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How to Re-New Your Cracked Dashboard


  • How to Re-New Your Cracked Dashboard

    I searched the forum for any postings on this subject and drew a blank. Although this fix is related to any F-Body, I wanted to share it as a possible solution for anyone replacing their dried, crusty or shattered stock dashboard cover with a durable new cover and one that includes an inexpensive way to solve the lack of vent covers that most of these covers present with. Here is what you will need to do the job correctly and fast, too....:

    To avoid "a thousand words" that follow... here are the "Cliff Notes" images of this entire job ...

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    (1) Some kind of quality plastic veneer replacement cover like the myriad offers for them on eBay. Note that these ae generally are not outfitted with proper vent lovers or fabric covers. Having a nice wide, waist high work table helps here, as you will need to stabilize this wobbly plastic panel while doing this job. When the cap arrives... remove it from the packing and try it first for fit over your old dashboard. Many of these replacement covers need some "trimming" before they can fit correctly over the old dash, so its best to find this out before trying to glue it down permanently.

    (2) You'll need to get some Fiberglas Screening material that is either the Charcoal or Carbon flavor. Home Depot and/or Lowe's sells rolls for under $6.00

    (3) Some type of self-mixing epoxy that can be routed through a thin delivery tube and a steady hand while laying the stuff down. I used Loc-Tite Brand because it made this part of the sticky job a breeze!

    (4) When you unpack your new 'DASH CAP", please examine it for any damage or cracks before you start this project... no sense in ruining the chance to return a busted panel here. Then, using some alcohol, clean the areas around the perimeter with several swipes to remove the old grease and fingerprint residue --after you either sand a one inch wide path about a half inch in from the perimeter to roughen the surface for a later Bead of Silicone.

    (5) Do the same actions around the dash vent opening as well and then rough cut three (3) pieces of the Charcoal Fiberglas Screen material and lay them asymmetrically over one another prior to making a final shape cut that extends about an inch all the way around the inner edge of the vent opening. The odd angle of arranging the screen will help to obscure what would otherwise be a gaping hole in your dashboard and still allow for a decent from of ventilation through the portal

    (6) Next, tape down just the first layer of the screen material, but don't stretch the stuff "Drum-Head Tight" . Just sort of flatten it out evenly and tape it uniformly in place. Then use the other two layers to sort of sandwich the middle layer in between the taped bottom one and then tape over the outer edges of the third, top layer to hold it all down.

    (7) Clear everything away from your work area and wipe down the area around the work site before you wind up accidentally gluing down something that doesn't belong there. Now... apply a thin bead of self-mixing epoxy about one quarter inch away from the edge of the vent hole, all around the perimeter of the vent and work that bead in with a nitrile-gloved finger... getting as close as possible to the edge of the plastic without soaking the exposed screening material.

    ( This will take some time because the epoxy has to have a chance to work itself in and through three layers of screen and onto the roughed surface of the plastic. If you try to do this all at once with one big glob of the stuff... this job will get FUBAR. Even with only five (5) minutes of working time... you'll have plenty of time to allow the saturation effect before adding more of the epoxy. When you have a swath that is glass smooth all the way around the edges, stop adding epoxy!

    (9) Forget the notion that you can work with this stuff five (5) minutes after applying the epoxy. Walk away and come back in about an hour and then you can slowly and carefully pull up the tape holding the screening and then carefully cut off the excess, right up to the outer edges of the hardened epoxy glue without lifting the screening material while doing this.

    (11) Clean the old, cracked dashboard of all dirt and grease with either Isopropyl Alcohol or some Windex Ammonia type glass cleaner. If the plastic is not too brittle on the old dash, you can try to use some sand paper to roughen the surfaces around the outer edges, about one inch wide all the way around and in particular, around the old vent opening. (If the old vent has broken louvers segments, consider breaking them off even with the inner edges of the vent opening so they won't cut into the new dash cover Fiberglas covering.

    (12) Make sure you do this part of the job while the cap is still laying on the bench...and not while getting into the vehicle. You'll have a very ample amount of working time (5-6 Minutes) so its best to do this under control. Use a large tube of 100% Silicone (Clear) and lay a pencil-thick bead of the stuff all around the outer edge of the inside of the new "DASH CAP" but don't get any closer than a half-inch from the outer lip of the cap. Do the same carefully around the rim of the vent hole inside the new cap. DON''T SPREAD THE BEAD OF SILICONE ADHESIVE AROUND!!! DON'T APPLY ANY SILICONE TO THE MIDDLE-CENTER OF THE CAP!!!

    (13) Clear a path to your vehicle and leave both doors open to allow you a faster entry and egress ability. Remembering how careful you were when testing the cap for fit...use the same cautious approach and guide the cap over and onto the old dashboard and as soon as possible... work the cap deep into its final seating places at all four corner of the dashboard. Try not to slide the cap around to accomplish this and remember to have at least two or three heavy pavers or bricks wrapped in cloth to set down on the various places needed to ensure the Silicone will stick tightly to the old dashboard. You can use some half-used rolls of paper towels to gently wedge in between the windshield and the tops of the bricks to ensure a firm and uniform hold down on the cap while it cures for at least four hours...all day or all night would be much better, of course.

    (14) Okay... the curing time is complete and after you slip the bricks and towels off the newly covered dashboard... lightly clean the surface with a damp cloth and hopefully... you have done a great installation!

    (15) Please remember to be safe... Don't allow your kids and/or pets to hang around watching you prep and do all of this work. The chemicals and vapors in the epoxy and silicone are very harmful to all critters and people alike and you should avoid breathing the fumes from these adhesives as much as possible. Wash your hands of the stuff ASAP! Good Luck!
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