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Old 07-23-2012, 03:49 AM
62bird86 62bird86 is offline
Join Date: Aug 18 2011
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Default Headliner fun

Hey all, well I'm back again, racking my brain trying to install a new headliner I got from Macs.
I've searched headliners on this site a few times but haven't really found anything relevant to what my issues are.
Basically, I've got the bows installed and the headliner in the car, ready (or so I thought) to start stapling it along the tack strips. The shop manual says to install the rear bows and work your way to the front, and then staple the front (from the center working your way out), then staple the back and work your way down the sides.
So I started doing this and figured when I staple the back, I'll only staple the top along the top of the rear windshield and then do the sides when I come back down. The front was looking okay so we made our way stapling along the tops of the doors, doing section by section, left side, right side, left side, right side, etc as to make sure everything is uniform. By the time we made it to the sides of the rear window, it was too tight and the corners weren't lining up properly.
Also we were noticing as we stapled above the doors from the front, it was getting pretty clumped up and loose/sagging/wrinkly. Seems there's too much material but I'm worried about snipping anything where I shouldn't and ruining the whole thing before I investigate further into what I'm doing wrong.
From what I've read, people say to use steam or a heat gun to take some of the wrinkles out near the end but it seems like a lot of wrinkles and sagging for the heat to take out so I'm wondering how much sagging/wrinkles a heat gun will take out. Should it be pretty tight to start with? I've also noticed the front couple of bows are really tight to the roof and are hard to move, I'm not even sure that they're perfectly straight across at this point, despite the seems looking straight, perhaps this could be an issue?
Another random thing that I didn't take notice of when I was taking out the old headliner, was that where the front couple bows go, there are 2 holes that the bow ends go into, one higher than the other. I tried the lower holes and there was no bow tension against the roof, but the higher ones are pretty tight. Does this even matter? Of course we then noticed a small tear near one of the seams (I believe it was there from the start) so I'm hoping it doesn't get worse. I might try to call Macs and see if there's anything they can do.
We also have a steamer so I was thinking about steaming the headliner during installation to help loosen it up, figuring it will tighten up at the end.
Essentially there are several questions in this exhausting description, which all boils down to, where did I go wrong and are there any tips/info that you guys can offer me?
1962 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop
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Old 07-23-2012, 09:48 AM
Joe Johnston Joe Johnston is offline
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Only helped install a headliner one time (non-Ford product) but the installer had the vinyl in the sun for an hour to soften and allow stretching. He also had a low wattage heat gun to warm up areas before stretching as well. He claimed the warming in the sun made a huge difference.
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:53 PM
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simplyconnected simplyconnected is offline
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Sounds like Joe was working with an experienced installer. That's the way to do it, with TWO people working in unison.

After heating the vinyl headliner in direct sunshine, fold in half to find/mark the center points of the front and rear. Then mark the front & rear headers in the car roof. Most cars do not uses wood to staple to but they have steel tack strips. So, putty knife-type tools are used for the tack strips and pots of glue for headers.

Bows act just like curtain rods and a lot more. They hold up the roof insulation and some dome light housings are riveted to center bows. Bows 'fish' into linen loops so the headliner can hang freely. Bows/loops also compensate for any inconsistancy in the seam placements. If you have two different lengths of loops, it is because some bows were longer or shorter (or the same headliner fits two body styles). Simply look at the 'hang' of the headliner before installing. A mispaced bow will show up right away.

In older cars, the headliner glues in BEFORE the backlite or windshield, then the rubber glass molding covers it. (Follow your Shop Manual instructions.)

Glue/staple the rear, then the front, paying attention to the headliner tension. Don't try to move/position the bows by pulling the headliner, but center the headliner side-to-side on the bows.

In 'production', two people align/install front-to-back, then they work the sides to get the tension uniform. One guy can do it alone but why?

***IMPORTANT*** If your headliner has seams that are coming apart or if you find tears, SEND IT BACK. These problems will only get worse.

Heat softens then shrinks most materials. We commonly use steam for shrinking wrinkles out of convertible vinyl tops and vinyl headliners. It works very well. - Dave
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Old 07-26-2012, 05:51 AM
62bird86 62bird86 is offline
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Thanks for the advice guys, Macs is sending us a new headliner so for now I just have to be patient and keep researching tips for installation. In the meantime I've been messing around with the current headliner (which we'll be sending back), just to find out the right positioning and where things tend to bunch up. I got a rough fit and it's looking a lot better. I'm hoping the second attempt goes smoother. I'll try to remember to take some pictures of the process and post them for everyone. If anyone else has some experience or more tips, please do share. Keep you posted.
1962 Ford Thunderbird Hardtop
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