Cracked Dash Repair
Today was definitely the day for "Blue". I worked on 3 different blue interiors today which is kinda unusual. It's weird like that though. I'll go for weeks and not have one blue interior and then Bam all at once I'll get them all in one day. The last blue one I worked on today was a 1980 Mercedes 450sl. The dash was cracked from
the defrost vent up, above the instrument cluster, then another crack on the side of the hump above the cluster. I wish I had pictures but just didn't think, sorry.
Let me put it to you this way if we could have pulled the windshield we would have, it was not in a great spot. There's only about 3 inches from the top of the dash to the windshield. When things get that tight it's almost impossible to yield a perfect fix. You'll have problems from not having enough room to sand or the worst is getting the job almost done and not having enough room to dye the area without dyeing the windshield too. But luckily this turned out a lot better then I had anticipated. I had just enough room to sand and just enough room to lay a good coat of dye, with the exception of down inside the lip of the vent, here I took a small sponge brush and brushed the dye on. You will find that when you brush dye on it will have a little different sheen to it then if it were to be sprayed on, so top coat with a clear when done to even this effect out.
When I started this dash repair the edges of the crack were curled up slightly and in one spot it was raised up about an inch. The way I usually would fix this would be to trim this off. But I thought I would try something first and see if it would work. I took a matching grain pad, basically for protection from the hot vinyl, and heated the curled and raised areas up then pressed the grain pad into the areas pushing them down and leveling them out. I just kept heating and molding the areas until I was satisfied. It worked really well. I was able to level the area out which gave me a level crack to fill.
I then sanded the cracks with a 120 grit sandpaper about an inch all the way around. This is prep for the next step which is something I've talked about before. It's one of the best products I have found for repairing cracked dashes. It's called Padded Dash Filler by Urethane Supply Company. Now these guys know a few things when it comes to plastics. I have never been disappointed with Urethane Supply Company's products and the Padded Dash Filler is no different. It spreads like butter and sets up really fast... I like fast.
After I sanded the area around the cracks I prepped with my prepping solution and then mixed up me a batch of Padded Dash Filler. Now I use a little different catalyst then what they send, I think they give you the red stuff in the little tube (the catalyst). I use the blue stuff, it's a little "hotter" then the red. But if your just starting out using the filler then use the red, it takes a little longer to set up but you can work with it a little longer. Mix up small amount at a time, I usually use a glob of filler about the size of a shooter marble with a pea size of catalyst. I mix it on a piece of 4"x4" smooth tile, it's small enough to hold and cleans up nicely with a razor blade so you can use it over and over again.
Basically your first coat of Padded Dash Filler will be a rough fill, meaning don't worry about getting it perfect. I'll sometimes lay about 3 to 4 coats before I happy. The whole idea is to get your repair as level and smooth as possible, the texture comes after wards. I will use a 120 grit to start out with then graduate to a 240 then 400 if needed. This Mercedes was a hard one too, I actually used the reflection from the windshield to see the back side of the dash when I was sanding, not real fun.
The texture on this one I used the Sem Texture Coat. It's about the only way to get texture back into the repair area when using the filler. If I would of had more room I would have done my little trick with my grain pad. I was able to do it on the lower crack though. What I'm talking about is taking your grain pad and pressing the grain into the Sem Texture Coat. You can do this if you get the right amount of texture coat on and do it when the stuff is still soft. Try it out sometime it works pretty good, just wait until the texture coat flashes then press the grain pad into the texture coat "lightly", and you have a matching grain.
Now dyeing the repaired area was a booger.. to say the least, after I covered the windshield I realized how much room I didn't have to get my paint gun in. Thank God I use the paint gun I do, thisSharpe 7040 top trigger gun I use is small and has an adjustable cup so I was able to get it in where most guns I wouldn't have had a chance. Like I said I was able to get almost all the area covered with the spray but I had to sponge brush a small area along the defrost vent.
I top coated the dash with a low gloss clear when I was done and I was pretty happy with the repair. I wish I could have gotten a better grain into the area though, but you couldn't hardly tell because of where the repair was unless you got right up on it. My customer was happy so that was good.
I'm a perfectionist when it comes to my repairs, if I'm not happy with it then I know my customer won't be. I never try to settle for just good enough. This one I had to settle a little though, I just physically couldn't have made it better due to the amount of room I had to work with, grrr.
Cracked Dash Repair is one that can be frustrating but take your time and don't rush things. The Padded Dash Filler does take a little bit to set up, and getting your texture just right takes a little practice. Well I hope my little experience today gave you some ideas in doing a repair on a cracked dash and if you need anything don't forget to join my forum or just throw me a comment.