Final Touches: The Dashboard Doctor Challenge, Part IV.

Readers may remember the saga that Parts I, II and III of The Dashboard Doctor Challenge recounted as UMPH tried, in vain, to replace the vinyl dash-pad of his 1975 Galant hardtop.  Part III ended with a perfectly restored dash-pad sitting, unused, as it had shrunk and, no matter what he tried, it simply couldn't be made to fit. 

Steve's handiwork.  Note the outermost black bands with contrasting red stitching.

A plan was hatched to cut the dash-pad in half, which would permit it to be fitted over the left and right sides of the metal base, and to cover the resultant central gap with a vinyl cover with a twin GT stripe motif.  UMPH drew up a template, took it to Steve Davey of Classic Automotive and Marine Trimming (33 St Aubyn Square, Moonah - Ph: 6273 3043 / 0417 535 035), chose two nicely textured marine-grade vinyls - one red and one black - and specified contrast stitching to complete the look.

The result, seen in the images above and below, was exactly what UMPH had envisaged.  The cover was sewn with built-in piping on one end to lock under the metal panel that sits between the windscreen and the dash-pad and secures the latter in place.  It was then pulled over the dash-pad, covering the gap - which had been packed out with semi-rigid foam - and tucked back over the top of the instrument panel and into the area behind the car's gauges.   

The kindest cut ...

It's not as obvious in this photo as it was to the naked eye, but there's a reasonable sized gap between the recently refurbished dash-pad and the hard plastic beneath it.  It's more noticeable in the image below, showing the other side of the car.

Everything went pretty much to plan.  However, there remained gaps between the dash-pad and the plastic surround of the instrument panel, as shown above and below (it seems there was longitudinal and lateral shrinkage).  The vinyl cover was a little bit too wide and didn't sit as well as had been hoped, either. 

This image shows what the gaps between the dash-pad and the plastic below it looked like.

Making a feature of a problem:  The gap in the dash-pad created by cutting it in two has been hidden beneath the GT stripes.

The answer?  UMPH took a scalpel to the vinyl cover, carefully cutting through the stitching that secured the two outermost black bands and then used them to cover the gaps between the dash-pad and the plastic surround of the instrument panel, using double-sided tape and black screws to secure them.  Making the vinyl cover narrower also helped it settle and sit a little better.

An improvement?  Compare the image above with the one below, taken from The Dashboard Doctor Challenge, Part III, before the latest modifications.

Reducing the width of the vinyl cover helped it sit better, as well as providing material to hide some other problem areas.

Recycling:  The black outer bands of the vinyl cover re-purposed to disguise some unsightly gaps (passenger's side).   

Driver's side.  The black screw looks a little agricultural here.  However, it's actually subtler than it looks in the photo and fits with some of the other pragmatic features of the car like the exposed screws securing the voltage and oil pressure gauge panel.

UMPH's self-assessment?  Concept: 10/10.  Execution (Steve): 10/10.  Execution (UMPH): 8.5/10.  Relief at having salvaged what was becoming a very expensive, extremely frustrating and seemingly impossible refurbishment:  immeasurable! 



All iPhone images.

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