Monday, March 8, 2010

Dash Board Magic!

One of my first projects on the car was to remove the final piece of the wooden dash. This was the first spitfire model ('69 MKIII) with the three piece wooden dash panel. It's one of my favorite features of the car, I much prefer the full wooden dash to the smaller center wooden dash that my brother prefers. Later US model '69 were available with a "non-reflective, vinyl covered dash, black-faced rim-lit instruments with matte finished bezels" so I'm not sure how original the wood is on my car. Not that I care very much, I wouldn't cover the panel with vinyl and cover up that wonderful wood.

My brother had already removed two of the three panels (or they were removed when he got it) and delivered them to my father for re-finishing. I removed the last panel myself, it was very much in bad shape for it's 40+ years of existence. The wood was like brittle paper to the edge near the window and I had no clue what the deal with my dad entailed. I managed to remove it without mangling it too much. Looking over the piece it was clear to me two things:

1) The piece was in far too bad of shape to be useful for anything but a pattern.
2) Looking at the rear fixtures embedded in the plywood and the different diameter holes for the instruments, this thing would be a royal pain to make from new, even using the original as a pattern.

Leaving it up to my father, I delivered the final piece to my father. I didn't have the heart to go into detail about how I thought it would be all for naught. He didn't even seem phased by the condition of this final piece.

He took the dash and soaked in some purple (hey, it's what he had available) adhesive and once soaked, placed it in a press of some sort. He cleaned up the result and bonded wood veneer to the face, carefully cutting out the holes. Then he stained the veneer, and then varnished or clear coated (not quite sure which) the result.

Overall, the transformation is somewhat miraculous. The once weathered, flaky just downright abused dash was whole and solid! He even put protective paper over the veneer to protect it until it's time to install it.

Passenger Side Reverse

Driver Side Reverse (see the purple adhesive)

Center Reverse

Finalized Dash with protective paper

Annotated with what goes where (with several unknowns)

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