Installing the Headliner and Glass

Because I'm not going to paint this car in the usual manor, meaning all at once, its time to get ready to do the roof. In order to close in the interior and make it easier to mask off everything I decided to go ahead and install the headliner and front and rear glass. This must of course be done in sequence simply because it would be ten times harder to install the headliner with the glass in place and I don't have the patience for that. The other reason is that installing a fabric headliner is something I've never done before so I want to make sure it will be as simple a process as possible.

When I dissassembled the car I made sure to mark the location of each of the headliner bows. These must be put in the proper order to fit the headliner properly. Now I'm not going to go into a complete "how to" when it comes to this installation since there are dozens of videos on YouTube anyone can watch. What I will say is that this procedure took a couple days and a lot of time. I'm still not 100% satisfied with the installation but I think getting the car out in the sun and/or using a little steam will work wonders to tighten up a couple small areas that still need a little persuasion to fit perfectly.

This is a stock replacement headliner from Legendary Auto Interiors. The color is white. One thing I found is that this material is pretty tough and won't rip very easily, which is a good thing. These old Mopars have "teeth" at the front and rear of the top which do a good job of grabbing onto the headliner and holding it in position. I used 3M 77 spray contact adhesive to hold everything in place. Overall though I'm pretty pleased with how well the installation went.

Before we get into the glass installation I want to cover a little about chrome restoration. Many of these old Mopars had a lot of chrome trim around the windows and glass areas. Since I'm not made of money re-chroming all this stuff is not an option so I had to do some shade tree mechanic chrome "restoration". Here is an example of what I had to work with. This is one of the interior windshield upper trim pieces.

Lots of small rust spots and its pretty damn dull. Here's another one...

This is one of the interior "A" pillar trim pieces. Again pretty bad shape. The solution is some aluminum foil and white vinegar. I know it sounds weird but this works. Just crumple up the foil and dip it in the vinegar and go to town on the piece. Here's what happens... a before and after comparison with one of the dash small "A" pillar trim pieces.

When this was first suggested I thought it was bullshit, but after a few minutes of scrubbing the difference is remarkable. Now it's not as good as re-chroming but it costs next to nothing and from a foot away looks almost as good. So I went to work on the rest of the interior chrome trim. You can see the "A" pillar trim piece from the above picture leaning against the vice. Overall a vast improvement to say the least... and the wife didn't even miss the vinegar or foil.

With the interior chrome trim refreshed it was time for the rear window installation. I used rubber gaskets from Classic Industries instead of Steele Rubber Products. Not because I prefer Precision which is the brand Classic Industries sells, but because the Steele Rubber Products gaskets were double the price of Classic Industries.

OK, with that out of the way let me just say that the rear window installation took about 20 minutes with my wife's help. Easiest one I've ever installed, especially considering its a compound curve AND it was going into an opening that had been damaged by a tree limb and that I had repaired. This is a testament to why you make templates from the good side to use when cutting and welding a repair on the damaged side. Everything fit perfectly. Here's a pic before the repair... followed by the installed glass.

As far as the actual installation goes, this one is done by fitting the gasket to the window first, then setting it in place and pulling a piece of twine or in my case plastic covered wire around the window pulling the rubber flange in place. If this sounds confusing just do a search on YouTube and you'll find a couple dozen videos on how to do this. Just take your time and be careful and you should not have a problem. This was the original 53 year old glass so I was extra careful working with it.

One thing that needs to be said here. Don't forget to install NEW trim clips before installing the glass. It would be exceedingly difficult to try to do this after the fact. You can see the trim clips in this pic.

With the rear window installed it was time to move on to the front glass. The windshield installation is completely different than the rear window. In this case the rubber gasket is installed in the opening first. The windshield is then inserted into the top section of the gasket and then the sides and bottom are carefully worked into position. You can't use the twine or plastic covered wire method in this case. In any event it took me three hours to gently persuade the glass into position. Once this was done all that's left is the locking strip.

If you read the manual it says to use a "tool" to insert the locking strip into the gasket. This "locks" the glass in place. All that is nice but after doing some reading on the subject I found that the Precision product has its own locking flange that does not require a strip to be inserted. You simply use a tool, I used a flat screw driver to press down on the gasket so the locking flange could snap in place. This took about an hour to work all around the windshield but once done it looks very good and professional. This pic shows the locking flange in place.

All in all the installation went pretty well, even though the windshield part did kind of remind me of my sister-in-law.... because it was a real bitch! Finally I installed the trim strip on the dash which covers the gap between the dash and the window rubber.

And with that done, the major glass installation is finished.

That's it for this update. Next I'll be working on the installation of a new radiator and getting everything ready for the initial startup. I need to get this thing to move under its own power so I can move it in and out of the garage. My wife wants a new entertainment center and I'm going to need the garage space to build it. Not that I'll leave the car out in the weather, it will be moved back in each day, but I just need the space.

Check back often for more updates...

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