I tackled the restoration of the cab interior much the
same way I tackle most projects:
Take everything apart
Clean/paint/grease/oil each item that's fixable
Make a list of the items that aren't fixable
Make a list of items I broke while trying to
Order new items to replace those I can't fix or I
Put everything back together
Sounds easy. And actually it is. You
just have to be patient, work methodically, and be willing to spend
money. It really helps if you enjoy restoring things. I
do. While I like to enjoy the finished product, it's the work
itself that I most enjoy. If you don't enjoy the work, you should
probably buy a pickup already restored. The expense is
probably about the same.
I had already removed the heater
diverter box, so I decided to go ahead and remove the rest of the
heater/AC ductwork. All of the parts needed cleaning and removing
them would give me good access to the other items under the dash.
After I had all the ductwork out, I removed the glove box door and
liner, the AC ball assemblies, the AC center vent assembly, the radio,
the ashtray, and the dash pad.
After inspecting the removed items, I decided I needed
to replace the AC/heater diverter, glove box liner, and the chrome AC
air direction balls and felt.
Besides the items I removed, some other items needed
attention also. The parking brake T-handle was severely sun-faded
and I could not restore it back to its original black, glossy finish,
no matter what I tried. The plastic chrome plating was worn off
the letters on the ignition switch marker plate. I thought about
painting the letters with silver
paint but decided that would
probably look tacky. Both of these items are relatively
inexpensive, so I decided to just order new ones.
Removing the heater/AC ductwork was easy, just a few
screws and bolts. With the ductwork, glove box liner,
and ashtray out of the way, the radio was simple to
remove. The only thing holding the radio in the dash are the
nuts on the radio tuning and volume shafts and one screw in a bracket on the
back of the radio. The AC air direction balls just fall out after you
remove the housings. The dash pad, however, is another story.
At first, I wasn't planning on removing the dash
pad. It was in perfect shape and all it really needed was a good
cleaning and some black shoe polish. However, the paint on the top of the dash was in bad
shape. Various objects thrown on the dash over the past thirty
years had worn away the original black paint in several areas and the
orange-red color of the rest of the cab was showing through. The
top of the dash needed repainting and the only way to do the job right was to remove
the dash pad. The dash pad is fastened to the dash with
about 8 speed nuts (I can't remember the exact number) screwed onto
studs that are permanently attached to the pad via a metal strap that
is molded into the pad.
.I figured there would never be a better time to remove the pad because
I had already removed all of the stuff that had to be removed to get to
the speed nuts. So, I decided to go ahead and take the pad off and
repaint the top of the dash.
After about an hour of laying on my back, scrapping the
skin off most of my knuckles, and a lot of cussing, I had the pad
off. The most difficult part was getting to the two speed nuts on
the driver's side. The instrument panel, with all of the wires,
cables, etc. attached to it makes the nuts a bear to get to. I
guess I could have removed the instrument panel, but I didn't really
want to. Anyway, I finally got the last two speed nuts off and
removed the pad. Now I had to decide what kind of paint to use.
I remembered someone on the 67-72
chevytrucks forum said that the reason the top of the dash was originally
painted black was to eliminate glare. So, this meant I needed a
flat black. When I was at the store buying the paint, I
discovered Krylon makes an "Ultra Flat" black paint.
This sounded perfect for eliminating glare, so I bought a rattle can of
the "Ultra Flat".
Before painting, I sanded the top of the dash with 200
grit to smooth it out and remove the scratches. Then I masked off
the top of the dash and the rest of cab interior. Good thing I
had been saving the daily newspaper. It takes a lot of paper to cover
up the inside of a cab. I didn't worry about the seat covers,
because I was going to replace them. After all the prep work, the
painting only took about 20 minutes for a couple of coats. And
man, was it black and flat. There wouldn't be no stinking glare
from this dash!
I was proud of the paint job until the first
time I tried to wipe the dust off. I guess to get their
paint "Ultra Flat", Krylon left out what ever it is that makes
most paints hard and slick. Trying to wipe the dust off of the
"Ultra Flat" just
results in gray smears. If I ever decide to redo the paint job,
I'll go with a flat satin black next time. Anyway, I didn't
discover this problem until I had the dash pad back on, and given the
pain in the ass the pad was to get off, I wasn't going to go
through that again.
