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  • December 09, 2022, 06:35:46 PM

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Author Topic: Notes on my headliner recovery  (Read 3888 times)

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Offline johnbendik

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Notes on my headliner recovery
« on: March 25, 2016, 06:18:36 PM »
I recently completed recovering my headliner, and am posting this to help others avoid some of the mistakes I made.  This is NOT a step-by-step guide... more like a list of some of the things I learned the hard way.

My situation was unusual in that the fabric I used was not a 'normal' headliner fabric, but a heavier upholstery fabric with a 1/4 inch foam backing (the same stuff I had my seats covered in).

Removal:

- If you're as bad as I am about remembering how things went, I advise taking some pictures of the trim before you start.  It's not always intuitive which piece overlaps which when you're putting it back together.
- The trim on the sides is metal, but the front and back assemblies are plastic and very brittle.  Be very careful removing these.   I was not, and managed to break on of the front pieces, which necessitated another 'JB Weld and backing plate' repair (which my Eagle is full of!)
- Get some help when you're finished with the trim and are ready to drop the headliner itself.  It's a semi-stiff yet floppy  piece of molded foam, and 30 years of bouncing around at the top of your Eagle has not made it any stronger.  It is very easy to buckle and crease if you try to get it out by yourself like I did.


Replacing the fabric:

- I used a very good adhesive (3M's 38808) made specifically for headliners: http://www.amazon.com/3M-38808-Headliner-Fabric-Adhesive/dp/B004MEBENM?ie=UTF8&psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_search_detailpage. It requires spraying both surfaces to be bonded, waiting 10 minutes or so for them to become tacky, then putting them together.  The only problem with this stuff is that it is very effective, which means that is absolutely NO re-positioning once you put the fabric on the foam.  The foam headliner shell is actually a foam interior with a very thin plastic film bonded to it on both sides for extra strength.  If you try to pull the fabric back up to re-position it, you will absolutely rip the plastic film off of the foam, making it even weaker.
- To avoid the re-positioning problem, I treated it like putting a large decal on glass, where you want to avoid air bubbles but can't always pull the decal back up without tearing it.  I cut out my fabric, leaving an inch of extra fabric on all four sides.  I then marked a center line (front to back) down the exact middle of both the foam shell and the fabric.  Next I sprayed the adhesive in a stripe down the shell and the fabric, about two inches on either side of the center line.  When the adhesive was tacky, I laid the shell on the ground, glue side up, and enlisted a neighborhood kid to grab one end of the fabric, with a hand on each corner.  I grabbed the other end the same way, and together we carefully walked the fabric over and lowered it slowly down on the shell, making sure we overlaid the center line of the fabric exactly on top of the center line of the shell.  From there it was a simple matter to roll the 'glue line' from the center out to the edges in several stages.  I would spray glue down a 6" to 8" strip right next to the already glued center line, then carefully roll down that much of the fabric down over the glue, smoothing it with my hand to avoid wrinkles.  Then do another 6" strip next to that, and so on out to the edge.  Repeat on the other side of the center.

Repairing the shell:
- You may be able to skip this step if your shell is in good shape.  Mine was not.  I actually did this before I applied the fabric.  See picture below...
- I cut patches out of another fabric and glued them to the top side of the shell to strengthen it a little in the places it had damage.  I used fiberglass cloth (just because I had some in the garage), but later wished I had used something easier to work with. like ordinary canvas.

Cutting the holes:
- Don't forget to re-cut the holes for the dome light and the windshield visor hardware, since presumably you covered them up when you glued down your fabric.


Headliner with patches applied.



Headliner with fabric attached, ready to go back in the Eagle.



Finished installation, showing the matching seat fabric.

I'm really happy with the way it turned out.  The quilting and padding of the fabric I used gives it a plush, almost 'hot rod' vibe, and made the inside much quieter.  And if I ever manage to roll the old bird upside down, my noggin should be very comfortable!

JB
1984 Eagle Sportwagon
258 - 6 cyl
5-speed !

Offline Billman

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Re: Notes on my headliner recovery
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2016, 07:46:12 PM »
I definitely like the look of that. I have simply spray painted the one in my SX/4. I'll be doing the same on my wagon soon as the weather gets dry and warm.
 Might I add a note..? The foam headliner will continue to disintegrate and the new fabric will sag if the foam isn't sealed.
I will be applying a coating of a mix of white glue cut with water to a spray -able consistency. Hopefully I will only have to do this once
1982 SX/4
1983 SX/4
1983 wagonProject
1984 wagon DD
1996 Jeep
2007  Caliber
2004 Silverado

Offline johnbendik

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Re: Notes on my headliner recovery
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2016, 08:38:05 PM »
If you mean the fabric might pull away from the shell, I'm pretty confident that's not going to happen.  The 3M adhesive is very tenacious; probably much more so than what the factory used.

However, if you meant the shell itself flexing and sagging down, I was definitely worried about that, especially with the heavy fabric I used.  That was why I went the extra mile with the fiberglass patches on the top side. 

I did have a little sag after installation, at a single point halfway between the dome light and the back trim (basically, in the center of the largest unsupported area).  I had kinda anticipated that that might happen with my heavy fabric, and the extra weight of the patches and the copious amount of glue I used.  I solved that by removing the back trim piece briefly, pulling the shell down to get a little more clearance, spraying some adhesive directly on the ceiling and the top of the headliner, and holding it up against the ceiling until the adhesive set.  I know that sounds a little drastic (because it means that I won't be able to remove the headliner again without destroying it), but I figured that if I ever had to do this again, I'd have to find a replacement shell anyway.  So I might as well get as much mileage out of my repair job as I can.  I didn't mention any of this in my original post because I don't think I would have had any problems if I had used normal weight fabric.

My shell is sealed pretty well because of the 'skin' I mentioned finding.  I only tore that one place (when I learned you can't re-position), and I repaired that immediately.  Most of the damage to my shell came from my clumsiness in removing it, I think.

Because of the skin, I don't know if the shell is porous enough to soak up the glue solution you mention.  Before trying that on yours, you might get a razor blade and pick at an edge a bit, to see if yours also has the skin.

JB

1984 Eagle Sportwagon
258 - 6 cyl
5-speed !

Offline eaglefreek

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Re: Notes on my headliner recovery
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2016, 11:07:39 PM »
I definitely like the look of that. I have simply spray painted the one in my SX/4. I'll be doing the same on my wagon soon as the weather gets dry and warm.
 Might I add a note..? The foam headliner will continue to disintegrate and the new fabric will sag if the foam isn't sealed.
I will be applying a coating of a mix of white glue cut with water to a spray -able consistency. Hopefully I will only have to do this once
If your talking about the foam that was once attached to the headliner material, your need to remove that from the headliner board with a stiff bristle brush.
1986 AMC Eagle Wagon 4.2L/4.0L head, AW4,NP242, Chrysler 8.25" rear.
1981 AMC Eagle Wagon As Seen On TV  Lost In Transmission


 

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