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Looking for ideas on restoring 1939 Super Eight Dashboard

Guest Tinpan

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Guest Tinpan

I rescued a, I believe 1703 series, Super Eight that was being restored and was dismantled when I acquired it.

The original dashboard is identical to the one that was featured in this article:


Four Doors to Glory | Hemmings Motor News

If you read the article and look at the photos it is absolutely gorgeous. I spoke to the gentleman who did the work, and honestly it's wonderful, but I'm not sure I can put it in the budget right now. I am trying to see if there are any other options out there.

Apparently the original plastic will need to be replaced since it really gives off an offensive odor.


The original steering wheel is useable but really smells bad.


The horn pieces, are warped and need to be replaced, plus they smell as bad as the steering wheel


The dash pieces are cracked and warped, but don't smell near as bad as the steering wheel


I also got the plastic wood grained dash pieces with the car and it looks like that was what was going to be used. I believe these came from a different car


Here it is going back together. It looks like this black is a re spray over an original blue color. For now i am going to have the car put back together and see how it runs. Down the road I may have it painted the original color again.

So it looks like I have the following options:

1)I can continue with the replacement dash board

2) Have the original redone, are there other folks that do a decent job repairing these original plastic dash boards?



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Guest Tinpan

Yesteryears radios look promising, those prices are very reasonable. I wonder if they have any plans to do the 39 dash. I'll reach out to them. The smell as it was described to me was...well...I don't know how else to put it, like vomit. It really smells bad, I did confirm with a smell check. It's in good shape, a few minor cracks, but that smell would be right under your nose and it does permeate the whole car. Being plastic that old, I would be afraid of trying to coat it. One other thing I was cautioned with that I have never heard before, was that it could also come apart while driving it. The word used was explode.

I think this is a unique trait to this color, I have seen plenty of old Packard steering wheels and never run into this problem before. If you follow the link to the other 39 that was restored with the restored dash it looks marvelous, but man it was a lot of money. More than I paid for the car.

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It's not exactly low cost at a few hundred dollars, but if you're handy a woodgraining kit from Grain it Technologies woodgraining might be an option. I know at least one poster who is a regular at PackardInfo has used one with quite decent results. IIRC, there was also someone affiliated with the same company who did plastic at one time. Not sure if they still do but might be worth a question if Yesterday's Radio doesn't cover that year.

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Guest bkazmer

I doubt if it's the color - the usual pigments are metal oxides and carbon black. Some off the old thermoset plastics can have degradation products in the formaldehyde family and be acidic (the pungent part of the "vomit smell").

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If I had an extra hundo for every steering wheel I sprayed I could buy some really nice parts. Some are over 20yrs old and haven't "exploded" yet. Yeah, that old form of plastic is doing what call out-gassing as it degrades. Some proper prep and a good bond will seal it up and stop the smell, if the current plastic is good enough to clear over. It looks pretty good and some clear epoxy would make a decent repair of any cracks. If you can get past the smell you'll have it licked.

Hey, did I say that?

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Guest Tinpan

Thank for all the info. I think I will look at clear coating the steering wheel after all. It is in nice condition and it would be a shame to not use it. That photo from Grain It looks pretty close to what is on there now. I'll reach out to them as well. I know my garage guy would love to try wood graining because he has mentioned it. We might try that route on the spare dash I have if I can't come up with a better solution.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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