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Thread: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

  1. #1
    Member rinconmann's Avatar
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    Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Disclaimer - I have read on other posts on headliners this project has given others less than happy results so reader/DIY beware! Going to attempt and could use any suggestions (other than cease!) how best to DIY. My foam is in PERFECT condition other than OEM vinyl not sticking? I have new materials and think foam to replace but am considering the following:

    Leave old foam, using new glue and then new vinyl.
    Leaving old foam, glue new 2mm foam over old MB foam then glue new vinyl. The foam was included with Vinyl when purchased.
    or
    Remove all old foam, glue new 2mm foam then glue new vinyl.

    Anyways I plan to do the last option as I think that OEM foam may break up over more time. Plan to use a power drill and the edges of circular wire brush to lightly and carefully remove what can be done safely then use brass hand wire brush for final.

    I heard old headliner no matter how tempting should never be used so I bought Grey MB59 vinyl headliner fabric from headliner express for about 210usd. They are in FLA but shipped from Los Angeles so I had it in a day. They sent fabric and very thin foam which appears to be about 2-3mm thick. I intend to use 3M SUPER TRIM ADHESIVE (same stuff I used on my new hood liner and Rx by Gerry). Any suggestions? Warnings?

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  3. #2
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Looking forward to see your results. I pulled the headliner in the high-miler but haven't had time to remove the vinyl and clean the old foam yet...
    '94 E500 (744) | '94 E500 (199)         Misc. snapshots

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  5. #3
    Member rinconmann's Avatar
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Plan failed under first contact...........You DON'T need power tools.

    I want to mention a comment about the sunroof panel removal. There are 4 plastic white Christmas tree attachments that must be popped at the front of the sunroof while half open. Rather than pulling and perhaps bending or breaking the panel I used wood wedges and rubber mallet gentle on both side of the connectors. They POP when open. This worked very well and the POP tells you so. Make sure to use rubber mallet or you may hit the edge of the sunroof paint when pushing the wedges inward. There are 2 on each side and they are loud when they pop open. See picture below. The third picture is the unit after foam removed and fourth the FOAM.



    So then oddly enough the best tool for me to remove the "foam" ended up being a good pair of shop gloves. My foam looked intact but upon close inspection was shot so it had to come off. You have to use gloves because this stuff is super sticky and anything it touches will have to be thrown out period. Get that foam goo away from you and make sure and prepare for mess! Through process of discovery rolling a ball of foam goo over itself worked the best and did the least damage to the fragile under surface. See these pictures of my process and the ball of goo at the end. Two or three good gloves that can be thrown away required (once you start this you will not be able to touch anything with the gloves so have extra). The third picture is just laying the foam for fit dry.


    Then once you cut the foam and have it laid where you think it best start at the back to create an anchor point. See below pictures of the start glue down. It took me close to 2 cans to do the foam project and I have yet to do the vinyl. Start here in the back then switch sides. Make sure to get glue at the bottom so when you fold over the panel and do same on the back there will be no missing glue seam. Use the glue properly per instructions. MAKE SURE YOU PUT COMPLETE GLUE ON BOTH SIDE especially where the groves or channels are down the sides because you have to have complete contact there or you will get unhappy sag before you are even done. Mine came out OK but this has to be done carefully with complete glue.


    Note the trimmed edges. Does not look great at this point but OK. I will advise when the new vinyl goes down. I just used a razor and cut along the edges. Must be super sharp razor and it took me four. Also on old vinyl removed; Don't forget to remove the plastic inserts in the old vinyl where they tucked into the sunroof hole.



    The above is the FOAM only on the headliner so now the vinyl job is next. I have to work to pay for this stuff so will finish later.

