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Hello,

I am not new to woodworking but I am new to veneering. I am also and old-car guy, and I am mostly into British roadsters which have wood veneer dashboards. I would like to redo my dash in my '76 TR6 and I have a lot of questions about how best to do it on an auto. I've done a lot of reading (Joe Woodworker is an amazing site for veneering) but the environment for a car dash is completely different from what I might expect for a piece of furniture, which will remain in a (relatively) stable environment.

A car dash will obviously need to hold up to extreme humidity and temperature swings, as well as sunlight.

What do you all recommend for:

1. Veneer glue? Anything other than the usual cold press/Better Bond, or do I need to move up to a PPR?
2. Edge banding - any watchouts?
3. Finishing - obviously anything I use would need a durable UV protectant aspect to it. I'd also like the option of a satin or glossy finish. I plan on doing more than one dash to see what I like best, and I'd like the option of using some sort of a tung-oil based finish to make the grain pop (I want to try sapele and waterfall bubinga veneers) with maybe a UV-coat varnish over it. Is this advisable?

That's all I can think of for now. Thank you for your help!
Darel
 

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Awesome car and 1976 was the last year it was built. Hopefully you have the original Zenith Stromberg carbs and not the popular Weber conversion. Also, be careful of engine parts. They changed the head significantly in 72 or 73(?) to stop head gaskets from blowing so easily. Your eyeball will miss the differences between old and new, so rely on serial numbers.

If I remember rightly, those dashes were not veneer, but solid 1/4" stock. One of my earliest wood working projects was to redo the dash in my '67 Ford Cortina GT (EnFoMoCo) and I replicated the English wood interior look. The English Fords had horrible interiors, so I tricked mine out in red oak and covered the dash in Blue Denim. Since I worked predominately on English iron back then, Morgans, MGs, Triumphs and Jags, I got to see it up close and personal. You might not realize it, but the Morgan was the last production car (that I know of) with a wooden floor. Wow, great memories there. I still have all the tools to adjust and sync those old Brittish cars. When I had a hot shot mechanic who thought he knew it all, I'd just ask him to ID those tools in the third drawer and prove his hot shotness. Today, they are stored neatly in a box labeled 'Old Brit Crap'.
 

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You know, thinking about this reminded me of a tool I no longer have. We always had a couple of these sprayers around the shop, and one was filled with linseed oil. If it was external wood, we would spray it down liberally. If it was inside, we would spray a shop rag and wipe it down. With as many lubricants that I have and my hate of buying aerosol cans, I just ordered two of these:


Looking back on it, I have no idea is we helped things with all that linseed oil. I know floor boards seemed to soak it right in and often hairline cracks would close right up. Interior wood was lacquered, but there were always cracks in the finish. The linseed brought out the luster of the wood and removed and finger prints at the same time. I remember deciding to only use linseed oil on my custom interior. That was before armor-all and all that crap.
 

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For a dash like that I would use solid wood, not veneer.

Many years ago( 1961 to be exact) I rebuilt a 1952 MG-TD. I used solid mahogany for that build. It turned out great. Wish I still had that car. You can use your current dash as a pattern.

I have owned several TR-4's, but never a 6. They were fun little cars to drive.

Good luck with the restore.

George
 

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Mahogany would look great. The best part is that there isn't that much wood in those dashes where you would want to veneer. They were not strong on creature comforts or electrical components. We often had to tear out a dash to get to the wiring harness while chasing down a glitch with a schematic. Every now and then, we would have a customer take their pieces away to get new ones remade. One guy used simple paneling and it looked great. They never looked as polished as a Rolls but then, they were never meant to.

My favorite Triumph was the Spitfire. You could sit on the tire while tinkering with the engine. There's always a lot of tinkering to do on English Iron, so that's a good thing. I hear many people cry in anguish that they don't build 'em like they used to. Those of us who worked on them are quite glad they don't. Having to take off and replace a wheel a wheel with a 4 pound copper sledge hammer is just silly. Some old axioms from the day: The British drink warm beer because they have Lucas refrigerators. Lucas: prince of darkness.
 

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Mahogany would look great. The best part is that there isn't that much wood in those dashes where you would want to veneer. They were not strong on creature comforts or electrical components. We often had to tear out a dash to get to the wiring harness while chasing down a glitch with a schematic. Every now and then, we would have a customer take their pieces away to get new ones remade. One guy used simple paneling and it looked great. They never looked as polished as a Rolls but then, they were never meant to.

My favorite Triumph was the Spitfire. You could sit on the tire while tinkering with the engine. There's always a lot of tinkering to do on English Iron, so that's a good thing. I hear many people cry in anguish that they don't build 'em like they used to. Those of us who worked on them are quite glad they don't. Having to take off and replace a wheel a wheel with a 4 pound copper sledge hammer is just silly. Some old axioms from the day: The British drink warm beer because they have Lucas refrigerators. Lucas: prince of darkness.
I also had a Spitfire for a little less then a year. What a terrible riding vehicle. I had had 2 Tr-4's before going to Vietnam and decided to try a Spit when I got back. The Spits had been wipping me in parking lot Autocrosses because of their handling. WOW! That was a mistake.

I thought those little cars were the easiest things imaginable to work on. Unless you had to get under the dash and then I did not fit there.

I have heard others talk about Lucas and electrical problems. In the 6 British cars I have owned I never had a problem. Now my 1960 Fiat Osca Cabriolet was another story. A great creature comfort car, but there were mechanical problems and unfortunately, no parts closer than Milan. I think they only imported 200.

I also am glad that they do not now build them like they used to. The modern car is much more reliable and last 2 or 3 times as long as the old ones.

George
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I am surprised to hear the solid-wood recommendations. With the wild swings in temperature, humidity, and sunlight exposure, wouldn't it move way too much?

I would actually like the option to do either. I'd like to try a couple solid wood designs so I could rout some detail into it. I'd also like to try the veneer so I could do a little work in burl and other stuff you really can't find in a 49"x9" size.
 

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I am surprised to hear the solid-wood recommendations. With the wild swings in temperature, humidity, and sunlight exposure, wouldn't it move way too much?

I would actually like the option to do either. I'd like to try a couple solid wood designs so I could rout some detail into it. I'd also like to try the veneer so I could do a little work in burl and other stuff you really can't find in a 49"x9" size.
Solid wood is used. It's done in rather thin flitches, about ¼" +/-. With that thickness, if the cross grain isn't restrained, movement if any would be minimal, and uneventful to the panel.






.
 

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I am surprised to hear the solid-wood recommendations. With the wild swings in temperature, humidity, and sunlight exposure, wouldn't it move way too much?

I would actually like the option to do either. I'd like to try a couple solid wood designs so I could rout some detail into it. I'd also like to try the veneer so I could do a little work in burl and other stuff you really can't find in a 49"x9" size.
In the application of a TR dash the wood movement would not be constrained. The amount of movement would be inconsequential.

If I remember correctly I used 1/2" thick for the MG.

George
 

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Wish I could help with your dashboard, mine was coming apart but was the least of my worries...... car (1970 GT6+) had no reverse when I bought it, and none when I sold it.... Prince of Darkness fer sure, I once drove 30 miles down the Taconic Parkway and the only light coming from the car was the right turn signal... wish i still had that thing....
 

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I never worked on any British iron, but back in my hot rod days, I did replace the dash in a few model A's and model T's with wood. Grandda had a barn full of cherry and a full blown shop. He would plane down some cherry stock for me to around 3/8" thickness and then I would make the cutouts for any gauges. Only thing I had for a finish in those days was brushed on shellac. Never herd of any problems from the people that got those cars.
 
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