Monday, February 27, 2012

Dashboard Top Install

The dashboard top had similar cracking problems to the targa bar.  I had a plan to adhere a new layer of vinyl to it, but the compound curves were way too tight and it just wasn't practical.  In fact the factory uses a vacuum press and I don't have access to one.  I actually bought a plastic dashboard cap but didn't like the look of it - too plasticky.  It's still in its box if anybody wants to buy it from me.

Given my success with filling the cracks of the targa bar and spraying with rubberized undercoating, I decided to try the same technique on the dashboard top.  I spent much time filling the cracks, sanding, filling and sanding.  When I was reasonably happy, I began the spray coating process.  After that was complete, I prepped the dashboard area.

First I had to apply a small piece of new vinyl between the front edge of the dashboard cap (shown in the traced green line below) and the windshield / defroster vents.

I was going to be painting on contact cement so I wanted to make sure that there would be no drips on the nice bits of the car.  I cut a piece of construction paper to the shape of the dash area to keep the two sides of the contact cement separated and reach tackiness until I want them to come together.

 I got the vinyl cemented down safely, and the leading edge is tucked down into gap between the dashboard and windshield and defroster vents.

Then I laid the dashboard cap into place, fitting the 9 bolts through the holes in the frame.  This is where my self-made nightmare began.

Those 9 bolts, at this point of the restoration, are virtually impossible to get to.  I mean nearly impossible with human size hands and normal tools.  I mean 2 days of effort, taking apart much of the rest of the dashboard and instrument cluster.  The moral of the story is to restore the dashboard and mount it back in place before you put one single thing back into the dashboard rebuild.  I just left the restoration too long, going through several aborted plans.

Here's one of the two bolts that hold down the front edge of the instrument hump.  To even *find* this bolt, I had to pull out the left-side instrument gauge and remove all of the wires.  You can barely see the bolt in the lighted gap, and the nut resting in a little channel just below it.  The channel makes it impossible to get the nut started on the bolt, and then to tighten it up.

It's ugly, but I had to pry the lip of the upper and lower channel away so I could mount this nut.  Compare to the picture above.  At least it's tight and the cap is held in place.

The DIN radio mount completely blocks two of the bolts.  The other nuts are just bad, and I'll let you discover each little neighborhood in hell by yourself.  I just hope you have small hands and lots of patience.