Center Dash Covering Restoration

The plastic covering on my center dash has lifted and puckered around the gauges and some switches. Even though it fits like a glove, I was lucky enough to remove it intact (except for one corner tear). I’m looking for suggestions on how best to flatten it and re-apply it.


My rookie approach would be to mask the sides shown and apply something like 3M 90 on the horizontal surfaces. My reasoning is the covering fits so snugly I would not be able to slide it on if the sides have contact cement on them. Next I would assemble it and firmly roll it and then let it sit with weights on it for a day or so. I’m hoping the contact adhesive will be aggressive enough to flatten and hold the puckers.

1/ Has anyone removed and re-applied their OEM dash covering?

2/ What would you use (if anything) to re-adhere the sides that were masked?

3/ Is 3M 90 the best choice here?

Thanks
Rick OBrien
65 FHC in FL

Nothing you can do. The original process was to bond the vinyl to the substrate using heat. It was called Lamiplate and used for the dash of Lotus 7’s amongst others. You can try using embossed vinyl but it will not be to the original design.

Leave it as it is and part of the patina of the car. More details here: FACTORY FIT - Series 1 3.8 - Page 4 - The 'E' Type Forum

Rick,

  1. Do not let anyone near your dash with a straightedge.
  2. It’s black. Black asorbs all light photons so no one will be able to see what you are seeing.
  3. What David says!

Seriously, I guess there is the chance that it will crack when you try and flatten it and then you will really be unhappy. Crap shoot I would say.

I’ve had a standard Ebay search going on for a year looking for aluminum hatch pattern dash material but occasionally get offered ads for the black ones. Pretty hard to tell from the pictures if they do or do not have the say issues. But they are out there.

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All my friends are engineers. They all show up with straightedges!

Actually, one of those engineers suggested this VHB sheet from McMaster. Only .006" thick. My experience with VHB tape has been it is a tenacious bonder to just about anything. It’s 12x12 and the panel is 15x7 so a seam will be necessary. May have to use the wavy wallpaper trick for a perfect seam.

Research continues.

Sadly I think the puckers will be obvious. They are pretty visible in this dirty photo

Rick

I recovered mine using the proper grain vinyl and removing the cotton backing from the vinyl to get a really thin sheet. Once bonded I used a little heat to soften the vinyl to stretch it into the indents. Completed center panel and glove box choke indent:

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Nice one Doug…now after seeing yours it confirms I have to redo mine. Lol

OK Doug, fess up. Where did you source the vinyl?
Craig

One of the usual suppliers had a kit for the instrument panels but was full thickness vinyl. So I removed the backing from that. I can’t find which “usual” I purchased this from but likely SNGB, Welsh, Moss, or Terrys.

so…the glue was not fully dried, just sticking vinyl to panel…then stretching into the indent there was glue there and that bonded the vinyl into the indent??

Great job.

Nice job!

I superimposed your photo onto my material that was scrubbed with Simple Green but nothing else. The patterns really are quite similar. I doubt anyone could spot the difference unless they were next to each other, and maybe not even then.

I’m currently doing a test with 3M 80 and 90. If they fail, I’ll try VHB. And if that fails I’ll go your route. I’m really hoping one of these adhesives works. My left and right dash panels are perfect. If I re-cover the center dash, I’m pretty sure I’ll have to do all three.

Rick OBrien

PS Looks like SNG has a kit:
https://www.sngbarratt.com/English(US)/#/US/parts/588ba9da-2e8f-4e29-85bd-da1f841d0b56?fromList=Search%20for%20`dash%20board%20`

My originals were cracked and chipped so I had no choice but to replace them. I still have the original pieces :rofl:

Hi Rick As usual I’ll be the outlier on this. I’ve restored 2 Ser I dashes with their original molded vinyl covering. It’s time consuming but doable. Both of mine were in far worse condition to yours and required letting in of new pieces.

  1. Straitening the raised portions around the instruments. Simplest part of the job. I heat the steel portion to 150 F with an electric heat gun, and place it inside the vinyl piece and clamp it down. In your case the simplest way to do this is by using a piece of veneered plywood the size of the dash piece you are restoring and using 3/4" strips of wood, screw them tightly to the back of the dash into the plywood through the holes for the instruments and switches. Let sit, for a few hours, and repeat until the vinyl is flat. I typically did this while working on other sections of the car so sometimes they sat, screwed together for days. The wood may leave an impression in the vinyl but that self corrects in a few days.

  2. On both jobs I found old glue inside the pieces. I remove that with Pro Forma PF600. Before glueing I rough it up with about 220 grit sandpaper to create a tooth. On the last project I also sprayed the inside with Cromox Plas-Stik A-2330S which is described as a Polyolefin Adhesion Promotor.

  3. I used LePage’s contact cement (brush on) and clamped it for at least a day.

  4. I then applied Surflex paint to the vinyl - I believe the code is 2350/14 black matte. I brush it on and then smooth it out with my hand in a rubber glove to eliminate any brush marks. I provides a beautiful finish that just glows (can’t describe it otherwise). It needs about a week to fully set up so be careful handling it before, even if it appears dry.

  5. I use SEM 38422 Leather and Vinyl Repair Compound to fix blemishes or minor cracks in the vinyl. It will completely cover them though it might take a few days with multiple thin coats. Tap it with your finger before it cures to create a pattern that will match the vinyl.

  6. I’m not convinced that LePages contact cement is the right product. It’s hard to use given you are sticking the steel portion into a 3d structure, but it appears to be strong enough. Don’t install your instruments too tight to avoid the vinyl pull back that creates the humps.

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Rick, I don’t have any first hand knowledge Re. this panel covering, but in researching a product named Rexine I came across this supplier in UK.

https://www.martrim.co.uk/index.php

I see that they have been mentioned a few times on this forum as a supplier for British auto interior materials.They have vinyl that looks pretty close and can provide samples. May have some guidance if not a suitable replacement.

Geez Terry, thanks for the detailed explanation! I know it took a long time to compose that. I really appreciate the effort. I’m encouraged to proceed.

Rick

It may be of help to understand the original manufacturing process:

  1. adhesive is applied to the sheet metal
  2. adhesive is oven cured before lamination
  3. the textured vinyl and metal substrate are laminated together by rollers
  4. the vinyl is trimmed to the sheets edges (sides and ends)
  5. the vinyl-clad sheet is immersed in cold water, strengthening the vinyl adhesion and improving surface uniformity
  6. the fascia panels are pressed into shape and punched

I see Surflex (ColorPlus) sells a steering wheel kit. Do you think 4oz is sufficient for the (3) panels? Theoretically, 4oz should do abut 37 sq ft, which sounds like plenty, but is it really?

Thanks
Rick

It should be enough.

How did you remove the cotton backing on the vinyl? About to start this project. Thanks

Put acetone in an air brush and starting at a corner sprayed the cotton backing with acetone to saturate the cotton, let sit for 5-10 seconds, and then gently pulled the cotton away from the vinyl. (Getting it started at the corner is the hardest part IMO.) I did around 5 square inches at a time and stopped pulling the cotton off when it took too much force. You can distort the vinyl if you pull too hard. Use gloves and in a well ventilated, spark/flame free area as acetone is extremely flammable.

Thanks Doug. That’s today’s plan