Crawls Backward (When Alarmed)

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SAAB 900 Dash Panel Recovering and Renovation

Finally got a chance to put the dash back together a few days ago.  It's taken a while because I'm thinking I should do it right while I have it all apart.  I don't want to take the instrument panel out again any time soon.

Which sort of reminds me of an old Peter Egan column in Road & Track magazine many years ago in which he talked about an MGB on which he "went to replace the brake master cylinder and wound up restoring the whole car."

This has bugged me since day one of ownership.  The PO used that awful Gorilla Glue to slap the UNLEADED FUEL ONLY badge on the dash.  We're going to fix that, I am certain of that.

I think I mentioned the peeling off/sagging vinyl dash trim.  That bugged me too.  I was planning to reglue it, but the more I peeled it back to get glue under it, the more it kept peeling and peeling.


Enter a brand-new dash trim piece!  Why try to clean up the old one when you can just put a new one on?

Grrrr.  A GM part sticker.

I recognized Rüsselsheim, Germany immediately as the location of the Opel car company (owned by GM since 1931!).

Before we can get the old covering off, we need to remove a few last pieces.

This is one of the power mirror switches - made in Holland by Mirror Controls International

It just pries out of the panel.

Here's the legendary 'beast' of the 900 dash - the panel rheostat knob.

I got one screwdriver under one side, and a second one on the other side.  Couldn't get a picture because it popped off after some concerted levering.

It looks like I damaged it - but it's fine.  Just one tiny nick.

It's easy to get the rheostat off once the knob is removed.

And I do mean rheostat.  When you consider there are a number of 1 watt bulbs in the dash, there's a fair amount of current flowing through that circuit.  A regular pot would burn up.  I think there are 9 bulbs total - so there might be close to 10 watts of current draw.

The solution was to use a heavier control - a wirewound rheostat.  You can see the winding and the contact in this picture.

Now we can just pull the old cover off the dash.

It's held on with an adhesive on the back of the cover.

I take the time to get all the old dust and dirt off the switches and corners of the panel.

And I popped the two air vents off as well - they just clip on.

I soaked them in a weak mixture of Simple Green and water for about 30 minutes, rinsed them under warm water, and repeated.  They're nice and clean now.

It was a lot easier cleaning all the parts while the dash panel was off.  There are always some corners you can't reach while it's mounted on the car.

I also cleaned all of the switch contacts with contact cleaner.

The new panel needs to be cut in a couple of places.  Namely, the mirror switches, and oddly enough, the dash panel dimmer.

I can see where the electric mirrors were optional on some cars, so those holes would be covered by the panel.  But you'd think every car would have the dimmer.

I traced the outlines of the cutouts onto the backing as you see above.

Then I carefully cut the panel with an X-acto knife.  This picture is misleading - I didn't do it freehand.  I used a metal ruler as a guide.  I did not want to ruin my nice new cover. 

I suspect the factory had punches to do these cutouts more cleanly than cutting them with a knife.

You can also see the paper covering the 3M VHB adhesive on the back of the panel.

It's easy to put the new cover on.  I peeled a little at a time to make sure it seated properly on the panel.

Then I pressed it down everywhere.  The adhesive is pretty tacky, but you can remove it and relocate the cover if needed.

Here's the finished dash panel.  You can see the holes I cut - I hadn't yet put the switches and rheostat back on.

This is as close to new as you're going to get.

Oh, I didn't bother putting the ugly UNLEADED FUEL ONLY badge back on!  I just have a nice clean expanse of panel next to the radio opening now.  Looks a lot better I think.

A closer shot of the panel.  It looks great.  The fuzz on the controls is just lint from the cloth I used to clean them.

Next: back in the car and does our clock work?


Post a Comment 3 comments:

  • Anonymous said...
    March 25, 2016 at 4:55 AM
    How did you get the brand new dash trim piece?
  • Yr Fthfl Blggr said...
    March 25, 2016 at 6:12 PM
    I got very lucky and found one at eeuroparts.
  • Designer Outlet said...
    January 13, 2018 at 2:59 AM
    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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