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Wood dash repair

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  • Chuckchuck
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    After pulling out the interior (seats, carpeting, and door panels) for refurbishing / restoration, I decided I could no longer deal with the cracked, faded, peeling wood trim, particularly on the dash. The sun and climate damage was from one extreme to the other: some were just the “normal” unsightly cracks in the veneer to peeling off large sections with your fingernail. I tried a number of chemical stripping agents with no success. Whatever they coated the trim with is pretty tough. I really didn’t explore sanding much since the actual wood veneer is pretty thin once you cut through the coating and I didn’t want to risk sanding too deeply. Plus it really seemed to gum up the sanding discs. I took a door insert from a panel that has been sitting around for a while and stuck in the oven at 375, and monitored it every few minutes. After about 10 -12 minutes I could see the clear coat starting to blister (you can see in in the photo)

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    so I gave it another couple of minutes, punctured with blister with an Xacto blade and started peeling away. It worked pretty well, but I had to do multiple heats-and-peels to release more of the coating as the stripping progressed. The problem was heat warpage from the multiple treatments.

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    I ended up taking a piece of 1/8 inch steel plate and drilling some holes to match the mounting studs on the back of the trim, screwed the trim onto it, then set it in the oven for 15 minutes.

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    That seemed to give a more even blistering over the length of the wood, and kept it warm and pliable for a much longer period of time – warning: wear heavy gloves! Even so, most of the pieces needed another oven treatment to get the stubborn stuff off, particularly in the curves of the routed areas. Some spots required some heat-gun treatment combined with gentle scraping. It’s a good idea to have a second person manning the heat gun because it was a back-and-forth kind of exercise; heat, scrape, heat, scrape. My wife loved helping 😠 (her face not mine . . . )

    I did some light sanding on all the pieces (in hindsight I wonder if I should have put more time into this part)

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    and took the pieces into a cabinet maker to see about coating and he recommended a polyurathane with a high gloss factor. I think we started at what he called “45” and said we can always go up if you want more gloss. He also indicated we would do the finish sanding prior to shooting. The result isn’t horrible, but it’s not quite what I was anticipating. And I’m still not sure if the effect is from insufficient surface prep or is a result of the trauma subjected on the trim.

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    Anyway, it’s done and ready to go back in the cars. As you probably know, the small trim piece wrapping around the dash on the driver’s side is a real PITA. I took the instrument panel out of one of the cars thinking it might give me a better way in, but not so much. I ended up on my back with a thin 6 (?) mm wrench welded to a long piece of flat metal to reach up under. I think for that piece, I’m going to either glue it in place or stick a bunch of that black sticky heater core mastic on the studs and just push it in place.

    As an afterthought, I got some triple thick brush-on polyurathane from the local paint store and I’ll try scuffing the existing finish, giving it a couple of coats with 0000 steel wool treatment inbetween coats and see if I can get the original depth look back to the wood. More photos coming.

    Cheers

    Chuck

    Chuckchuck
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    Post count: 5

    Great – images did not post. Searched the site for hints on how to post here but found nothing. A little help?

    Chuck

    Chuckchuck
    Participant
    Post count: 5
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