All Things Dashboard Fixing & Upholstery
Fitting and Fixing
My dashboard design is along the lines of the classic 427 S/C configuration. However, as my Euro has the [supplied] Vauxhall steering column, replete with stalks that do what stalks do and a huge shiny shroud, I've slimmed down what actually goes on the dash and moved a couple of things around a bit.
Not quite there yet..!
And this mock-up will no doubt be tweaked many times before I actually drill any holes
The first thing was to make the dash' blank fit the car and I needed to use fixings that didn't show. So I went for the CBS Big Head Fixings. These are excellent for this type of application and it was a simple task of glassing and rosining them to the backside of the dash blank. Now I have to repair the holes I made before I discovered these very useful devices. My original plan was for padding and ground down bolt heads (I'll blame Mark Evans in his DVD "A Car is Born" for that one)... But it is an excellent video for general stuff... So it's Plan 'B' is for me.
Just need to remove the protective tape on the threads and job dun'..!
Here we go... The Scary Bit
I pondered for ages on how to fix the dashboard in place and be able to get to things behind it without having to go through a veritable puzzle-box of access-enabling procedures. Also, as I'm not comfortable drilling and rivnutting or tapping into the steering column cross-member I welded a couple of steel tabs to each side to take a couple of tapped M5's. Essentially the side bottom plates slot into the dash lip and are bolted from below. Details of this modification are in the Ironwork article.
The next thing was to make a uniform gap between the top of the dash and the lower lip of the scuttle top. This runs along the whole length of the dash blank and is necessary to allow for neat positioning of the leather piping.
Dropped the dashboard retaining rail down a bit to make sure the blank fitted flat and square along the top edge, then rechecked for the centre point. Got a couple of bricks and a piece of wood to simulate the seat and temporarily fitted the steering-wheel and boss. Then I fixed the gauges and switches (cardboard blanks) to the dash' in their [very] approximate positions. This to make sure I could see them through the wheel etc. Then I removed the dash' blank [for the umpteenth time] and measured up properly before drilling the holes.
Refitted the dash blank and correctly positioned the lower cross-rail, and secured the steering column cross-member to the tunnel with a couple of bolts and a few spacer washers, then I tightened up the windscreen retaining bolts. And the last thing I had to do was to trim the lower inner edge of the steering column hole to make the cross-member sit a bit more snuggly.
My warning lights, CBS Chrome Bezelled LED, have only ~2 mm diameter lip to hold the covering padding in place so I’m going to have to be very careful with my measuring and cutting.
My first iteration of covering is with a piece of black vinyl. Bought this for five quid from the Remnant House in Harrogate and it will be okay for the time being. I will be fitting my proper unpadded leather dash’ covering post-IVA. I’m not risking the good stuff until I’m happy with the layout. For IVA though, the requirement is to have a padded dashboard.
Carrying on… Sticking on the foam padding was quite time-consuming, and I stuck everything on [in stages] with contact adhesive, making sure that everything was warmed up otherwise it will sag when dry or when under the influence of normal temperature variations.
As stated, I’m going to take the padding off, post IVA, so to make life a little bit easier when I do this I’ve stuck some fabric directly onto the dashboard. The theory being it’ll all peel of easier and as one. Had I stuck the foam to the dashboard, directly, it would have been a nightmare getting all those bobbly bits of stuck-on foam off.
When everything was completely dry I cut the holes in the vinyl. This was really fiddly [what hasn’t been on this job?] And I did leave a heathy lip of foam and vinyl to allow the vinyl lip to be firmly be held in place, and again this was a very time consuming and ever so fiddly.
Drilling for the gauge and switch holes was [initially] uneventful, but measuring up was a bugger… And looking at my drilled holes with a more critical eye it was apparent I had some minor repairing to do. Yes, the holes were the right size (give or take a smidgen due to the vagaries of the GRP rough edges,) but they were not good enough for the type of warning lights I have. So to ensure the lights would not move -and to provide a firm fixing hold on the covering, I resined a washer to the back of each hole to firm things up. I drilled out these washers to 14.5 mm (the warning light bodies being 14 mm diameter) then I repaired the rough edges of the holes with some resin… I hugely fiddly job but one that needed doing.
When fitting the gauges and switches, and because the holes were very nearly the same size as the instruments, I found the foam overhang [lip] was getting in the way, so I cut these off and just had a small vinyl lip as an overhang to create a snug fit.
This part of the build took an absolute age to do, but as the dashboard is a primary focus area when first looking in the car, it had to be spot-on.