Summershandy

1954 Headliner replacement

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I'm getting pretty close to figuring out on where to get my new headliner and windlace from. I'm looking at WLS and Stock Interiors. Are there any others I should consider? I have samples from WLS and they are a type of foam backed polyester. Stock states they sell napped cotton. I'd like to stay as close to original if I can. Anybody have any experiences on this? Thanks for your thoughts and opinions!

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CPR catalogs them at www.pontiacparts.net and you likely have already been dealing with them for other parts.  Also take a look at www.smsautofabrics.com and click their headliner button, they may actually be the source for the headliners for CPR.

 

The good news is SMS almost certainly has the right material.  The bad news is you cannot count on them to do a good job making a headliner that fits.  I would suggest ask CPR if they have them in stock and if they have samples.  If not get samples from SMS and do not trust them to match colors, verify yourself.  Then order the headliner from whoever seems the better source and find a local upholstery shop with an experienced old timer and have them do the install (they can adjust and re-sew as needed).  Old fashioned headliners are difficult to install even for pros, good luck, Todd C  

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Thanks Todd - 

SMS sounds like a very reliable source for fabrics. The thought of installing the napped cloth scares me of ripping. I would imagine there's got to be a little tugging and pulling to fit. The foam backed polyester seems more durable and I think I've seen a couple cars in shows that have them. I'm leaning towards WLS for the fact of this material and that they can do my visors for a modest cost and have matching windlace. 

Thanks for the input as I always like hearing other opinions and facts. Cheers.

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As someone who has installed a few headliners (admittedly a long time ago), foam backed material sounds like a horrible idea. It believe it is intended for those 80s cars that had the foam-backed material glued up (and falling down 3 years later).

 

A 1954 headliner probably has bows and toothed strips around the edge. You sort of adjust the tension as you put it up. First the seams, then the part in-between to get the curve and remove the wrinkles. There is a special tool, although a wide flat dull blade (like the wide flat knife from some turn-of-the-last-century silverware) works fine. You can adjust until you trim the edges and tuck it in. I imagine those toothed strips mangling the foam. It would probably be OK if you get it absolutely right on the first try.....

 

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Edited by Bloo (see edit history)

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The foam backed material has sleeves sewn in for the bows. The foam is very thin but strong. You raise a good point though. You would think the manufacturer would take this into account. I was able to find a couple YT videos where a guy is doing a '57 Bel Air. I'll keep researching and pricing. Thanks Bloo.

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Bows aren't really what I was concerned about. It is tucking it at the edges. I have worked with foam stuff (if it is similar to what was available in the 80s). It was fragile compared to any normal headliner cloth.

 

You adjust the edges by pushing the cloth in with the knife, and at the same time tugging on the outer edge. By moving both hands you can hook and unhook the cloth to adjust the tension. When you have it looking like you want, then you trim the edges close and stuff whatever is left down inside the groove.

 

I understand that there are far fewer types of cloth available now, but in the 80s we never would have considered that stuff for a conventional headliner unless some customer was really in love with it.

 

If the headliner tacks down to wood along the sides (like my 36) instead of tucking up under toothed strips, you can probably ignore everything I said. :)

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I'm thinking it's going to have toothed edges and have to be tucked in as you said. Won't really know until I dive in there. 

I've been messaging SMS and Newstalgiaparts and the major difference between them and WLS is price. BIG difference! Even doing the sun visors are half price. Trouble is they don't do the napped cotton. I don't need a showroom finish but also don't need a crap job. Decisions decisions.....

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no saw tooth edges, in the 1953-54 Pontiac, chevy hardtops. tack strips were used, edge covered up with headliner side stainless steel trim mouldings.

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Thanks Charles, does that apply to sedans also? BTW, I sent you a PM a while back. Please check it when you get the chance. 

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3 hours ago, Summershandy said:

Thanks Charles, does that apply to sedans also? BTW, I sent you a PM a while back. Please check it when you get the chance. 

 

4 hours ago, Summershandy said:

Thanks Charles, does that apply to sedans also? BTW, I sent you a PM a while back. Please check it when you get the chance. 

you'll find those teeth along the side, and tack strips above the front and rear windshields.

 

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I just received headliner samples from CPR and by the code numbers on the back I now know who the supplier is. But, out of respect I shall not share. CPR is comparable to others. Due to costs I'm forced to go with WLS. After converting USD to CDN other suppliers bring my price to the $900 range. I should be able to get my headliner/windlace and sunvisors for around $500 CDN. I've always been a believer in "you get what you pay for" but I also don't like an empty beer fridge! 

When the time comes I'll try to post pictures and progress for any other poor souls in need.

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