Dashboard Prep

This morning I spent some time readying my dashboard to be sent off for restoration. This entailed removing all of the bits and pieces, such as knobs and gauges, so that the dash foam and covering can be replaced.

I’ve decided to go with Dashboard Restorations to rebuild the dash. I’m committed to a fully restored dashboard because it will be such a focal point of the new interior. I’ve checked around and Dashboard Restorations had the most reasonable prices and has experience doing roadster dashes. Additionally, a number of folks from Classic Z Car club had their dashes restored by Dashboard Restorations and had very positive feedback.

Here are pictures of the assembled dash, front and rear.

I began by removing the two dash vents blow air upwards out of the top of the dash that defog/defrost the windshield. I used an 8 mm wrench to remove the nuts from the studs that are attached to the dash. There are two vents and two nuts on each vent.

Then I removed the clock. It was held in place by two nuts. I used a 10 mm socket with an extension to remove both of the nuts. With the nuts removed the clock came right out.

Then I removed the two metal brackets at the bottom of the dash, below the clock, that the heater mounts to. These brackets were each attached by two bolts which I removed using a #2 Phillips head screwdriver.

Then I removed the oil pressure/temperature/fuel/amperage gauge. It was attached by two wing nuts, which I loosened using a pair of pliers.

The tachometer and speedometer I removed the same way, moving from left to right across the back of the dashboard and removing the wing nuts.

Next I removed the “S-brake” light. It simply unscrews from the back of the dashboard.

And I removed the knob that controls the brightness of the gauge lights. I had removed the knob prior to pulling the dash, so I just needed to remove the small nuts that held from the back of the dash (using a 5.5 mm socket) and pull it out from behind. Then I went to work on the trip odometer knob. It was fastened to the rear of the dash, also by two 5.5 mm nuts mounted on studs in the dash itself.

With the small nuts removed I could pull the bracket that held the odometer cable to the dash away (that cable connects to the speedometer). I then popped the knob off the front of the dash and used a Flathead screwdriver to pry the post back through the rear of the dash.

Inside the glove box where two bolts, one on each side, that held the cardboard box in place. I removed these using a #2 Phillips head screwdriver. Then I removed the four knobs off the top of the dash using an 8 mm wrench.

Finally, here is a picture of the stripped dash, ready to be sent off for restoration. It will get new, crack-proof foam and a new space-age vinyl covering.

Odds & Ends

I spent the rest of the day removing some parts that connect the body to the frame or pieces mounted to the frame.

There is a small plastic tube that runs from the engine bay back into the interior under the dash and up under the cowl. I assume it is for windshield washing fluid, though I’m not sure if it is original. Anyway, I pulled it out and will replace it if I find out it is a necessary piece. Here are a couple of pictures of the run of this tube, from the engine bay through the firewall under the dash.

The tube then runs up through the body into the cowl area and splits off in two directions, terminating at silver nozzles on the body.

This is a shot of the y-shaped tube removed altogether.

After having removed all of the wires from the dash harness and the cables from the interior, the last remaining piece that communicated through the firewall was a metal line that (I believe) operates the oil pressure gauge on the dash. This metal line feeds through the firewall and around with the brake lines down to a soft line into the engine block. I disconnected the hard line from the soft line to break that connection.

Here is the hard line inside the car and then on the other end where I traced its path down to beside the engine block.

I disconnected the soft line by turning the coupling on the hard line using a 1/2″ wrench and holding the coupling on the soft line steady using a 9/16″ wrench. I then unbolted the soft line’s coupling and removed the soft line from the bracket that is mounted to the body and popped the soft line off that bracket. I reconnected the coupling to the soft line.

Dashboard Pricing

My dashboard has cracks in it and is just in generally rough condition given that it is nearly 40 years old. So I’ve looked into my options for getting a new dash. It is a high-cost item, but will be front-and-center in the new interior, so this is an area worth getting a quality piece.

Dashboards are not available from Nissan and the roadster parts vendors do not offer reproduction dashes for the high windshield cars (though they do for the early low windshield roadsters). So I am faced with finding a dashboard restoration company that rebuilds dashes using new foam and recovers them with new vinyl. I have found three such companies, all of them on the west coast:

  • Just Dashes comes recommended by some roadster owners on the roadster mailing list, but I’ve heard that their prices have increases significantly in recent years. They are located in Van Nuys, CA and have been in business for 24 years.
  • Dashboard Restorations, located in Brush Prairie, WA, was formerly affiliated with an Australian company of the same name. This company has done a lot of work for the Classic Z-Car club guys and they seem to be very happy with the results.
  • Dash Specialists of Medford, OR has over 15 years in the business and has a reputation for doing concourse-level work.

The dash is in three pieces. There is the main dash unit, the glove-box door, and a small panel that mounts under the dash on the driver’s side. I got price quotes from all three of the potential vendors.

Just Dashes charges $600 for the main dash plus $120 for the glovebox door and there may be an additional charge for the small under-dash panel. The radio console ($100) and armrest console and lid ($400) would be additional.

Dashboard Restorations quoted $600 for the three dash pieces. The radio console would be another $150 and the console would be $250.

Dash Specialists would charge $800 for the three-piece dash. I did not ask for a quote on the radio console or armrest console.

So that is the range of pricing out there. I am planning to try to save some money by having a local upholstery shop re-cover my consoles (radio and armrest) in new vinyl, because the foam on both is in pretty good shape and those pieces don’t require a full restoration like the dash.

Success!

The dash is out. I started early this morning and got the final gauge connections unhooked, and out came the dashboard.

Under the dashboard is the motor for the windshield wipers, as well as the spidery arms that run the wipers. The wipers are disconnected by remove a small bolt and then a larger bolt allows the wiper posts to be pulled inside the body of the car.

The wiper motor is easily un-bolted from the body.

Dashboard (almost)

Today I had hoped to remove the dashboard, and I’d say I got around 90% of the way there. It was necessary to remove the windshield in order to access the bolts that hold down the dash, which are located up under the bottom edge of the windshield.

I began by removing the steering wheel assembly. It comes off in many layers, beginning with the cap that activates the horn. Also there are collars around the steering column that mount the wiper stalk and the ignition, which are easily removed.

I’ve just been tossing all the parts in the corner. Not really–I’ve carefully photographed each part removed, how it mounts on the car, and placed each part into labeled zip-top plastic baggies with a sheet of paper that details how many fasteners attach where. Then I collect the baggies into category-specific cardboard boxes. To attempt a restoration with less vigilence would be very risky.

After the steering wheel was out I began working on the dash. There is a panel underneath on the driver’s side that needs to be removed. There are about one million electrical connections, including six fuses to the fuse-box inside the glove box, that I carefully labeled by number, documented for purpose, and then disconnected. Additionally there are several mechanical connections to the dash gauages.

I was very close to getting the dash out (it is like pulling a tooth) tonight and it should be easy to finish-up tomorrow.