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walkerbk

280z dash rebuild new idea

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So as all good stories start out... so, there I was... After sitting out in the Texas sun for all these years, my dash had bit the dust, many cracks had become small canyons and had been filled with RTV by the previous owner. While I had the car apart for my LS swap, and my dash was out for my Speed Hut Gauge install I figured I would rebuild the dash. I had heard many people say they just "fixed" the cracks and went with it, but I wanted to make something that would last so after reading about how I could cover the foam with fiberglass, I decided to give it a try. 

 

Removing the old PVC crap was easy work with a heat gun, the whole thing took less than an hour. after that, I spent a few days coating it with fiberglass... BIG MISTAKE, DO NOT USE FIBERGLASS. 

Let me explain this; first, in the case that you are ever in a car crash, your face would be met by a very soft plush fiberglass wall... not good. Second off, living in Texas, I am assuming that it had to do with the heat, the dash had bubbled and cracked within a few weeks. So what was I going to do. I spent many hours with the heat gun removing the fiberglass and many more hours patching the foam with spray foam.

 

So I was left with a uncovered foam dash with very few options. I could cover it with leather but that to would have problems in the heat over time. So I was on the hunt for something that would flex, handle heat, and be cheap to buy. I found a few people had success at patching parts with bumper repair and then it hit me... CAULK. I know I know you are all thinking I have spent to many nights in the garage with the car running, but after a hour of walking around Lowes, I bought a few things of exterior caulk and took them home to be tested.

 

After testing them all, I found something I like, Liquid Nails Extreme Heavy Duty. It spread somewhat thick, but it leveled out a little to reduce brush strokes. It is paintable, flexible, heat tolerant, and can fill gaps up to 3/8". so any flaws could be filled in plus it is sandable. I used a cheap trim brush from walmart (its the red one in the attached image) and it worked very well, I also tried using a regular paintbrush that I trimmed the end off to make it stiffer, but this didnt work as well. I think I trimmed it to short.

 

I have put four coats of this on the dash and it has become somewhat thick (maybe 1/8" thick on avg). I can push my fingernail into it and it will flex but return to normal. I started painting it tonight but do not have any pictures of it at this time. 

 

So, I might be crazy, but I fell this is going to work much better than the fiberglass. Let me know what yall think and I will keep yall updated.

 

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Sorry it has been so long, I forgot about this post. Well it survived the lovely texas winter and we are now getting into the 80s and low 90s so we will see how the summer goes.

 

So far it is looking great for what I did. I am sure if I spent more time on it, it would look much better. I believe that the 2 things that I didn't do that I should have is. 1, sand it down better. The caulk is sandable so you should be able to get a smooth finish. 2, I think that you could probably add water to the caulk to thin it out to make it flow over the dash better. This would remove the brush strokes.

 

Again, overall I am very happy with it and I have had to tell everyone that has ridden in the car that it is not original (they aren't really car guys though).

 

The attached pictures don't really do it justice but here they are. If anyone has any questions let me know. Btw, the reason I did this is because the fiberglass cracked. Plus if you are ever in a wreck, a fiberglass dash is not what you want to hit your head on.

 

After the summer, I will be redoing the rest of the interior. I will be applying great stuff foam and sanding it to get the exact shape I want and then doing this over it instead of vinyl.

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Hey now, as I said, the pics don't do it justice. There have been several times that I don't even notice that it's not stock. If I find a decent one at a junk yard now that I know this will work, I will go back and redo it, but until then this one stays as is.

 

She might be ugly, but she has an LS under the hood. Maybe one day she will get a nice coat of paint.

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This is to all you haters out there. 

 

In the hopes of improving the process I continued to search and attempt to improve my idea. After further investigation, I found that many people use foam for stage props and cover them with a type of material. this is called to as hard coating. there is many different types of coatings that you can buy or make. From my searching, the most common that I found was a mixture of latex paint, latex caulk, and joint compound. the paint thins the caulk and the joint compound hardens the surface. these three ingredients can be mixed in any different amount to achieve a soft pliable or rock hard surface.

 

I decided that since the surfaces of the car should remain flexible I would not add any joint compound. I mixed about 2/3 caulk to 1/3 paint. I used the alex siliconized latex paint since it is still paintable and coated the foam 3 times with a paint brush letting it dry 24 hours between coats and sanding with 60 grit sand paper in between coats. Also, the paint that I I used was satin and I had it tented black to help make it easier to paint. when mixed with the white caulk it was a nice grey.

 

My first impression was that it was still laying on very thick and that I should thin it out but though the drying, it leveled out some and then the sanding helped. The third coat I should have thinned out a little more to help it smooth out the surface but through sanding I was able to make it pretty near perfect... but I will let you be the judge of that...

 

As for the test piece. I have always hated the soft trashy visors that came with the car. I tried to remove it and make a new one out of vinyl but it was no better. In the end I removed it and glued two pieces of foam over it. In between the two pieces of foam is a 1/4 piece of cheap hobby wood. This did two things; one, it filled in the area that was taken up by the wire frame, two it added more stability to the visor. After that I filled in the edges with great stuff spray foam and trimmed down to the wire frame with a dremel sanding drum. The actual shaping was done with a sanding block and 60 grit sand paper. this ensured a smooth and even surface.

 

In the end I am very pleased with the results. In the future I will be buying another dash to redue, and more than likely start recovering or making my own interior panels with this method. 

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Beware of the stuff that will vaporize from whatever you're using, when the inside of the car gets really hot.  It will redeposit on your windows.  You'll be cleaning the windshield every other day if you get the wrong materials.

 

Many paints and caulks and filling compounds use plasticizers to make them soft and/or spreadable.

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It is very similar to the stock weight, maybe a few ounces heavier. When I pull the passenger side one I will get a weight difference. Before I finished filling everything in with foam, the screw that attaches it to the metal arm can be adjusted for more or less tention adjusting the amount of tension it takes to pull it down. I just set it where I liked it and filled over the screw with foam for a nice clean look.

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