Dash Pad Repair

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K_trip
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Dash Pad Repair

Postby K_trip » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:23 pm

My first attempt at cleaning up my dash pad was "so so" ... I filled the cracks with Shoe Goo then went over the pad with black shoe polish. It still looked ratty, but it was much easier to clean. Anything was an improvement over what I had, and at the time re-covering my bench seat was a priority. As time and the California sun took it's toll on the dash pad - it was clear my repairs were going to need a "freshen up" on a regular schedule - shoe polish wears thin and cracks continued to get wider.

I picked up this dash a little while back. It's from a 1976 truck, with a good bezel and a nice pad.
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I got the pad off, with a couple of boo-boos in the process. The pad was rock hard, so any pressure caused cracks and/or a hole. If I were to do this again, I might try using the plastic prep to soften it before I tried removing it, to reduce the chance of making new cracks or holes. Oh well, live and learn.
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I used SEM Plastic and Leather Prep - I fogged it on a number of times. By the third or fourth application the pad was soft enough to push on without creating a new crack! I also picked up a SEM Urethane Bumper Repair Kit - an epoxy style filler to fix the cracks and holes. This whole process is being done with SEM products, and I'm following the recommended procedures. Perhaps other products would work as well, but going with this approach - I don't expect to have any surprise reactions between products.
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You can see dark spots where the plastic prep found a crack or a hole. That exposed more than I first saw. Once I get the pad as soft as I can, spraying on the prep a half dozen times, I filled the holes and cracks with the Urethane Epoxy. I found it's best to make a very small batch, not only was the dark stuff slow to get out of the tube, but you only have minutes to deal with it before it starts to set up.
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In the upper left of this shot you can see where a crack was opened up and I filled it. The other spot that got filled here was a place where the pad was pushed in, nothing missing, it wasn't a hole just a few cracks and a low spot. While the urethane mix was still tacky I cleaned off the extra using a rag and the plastic prep, but it dried fast and I didn't get all of the excess cleaned up.

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Here you can see a couple more dark spots which are cracks. On the upper edge there was a hole with a small piece of the old dash pad barely hanging on. I used the urethane repair goop to stick that back on, and filled the hole - and wiped up as much of the mess I made with more of the plastic prep.

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I filled in the holes and the larger crack, it didn't take much so I have enough of this urethane repair to do a few more dash pads. I was trying to be careful with my repairs so that the original texture wasn't covered up. The primer is "sand free" (no sanding), and it goes on very light. It's clear, but where it gets built up it leaves a bit of a foggy look to the vinyl. It didn't fill in any of the original texture, and was very easy to apply.
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I also picked up SEM Texture Coating and found it worked great! It's black and sprays on like paint, but then it starts to crackle (you can hear it working) as it changes into the texture of leather. This also gave me a good idea of what the end result would look like, and there were spots I didn't like. The cracks that I didn't fill showed up, and there were a few low spots where I had filled in a dent and a hole.
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I waited for everything to dry, then used the plastic prep to clean the areas I wanted to rework. This was better than sanding, which would have changes the texture, it also kept things cleaner. It's nice to know you can go back and correct things before the final coating is applied.
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After the urethane mix hardened - I went over the areas I worked on with the primer again. It's very easy to go back a number of times, but as any artist will tell you - you need to know when to leave it alone. I went at it a third time but wished I had left it alone after the second touch up. The process is fine doing a third touch up, where I went wrong was with the texture coating (too much, too heavy). I strongly suggest using as little of this stuff as possible to cover up the repairs. I covered everything, including the glove box door and ash tray, so everything would match when I was done, but I applied way too much texture in the area I was repairing and it doesn't look the same in those spots.
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It looks great, and I would recommend these products. My work won't pass for a NOS dash pad, but someone with some talent could produce results that would come very close to it. I'm glad I did this with the pad out of the truck, it wouldn't work as well done in place. The way I look at it ... it's just as much work as it is to replace a pad with a NOS unit, if you can find one ... for the price of a cheap dash cap. The cans were about $20 each and the urethane mix was about $15, close to $100 for the stuff (I think it can be found cheaper online).

Next step is to install it, and take pictures of the finished project. Stay Tuned :)
Last edited by K_trip on Tue Feb 18, 2014 9:31 am, edited 1 time in total.
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K_trip
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby K_trip » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:47 pm

Here is the list of products I used:

SEM 68422 Urethane Bumper Repair
SEM 38354 Plastic and Leather Prep.
SEM 38363 Sand Free Primer
SEM 39853 Texture Coating
SEM 17013 Classic Coat - Midnight Black
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby 510freak » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:00 pm

Well done!
Cant wait to see the installed pics
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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K_trip
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby K_trip » Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:38 am

When I started this I couldn't find much information online. Part of this project was documenting the process so I could post it here. This should be handy to more than just Datsun freaks, as many cars from the 60s on up have these dash pads. The dash caps are hard plastic, and I'm sure they will hold up well over the years, but I never liked how they looked or how they feel. This process restores the pad so that it's soft to the touch, and you can push on it like a padded dash should be.

