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1958 headliner restoration problem


Pete Phillips
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Working on a '58 model 49-R which is the 4-door hardtop station wagon in the Special series. It has a perforated, white, particle board (I think) headliner with plastic or vinyl strips holding it in place every couple of feet. My '56 Studebaker Golden Hawk has the same thing and the same problem. Problem is, the plastic or vinyl strips deteriorate with heat and age, allowing the particle board or cardboard (whatever it is) headliner to fall down and get warped. I imagine the Caballero station wagons have the same headliner and the same problem. I will post photos in a day or two when I have a chance.

Has anyone tackled this problem before? I really am out of ideas on how to fix this. Can't install a cloth or vinyl fabric headliner because the car does not have the metal bows that hold those types of headliners.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

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Pete, I have never attempted this myself, but I played a role as an upholsterer on T.V. once.

But seriously, it sounds like you may need to fabricate a new "track" system in which to support the perforated composite material on once again. That is, if the original material is still good and the pickup support points are not toast as well.

Go ahead and post some photos that would help.

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Pete:

I have been through this a couple of times. My first try was in 1990 with a Caballero restoration. First, we covered the particle boards with the proper color of headliner material from CARS - Detroit (Cheverolet products.) Then, I reproduced the plastic extrusion with a clear material. (I have forgotten the polymer used) Then I used a chrome sided mylar striping tape and held that in stip with a foam strip. Then I sprayed the back with rattle can chrome paint. Then when installing the strip, it is much more plyable if heated somewhat with wife's hair dryer. I then finished end with the chrome clip that was standard with the '58 wagons. (See attached Photo)

Then, I have taken the clear extrusion and finished the outside with the spray-on chrome finish discussed elsewhere in this forum. The results are much more attractive than the original. This process is more expensive than that first described. I would help you solve the problems you have. PM me if you desire pricing.

Dan

post-54279-143138783983_thumb.jpg

Edited by Caballero2 (see edit history)
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Guest Rob McDonald

PETE, wow, that's a challenge...

Danallero's solution looks excellent, though. Don't be put off by his comment, "I have forgotten the polymer used". Our plastics guru, 57buickjim, will have that formula at his fingertips. He can probably help you source a piece, too.

DAN, are you referring to the proprietary silvering/clear coat process that's starting to show up? Some overpaid UK footballer had his entire Aston Martin thus "improved". I think this would work on my Buick's A/C centre vent plastic trim. It's broken but complete and the finish is spoiled. Recommendations for a dependable Spray Chrome licensee will be much appreciated. Canada or US, no matter.

post-59990-143138786888_thumb.jpg

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I totally defer to Dan the Caballero Man regarding plastic extrusions. I am a mere neophyte to his knowledge of the materials. However, Rob you are right...I can help source that part, if the volume is high enough!! :)

As for the chroming of the parts, let's just say that depends. I have seen some of the chrome trim tape that Dan mentions at various autoparts stores. As for the material at CARS. Classic Chevy Restoration Parts - CARS Inc. .I have used them for parts that are common among the Buicks and Chevys. Being local here does have its advantages.

Rob, are you hitting the Brador's this evening? It must be pretty chilly up there this time of year!

What would be the color code on the data plate if I wanted to do that to "Old Bessie" like the UK Footballer? What a hit that would be at Nationals...:D

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I still have enough extrusions to do about six more wagons. I also have a rule die to cut the linoleum on the lower tailgate. I also have rule dies for cutting the door panels for the '57 four door hardtops. It would probabley work for the'58s. Also, I have an extra center vent for the A/C jobs. I need to have it rechromed because it shows shop wear even though it is NOS.

One of our club members, Ken Mohnkern, has a business for doing the plastic chrome process and is reasonable. Extreme Chrome, ken@extremechrome.com (720) 340-0328.

Dan

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Guest Rob McDonald

DAN, thanks for the referral. It's kind of a 2-bit item but it's right there in your face and is the only chromed plastic on the car, I think. Spectre of things to come...

JIM, sadly, I can only talk about drinking beer now - medications, you know. What bits do you find in common, between Chevs and Buicks? I scrolled through CARS Inc.'s site and saw, maybe, interior trim screws. Their inner fender screws are definitely not what came on my Buick. Theirs have round captive washers, mine are square with rounded corners.

Unfortunately, it's too warm around here! I'm on the board of an ice- and snow-carving festival, Welcome To The Ice On Whyte Festival - Ice On Whyte. We've had very little snow this winter, so we've had to rent two ski hill-type snow-making machines. They only work when it drops below -4C/+25F and we've only been getting those temperatures late at night. Our snow machines are understandably loud and the neighbours near our festival site had us restricted to daytime hours only. That clearly didn't work but we managed to sweet talk our way into getting the complaints withdrawn. The snow's piling up now and some of the carvings are already done. The ten-day show opens January 12.

