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Harrington LeMans Dash Restoration

Discussion in 'Harrington Alpine' started by NN LeMans, Jul 24, 2012.

  1. NN LeMans

    NN LeMans Gold Level Sponsor

    I am about ready to start restoring the dash on my 1962 Harrington LeMans and have been researching the Forum for methods and successes. The dash on the HLM is a plastic formica, which while in good shape, is quite faded and lackluster. I know I can replace the dash with a wood one or I can put a wood veneer on top of the old formica, but has anyone had any success with a coating or stain that would bring some color back to the original dash. A clear coat won't help due to the fading but has any one tried a wood stain type coating on the dash.

    A second question to the subject above regards sources for the white lettering on the dash i.e. Lights, Map, Wiper, Heat, etc. Is there anyone making decals for the dash lettering? I have seen ads for bezel rings with the lettering but I believe the HLMs had the lettering directly on the dash-at least mine does. There also appears to be no plastic bezel for the heater and air circulation controls, just white lettering on the dash itself.

    Thanks for any information.

    NN LeMans
  2. Ken Ellis

    Ken Ellis Donation Time

    This is coming from a wood-work point of view, instead of dash resto.
    I don't think stain is going to be absorbed into the formica. I think if the coating is that far gone, there's going to be no "picture" to bring back to life, but merely the substrate.

    You might experiment with an orange shellac, which may act as a semi-transparent tint. You would likely have to cover it with a clear coat, which should be high in UV protection.

    There are semi-transparent stains, too, but when I've used them on wood they're more like thin paint. More like semi-opaque.

    If you could find a tinted plastic sheet, UV stable, it might be worth a try if you're just looking for more color density. Something like is used for vehicle wraps. Pretty easy to install, I would think.

    None of this will pass the concurs judges, though. So if that's the goal, I'm of no help.
  3. atallamcs

    atallamcs Donation Time

    faux painters

    If you must stay with the existing dash, maybe strip down and let a faux painter do his/her thing with their wood graining techniques. A friend of mine had his entire library done with this technique--amazing.
  4. Alpine 1789

    Alpine 1789 SAOCA President Platinum Level Sponsor

    Can't help with reviving the Formica (Is it that hard to find the same pattern? There are 1000's available.) but if you get to the point of putting on new lettering, you should contact Paul Breuhan, known here as 66Tiger. I don't know if Harringtons used a different font from the GT/Tiger wood dash, but he did an excellent job reproducing those and sells them periodically on eBay. Here is his website: http://www.breuhan.com/
  5. puff4

    puff4 Gold Level Sponsor

    Agree, Jim - Paul does beautiful work.


  6. Ken Ellis

    Ken Ellis Donation Time

    Does he only sell thru Ebay, or did I miss the 'retail' section of his site?
  7. 65beam

    65beam Bronze Level Sponsor


    i believe that paul quit doing this awhile back. finding a formica to match the original harrington dash is next to impossible here in the states. the person restoring the dash for my RHD lemans used the same veneer that he used to make the dash for my fastback. the big problem is the lettering. we could find nothing close to the original lettering. if you remove the formica from the harrington dash you'll find that the original series 2 dash was sanded flat, the formica was glued on and the instruments installed. there was no heater bezel or anything around the switches.
  8. GlennB

    GlennB Silver Level Sponsor

    Staying with the Formica is of course desired from the purist and concours view. My dash is in poor shape, as well as the car having had lots of abuse, and I am tempted to use burr elm a-la Jaguar. I tried a sample test panel and after 30 coats of lacquer and the result is outstanding. This keeps the color tone, and there's no other wood that has to be matched. I'd keep the original dash for a background resto project and keep an eye out for suitable materials in the future. The HLM dash lets the car down in my opinion, I have never seen one that was bright or colorful. My current issue is that the only spare dash I have is an SIV and I don't think all the switch gear will fit perfectly. I'm not going to risk trying it until I have an SII dash. GB
  9. 65beam

    65beam Bronze Level Sponsor


    the shop doing my dash used wood veneer to cover the original plastic dash after removal of the formica. he glued the veneer to the plastic and it looked good. keep in mind that this is a wood working shop that makes wood dashes for cars. the difference being that the harrington has the plastic under the veneer. when he started applying the lacquer it soaked thru the wood and destroyed the glue allowing the wood to lift and curl up. he's trying other glues to see what will hold up to the different products to cover and seal the wood. it's called trial and error.
  10. Chuck Ingram

    Chuck Ingram Donation Time

    Re veneer on plastic.be sure the plastic is sanded for tooth
    One could try the liquid nails or a no nail glue that is used in construction. A thin coat and use weight to compress using a board that covers the whole dasht
    I would not use lacquer or clear coat.Spar varnish with UV protection would be the best choice.I would put 3 or 4 coats.Sand smooth and two more coats.-Allow a week to dry.Wet sand and polish.The varnish will definitley bring out the grain
  11. Ken Ellis

    Ken Ellis Donation Time

    And if you have access to it, vacuum bagging will generate about one ton of clamping force, which should get things nice and flat...
  12. Chuck Ingram

    Chuck Ingram Donation Time

    I do have access to vacuum bagging.My son does have it.I would have to take everything there to his shop about 30 miles from me.For a simple dashboard I would just do as I mentioned.This is not rocket science.At least I would have every thing right at hand.
  13. napa 1

    napa 1 Platinum Level Sponsor

    Hi NN,

    I had great luck restoring my formica dash, and when done well, there is no indication that it is formica and not real wood. Here's an image of my restored dash. Please contact me via my email, john at prittie dot com, and I'd be happy to share some of my restoration experience with you as you progress with your project. I'm just finishing up the interior now.

    Attached Files:

  14. alpine_64

    alpine_64 Donation Time


    The car is looking great, i really like the period under dash consoule you have.. fits in nicely.
  15. 65beam

    65beam Bronze Level Sponsor


    where do you put the radio? john, your PM box is full.
  16. napa 1

    napa 1 Platinum Level Sponsor

    stereo is under the driver seat controlled by a remote and an ipod that is wired into the center arm rest.
  17. 65beam

    65beam Bronze Level Sponsor


    i have a similar setup in the 69GT. i bought a unit that tiger tom had in his 56 dodge. it's a unit intended to be hidden and has a display unit about 2"X3" that i mounted in the center console where the ash tray used to be. it also has a remote. the original sunbeam radio hangs under the dash and lights up when the radio is in use. was that guage panel something tom had? i don't remember ever seeing it.
  18. v13311

    v13311 Silver Level Sponsor

    If anyone is looking for period type gauge pods that fit our cars, I've had good luck with this --


    I have it mounted upside down underneath my radio/cd player with three gauges, voltmeter, outside temp. and a vacuum gauge in the three holes that you have to cut out. It looks good, in my opinion, and fills up the area to about 3 inches from the tranmission hump if you mount it underneath your radio.

    There are other gauge pods available also from this British parts supplier that would work, but I felt that this was the most 'period' correct.

  19. napa 1

    napa 1 Platinum Level Sponsor

    That's a little gauge panel that I made to house some additional gauges and a few extra switches (fog, spot etc.)

    Attached Files:

  20. puff4

    puff4 Gold Level Sponsor

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