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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The dash in my '69 Barracuda was trashed. Gauges were junk, speedo junk...worst of all someone had hacksawed it for a CD player. Since it's pretty common to end up with a dash that's junk, I thought I'd pass along some hints on repairing cracked or broken plastic.

Since my car came with a 5 inch tach mounted (kind of) on top of the dash...and the holes in the dash are about 5 inches, I decided to put it in the dash. I opened it up just a touch with a dremel tool, and cut out the cast aluminum back with a jigsaw for it to fit. I'll get a matching speedometer for the other side. As luck would have it, the center hole is just the right size for a 2-5/8 gas gauge to fit in it, so I'll get that to match, as well.

Note the hack job on the radio opening...  !mad*



To start, I picked up a pretty well-used glovebox trim at the Nats for $10. Then the radio hole was marked and cut, and the glovebox piece was trimmed to fit. (The little "Barracuda" leftover end piece will be used elsewhere.) Note how little of the original dash is left between the radio hole and the lighter socket hole. That's bound to be a trouble spot if it isn't strengthened.



There are a couple of things that come in really handy when you're messing with plastic. The little glue bottle has a small needle tip and contains Methylene Chloride Reagent. I have a friend in the plastics industry who lets me "borrow" a little of it now and then; it works great for fixing small cracks. I don't know where you can buy the stuff, but it's worth searching for! For accurate cutting, and then "welding" the plastic back together, use a 140 watt soldering gun with a cutting tip and a smoothing tip.



Below is how it looked after gluing the edges with the Reagent. It makes a really strong bond, but probably not enough to make the dash stand up to normal use, especially with the small amount of original dash plastic that was left between the radio and lighter socket openings. If you can't find Reagent, you can use another type of plastic cement for this step. You just need to hold the repair in place until it can be "welded".



I had some plastic pieces of a broken '66 Fury dash that I cut into strips with the soldering gun for reinforcements. I bonded them with the Reagent to hold them in place, then used the smoothing tip to "weld" the plastic together around the edges. Be careful not to melt through to the front side, and always make sure there's enough room behind whatever you're working on that it'll still fit when you're done adding extra plastic behind it. This method makes a repair that's stronger than the original dash!




After everything is solid and secure, the seams need to be finished. I used a file to make plastic "dust", and rubbed it over the seams in all directions to fill the voids. Then I dripped just a touch of Reagent on it, which "melted" the dust and filled the cracks. I did this several times on each seam until they were filled, then stole my wife's little "Mouse" detail sander to smooth things up a little.



I hit the area with a little gray primer; from here on out it's just like painting anything else...prime it, sand to find high/low spots, prime again... now it's a "Radio Delete" dash!



Well, the space behind the radio was just about as hacked as the dash. I'll end up hacking it even more to make some room, then making new braces to help hold everything.




Now I want to put the three gauges where the radio used to be. I tried it first with PVC pipe, as the small gauges fit inside them perfectly... but ended up using Autometer angled spacers, they're only about 10 bucks.




Hey, where'd the lighter go?



Well after a bunch of reinforcing, fixing cracks, and hitting the repaired area with body filler and wet-sanding it, its getting closer. I decided to fit the gauges before doing the final paint work...



I don't like how the new Autometer speedo is silver all the way to the face, while the older tach is black, so I'll paint all the gauges so they match. The fuel gauge was a $15.00 ebay find, so I'll have about $150 in the whole thing when it's done.



Still have some masking and painting and touchup to do...next update, (hopefully) it'll be finished!
 

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In place of the Methylene Chloride Reagent, I've had good luck with Tenax-7R. I've used it in making repairs to the plastic grille of the Dart. It will work quite well on the dash plastic. Willie
 

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we did the same thing to my brothers 68 dash, guys talked a lot of crap because what they are worth, but it was all beat up and there was something wrong with every guage. auto meter sells angle rings which we put one 2 1/16 guage on each side of the 5"ers in the black area those rings looked so factory in that spot.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
signet said:
nice work and photos.

were did you get the tips from?

thanks
The tips for the gun came with it, from Weller. Should be able to find them at a hardware store.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
wild383 said:
In place of the Methylene Chloride Reagent, I've had good luck with Tenax-7R. I've used it in making repairs to the plastic grille of the Dart. It will work quite well on the dash plastic. Willie
Thanks for the heads-up, looks like the place that distributes that is really close to where I work!
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I had to sand as much of the factory chrome plating away as I could...which wasn't much in this case...and I used primer to ensure the paint didn't lift back off.

I used gloss black enamel on the factory black part, on the silver part I tried several shades. The factory shade of silver wasn't very forgiving of any imperfections in the spots where I had wet/ block-sanded it, then I screwed up and tried the Dupli-Color exterior trim paint... which is lacquer and lifted immediately. Once I got that mess fixed I used the silver that is shown in the last pic, which went on great, has good adhesion, and did a good job of hiding minor imperfections. I got it at Lowe's, it is Rustoleum American Accents Metallic, the shade is Satin Nickel.

It would be finished now, but the blue "easy-release" masking tape that I used made some weird-looking places in the black when I removed it...the black had been painted for over a week but it almost looks like the paint was still drying or something...so now I have to fix it again....oh, well.

My original intent was to three-tone it as the factory did, but I think that the masking time involved (along with the chance of messing it up and the benefit(?) of having the fake chrome paint on it) is leading me to just two-tone it. I masked off the little "LIGHTS" and "WIPERS" areas so they remained black, and I'll highlight the lettering and other details with more of the Satin Nickel and a small brush.
 
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Wow! That was great. You should be a teacher. Clear and consise instruction is a lost art. Good job! (And great looking dash) Now if I can fugure a plan for my "early" A body. It had small square instrements; and only one 5 1/2 inch hole for a tach where the speedo used to be.
 
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