Lotus Elan

Possible Dash Pad repair material

PostPost by: gearbox » Mon Jul 08, 2013 3:52 pm

Hi All, Just wanted to let everyone know that I may have found a suitable option to repair cracked and busted dash pads on our cars. I have no affiliation with the distributor of the product, but I found this material pretty impressive and I am very picky about these things. The material is called Whisper Vinyl. I learned about the product on some custom audio forums, and what they seemed to say was that it was easy to use, conformed to odd shapes, and had the apperance and feel of real leather. And it was very cheap, about 19 bucks per yard. My Elan dash was not terrible, but did have cracks and was a bit fragile and brittle to the touch. So I bought a fiberglass replacement from Sue Miller and while it was better than what I had, it just didn't look right. I did say I was pretty picky about these things. But without any other options, it is what it was. So when I learned about this material I decided to give it a try and bought 2 yards.

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When I recieved the roll of material, it was a lot, enough for more than two dashes and then some but needed the two yards for the length of the dash. And since I was not ready to recover the dash in the car I decided to practice on another part. Recently I came across a 1970 GT6 Triumph project car, please don't ask me why I bought it, but I did, and started to sort out all the boxes of parts to see what I needed. It had an ABS hinge cover that was busted to bits and broken in half. I found most of the big pieces, but many of the smaller bits was lost. Unfortunately, this is one of those Unobtainable parts for the car. So I carefully glued all the bits I had together with crazy glue and then reinforced it with epoxy. I taped over the missing bits, using it as a mould and layed up epoxy behind it to bridge the missing pieces. While it came out pretty well in terms of finally having a solid part and it was straight and complete, it looked horrible and a coat of interior paint would not have worked. So this was going to be my test bed. The part had two humps on either side to cover the hinges for the rear hatch that I was almost certain that the vinyl was not going to conform to, and if it did it would certainly lift, but it would be a good test.

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I decided to tackle the center section first as it was flat and easy to do. I used the best 3M Yellow spray adhesive I could find (20 bucks a can) and sprayed the center of the part and corresonding back of the vinyl. Waited 5 minutes and started to stretch the vinyl over the middle section. It laid on perfectly as I assumed it would. Massaging down the vinyl around the dome light protrusion, it immediately fell into position and contoured perfectly.

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Now the hard part, I peeled back the non glued vinyl and part from both ends, working on one side at a time. Sprayed the adhesive, waited 5 minutes, and started to stretch the vinyl around the hump, applying and then peeling off and re applying the vinyl to work out all the wrinkles and bumps. I did use a hair dryer to help out a bit, but very sparingly. The vinyl tended to want to conform on it's own. After slicing some darts around the hinge opening and the corners where it curls under the part, the vinyl finally settled down and smoothed out. But I have to say, I did stretch the hell out the vinyl and it did want to lift up several times where the humps turn up at 90 degrees, but I continued to press it down and massage it into place and applied a bit of heat with the hair dryer. After a few minutes, it stayed on it's own.

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I was very happy and impressed with the outcome, I put the part in the direct sunlight for a day and it was hot and humid, in the 90's, and the vinyl did not lift. The claims that it was close to leather was true, the feel and texture is not like vinyl, but closer to the inetrior of my Cayman S, not shiney, rather just the right amount of dull. I may attempt to wrap my fiberglass dash before I leave for overseas again, but will definetly get to it and perhaps the real dash when I get back in November. Very happy with this product. Good luck with your projects and I hope this had been helpful, Allan
Last edited by gearbox on Mon Jul 08, 2013 9:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Mon Jul 08, 2013 4:51 pm

Hi Allan,

Thanks for posting, that's very impressive work you have there. I shall have to see if I can find a UK supplier because that looks perfect for underdash trims, etc.

Brian
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PostPost by: gearbox » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:11 pm

Hi Brain;

I'm glad you found it helpful. But not only underdash trim, but the pillars and perhaps even the ceneter console. What I failed to mention was that while the part was flimsy and easy to break and crack, after covering the part, it became much more structually sound. Much stiffer and robust compared to the unwrapped part. As you know, one knee strike on the underdash trim and it is toast. I'm even thinking of using this stuff on the inside strip ontop of the windshield. Not only it looks and feels great, it really conforms easily. I'm pretty much an originality guy when it comes to restorations, but with just a little bit of time and little money, you can transform the less than stellar ABS parts in the car into something that looks right at home in an Aston or Jag. Plus it would still look factory. The supplier I got this from is http://www.yourautotrim.com/whisper.html and even with shipping to the UK, it still should be inexpensive. I normally do not bother recommending anything, but I have to say, I am very impressed with this material and I know it will help me out with so many other projects that I have.
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PostPost by: kenb » Tue Jul 09, 2013 3:38 am

Allan,
Great find and helpful article.I will get some material and try and renovate my center console.
This is what these forums are for!
Ken
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:37 am

Hello Allan,

In addition to the crash pad, do you think it would work on the door skins? I would want to line the door skins first with a thin layer of poly foam.

