How to Paint Your Own Dash
There are certain aspects of automotive restoration\customizing that are inherently difficult, even though the task itself is simple. Dropping an engine in a car is a fairly simple process, but can be really tricky on certain cars and always involves a lot of R&R for parts that really don’t have anything to do with the engine, but make the actual install easier. Painting a dash is also one of these difficult tasks. The basic location of the dash is the main problem. For cars that have removable dashes, this is not really an issue; simply pulling it out alleviates the problem. But for those of us with welded-in metal dashes, things get a little more involved. Our 1971 Buick GS convertible is one such vehicle.
Since the car has been completely gone through, and was being prepped for paint, we decided to paint the dash. The seams had begun to scale up with rust from leaky top seals and the paint was looking funky, it really needed a fresh coat. The problem is that to properly spray the front of the dash where it meets the windshield, no spray gun can reach, and you certainly can’t get a good sweep in there. This leaves only one option- remove the windshield.
Removing the windshield is a little scary, these things are not cheap, at $350, a new piece of glass would seriously dent the ‘ol pocketbook, especially when the original glass is good and still in the car. Rather than risk this task ourselves, we searched out a local mobile glass installer and for $60, he R&R’d the glass. The hard part is getting the glass out, so if they get that done without breaking it, you’re golden. Our guy told us there is a 50\50 shot, but we think that is just their way of saying “If it breaks, it ain’t my fault”. Just hope your guy is good. Removing a windshield requires several specialized tools, so don’t even try it yourself, it’s not worth it.
With the glass out, we removed all of the old seam sealer, treated the rust with OneStep (a rust killer and preventative, very good stuff) and prepped the dash. For paint, we went to Eastwood and ordered up their new Hot Rod Black paint. This single-stage urethane is a semi-gloss paint and is dang close to the original sheen. You might not want this on your concours-level car, but for anything else, it is just about right. While we were at it, we cleaned and prepped the steering column, and sprayed it as well.
We used a paint booth ‘cause we have one, but a clean garage with the floors wetted down would do just fine. Just make sure you wear appropriate safety gear, like a respirator. The nasty chemicals in paint are not good for you, plus you might all loopy and end up spraying your doors…..
In the end, the dash came out like new and really looks sharp against the DuPont HotHues paint on the rest of the car. Painting your dash isn’t rocket science, but taking the time to pull the glass and properly prep it is important. A rattle can job with yesterday’s sports page on the windshield is going to look like a rattle can paint job, period. Besides, you can’t get to any of that hidden rust that is sure to ruin that new paint job.
The value depends on the exentt of the rust. Many trucks of that era have been used and abused. If it is clean and straight it worth more than one that has been beat up from years of use. It will need considerable work to bring back to life. The price doesn’t sound too bad for a basically sound project. The good thing is parts are plentiful.