240z Dash Restoration

A continuation of a post so ancient, I might as well just copy it and amend at the bottom…

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.

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.

The dash as it was when I removed it:

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One of the cracks surrounded by scorelines I made trying to get the coating off:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Getting there…

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How’s it looking? Fuck, still not done.

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OK, finally. It’s now stripped and surrounded by more chip than my shoulders at a Liberal Arts area at Monash uni.

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Now here’s some photos of where I cut V-notches along the bigger cracks with a stanley knife.

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Then I filled them with that expandy-foam that comes in a rattle can that you’re meant to use for filling holes in walls after you get angry watching an episode of 60 minutes on gun control. 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.

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I had intention to coat it with vinyl after that, but I played around a bit and decided it would require more stitches than my hands after that episode of 60 minutes. So I bit the bullet and put on a coat of fiberglass. I took some photos of the glassing stuff but I have no idea where it went. A few notes on glass: The two most common resins are polyester and epoxy. Polyester will eat foam, is not as strong but has a nice high working temperature. Epoxy won’t eat away the foam, is normally stronger but will soften at the kind of temperature a dash will get to on a hot day if you park it in the sun. In the end, I sprayed some paint on the foam, sanded and used polyester.

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After that, and a lot of sanding, I undercoated, sanded and bogged it until it was nice and smooth again. I used bumper filler as opposed to plain old ordinary bog so it won’t crack as it flexes.

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Then I spent weeks trying to find a paint shop that has texture-finish paint. None of them seem to and I went to a whole lot of them. I tried the texture black stuff shown below but it came up as a matt black, no matter how I applied it. I also tried that stuff they put on steps and walkways but that just makes it look like you dropped the dash in gravel before you painted it.

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In the end, the best I could find was this under-body deadener. I sprayed the afore-mentioned texture coat on top to seal it.

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Those imperfections around the gauges should be covered up when it’s assembled.

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I replaced all the dash lights with LED’s, too, while I was at it. Beardmode engage!

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Here it is, installed. The extra gauge is O2. More on that later.

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3 Responses to 240z Dash Restoration

  1. Aaron says:

    That dash is looking great. I’m gonna bookmark this post for when I get the courage to do mine.. :p

  2. Pingback: Datsun 240z dash reskinning (part one of… probably a billion) | Hyllest

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