Regards,
Dan Wise
There is no cure for Lotus, only treatment.
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PostPost by: gearbox » Tue Jul 09, 2013 4:52 am

Hi Ken;

Great that you found this useful, wait until you see this material and better yet, once you recover the center console. You most likely will want to recover everything else to match lol. Just make sure you get some 3M "Yellow" adhesive spray. The regular 3M stuff is not as sticky and the yellow allows you to peel, apply, re-peel, and re apply several times without affecting the final adhesion. As for the console, it should be straight forward, start from the back and work the vinyl forward. The toughest part I see would be the pocket for the shifter. Once you hit the rear corners of the pocket, start strecthing the material like crazy. Use your thumbs to get the vinyl to the bottom of the corners and floor of the pocket and then stretch the vinyl over the sides to remove all the wrinkles. Keep on applying the vinyl until you get to the front corners and start cutting darts on the front to wrap the vinyl under the console. With a bit of patience and heat from a hair drier, I believe you can wrap the entire console without having to cut it in areas that would show. Here's a picture of the spray adhesive, Good luck Allan
Attachments
IMG_0746.JPG and
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PostPost by: gearbox » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:26 am

StressCraxx wrote:Hello Allan,

In addition to the crash pad, do you think it would work on the door skins? I would want to line the door skins first with a thin layer of poly foam.

Regards,
Dan Wise


Hi Dan;

Absolutely, it works just like regular upholstery Vinyl except for the fact that you can stretch it around things that normal vinyl cannot. If you intend to forego the basket weave pockets which are sewn in on the original and just use this material, I think this stuff can be made to just stretch into the pockets. Not sure if you have to make a slit or two, but I think this stuff can be made to contour into the pockets. Should you do this and use 3/16" or 1/4" foam, you will need to anchor the vinyl to something more soild like the back of the fiberglass trim panel. But that's easy, just use enough vinyl to wrap it around to the back and glue in place. I use those small triangular shaped paper clips that you can buy at any office suppy store and clip the wrap around until it dries. Just space them an inch apart to apply equal pressure. Also on the exposed vinyl I use a paint stirer (toungue depressor) to protect the vinyl from taking on a depression from the paper clip. But yeah, no sweat on the door panels. Plus it looks and feels so much nicer than the standard upholstery vinyl. Good luck and post up some pics when you get the project done, love to see it, Allan
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PostPost by: UAB807F » Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:44 am

Thanks for posting the link to your supplier Allan. I started searching and found quite a few Ebay sellers in the US who offered the material, but only for internal US shipping. I suppose it's the weight that puts people off selling outside the US.

I've bookmarked "yourautotrim" because they do say they'll ship abroad, but I'm going to try to find a European supplier before placing an order with them because I could imagine the carriage costs exceeding the materials.

Very interesting material though. I've just retrimmed the flat section of the doors (S3) in plain vinyl+foam layer and as it's mostly flat it's and easy job. But now of course the old clashes with the new and I could really do with doing the complete panel, which would be a challenge. Based on what you've achieved this material would be ideal for the double curvature sections.

Brian
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PostPost by: gearbox » Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:45 am

UAB807F wrote:I've bookmarked "yourautotrim" because they do say they'll ship abroad, but I'm going to try to find a European supplier before placing an order with them because I could imagine the carriage costs exceeding the materials.
Brian


LOL, welcome to my world :lol: Sue Miller, Tony Thompson, and Matty all recognize my number when I call. And yeah, shipping and customs is a killer, but when you need something that is not available in the US, or is half the price or better, you do what you have to do. I just found Rimmer Bros in the UK and they were the only ones in the world that had the two bonnet reinforcements for the GT6 that I needed. 75 GBP was a bargain, the 65 GBP shipping costs was not. But still happy just to be able get the parts. Don't forget to post your find so others can source this material from your side of the pond. Like Ken said, this is what these forums are all about. Good luck Allan
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PostPost by: Dave240 » Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:05 pm

Glad I found this. It's going to give me another winter project.

How is it holding up now that it's been installed for a few months?
69 Elan +2 - Currently in as many pieces as physically possible
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PostPost by: fatboyoz » Thu Oct 03, 2013 7:33 pm

Allan,
Agree with you re old trim pieces becoming fragile with age. Both my underdash trims were broken in two and my centre console was split almost in half. Tried having them plastic welded, but this still did not address the problem of further damage by knees and sharp elbows. To stabilise these parts and to make them more durable, I reinforced them, from behind, with a layer of fibreglass tissue and resin. The joins are almost indiscernible and have all stood the test of time for nearly four years.
Perhaps this would be a good base prior to applying your vinyl covering.
Regards,
Colin.

gearbox wrote:Hi Brain;

I'm glad you found it helpful. But not only underdash trim, but the pillars and perhaps even the ceneter console. What I failed to mention was that while the part was flimsy and easy to break and crack, after covering the part, it became much more structually sound. Much stiffer and robust compared to the unwrapped part. As you know, one knee strike on the underdash trim and it is toast. I'm even thinking of using this stuff on the inside strip ontop of the windshield. Not only it looks and feels great, it really conforms easily. I'm pretty much an originality guy when it comes to restorations, but with just a little bit of time and little money, you can transform the less than stellar ABS parts in the car into something that looks right at home in an Aston or Jag. Plus it would still look factory. The supplier I got this from is http://www.yourautotrim.com/whisper.html and even with shipping to the UK, it still should be inexpensive. I normally do not bother recommending anything, but I have to say, I am very impressed with this material and I know it will help me out with so many other projects that I have.
'68 S4 DHC
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