    PAY SPECIAL ATTENTION TO THE CHANNELS ON BOTH SIDES AS YOU HAVE TO MAKE SURE TO LIGHTLY PRESS EVERYTHING IN SO THEY ARE SECURE. PUT ENOUGH pressure but don't over do it. The fabric side and the liner side must have glue and be connected only when tacky. Timing must be perfect. Looks rough to me and the panel on the sunroof a bit intimidating but more later. I am doing vinyl tonight. This project takes 3-4 cans of glue based on my 1.6 cans used just for foam glue down. I assume vinyl will take same amount. I also hope the vinyl will smooth out some of the roughness seen in the foam.
    Last edited by rinconmann; 4 Weeks Ago at 12:51 PM. Reason: Text errors

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  7. #4
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Honestly,

    I'd take the panel to a pro and have them do the foam and new MB59 vinyl. In my area, it's about $60 labor and they have the correct glue in 5 gallon buckets and spray it on. Glad ppl are ahead of me on this one. I absolutely would not re-use the foam.
    Don't skimp, as you don't want to R&R the panel anytime soon.

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    E500E Guru nocfn's Avatar
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Indeed, clean slate and do it right.
    1994 E500
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  11. #6
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Epic Fail!!!! I was very unhappy with the way the vinyl sat on the foam. I removed the first layer of OEM FOAM as you can see above but even through the NEW foam I could see the slight bumps through the foam. THAT SAID I TORE EVERYTHING OFF AND PROBABLY LOST MY 215.00USD WORTH OF VINYL. I MAY STILL HAVE ENOUGH from what was sold to me to do it but maybe not. So I am less than zero now since I have a surface with glue etc.

    At this point and at a total loss I ripped everything off. I have now taken a 80 grit sanding foam block and started sanding down the liner to the flat fibers. Once I get the surface as smooth as I can I will spray it with a sanding sealer to lock in the surface. It is obvious that the only way to get a clean headliner is to start with a super smooth surface. Since these surfaces have roughness I am now sanding all foam and whatever off and preparing to make it smooth.

    THEN I WILL TAKE THIS HEADLINER and materials to a local shop because frankly its indeed too hard to do unless you have experience doing it or are super lucky. The hard part is gluing down the vinyl PERFECTLY and knowing all the tricks that only someone who does this job. So I will post my pictures of my resurfaced in process headliner but can't stress enough that the FOAM AND GLUING of vinyl be left to a shop to to ensure the best job possible. Sometimes you need the pros and this is one case I find this a truism. NO MATTER YOU MUST HAVE THE HEADLINER prepared and super smooth as everything will show. I will post pictures later.

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  13. #7
    E500E Guru Jlaa's Avatar
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Kudos rinconmann, for attempting this yourself!

    Upholstery work is something I liken to very fine finish carpentery so much of it hinges upon the experience and skill of the craftsman fitting the new upholstery or the new headliner..... something I would leave to pros with lots and lots and lots of practice.

    In my other hobby car, I tore out and replaced the carpet myself (and even that was a challenge for an amateur - knowing where to stretch and where to steam) but the leather work and headliner work I left to experienced artisans.
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  15. #8

    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    This reminds me of my teenage years, when I made my first surfboard.
    I will skip most of the details, but..

    Parts of the resin never cured, I think the board made it to the water one time, and I was not happy with my craftsmanship. Having some high school wood-shop training and very little experience repairing surfboards was not enough experience to work with foam and completely fiberglass an entire board. There was no thrill of victory, only agony of defeat.

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  17. #9
    Member rinconmann's Avatar
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    Re: Headliner Foam Remove and New Vinyl Head Liner replace

    Dudes!!! Ok not all lost but expensive lesson here. The absolute most important issue with this headliner is to prepare the board. It must be SMOOTH and FLAT or you will see all the bumps and irregularities through the foam and vinyl. I may have enough fabric and foam left from the 2 yards I bought (salvaged sunroof new vinyl from botched job) to do the job still.

    So to make sure I brought a smooth flat board to the shop for glue down I did the following process which may be overkill. I would go strait to BONDO screen. Pictures posted on next post;

    Clean all old foam off with sure foam and 80 grit sanding block.
    clear coat fibers to seal
    primer
    bondo - carefully using gift ball sized amounts screen in BONDO USING FLAT plastic blade to fill. I did it in 8-10 sessions over and afternoon.
    lightly sand with power sander.

    Now my board is as flat and smooth as it can be (looks like crap however) and Monday I will bring to shop for glue down. I don't want to fail at the vinyl again so my local shop will do the glue down. They estimate 2-3 hours max at $50per hour. I am 99% sure the job will look great now that I have a MUCH better prepared liner.

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