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The smell went away within 24 hours, but I couldn't get around to bringing it into the house for photos until last night. I'm glad I took several detail shots during the process, so you can compare them with the finished results. I think I can get better angles for detailed shots with the pad out of the truck. I stuck the ash tray and glove box door on for these photos, mainly because I'm pretty happy with how it looks, also it shows how well the areas I worked blended with the areas I didn't mess with.

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For some reason some of these shots got rotated, perhaps it's a Photobucket "feature" ... I don't know???

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Getting around to the install won't be real soon, so don't hold your breath, but it will happen and when it does I will post a few more shots. At least you can see what it takes, and what to expect, if you wanted to freshen up your dash pad like I did. :)
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Ni10
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby Ni10 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 7:36 am

WOWZER, that turned out real nice. Nice job and great thread. :thumbs:
DRIVEN » Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:01 am wrote:Datsuns don't break down. They just get unscheduled upgrades.
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby MicroMachinery » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:35 am

Sweet thread! Do you have any close-ups of the 'worst' areas on the dash? Not that I want to pick out the flaws, I'm more interested in seeing how well this treatment hides them. Thanks!
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K_trip
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby K_trip » Thu Feb 27, 2014 9:02 am

Good question!

A close inspection will locate my repairs, but I really think if someone (with more talent and time than I put into this) made an effort it could be a lot better.

There was a hole large enough to almost completely hind my pinky fingernail, it's along the top edge seen here with filler in it. There were also some cracks facing the driver that I didn't think would show at first, but after the texture coating went on - I could see it needed to be repaired too.

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The plastic prep makes any crack or hole a dark spot, making them easy to see. The hole repair turned out great, IMHO ;)

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I made a point of taking shots of the bad spots before and after.

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In this last one you can kind of see where I didn't push the cracked part down enough before I used the epoxy, so it's stuck there. You can also see where I fogged on the texture coating a little too heavy right here, it looked a lot better before I did that. If I were more picky I would have cleaned off the texture where I piled it on (using the plastic prep after it dried), then hit it again without going overboard.
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby MicroMachinery » Thu Feb 27, 2014 10:40 am

Wow, can't even see the hole in the back. Same with the crack up front.

Image
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K_trip
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby K_trip » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:26 pm

Thanks - it looks very good in person, and I'm super glad I did the ashtray and glove box door to match.
These are on Photobucket and if you go there you can view the larger images in more detail!

Here I have marked that photo above to make spotting the repairs easier ...

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This is another angle of that part of the dash pad close up ...

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This was a pretty easy project, and not counting pulling a dash pad (or reinstalling it) I've got less than two hours in this.
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Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby 510freak » Thu Feb 27, 2014 4:23 pm

Sure looks good to me
Taterhead » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:35 am wrote:[quote="Taterhead » Mon Dec 07, 2015 2:41 pm


Sorry, I was channeling my inner flatcat.
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K_trip
Posts: 771
Joined: Mon Oct 28, 2013 7:26 am
Cars: DATSUN
67 Bluebird R16/5spd
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74 Li'l Hustler L16/4spd
Location: Santa Cruz Mountains, CAILF

Re: Dash Pad Repair

Postby K_trip » Fri Feb 28, 2014 7:53 am

The products and process work great, the only problem - my effort was half-ass.

I had other things going on while I did this (excuses, excuses), and I didn't bother to use sandpaper. Seriously, if someone applied similar effort to this as you would doing body work on a urethane bumper before painting it with a high-gloss finish ... you could come up with something that could fool most people.

This dash pad had some shrinking along the top edge, most likely from drying out in the sun, which pulled the top tight and caused an uneven gap between the glove box door and the edge of the dash pad. Now that I've pointed it out, it might be more noticible? If I were going to be picky, I would have addressed that issue first.

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Last night I tried taking shots from different angles, with different lighting, to give you a better idea of what the worst spot turned out like. Having a textured surface makes this very forgiving, but I was able to get a shot that shows the repair more clearly. I only applied the filler and wiped off the extra with a clean rag and the plastic prep. Where it was too low I added some more, in the same fashion. For a really good job it - I would have sanded the high spots before applying the texture.

Perhaps not doing a top-notch effort gives everyone a better idea on how well this process works?

I've done body work, and I know it's all about the prep and the work that you put into it before the finish is applied. If I were working on a Z or a Dime it might have been worth taking my time, and putting in the extra effort to use sandpaper, to get the best results. I really think this is better than a dash cap, because you can push on this and it feels like a pad - not some hard ABS plastic shell.

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