Radio Console Prep

The other piece I intend to have reupholstered in vinyl locally is the radio console. So I spent some time taking the console apart and cleaning it up. In addition to the radio, this console is also home to four pull knobs that operate the choke, s-brake test, fan, and hazard lights. The choke knob must be removed from its cable in order to get the console out of the car, so it is not pictured. I began by removing the two knobs that control the radio. The top one pulled off after rotating it counterclockwise and the bottom one just popped off after getting it aligned correctly. The posts on which the knobs sit have grooves that plastic tabs in the knobs’ mounting holes slide into.

Behind the knobs sit threaded nuts and washers that mount the dial’s posts through the console and hold the radio in place. I used a 9/16″ socket to remove the nuts. On the bottom of the console there is a bracket with one small brass bolt that holds the radio unit to the console as well.

With the mechanical fasteners removed I was able to reverse the radio box out of the console. One electrical connection remained, which I labeled and disconnected.

The radio had some grime and gunk inside it after 37 years, so I unscrewed the two small brass bolts in order to remove the radio’s silver faceplate. I then cleaned up the plate inside and out, removing as much dirt as I could.

Back at the console there remained the three knobs to remove. Each knob was attached by a small flat-head set-screw. I unscrewed these and then pulled off the knobs. Under each knob was a silver collar that was threaded onto each knob’s mounting post. Each collar has two small holes for a special tool to unscrew the collars. Using a pair of thin needle-nose pliers I was able to unscrew the collars and then remove the mechanisms behind the console’s face.

With the knobs totally removed I separated the radio console harness from the console. The console’s face plate then slid away from the console as well. I will clean the faceplate and may give it a coat of paint so it looks new.

The console body I will send off with the other pieces to be re-covered in new vinyl.

Prepping Console for Upholstery

Since the center console is in relatively good shape, I don’t think it needs to be rebuilt entirely. A fresh covering of vinyl should make it look brand new. Before I send it out to a local upholsterer, I need to clean it up first.

I began by taking a look at the gearbox cover plate and the piece of the dashboard that fits below the dash on the driver’s side. Both had surface rust, so I went to work with a wire brush and some cleaner/degreaser.

Next I went to work on the console. There was a considerable amount of surface rust on the bottom. I removed much of the rust with a wire brush and cleaned the surface off using hot water, some Simple Green, and a scouring pad. First I removed the top tray of the console, which has the ashtray assembly attached. There were four screws underneath that I had to remove to drop this tray.

Then I gave the exposed metal a coat of rust-inhibiting primer to seal the surface. I did the same with the back of the gearbox plate. With the primer these pieces should hold up for another 40 years!

When I go to the upholsterer I will also bring the trim piece that fits over the rear edge of the seating area. It is a U-shaped bracket that finishes off the edge where the back/bottom of the car’s top would meet the body of the car. I also wire-brushed, cleaned, and primed this piece.

The next step is to find a good local auto upholstery shop and take these pieces to be re-covered in new vinyl.

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.

Heater, etc.

I removed the heater this weekend. Now I know what people mean when they say they built these cars around the heater–it is bolted into the body from the engine bay!

I had some excitment with a heater hose leaking coolant onto the passenger side floor, so I did my best to drain the radiator. There is a plug at the bottom of the radiator and I found jacking the back of the car up helped coax some more coolant out after it stopped draining.

Here is the heater, in all its glory:

I was finally able to remove the last scrap of carpet. I also took the opportunity to strip the interior off the doors at this time.

Next weekend I hope to liberate the dash, stay tuned!

Headrests

I bought some headrests from fellow roadster enthusiast Sam Griffin and they arrived today. Sam is a member of the forums at 311s.org, is currently liquidating his 1970 parts car, and is always ready to lend a helping hand.

Funny story: Although he’s a fellow Texan, I found Sam on craigslist San Francisco–he was advertising out there because there are more roadster owners out there and I was searching for parts out there because there are more roadster owners out there. Anyway, he gave me a great deal on a pair of original headrests that will find their way onto the finished car. Thanks Sam!

Consoles

Today I continued to work on removing the interior, making my way up towards the dash. There one piece of carpet remaning resides under the console and covers the transmission tunnel.

The console came out easy enough; it was just bolted into the tranny tunnel from the inside and there were a couple of electrical connections. The radio console was a bit trickier because it had a few more electrical and mechanical connections in addition to being bolted in.

Turns out I will need to remove the heater before that last piece of carpet comes out.

I don’t think I’ll get anything done tomorrow because we have plans.

No Turning Back

I took the day off from work to play with my new toy. It started off innocently enough. I wanted to peak underneath the carpet to get a sense for the condition of the floorboards. The good news is that they are very solid (though I won’t see the real truth until I get under the undercoating). The bad news is that the carpeting was fairly wet and there were some moldy spots suggesting that they have spent some time being wet.

So, it being clear that the carpet would need to be replaced, I jumped right in and started tearing out the interior. By the end of the day I had removed the seats, carpeting, and most of the vinyl. I’m saving as much as I possibly can, but anything gross is going into the garbage. I haven’t tackled the doors just yet, but here’s what she looks like now.

The seats are in decent condition. One has been re-covered and one appears to be original. I will be in the market for a pair of headrests, as mine are missing.