Recovering the Headliner

MountainD

Technical Excellence Contributor
I purchased the replacement headliner fabric CDN38 but I didn't see any how to reports. . This is for my 1991 D110. I didn't take enough pictures to do a great how to but I want to share some and my experiences. First let me state, that if you are only going to do one headliner in your life, I personally would consider taking the fabric to a headliner shop and have them do it. It isn't as easy as I thought and there is certainly a learning curve.

First and foremost, the fabric is great. No issue with it whatsoever. Good purchase and I wouldn't hesitate to get more which I probably will when I eventually do the
'90.

Taking out the headliner--I used a typical trim removal tool to remove the fir-tree push in holders on my headliner. 1/2 of them broke (1991). I got 30 replacements before doing any work and that worked out just fine. That way they all match. Removal is pretty straight forward. You will have to bend the rear two sections to get them in/out of the truck into a "V" shape--the front section just went through the door. Do this gently--you don't want to crease or break the headliner.

Once out, I pulled out all the staples around the perimeter and removed the fabric--this is very easy and it basically fell off. I then used a stiff brush and air compressor to clean up the pressed fiberboard headliner.
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There was a hole in the headliner where a CB speaker was that I didn't intend to use. I used some fiber board and layed up two pieces to get the thickness right and then I used a piece of masking paper and glued that over to top to really blend the seam. It worked perfectly.

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Concurrently I used Peel and Seal butyl layer for sound on the roof and then covered that with automotive Thinsulate sound/heat insulation:
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Then we moved on to the headliner. I am going to touch on glue but first and foremost, I am not an expert. I used 3M 90 Super contact spray adhesive. I was warned off the 3M 77. No--I don't think that 90 is the perfect glue--it doesn't allow enough set up time. But it held like a mother and I don't expect any issues of it sagging. Let me give you all the best piece of advice I can. GET A HEAT GUN. After the first panel, we used it and it was the most invaluable tool we used by far bar none.

I am describing my aerosol experience--roll on glues, spray on glues, whatever you use, make sure it has some working time. For me this meant laying it on thick to the headliner--2 coats as it absorbed/flashed off quickly. This is IMHO a two or possibly 3 person job. The fabric (for the 110) came in 3 cut pieces. There will be enough extra to finish the rear vertical panel--don't worry about that--just leverage a panel or two so that one edge has most the spare. You want to make sure that it wraps up and over the edges--easy enough to do, but lay it out first and then fold back 1/2 the fabric. Spray the headliner, then spray the material, then spray the headliner again just on that half. Now, while the helper hold the fabric taught side to side and pulls it above the headliner (not touching), start at the middle and work toward the edges. Once it is down, it is down so avoid wrinkles at all costs--I laid down the center section and then the edges and didn't worry about pushing it into the corners yet. As a matter of fact, if you lay down the center and then the edges, you will have loosely taught fabric over pulled over all the corners. If you try and push these down into the recesses, it will pull up and if it does that, you will loose the glue and it will never stay. If you try and work fabric from the center up to the edges and around the edges, you will get wrinkles. That is what we tried on the first panel. I got this:
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Not ideal. I couldn't pull it back up. This is where I think the glue choice wasn't idea.
THIS IS WHERE THE HEAT GUN COMES IN.
The heat gun allows you to gently heat up the fabric and it become quite stretchy. You can then push it down and mold it around corners. It is the best and frankly the only way that I can see to get good results.
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Each progressive panel got better and better. I used the heat gun to stretch the fabric over the edges too--I did this the next day--you don't need to do that right away, but whatever floats your boat. I used 1/4" staples. Only in a couple places did they ever stick through. The heat gun was invaluable to stretch it over some of the compound corners.

After the fabric was on, I cut out the sun roof. Yeah, I know, my headliner isn't for a sun roof--the whole truck is sort of hodgepodge and that is what I have to work with so I made the best of it. I cut out the sunroof leaving plenty of extra fabric. Trust me, leave extra--you can fix it after you staple it and trim off extra. The heat gun was again invaluable to get the fabric to conform and stretch and I did segment the fabric as I went around the back of it.
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To be continued.... (can only attach 10 files)
 

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MountainD

Technical Excellence Contributor
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I think it turned out well.

