Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dyeing To Get a New Pad

Besides installing the windows, the other job I had been procrastinating is the dash pad.  Tucked away on a box on a top shelf of my garage, it sat there, mocking me and hating me for ignoring it for so long.  Carefully, I removed it from its airy perch and laid it upon the table for inspection.  Now, I could see the source of my foreboding... my sense of dread.  My pad has been heinously... bent.

I needed to knead the fabric back into shape so I wielded my trusty heat gun and heated the pad trying to apply a good, deep, soaking kind of heat into the thick foam base of the pad without burning or melting it.  I worked it again and again until the creases became less and less obtrusive.  I took it as far as I felt I could and then decided to let the sun and years do the rest.

I wish I could say that's all there was to it but I've gone and painted my dash light parchment and a red dash would just look kind of, bad. Traditionally, if a car had a parchment interior, the dash pad installed by Ford would be black with black carpet so that's the way this car is going to go.  I could buy a reproduction pad instead but A) my pad is still in serviceable condition and B) reproduction pads have a different grain so if I have a pad with original grain that's serviceable, I must use it by law.  Well, okay, it's not a law that written or enforced anywhere but maybe it ought'a be?  This pad's fate was a date with dye.  Yes, it had a dye date.

Before the pad could be dyed, though, it had to have the 40 years of crud, that's built up on the vinyl surface and worked itself into the grain, removed. But how to best clean a pad without damaging it or its precious, precious grain?  VMF to the rescue, specifically, a procedure championed by user "Yelostang" (thanks for the insight Pete).  He describes his method in this THREAD, 6 posts down.

The only difference is that I had to get through the layers of Armor All and lacquer thinner did the job like a champ.  After I cut through the crud, I followed through Yelostang's procedure to the letter in preparation for dye.  One additional step I followed the procedure with, however, was the use of CJ Pony Part's vinyl prep just prior to spraying the dye.  This may have been an unnecessary step in the grand scheme of it all but since I already had it on my shelf, I figured it couldn't hurt.

I clamped an old piece of 1/4" hardwood flooring I had laying around to a saw horse and used it to support the dash pad during the dye process.  The dye I used was from NAPA, Martin Senour (TecNique) Semi Gloss Black Vinyl Dye (#7268).   There wasn't much to it other than spraying in several light, even coats making sure to coat the inside edges of the vent holes on each pass.  When I was finished I had a very nice, new-looking dash pad.

Awww.... man. Top side creases.

Back side

Cleaning the crud off the bottom side.  The "before" on the right with "after" on the left.

40 years of Armor All.  "Before" on left, "After" on right.
It still looks dirty but no more is coming off onto a clean rag.  A light coating of Vinyl Prep applied.

The first light coat of vinyl dye applied.

After several light, even coats.

Edge-on view.

There's a bit of controversy over on the VMF about whether to install the dash pad before or after the windshield.  THIS boy is doing it before.  I'll mask it off when the windshield is installed to prevent getting sealer goop all over it.  The pad has to go on before any kind of dash trim is on the car.  I had gotten a bit ahead of myself when I popped the the dash trim on a couple weeks ago but that just meant I had to pop it off again because the dash pad has edges that tuck under the trim.  On this car, there were four half inch wide head sheet metal screws that were driven down into the pad before the windshield-to-dash trim was installed so I chose to continue this as it was original to this car.  The pad just slides over the "brows" of the dash and tucks up to the windshield.  I made sure the sides seated well and that the lips that tuck behind the dash trim was in contact with the dash face.  The four short screws were then driven down into the top of the dash.

The dash trim could then be installed and had to be pressed while tightening the fasteners to compress the dash pad's foam.  The instrument cluster could finally be installed making sure not to forget any connection or the speedo cable.   Finally, the top trim could be screwed on albeit temporarily because it's really installed against the windshield rubber seal but for now, it's fun to put on for the looks of it.

Seated onto the dash "brows".  Dash trim shouldn't be there yet.. duh.

Tucked up against the cowl edge.  Note the light paint seen through the vent holes.  Some guys spray black paint on the dash beneath so this doesn't show.  I might mask off around the holes and shoot some black in there later.

A view of the cowl edge with cut-outs for upper trim.  You can see the heads of a couple of the short screws
Pad with dash trim and cluster.   The cluster was a job in itself.  I might do a blog post about it later.  (Notice the clock in the top-center?)
Installed the upper dash pad trim.

The final product.


  1. That is NICE Alex. You did a great job of both getting the bends out and the dye job. I had been thinking of parchment for my fastback instead of black, but I've got a black console and I'm not sure I could dye it parchment in color. Anyway, that dash is really looking great. I'll wait for the cluster post with much anticipation.

    1. Thanks Dennis. I think the console should dye fine. I have a rather mildewy one in my shed that I'll be dying and installing although admittedly, it is already parchment but needs refurbishing badly so it will be a good console dye test nonetheless.

    2. Oops.. I just checked my photo archive and have far fewer pics of the cluster build than I thought and even then, they were not good enough for a blog post. Sorry. :-(

  2. Beautiful - one more thing off the check list!!!


  3. Alex,
    I have an original dash pad for my 1965 San Jose Fastback. In the area toward either side of the center of the dash, there a couple of creases that run from the leading edge, back toward the dash speaker. Are these creases supposed to be there? Also I have a dimple on top of the pad on the passenger side. How do I get that out? Any more of your details would be greatly appreciated!
    Thank you!