I'll try my best to spell out how mine was made but at the end of the day it's simply down to a couple of simple steps which may take a long time.
You will need:
- A starhead screwdriver
- A flathead screwdriver
- A socket set
- A fabric of your choice
- A large tin of upholstery glue (not the spray-on crap)
- A scalpel or very very sharp knife
- A razor blade comes in handy
- A large area to work in
- A huge amount of patience
Headliner and pillar removal- The first thing you need to do is remove the headliner from the car.
1. We'll start with the B and C pillars. Flip up the seatbelt runner covers by using the flathead screwdriver. It's very easy and should not require anything more than a very light pressure. You can use the flat screwdriver from behind the clip to prise it open.
2. The cover will flip open to reveal a bolt head. Use your socket set to remove this and be sure to keep the bolts somewhere safe. The best thing to do is to put the bolts through the seatbelt runners and close the flip open lid.
3. Job done, all 4 bolts and seatbelts should be released. Next is to remove the B and C pillars themselves. Unfortunately there is no real simple and easy way to do this and it just needs a little force. Prise your fingers behind the top edge of the pillars and basically pull towards the center line of the car until the pillars pop off. You may snap a couple of the small white clips doing this but they can be easily found at a scrap yard or dealers for a few pence. The A pillars can also be pulled off now the same way. Don't be shy as it takes plenty of force to shift them.
4. Then we move onto the grab handles as they are quite easy to take off. If you pull the grap handles to their open position you will see that there are 2 small lids covering the part of the bracket which recesses into the handles themselves. These can be flipped open easily by using your finger nail. They will reveal large star head screws. Simple!!! now unscrew them and the grab handles will fall off.
5. Now we move onto the front of the car to the more difficult parts. It might be a good idea to wrap the head of your flat screwdriver in masking tape to avoid damaging any of the more delicate trim. The first part to remove is the center dome light. The first part to come off is the clear plastic lens. This is done by gently levering the front of the lense downwards with the screwdriver. The lens should simply fall off then to reveal 2 large star head screws between the bulbs inside. After unscrewing these the dome light will fall out. Remember to unclip the wiring loom.
6. You can now flip down the small sunvisor above the rear view mirror and you can remove it by unscrewing the single visible starhead screw.
7. Then we go to the hardest part of the headliner removal. You will first need the flathead screwdriver. We will unscrew the small visor clip first. Spin the visor towards the window to get it out of the way. Now push the flat screwdriver upwards into the clip just between the plastic and metal spring. This part is clipped in very hard so it's most likely either break or come off with a bit of a snap. They can take a lot of abuse so don't be scared. push the screwdriver towards the windscreen and the clip will pop off. It will then reveal 2 star head screws. Unscrew them and that's that part done. Both driver's and passenger's sides are the same.
8. Then onto the most irritating part of our journey. The dreaded sun visor hinges. First you need to prise out the caps covering the screw at the front of the hinges. Use a tiny screwdriver or pick or after 10 minutes of sweating and shouting feel free to use a hammer and screwdriver. These are hit and miss and if they come out easily then consider yourself lucky. Then you can unscrew the star head screw revealed behind. The hinges are pressed in very tight. Grab the hinge and try to slide it back a couple of mm towards the rear of the car and then you may be able to pull the front of the hinge down a little and it should prise out and down at the front to release the rear part of the hinge which acts like a hook. When you have the front down a couple of mm, you should be able to push it forward a little and the sunvisor will come off. Don't forget to unclip the wiring loom.
9. Now the only things left in your headliner will be the 2 lights above the seats and the lights behind the visors. The reason I have left these until last is because this is the easiest way to get them out without damaging the surrounding metal holder. You should now be able to feel that the headliner is reasonably loose and is only really being held by the rubber trim at the doors. this is easy to take the headliner out of and simply requires you to slide a finger between the rubber and the headliner. When you have the headliner released from the sides you need to slide it to the rear of the car about half and inch and that will release it from the lip at the rear window. When the headliner drops onto the top of the headrests or seats you will see the wiring loom and the rear seat and visor lights. You should now clearly see how the lights are clipped in and how easy they are to remove. Not so easy from the bottom but a doddle from the top.