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When all done, I used a pokey thing from the back and pushed through all the mounting holes so I could mark their locations. I waited until the headliner was in and then using those marks, I used an awl to push through and find the holes in the roof. I then installed the fir tree about 1/2 way. Leave it loose to make adjustments until all the headliners are in. Start at the front and NOTICE there is an overlap--so don't install the fir trees on the part tucked under. You have to wait until the other piece is up and this is another reason why it is important to have things loose so you can arrange/adjust them. And don't forget your wiring for your dome lights.

In regards to the dome lights, I ripped out the guts and put in some LED tape. Being a lighting rep, I it is easy for me to source in the color temp that I wan't. I used 3000K for the most part. For the back, I used 3000K and red, 2 circuits. I cut the tape to length and then soldered a couple strips back and forth to get the levels I wanted.

Impossible to take good pics of lights, but it came out great (brighter than the photo) and perfectly uniform:
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The rear is 2 circuits. I need to spruce up the switch but totally functional for now. I wanted to use the stock switch but it had disintegrated.
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Overall, it went very well. A few wrinkles but none in the center of the panels.

I hope this helps.
 

Tbaumer

Technical Excellence Contributor
Nice work & some good tips too! I usually do all my projects solo. I know now to have a set of extra hands when I tackle mine.
 

jymmiejamz

Founding Member
Callsign: KN4JHI
I really need to do this on my D90, I've had the material for so long now. Great write up.
 

CDN38

Well-known member
Nice work Chris! That looks great!!

Yes, that heat gun iis a must. I've seen my upholstery guy do a few things with heat and stretching that I never would have guessed possible.

Funny thing reading the comments over the last year so with both the headliner, and the speaker panels I make. I would say most people that buy the material don't actually install it for about a year or so. I think it's a Defender thing. We stockpile parts, carefully planning ahead and then once we are ready, we take on the project. It's all carefully calculated. I still have quite a few goodies sitting on the shelf for well over a couple years that are getting closer to being installed.Just waiting for the right time. Is it just me, or is this the way for a lot of others out there?
 

O2batsea

Well-known member
You don't need nearly a quarter of the butyl sound deadening material you used. A couple squares in the middle of the panel is all that's necessary. This is a case of more not being better. I wish I knew that when I did mine cz now the entire inside of the vehicle is wrapped with this stuff. Coulda saved a ton of time money and weight, but I won't ever do that again.
 

RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
Awesome. The Disco and RRC will need this treatment. I'm not looking forward to it, but at least I know it's possible!
 

RBBailey

NAS-ROW Addict
Callsign: KF7KFZ
You don't need nearly a quarter of the butyl sound deadening material you used. A couple squares in the middle of the panel is all that's necessary. This is a case of more not being better. I wish I knew that when I did mine cz now the entire inside of the vehicle is wrapped with this stuff. Coulda saved a ton of time money and weight, but I won't ever do that again.
Right. The stuff is heavy. And expensive. And even on their own web sites, the makers claim 30% coverage on any one panel is optimum.
 

MountainD

Technical Excellence Contributor
You don't need nearly a quarter of the butyl sound deadening material you used. A couple squares in the middle of the panel is all that's necessary. This is a case of more not being better. I wish I knew that when I did mine cz now the entire inside of the vehicle is wrapped with this stuff. Coulda saved a ton of time money and weight, but I won't ever do that again.
I am going to kindly disagree on this one. If your goal is to stop the vibration transmission then you are correct. The old train of thought was that 25% coverage was enough. But folks at Second Skin have found benefits up to 60% (and I have heard higher). They also say that you may benefit from 100% coverage of the thinner stuff which is why their heavier stuff is recommended. Plus there is also reflective and thermo insulation properties that it also accomplishes. I have ridden in a 1968 Firebird with partial 25% on the floor and then 100% on the floor and we also noticed a decrease of 6 decibels (same day, different drive, same road, phone decibel meter held in same position) as they were not satisfied. I was helping and it was noticable. The incremental increase in weight isn't much--and Peel and Seal is dirt cheap, sticks like a mother, and doesn't smell. So all things being equal, I would do it exactly the same way as I did it. Since I know you will disagree with this, this is from the Second Skin's chat line--you can ask yourself, but it is not proprietary to Second Skin.

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All that said, I wanted to let you guys know the Grey Fir Tree clips used with the headliner material--they are MWC9832LUH.
 
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