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Just purchased the 81 corvette I posted about the last few days. Was planning the interior gutting and restoration. What order should the work be completed in? I'm thinking dash first and to have it professionally done; then I can pull the seats and send out for repairing and upholstery while i replace the carpet and door panels; does this seem right?
Is it as simple as the dash or do the pillars, sunvisors and upper trim also get replaced at the same time?
Search is your friend Replacing your dash is a DIY job but you must take your time have patience with it. The dash in my '81 proved to be the most time consuming project I have taken on. However the end result was well worth it. Below is a link to my post. The dashpad that Wilcox now carries is alot better than what I bought when I did mine. There are some guys on here that have installed them with even better results than mine.
To answer your question about everything else, in order to get the dash out you have to remove the A-pillar covers and top windsheild interior trim. It will also be a good idea to remove to your door panels as it will make accessing the screws on the side of the pad much easier. If you were to ask a shop to do the work they will charge you $550 for the pad and probably $500+ for the labor. Save the money and do it yourself if you can. Plus this will give you an opportunity to inspect other parts of your interior that may need attention. My center console gauge and shifter bezel was destroyed so I pretty much replaced everything. Plus I repaired and re-carpeted the console side panels to match the new front carpet that was put in by the previous owner. If you have any questions feel free to drop me a line.
1981 Corvette EFI'd 350/T5 5spd - SOLD
"Life is like racing, it goes by fast and has many turns"
If you are just restoring the interior, then I would totally remove everything - seats, trim, carpeting, dash, etc. You will want to assess the *surprises*. Trust me, you will find them. In our case, we were also re-doing the engine and drive-train so I gutted the interior, assessed the seats, and sent them out to be worked on while I did the engine. All arrived back together (heads of engine back from shop as I was finishing the short-block). Once engine back in, then attacked the interior. My surprises were a lack of paint on the trays, a bit of surface rust, and many home-brewed (spelled BAD JOB BY PREVIOUS OWNER) fixes of console mounts and wire splices.
THis is our 6th and last restoration as it is time to enjoy the cars! When we buy a project for restoration, I need to get to know the car. Usually with the interior total gut and outback, the car transitions from *his* car to *our* car. You can actually feel it when it happens!
Please tell me you have not rebuilt the front suspension. I have and need to do the dash.
The previous owner had already done some front suspension updates but not a full on rebuild. I have done full front end rebuilds on other cars and to be honest, I would do another one in a heart beat compared to doing a dash replacement on a C3. What most people don't realize is that a dash pad replacement on most other cars is fairly simple and straight forward as it is just the top pad. On our cars the dash pad is the whole dash and supports all the components that make up the dash.
I agree with Rdroe, its best to take it all out, get to know the car, and assess any other damage or areas of attention. See below on "getting to know my '81"
No, No, I'm sorry. The dash is not hard at all. Just be careful when you tug / push on things. Remember, most stuff in there is plastic so just go slow. I took out the seats, 4 bolts on each side & a wire on the drivers side. Set them aside. By the way, the drivers seat is RELLY HEAVY with that motor under there. Then I took apart the seat trim, repainted it a nice gray to match the interior, and sent the leather seat part out for re-stitch. I totally cleaned and repainted the seat frames and cleaned out all the crumbs, dirt, etc.
Then I took off the tunnel side panels. Easy to get off. I needed to replace mine so I bought the fiber-board from C-Central and re-glued my carpet to them. With the panels out of the way, the carpeting comes off. I scraped all the old glue, sanded down the floor boards, and painted them with gray rustolium. Then, and here is the good part, I wanted to put some shielding for heat and sound on the floor boards. Dynamat is very expensive, so I went to a Home Depot and purchased rubber coated aluminum fire place flashing. It comes in a 50' roll. About 5" wide and rubber on one side, aluminum on the other. When you peel the backing off the rubber side, t is stick like tape. Cut and mold it to the floor pans! Total cost for 3 rolls. $20. Same if done with Dynamat - $300+. Same stuff!
Then I took out the center console, radio, etc. Comes right off after a few 10mm bolts. Cleaned and re-painted them and sat them aside. Took out the speedo cluster, cleaned and sat aside. 7 more bolts and you have the entire dash sitting in your lap! Don't worry about the glove box as it's easier to remove when it's out of the car. Cleaned, repainted, etc.
By now you get the idea. All the parts that I remove, I refurb / repaint, and generally make new again.
have FUN with it! It os so cool to know that the love you are putting into the details, the end product WILL reflect it!
Well said. It's also clean work! In my case, I turn on the tunes, open a brew, and enjoy the details. The steering column comes apart quite easily. Get yourself the Corvette Factory assembly manual. It comes in a phone-book size, double sided book. I took that book (I run an IT group for a national Brokerage) and scanned it in. Then ran it through a process to index every word. I now call it up on my laptop, tell it to find "ignition switch" and just print those pages that come up. No more greasy pages in the shop as well as flipping though 500+ pages trying to find the page I need.
Sounds like a plan. When I bought our Vette 2 years ago, the seller had a rug one the dash and a bra on the front end. First thing I said ..." hmmm ... dash is cracked?" Yep. " hmmm ... Bumper nose is crushed?" Yep. Ok, mental note to self, subtract $2k from the offer price.
Actually worked! And, for a little sweat equity and $100 in a used dash, I now have a perfect dash install! Take your time. Savor it like a good cigar! Turn the classic Rock on, and enjoy!