After much time and cussing I got all the speed nuts back on except the one in the very corner
on the driver's
side. I fought with that one for about 30 minutes until I finally
dropped it (for about the 10th time) and couldn't find it. It's
still up under the dash somewhere. Maybe someday, if I have the
instrument panel out, I may try to put it back on. For now,
the dash pad looks just fine without it.
The next item to attack was the glove box door.
The wood grain on the glove box door trim plate was badly scratched. There is no way to repair the wood grain finish, so I decided
I needed to order a new one. I found several places that sold
wood grain "contact" paper decals that you apply on top of the
metal trim plate. I probably would have gone this route but I
wanted to paint the rest of the glove box door and to do a good job meant taken
the trim plate off. As I discover too late, there's no way to get
the trim plate off without bending it. So, I wound up ordering a
new reproduction trim plate.
Painting the glove box door was straight forward
-- mask off the options sticker, wet sand with 200 grit paper,
wash with detergent, wipe down with lacquer thinner, two coats primer,
two coats glossy black enamel. I also painted the glove box door
hinge at the same time. All of the paint was rattle can.
Rattle cans work well on small items if you do it right and you use
good quality paint. I tend to use to Krylon or Rustoleum if
existing rust is a problem. Stay away from the bargain brands --
trust me, they're no bargain.
The glove box door turned out so well, I decided the
heater/ defrost duct also could benefit from a fresh coat of
paint. I painted this item using the same procedure and paint
used on the glove box door. It looked practically new when I was
The only other item on the dash that needed painting
was the horn button. I bought some craft paint and fine artists'
brushes at the local hobby store and painted the button by hand.
I've recently bought an air brush to paint model trains and that's what I
will use in the future for these small items.
The rest of the work on the dash consisted of
detailing. Sounds easy to say, but it took the longest and used the most
supplies -- rubbing compound, wax, Formula 409, Autosol and
Mother's metal polish,
lacquer thinner, black shoe polish, ArmourAll, WD-40, lithium
spray lubricant, toothbrushes, rags, paper towels, cotton swabs, 0000 steel
wool, WD-40. But what a difference a
little elbow grease makes. The dash looks practically new.
The only thing on the dash that didn't detail to my
satisfaction was the instrument panel bezel. The bezel is one of those
items that has chrome plated plastic. The chrome plating has
rubbed off in a few areas and the only way to restore it is to replate
the bezel or buy a new one (dang near same cost either way). I'll
probably buy a new one sometime, but it's good enough for now.
The parts I ordered for the
dash arrived a few days after I finished the detailing work. I was pleased with the
overall quality of the parts but some weren't identical to the original.
It has since been my experience that this is more the norm than
not. The new diverter box was black plastic, where the original was
more of a grayish charcoal color. Also, the process used to glue the two
halves of the new diverter box together was not a cosmetically pleasing as
on the original. The process they used left a rather large bead
of adhesive around the seam where the two halves met and was not of
the same color. The bead reminded me of a running metal
weld. I decided I could live with it if I colored the bead black
to match the body color of the diverter. Through trial and
error, I found that a permanent black felt marker matched the color
and sheen of the diverter body almost exactly. And if it ever
needs re-touching, it will be a snap.
The wood grain on the new glove box trim plate was not
quite the same color as the other wood grain in the cab and the holes
for the Sierra Grande emblem in the trim plate did not line up with the
holes in the glove box door. The glove box liner, AC center vent assembly,
and the AC air direction balls and felt were near identical to the
It has now been about 3 weeks since I started
the restoration of the cab interior. In that time I've done
several other things to the cab interior but I'll chronicle that in
latter episodes. For now, let's finish the dash.
