan slider panel, air vents, ash tray, glove box, light switches and cigarette lighter.   Notice the original bottom pad is also now in place.  I justified seeing whole dash together, even though it’s dubious that the bottom pad won’t interfere with further reassembly of the remaining dash components. Damn the torpedoes.


One Response to “Mad Dash”

  1. Beautiful!!! Such skill and patience!

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