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Headliner installation Q/A


our51super
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Hi all,

Teresa and I are going to attempt to replace the headliner in our car this weekend. Now, having never done this before I thought I'd ask you guys for some advice and common pitfalls. I do this all the time because I respect your opinions and value your knowledge. It seems pretty straight forward except at the point where the headliner meets the top of the windshield. I guess I can get a clue as to how it's being held in place there when I take the trim off.

Thank you in advance.

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A few years ago I did the headliner in my 37 and I will tell you what I remember. It appears to be a daunting task at the beginning but don't be discourged, you can do it. Being my first try, and I hope I don't have to do another one, I went to the local fabric store and asked advice. They sold me a small bottle of adhesive which I believe was called Twice as Tacky. It is white and looks like a very thick Elmers Glue. You can use it to hold the headliner in place and if necessary pull it loose and reposition it. Be sure to take your time and be very careful to make sure it is taut in all directions. The most difficult part for me was around the back window where it was a challenge to keep the material taut in all directions. Mine turned out nice and if I can do it at my age, 60s, you should have no trouble. It will be much easier if you remove the front seat during this procedure.

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The headliner should be stapled or tacked to some very thin and fragile tacking strips along the windshield and rear window, and some thicker ones on the side. If the thin strips go bad you should be able to glue it in there instead, use 3M general trim adhesive and follow the directions on the can. Measure the new headliner and mark the center line, and do the same with the bows, also marking what order they were in, left and right sides, and if there are several sets of mounting holes which ones were used. Then you will just have to stretch it and smooth it into place. It will probably take some adjusting, but it can be done. Best wishes, Todd C

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Having ripped mine out, I can confirm the "staple strips" on the front & rear glass areas. Mine wasn't glued in.

One other thing I have been told - if you work with the napped material, ensure you have clean, and I mean clean, hands before doing anything. Also ensure that all areas the headliner will come in contact with is clean. cleanliness is not so important when dealing with a vinal headliner as it can be washed.

What may be of interest to me and anybody else Crin / Teresa, if you can take detailed photos of your job & post 'em.

My 2c worth

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Well, it went off without a hitch. This is probably the first thing I ever did on this or any other car where I actually set out to do something over a designated period of time and got it done with daylight to spare. It wasn't a dificult taks just maybe a bit tedious. The tack strips were all in great shape and I didn't have to use any glue of any sort. The only problem I ran into was that the tack nails I used were a bit longer than the original ones but they still worked. There were a few wrinkles but as I put the chrome trim back on the ridges in the trim pulled the fabric nice and tight and smoothed out all the wrinkles. I really can't believe that I was able to do this. I have played around with upholstery before but never on this magnitude. Thank you for the vote of confidence - that's all I needed I guess - well that and a tack hammer. I highly recommend the tack hammer - I got one from Sears Hardware and one end of it is magnetic. That saved me from hammering my fingers throughout the weekend. I started Friday afternoon at about 2 PM and finished it Sunday afternoon at about 3PM. In total I think it took me about 20 hours to do it.

I first steamed the headliner to smooth out the wrinkles from being in the sipping box. Then I took each rod from the old headliner and placed it in its appropriate spot in the new one. I then installed the rods and cut back some of the "channels" that the rods were housed in - I got that from an upholstery book I have. Then I sat there and looked at it for about an hour trying to decide where to start with the tack nails. I started right over the bench seat area on the driver's side and worked left to right on that section. I then moved to the front and secured that in the middle and then moved somewhat to the sides but not all the way to the corners. I then moved to the sides again and worked left to right moving toward the rear of the car. Then I secured the back and started workng the corners. I had to sew some piping in the windlace - that's how it secures to the front door jamb - as well as sewing some extra material to the windlace as to cover the A-pillars. What really brought it all together was installing the trim - it really pulled it tight and I felt like the headliner is finally really secured. I then trimmed the excess with a single sider razor and that was that.

In celebration, Teresa and I took part of the cash that we were going to give someone to install it and went to Red Lobster - not too shabby.

Thanks again for the "if I can do it, you can do it" words of encouragement. Now I know I can do it.

Cheers!

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I took pictures along the way and I'll have them developed tonight but I;m not sure how much they will help someone that's actually trying to see how the job is done. I read two books on the subject and when it came down to it, I only used two pieces of information from the books. One was "leave the trim screws in the respective holes so you can find them later - that was probably the most important one. The second was to trim back some of the tubing (I forget the actual name) that the metal rods slide through in the headliner. By cutting that back some I was able to get rid of some wrinkles at the edges where the rods connect to the roof of the car. I'll scan them in and post them tomorrow or the next day.

Cheers!

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We got the pictures back last night but I don't think they will help anyone. I can post them just the same but it will have to wait 'till I get back in town from this test I'm assigned to. I guess I didn't get enough close-ups in order to show how I did it. I have pictures of the bare roof, then I have various stages of installation and the finished product but like I said, not detailed enough to use as a guide. Sorry.

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