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Interior Restoration

Beauty For Your Beast

Douglas R. Glad Jul 1, 1999

Step By Step



The dash in this Chevelle was simply screwed on. There were 10 screws along the top of the dash and eight bolts connecting the lower supports to the firewall. After the steering column was removed, the dash came out as one big ugly mess.

To make the job easier, we removed the steering column by unbolting it at the steering box and the collar inside the car. Once the column was out, it was treated to a paint job and a super-cool GM-replica steering wheel from Grant Products.

With the column and dash removed, we noticed the firewall pad had been chewed by vermin. OPG supplied a reproduction pad made from neoprene rubber and a thick heat-resistant pad. Removing the pedal assembly made the job easier.

The dash was pried out of the car for the resto session. The radio and glovebox didn't need to be removed until the dash was on the workbench. We discovered that it was easier to install all the components on the bench rather than reaching behind the dash after it was installed.

Everything was completely removed from the dash that we didn't want painted.

The gauge cluster was removed and disassembled for cleaning and the installation of new parts.

If the original harness is to be reused, mark the plugs with masking tape and a pen.

The lights that plug into the gauge pod have different color wires. The wire colors are stamped into the pod metal to specify their locations. In our case, all the dash lights used gray wire.

The headlight switch has a button to release the selector knob from the main housing. Push the button, pull out the knob, and then remove the knob.

After the knob is removed, use snap-ring pliers to unscrew the switch collar.

To remove the ignition tumbler, insert a paperclip in the hole on the right side of the key slot, turn the key counterclockwise to release the tumbler, and then remove it.

The factory oil pressure gauge tube was smashed and did not function. Any parts store will have brass or plastic tubing to breathe life into dead gauges.

The speedometer, temp, and oil faces are hidden behind the plastic dash lens all their lives. A simple dusting was all it took to restore them to their former glory. If necessary, florescent orange paint will restore the speedo needle.

A new lens was supplied by OPG, but if you retain your old one, use Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Plastic Polish #10 to do the deed. We also used Meguiar's paint polish to detail the instrument cluster cover.

Contemplation of life's little mysteries sometimes makes one wonder how the turn signal indicators look green when the lightbulbs are clear. The answer is: little green filters mounted on the inside of the instrument cluster. We cleaned ours, but if yours are in need of a touch-up, a light dusting with green spray paint will work.

Rattle-can gloss black lacquer is the color of the day for the dash. Before painting, sand it smooth and clean it with a wax and grease remover. Then, spray the dash with primer and wet-sand it with 400-grit paper; after it dries, blow on the gloss black. We used Duplicolor gloss black. You should use a lacquer paint so, when it's dry, you can color-sand it to a high-gloss finish with 1,500- or 2,000-grit.

After the color-sanding and polishing, the new shiny goods were bolted on, and the dash was prepared for re-entry.

Along the way, we found some horrifying melted connectors (right) that should have burned the car down years ago. OPG solved our electrical problems with a complete under-dash and two complete engine compartment harnesses, all of which installed in a snap.

The firewall side of the fuse block plugs into both the forward lamp harness and the engine harness at this location. A light lubricant was sprayed on the connections to prevent rust, and the engine harness connection was packed with a silicone grease to prevent corrosion.

The engine harness has wiring for the starter solenoid, heater blower, coil and tachometer, oil pressure light, brake warning lights, wipers, and other accessories that a Chevy might be equipped with. The forward lamp harness covers the headlights and markers, horn, alternator, temp sender, and amp gauge.

As a final touch, the dash was capped off with a new OPG dashpad before cruising.

The OPG dash harness arrived complete with a fuse box, all instrument and under-dash wiring, a heater control, interior-console lighting, a steering-column control and even air conditioning control wires if required.

At the car cruise, the difference between a car that's admired and one that's dismissed is in the details. Car guys constantly tear down their motors to get that one or two extra ponies while ignoring the interior that dutifully accepts spilled ketchup and granite-hard French fries. With a little hard work and the right parts, your interior can look like new again.

CHP found an interior in need of all of our know-how and interior savvy, as well as a healthy dose of DDT to kill the assorted fungi that was eyeing innocent bystanders. After cracking the dash, we discovered the wiring had troubles of its own. A quick call to Tony Genty at Original Parts Group netted us the correct wiring harness and all the other goodies we needed for a complete dash facelift.


Grant Steering Wheels
Glendale, CA

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