“You used up all the glue…ON PURPOSE!”
Finally! The headliner installation is complete (ish). Putting a factory-style headliner in, even for the pros, is a pain in the rear. And for someone like me who hasn’t done it a thousand times before? Let’s just say I found it a trying experience. That’s partly why it took me a week to do something that would’ve taken a single day. I got the thing partially mocked-up, then I got frustrated and had to stop. I came back and pulled it out to make some changes. Then I got fed up with the fiberglass insulation, pulled it out, and started to install the BondedLogic stuff. I ran out of spray glue. And so forth…
Committing to the Headliner Installation
This past Friday I finally decided I had the headliner in a good place, the insulation was properly installed, and I was ready to start gluing. I chose to use 3M Weatherstrip Adhesive (thanks to Jeff Ford), so the gluing process itself was pain-free. Weatherstrip adhesive, when used properly, is pretty darn impressive. The trick is not to use too much. A thin layer on both pieces you’re planning to join is all you need. Let it get tacky, then press everything together and it’s like contact cement. I used pieces of snap-on windlace to hold the headliner over the pinch welds while the glue cures.
I started at the front center, moving out toward the edges, then I moved to the back and repeated the process. From there, I pulled the wrinkles out to the sides and glued them as well. I finished up at the front, but I left the rear corners for another day.
Sail Panels are for Suckers
The major hurdle I chose to delay on Friday was the sail panels. For good reason, lots of guys don’t want to touch a hardtop headliner installation because of the sail panels. Several angles come into play simultaneously, so it’s darned near impossible to pull the vinyl taut. I struggled for close to five hours last night to get the rear corners of the headliner done. While it’s far from perfect, I’m happy with how it turned out.
There’s no trick to doing the sail panels, but I can give you a few tips. First, be aware that the rear seam needs to be pulled on in the middle to avoid making cascade wrinkles. Second, I found it helpful to temporarily pin the rear seam at the quarter window opening while you work on the rear window section. Third, you’ll need to be very careful with your relief cuts. And lastly, don’t glue anything until you feel like you’ve got a good lay.
What I’d Do Differently
Having watched several videos on the subject, I think I was pretty well prepared. But there are still a few things I would do differently if I had to do this all over again. First, I was far too aggressive in cutting the listing pockets. The front three bows weren’t too bad, but I made it a lot harder for myself by cutting the pockets on the rear bow. If I had left the pockets longer, the headliner would’ve pulled tight much more easily over the sail panels.
Second, I would use the BondedLogic insulation from the get-go. It’s made of cotton, so there’s no itch factor, and it’s easier to install since it’s foil-backed on both sides.
And third, I would probably go all the way to the edges of the rear window opening before I started pulling out the wrinkles at the sides. I left too much undone on the edges, so it became difficult to pull the headliner tight with the sides already partially completed.