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Raised Letter Dashboard Restoration Technique

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Thanks this will help a lot with my charger 10 project



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You commented "VHT is a division of Dupli•Color, Inc.".

In looking around for the VHT product you recommend in this thread, I ran across a DupliColor product sold at AutoZone.

Do you believe this is the same product you used only, retailed differently?

Dupli-Color/Gloss black vinyl & fabric coating




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I decided while I was in the midst of some other maintenance on my GT 14, to attempt the restoration method authored by MikesRJ.
I neglected to take any "before" pics of my dash panel and the hydro control panel prior to starting, but suffice to say they were dingy at best and in some instances on certain symbols and characters, the contrasting white printing was nearly worn off.
Since I wasn't restoring the tractor I wasn't concerned with getting results that would win a blue ribbon at a one foot distance.
I mainly wanted to see if I could just spruce things up and at least provide more contrast to the background and definition to the raised surfaces and improve the overall appearance without getting carried away with producing something which was flawless in appearance. My tractor is a "worker" not a trailer queen, so you have to draw the line somewhere.

I did opt to use the VHT product initially suggested after finding it available through an O' Reilly's auto parts store in a neighboring town.
Locating the suggested Elmer's "Painter's" Opaque Paint Marker prove to be much more problematic.
I looked for this product in several retail settings including Walmart and Hobby Lobby and finally gave up locating the specified brand.
I was amazed that Hobby Lobby didn't have this product, since they seem to have about everything thing else in the way of hobby and craft items, but they did have a product that appeared to be similar to the Elmer's, so I threw in the towel and rolled the dice. I wound up with three different size/tips of the same product by Sharpie because I was unsure what would work best and I didn't care to be running back to H.L. to get a different size until I hit on the "right" one. It's called Paint Peinture, but it said nothing about being opaque. It is an oil based product and it comes in many different colors, although for my purposes of course, I chose white/blanc.

To be honest, the suggestion of using automotive brake fluid concerned me a little and I decided to see if some things I had more familiarity with might loosen and remove the original layer of white printing.
I gave both panels a vigorous scrubbing in medium hot soapy water with a medium stiff bristle brush and also a used tooth brush for smaller details. That technique prove relatively successful, removing I would estimate about 60% of the printing. Maybe is was more a case of natural deterioration of the material used in the original printing than my methodology, but none the less it worked quite well. For the remainder of the process, I used a fairly high concentration of Simple Green in hot water and left it soaking overnight. I removed the panels the next morning and repeated my scrubbing process. That resulted in another approximately 35% of the original printing being removed. I repeated the process again, and virtually all but smallest and most difficult areas of printed matter remained. The bulk of those remaining where removed relatively easily with toothpicks, needles, and an Exacto knife. At some point, I figured it was good enough since the panels were going to get redyed again anyway. After thoroughly rinsing and drying, the panels were ready for the next step.

I first experimented spraying the back side of the panels to see what the results would be. Nothing seemed to be a problem, so I shot the front sides after the backs had dried. I gave each panel two coats of the vinyl dye and the result were very nice......and I don't consider myself a skilled painter. I then moved on to the printed surfaces with the Sharpie. Initially, the tips of the paint pens were dry and lacking much color. Then I discover the tip would move inward when depressed and release paint to wet the fiber tip. I quickly discovered the largest tip was much too large for anything....it just covered too much area and was not very controllable at all. Fortunately I made no huge errors with the large tip. I then attempted using the smallest tip, which was about the size of a very fine ball point pen. I quickly found it didn't deliver much in the way of material on the raised characters, and it was too small to span the high surface of the characters......it was too easy to slip off the edge. So my final option was the medium tip paint pen, and this seemed like the ideal compromise of delivering an adequate amount to paint for sufficient coverage, while being controllable as far as specific paint placement. It was an ongoing balance of keeping the tip wet enough to get decent coverage, yet being dry enough not to flow too much material. That had to be constantly adjusted between compressing the tip for more paint, to dabbing with a paper towel to dry it out enough to use. I seemed to have the best success with coverage when I could approach sections of letters at roughly right angles instead of inline. The dabbing technique proved to be most effective for lettering and characters, however the long straight or gently curved borders could be done in a continuous motion with the side of the tip much more effectively and quickly than dabbing. Working from the inside or middle of the area toward the outside prevents marring or smudging previously painted areas that may still be wet or tacky. I found it advantageous to work certain sections or areas, then come back to the panel later, rather than attempting to do the whole thing in one setting.

This proved to be one of the most tedious things I have done in a long, long time. I requires very good lighting be able to clearly see what you are doing. It also requires a very high level of concentration because it is extremely easy to mess things up with a momentary span of inattentiveness. The coverage I got was generally very good, but I did have to go back over some areas to insure complete coverage. My example is not up to show standards and it still needs a few areas touched up lightly, but overall, for being a "first timer", I'm very pleased with the results and the huge improvement in appearance. At 24-36", my panels look good enough for my "worker" usage, IMO.
The only thing I might have done differently, was maybe have used the satin vinyl paint instead of the gloss. On MikesRJ's dash example, the has a crinkle type finish which kind of breaks up the glossiness of the vinyl paint. The panels of the GT 14 are smooth however, and reflect the surface back at you more. I think if I had side by side example of the GT 14 panels, one done in gloss and one done in satin, I think I probably would have preferred the satin, because of the reflective nature of the smooth surfaces on my particular panels.
This is a very good instrumentation panel restoration procedure which works well with the suggested techniques and materials.
Just don't be in a hurry or get in a hurry when you tackle this operation, or you'll be less than happy with your results. If you get tired or inattentive, quit and take a break until you can return to the work relaxed.





Edited by ztnoo
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Looks like new!

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Quick, Come do mine. Looks really good.


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I'd like to add an addendum to this thread.

If anyone is looking for and needing a GT 14 dash or shift plate panels, and are tired of searching eBay and going to countless meets to find them, you might check out Glen Pettit's repos.

I don't know Glen and we've never met and I know nothing of the quality of his offerings, but if you need one of these panels, Glen is an RS member and VENDOR, so its highly likely you are going to get what you are seeking and be treated fairly.

What I see looks very accurate to me visually as far as detail.

You will however have to follow the advice offered in this tread to finish the panels to original looking items.



GT-14 Dash Panel and Shift Plate









Edited by ztnoo
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@ztnoo thank you for the information.

I have bought items from Glen and they are top notch, so you don't need to worry about that! :thumbs:

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I'd recommend, using caution, and testing in an inconspicious area first...

but, can attest the brake fluid works on most plastics. 

Very nice job on the dash.  :handgestures-thumbsup:


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