Sorry, this didn't have much to do with headliners, did it? I do love Caballeros, though. If only they'd made a Roadmaster Estate Wagon in '57... Yikes, I suddenly had a flash of Ambassador Cross Country. No, it's better that they stayed on the junior chassis.

post-59990-143138787633_thumb.jpg

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  • 1 year later...

Ah, the headliner. I am on that now. I finally ended up making my own stainless clips for the rear quarter windows so now we can move on to the headliner. I too have the perforated headliner for the Estate Wagon. Mine are complete but totally warped in places and very soft. I don't think rewrapping them will do much good to take out the warp. What does everyone think of adding newer hardboard to the underside of the pieces and then adding the new material? Would that take the warp/wow out? Cheers. Michael.

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Pete, I just noticed that you had a '56 Golden Hawk. I had one when I was 16 and a senior in High School. I drove it with no hood because a gas station attendant had checked the oil for the previous owner and folded it neatly for him. It was a package deal. I got an XK-150 Jaguar drop head, too. That was my second Jag. Prior to that I had bought a Mark VII at an auction. Pretty neat for a 16 year old.

There's more.

I saw a '56 Packard Caribbean in a hedge row near where I worked. All the windows were broken. The owner claimed he was nervous about the aging wire wheels and quit driving it. Some kids came by and broke the windows. He gave it to me. I searched for a windshield and couldn't come up with one for the 9 year old Packard convertible. So I pulled the dual carbs off for the Studie and scrapped the Caribbean. I sold the carb setup at Dunkirk around 1980.

Nice memory jog this morning. Of course a few Packard fans might wish I'd grown up playing Game boy. Did kids do more back then?

Bernie

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  • 4 weeks later...
Guest 1957 buford

Hi I'm working on a 57 Buick wagon and have the same problem with the headliner, the chrome plastic extrusions are all dryed up and brittle,and broken.Do you still have the plastic parts to replace the old stuff. If so what is the process to replace them.

Thanks for any help or info

Skip

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For the plastic bows between the headliner pieces, read this thread more carefully. "Caballero2" has them--read his posts. I bought a set from him recently.

With some help, I FINALLY found and purchased the perforated headliner pieces this week and they are on their way to me. Thanks to those who alerted me as to the source!

Note to Rob McDonald: That's my friend Frank Wrenick's '58 Ambassador 4-dr hardtop station wagon in the photo of your earlier post--one of only two known in existence, and this Buick nut owns the other one (waiting in line for its restoration behind my Buicks)!

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

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Guest 1957 buford

Pete

Can you give me the source for the perforated headliner board? This will help me on my 57 wagon project.

Thanks Skip

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Guest Rob McDonald
this Buick nut owns the other one

PETE, that's even more demented than a road toad Valiant. Congratulations, sort of.

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  • 3 months later...

I haven't found the time to install mine yet, but yes, I did have to steam the panels to get them to bend properly when I was trying to salvage the original pieces. I expect I will have to steam and bend these new panels, too. Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

P.S.: I hope you are not getting any of the flooding that I heard about in Alberta on today's news.

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Guest Rob McDonald

PETE, many southern Alberta communities are suffering historically high water, especially our neighbours in Calgary. Imagine a 40-storey office tower with a 6-storey underground parkade that's entirely full of river water. This is big, very big.

MICHAEL, as for station wagon ceilings, I'm glad to hear you're back on the project. Let's get together and talk Caballeri.

Edited by Rob McDonald (see edit history)
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Dear Rob: They look great sitting in the box. I think a little steam like Pete said and they should (should) just pop in. If you're looking for the cloth headliner material, I have a roll of it as well. At the house this weekend if you need a beer. Cheers. Michael.

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  • 1 month later...

I finally had some time this weekend so I jumped (walked) in to the installation of the headliner. Piece number one just snapped in place. The next piece (second from the tailgate) needed to be steamed. I put it face up on two apple boxes about 24 inches off the table. I then draped both ends with 6 mil poly creating a bit of a tent on the ends that would need steaming. Then the kettle went in the tent. As it steamed I slowly pulled on each end to get them moving. It's best to steam both ends at the same time. After about 30 minutes they were pliable. I pulled the plastic off and dove into the wagon. They fit perfectly and the strips supplied by Mr. Hooker snapped right into place. So, two in, three to go. Cheers. Michael.

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Guest Rob McDonald
The company is REM Automotive, Mike Miller is the contact, 717-838-4242 in Annville PA.

JAMES, this is the source of the headliner material.

MICHAEL, sounds like a very successful day in the shop yesterday. How did you solve the mystery of how to get the chrome look on the clear mylar roof strips?

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  • 1 month later...

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