Before you go on, I’ve made an updated post since I completed this job. This link is here: https://hyllest.wordpress.com/2014/02/25/240z-dash-restoration/
So I found out how much it would cost to have my dash reskinned.
Basically, what that means is now I have another job to do myself. I never liked outsourcing anyway. Like so many of the other plastic parts in old Datsuns, the dash’s skin is made of plasticised PVC. Over time, especially in sunlight and heat, the plasticising agent evaporates out of the dash, causing it to become brittle, shrink and crack. It’s also the cause of that annoying thin layer of grime on the inside of your windscreen that accumulates over time. Since I’m going to so much effort to get this damn car built properly, I tend to avoid replacing parts that have failed for an obvious reason with parts that I know will fail the same way. There’s an Einstein quote about repeating the same procedure and expecting a different result being retarded (I’m pretty sure he didn’t actually say retarded, but I can’t be bothered looking the quote up). So there’s another reason not to get a vacuum-formed skin put on the dash for me- Over a similar time-frame, it’ll just go brittle and crack again. Here’s what I’ve done so far instead:
So the first thing to do was to remove the old PVC skin. This took most of a day. And most of my fingernails. The lower section peeled away quite nicely, but the top surface was so brittle, that it chipped away like… well, chips. It was also really sharp and stabby, much to the dismay of my hands which had only just recovered from the Angle Grinder Incident. In the end, I found the best way to remove the brittle stuff was a thin-bladed knife (like a fish filleting knife, there’s probably some fancy french word for it) with a slightly bent tip. You can then stab under the skin with the tip bent upwards, which prevents the knife point from diving into the foam substrate.
Then, I V’d out the cracks with a stanley knife and filled them with that expandy-foam that comes in a rattle can that you’re meant to use for filling holes in walls but never seems to actually get used for filling holes in walls. I’ve used this stuff before, but even so, I still put WAY too much on, meaning I had a looot to cut away after it had set.
I was worried that the foam might crack again and was thinking about putting a layer of fibreglass over the top surface to hold the foam together, but then figured that the only reason it cracked in the first place was because of the skin. If I coat it again with vinyl, then it will in all likelihood be fine. Also, it’d be nice to not have to deal with glass. I’ve spent enough hours sanding things for one lifetime already.
By the time the foam had dried and I’d cut it away, my weekend was over… to be continued.