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December 20, 2016

Crash Pads

[Click the pics for a larger view]

One of the few passing nods to luxury in the TR6 was the cushioned pads that surround the dashboard.  Though they were likely there because US crash safety rules required them, they did add a subtle air of refinement to an otherwise pretty stark and utilitarian cockpit.

The pads were vinyl covered foam moldings across the top of the dash and under the dash on either side of the center console.  My driver's side lower pad was in great shape, but the passenger side unit was pretty sad.  Though most of it was OK, on the front side the old vinyl, brittle with age, had cracked and some of it had fallen away.  This laid bare the foam, which isn't used to being exposed to the elements, and it too had deteriorated in the open area.

The vinyl didn't seem repairable, so I stripped it off.  This revealed that the underlying foam was mostly intact, but had a deep pit where the vinyl was missing.  There were also a few pits where the foam decided to go with the vinyl when it was peeled away.

Figuring I had little to lose, I decided to try to revive the pad.  If I failed, replacements are available, though not exactly cheap.

I tried several things to fill the pits in the foam.  Though I can imagine something better, I ended up using a paste made form latex paint and spackling compound.  It dries flexible, and was easy to sand to shape.  The resilience of the filler isn't too far off from that of the rest of the foam when felt through a layer of vinyl.

I glued on a layer of black automotive vinyl, and it looks pretty good.  The grain in the new vinyl is a little different than the original, so if it bothers me, I may cover the driver's side pad , too.

Now on to the upper crash pad.  The vinyl on this unit was generally OK, but it felt brittle, and was cracked in a few places under the overhangs.  Since this pad is a royal pain to remove, I thought it prudent to renew the vinyl now while it was out.  If that weren't enough, the pad also had some kind of speckled paint overspray on it that I couldn't get off.  That's an inevitable  result of spending 30 years in my garage.

Since the vinyl on the top pad was intact, I saw no reason to remove it.  I just trimmed it back to where it was stuck to the foam.

Then cut a generous piece of new black automotive vinyl to fit.

Before going any further, I noticed a subtle little lumpy crease on the top side of the pad.  I think this was from the way it had been stored for the three years since I removed it.  A little warm massaging with the help of a hair dryer got that kink out.

I glued the vinyl to the top side of the pad first, then trimmed the wrap-around, and glued it to the underside of the overhangs.  Some stretching was required, and heating the vinyl helped with that.  I actually had to do this process twice.  The first time, I trimmed the vinyl a little too much, and it wouldn't wrap around far enough.  I had to strip off the vinyl, remove all the glue, and start over.

After massaging out a few small wrinkles here and there, the pad looked pretty good.

While I was at it, I dug out a few other pieces that fit on the pad-- the defrost bezels and the ash tray.

Derusted and powder coated the bezels, but I'm still pondering what to do with the ash tray.  Some have installed power or USB ports.  Maybe I'll do that.

The pad came out OK.  I expect there might be a little adjustment at the corners when I finally get to install this puppy.

On this job, I half expected that in the end I'd be buying a top dash pad.  Turns out I'm pretty happy with this one.  It was a quick, fun job, and pretty cheap.

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