Having the detail work done and all the parts in hand, all that's left is
putting all the parts back in the dash.
first thing to go back in was the radio since it had to be done before
the glove box liner or the heater duct work was installed. The
radio went in as easy as it came out -- one screw in the back and two
on the shafts through the dash and it's in. It's best to plug in
the wiring harness and antennae before attaching the back bracket -- I
know because I had to take it back out after I discovered I couldn't
get the wiring harness plugged in with it installed..
heater duct work also went back in without much trouble. The new
diverter box was a true "bolt in", with all the screw holes
matching up. It takes a little tinkering to adjust the control
cables from the AC/heater controls, but it's not really
difficult. The hardest part was re-attaching the duct hoses that
run to the defroster vents and the AC air direction balls. GM
didn't leave a lot of slack in the hoses. Combine that with the
fact that they are a little brittle after 30 years and getting them
hooked back up can be a challenge. If I had it to do over,
I would install new hoses. The new ones are much more pliable
that the originals. Plus they are one-piece vinyl. The
original hoses are made of cloth that is spiraled around a wire, with the seams in the cloth taped together. If you pull too
hard on the hose the cloth winding comes apart. About the only
way to repair it is with duct tape -- effective, but not very eye
When I was installing the new AC center vent I
decided to go
with a modification I saw in several of the parts catalogs. The
center vent originally had a hose connected to both side of the
vent. To increase air flow, the parts catalogs recommend plugging
the driver's side of the center vent and only running a hose to the
passenger side. Of course, the part supplies sell the plug., but
I decided duct tape would work just as good. I've since
discovered that it does indeed blow more air out of the center vent but it tends
to all be directed toward the driver. However, I'm always
driving, so I don't see the problem.
The next items to
go back on the dash were the new glove box liner and the freshly
painted glove box
door. The liner goes in easy once you get brave enough to
just cram it in. The liner's just a tad wider than the opening
because the front edges go behind the opening after it's installed. So there
is no way to gently push it through the opening --
you have to kind of force it. It doesn't seem to damage the
liner, just takes a little while to get up the courage to push it
through. Also, be sure you're ready for it to go back in because
it doesn't come out as easy as it goes in. You're almost
guaranteed to bend it getting it out.
Before I could put
the glove box back on I needed to attach the wood grain trim
plate. As I noted before, the first problem
was that the holes in the trim plate where the emblem attaches did not
match the holes in the door. I decided I had two choices -- (1)
cut the studs off the emblem and glue it to the trim plate or (2)
attach the trim plate and drill new holes through the front of the door
to match the holes in the trim plate. I decided to drill new
holes in the door. My reasoning was that replacement doors are
easy to come by but the Sierra Grande emblems are relatively rare and I didn't want to risk damaging the emblem grinding/cutting
the studs off.
I decided to use 3M's spray
adhesive to attach the trim plate. I think the adhesive would work OK if the trim plate was perfectly
flat. Unfortunately mine wasn't and the adhesive wasn't quite
strong enough to keep the edges of the trim plate from curling up
slightly. Of course, I didn't know this would be a problem until
after I glued the trim plate on the door and I didn't dare risk trying
to pry it back off. The last time I did that I bent the trim
plate. I solved the problem by mixing up a little epoxy and applying
it under the edges in a few places, then I used some spring clamps
to hold it down while it dried. Worked like a charm.
the trim plate securely attached, I took the door to my drill press and
drilled holes in the door to match the holes in the new trim plate. The only
precaution is to make sure you don't drill through the inside of the
door. There's a good 1/4" between the inner and outer panels
of the door, so it's not too dangerous. After drilling the holes
I attached the emblem and installed the door.
finished. Next I installed the new ignition marker plate and the new chrome
AC air direction balls. To install the
ignition marker plate I
just popped out the old one and popped in the new one. Before I
could install the AC air direction balls I needed to replace the old
felt in the ball housings with new felt. The new felt was
pre-cut to width, so all that was needed was to trim to the correct
length. Rather than cutting the felt strips to length before I
installed them, I sprayed some 3M adhesive on one side of a strip,
placed the strip in the housing and then trimmed it to length. I
then placed the new AC direction balls in the housing, snapped the
hose to the housing and screwed the housing back onto the dash.
more item and I'm calling the dash done. The first time I drove Maych
after dark I noticed that the instrument panel appeared to
have a bulb or two that was not working. I hoped it was
just burned out bulbs, so when I ordered the new items for the dash I
also ordered several replacement bulbs. Turned out only one bulb
needed replacement, so I have several spare ones for future use.
portion of the restoration of the cab interior was now complete (at
least for now). At some point in the future I may
replace the instrument panel bezel and repaint the top of the dash, but for now
it looks real sharp.
So, it's on to the cab
roof. . .