10. To get the headliner out of the car fold the front seats as far back as you can. Taking the bench out the back seats makes this even easier. Open all the doors as well. A huge advantage is to have another person to help with this. Drop the drivers side down a little and try to get the rear drivers corner of the headliner out of the back door so that the headliner will be exiting through the passenger's front door. Then you will need to twist the headliner slightly to get it's drivers front corner past the gearknob. After this you should be able to get it out through the passenger's front door without too much trouble or bending. With the front seats out this is much, much easier.
Now you have your headliner out, it's time to get started with the recovering.
Headliner and pillar recoveringI have now recovered my headliner twice and learned quite a few lessons along the way.
The first piece of advice I can give is to use a stretchable material. You have no idea how hard it is to get a piece of non-stretch material to work on a MK4 headliner. There are too many curves and edges to try and work with and I cannot stress this enough. It's an incredible amount of effort needed to make non-stretch material work.
The second piece of advice I can give is to use an upholstery glue. The glue in a spray-can is no good. I know because i've tried various methods and tests with it and every time is has failed. Upholstery glue is heat proof and cures as hard as rock over time. The spray on glue melts under heat and eventually drys and fails. The glue I use is made by a company called Granville. It's quite hard to find but I have found it holds harder than an other glue I tried.
Now onto my headliner.
|My headliner was always going to be slightly different so you don't have to follow my every instruction. I can guarantee that if you use a strong adhesive like Granville Trim and upholstery glue that you will not need to strip or dismantle any part of your headliner as the glue will be strong enough to hold a new fabric and will not soak into the existing headliner material.|
For my headliner, I was actually using a non-stretch faux suede. This was bought from ebay for about £26 delivered so it was quite cheap. I actually bought 6 meters but found that it was enough to do 2 headliners and 2 sets of pillars. 4 square meters is a good safe amount. You'll need it to be approximately 55 inches or more wide to leave some room for manipulating the cloth into corners. Again, non-stretch is a bad idea.
I also wanted to erradicate my grab handles as I found them to be fairly useless and not only did they make the recovering process very difficult, the headliner looked much smoother and cleaner without them.
I started by stripping the top layer of cloth from the original headliner. This was the soft part of the headliner and was backed by a thin foam layer and also a thin fibreglass layer which was, in turn, backed with a paper like black layer. During this process the metal brackets for the trim and lights were also removed. After stripping these back carefully I was left with a very thing paper like backing with a slightly rough textured foam on top. This was very flimsy now and needed to be strengthened. The headliner was laid out on a table and propped with bricks and foam to keep it's original shape.|
I used an expanding foam which can be found at any building suppliers in a disposable tin. I sprayed the foam into the recesses where the grab handles went and left it for a few hours to dry completely. I then used a long sharp knife to trim off the excess foam down to a flat finish. The foam was full of air bubbles and was not the perfect shape so I used a think layer of Isopon P38 body filler to smooth any holes and refine the shape to match the sides of the headliner. I also used the filler on a couple of small bits of the headliner where there were imperfections on the foam.
When the filler was hardened and sanded smooth it was time to start the strengthening of the headliner. This was done with fibreglass tissue and fibreglass resin. I also used some hardener to make sure that the headliner kept it's shape fairly well and the resin hardened within a reasonable time.
This was quite time consuing and used a lot of resin. After this had hardened, it was important to go over the headliner carefully and cut or sand any imperfections or pieces of fibreglass tissue which were sticking out. The edges were also trimmed with a stanley knife and a razor blade.
|While the fibreglass resin was drying, it was a good time to get the pillars done. The cloth can be stripped easily from the pillars as they are made from a hard plastic. I sanded them down to bare plastic and then used the upholstery glue to hold down the new material. The B pillars were very difficult but turned out quite well. The A and C pillars were very easy as they have no awkward corners. About half and inch was left overlapping the edges and folded and glued to the back of the pillars.|
|These 2 pictures show the headliner when the cloth was almost completely stuck down. This was near the end of a VERY VERY long process. Because it was a non-stretch material it meant that the material had to be pulled into place and glued about 2 inches at a time and left overnight to cure a little. This time was needed because if we tried to do too much of the headliner at onece the glue would have moved around and caused creases. The total gluing process took close to 2 months because of the amount of stretching and twisting and pulling involved to eliminate the chance of creases and folds. What I am left with is a 99% crease free headliner in a stunning jet black very high quality fabric. The strength of this fabric was what allowed me to manipulate it slightly without tearing it.|
|Below are a few pictures of the final product installed back into my car.|