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Discseven Discseven is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Miami, FL USA
Posts: 3,194
Recovering Dashboard Using Epoxy Gel Adhesive

Takes roughly 5 minutes to carefully push out a windshield as a complete unit (I have aftermarket glass --- not sure if that makes a difference) and about 30 minutes to detach & remove the dash... most of this time given to slowly wrenching the board's 7 lock nuts out from very tight confines. (Vintage: 1980 911 Targa)

5 phillips head metal screws secure the leading edge of the dashboard's material to the car. Above is one of the screw holes in the dash's material. There's no way to get to these without removing the windshield.

Black arrows = 5 forward phillips head screw locations
White = 7 (10 mm) Locknuts
Orange = 5 plastic prongs

4 locknuts on driver's side of AC vent can be removed through instrument holes. 3 locknuts on passenger side can be removed through front trunk through the far passenger's side cavity. The hardest passenger-side nut to get to is the one closest to the center AC vent. Difficult but doable.

A plastic expansion prong. I cut these all off below the deck except for one. I heard stories about breaking dashboards on removal and just didn't want these plugs to possibly mess things up. I'll deal with them later. The one you see here pop'd right out so perhaps cutting them was a mistake. There is a metal interior to this dash so I'm now wondering how a dashboard would "break."

To extract the dashboard (after fasteners are off) the top first needs to angle up at the front up so the plastic retaining prongs (if present) and two vertical threaded posts above the console are free from the metal sub-dash... next, with the top still raised the dash needs to be pulled towards the rear of the car so the five horizontal threaded posts are free.

My dash got hung up on one of the vertical posts --- I needed to push the dash forward slightly then it came up easily. Pulling it to the rear is relatively simple --- it only hangs up slightly on each end.

Epoxy filler was used to fill cracks & dings. Then entire exposed surface was sanded... then cleaned with Acetone first followed by Iso alcohol.

Covering material is a textured, 4-way stretchy, woven fiber-backed automotive grade vinyl. Material's width is 54.5" ...leaving just enough extra on each end of the dash to wrap the ends.

Material cost: $13 a yard. 1 yard is typical minimum purchase measure. (Half a yard is more than enough. Rest is good for testing.)

Here's adhesive I'm using. Dual plunger. Bought 6 of them. Total cost was around $38. I'm going to waste more than is actually needed to ensure having more than enough mixed for each section.

Why epoxy gel? I don't see contact cement holding the covering material down in the areas of the dashboard's compound curves. There's also the fact that with contact cement there's one shot to place the material correctly. Even using a slip sheet technique I don't see it working well. With 5 minute epoxy, there's a few moments to get things in place. And once this adhesive is cured, the woven-backed material's going to stay in position.

The trick with epoxy gel in this application: it has to be applied very evenly and very smoothly to the dashboard as irregularities in the adhesive will show through to the vinyl's surface. My goal is a smooth finished surface. If the finished surface is bumpy ... I'll be starting over!

I tested to see if it was possible to remove the covering material from the dashboard after the epoxy is cured. It is possible with a good measure of force --- and the dash was not ruined... BUT... there's no use in thinking about a partial removal & readhesion as the vinyl cannot be re-adhered without looking terrible. The reason being, the dried epoxy in the backing gives added dimension to the cover material.

Testing also revealed that progress is best done in small sections and the adhesive edge between each section needs to be a straight edge. Above is the starting point --- the top deck over the console. I'm masking each area to achieve the straight edges. This "straight-edging" is important because it allows the covering material to be folded back and the next section of adhesive applied so that this new adhesive butts evenly & smoothly up to the cured section next to it.

Before beginning to apply adhesive, the covering material is positioned on the dash to clearly allow extra at both ends and more than enough forward and aft. I've checked positioning a few times as I don't want to screw this up. The 54.5" material width is a VERY tight fit. After the material is sitting in the right place, it is folded over itself to reveal the beginning section as you see it above. I'll work the top deck out to both sides from this starting point.

No gloves. This allows any epoxy on the fingers to be immediately felt and so cleaned off. I found when I did get epoxy on the covering materials surface, it was best to rub it off with clean fingers. A fibered cloth of any kind transfers fibers into the adhesive and doesn't remove the adhesive from the vinyl as well as a bare finger rub. No liquid cleaning agents are used on this vinyl. Acetone in particular will instantly ruin this material. Surly other similar agents will as well.

Karl ~

Current: '80 Silver Targa w /'85 3.2
Prior: '77 Copper 924. '73 Black 914. '74 White Carrera. '79 Silver 930. '79 Black 930. '79 Anthracite 930.

Last edited by Discseven; 08-08-2014 at 03:15 AM.. Reason: Add detail. Add year of 911.
Old 07-14-2014, 11:31 AM
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