Monday, May 26, 2008


Today, Jenn helped me to reverse the toll that 40+ years of UV took on our Amazon's sun visors.

Restoration of the visors started from the inside out. I used a wire wheel to clean the rust off the visors' wire frames. If I'd been really smart, I would have given them a preventative treatment with POR-15, but I was lazy and skipped that step. (I'll probably regret that decision later.)

Following auto upholstery guru Don Taylor's method, we cut chipboard backings for the new visors using what was left of an old visor as a pattern. I purchased some 2-ply chipboard for the job, but it turned out to be too thick, so we ended up using a frozen pizza box (Amy's Organic Roasted Vegetable No-Cheese).

We glued a layer of 3/8" foam to the chipboard using Super 77, and trimmed it flush to the edge of the chipboard. Next, we cut a piece of vinyl matching the shape of the chipboard, but leaving an ample allowance around the entire edge.

the entire sandwich: wire armature, chipboard with foam attached, and vinyl

The trickiest part of the whole operation was trimming the vinyl and cutting darts to allow a smooth radius around the corners. We ended up doing this by trial and error, using masking tape to "tack down" the straight portions while we cut the corners.

Using Super 77, we glued vinyl to foam, then folded over the loose vinyl edge and glued it to the "inside" of the chipboard. (FYI: as noted on the can, spraying Super 77 on both surfaces to be glued, and then letting it dry for a couple of minutes before assembling produces an extra strong bond.)

After botching our first attempt at gluing the two sides of each visor together, I discovered a better method: before applying adhesive, fold the two sides together and align them with the wire frame inside the sandwich. While keeping everything aligned, tape the wire frame to the chipboard. Then apply Super 77, and glue the two halves together. Everything should remain aligned. (On our first try, we tried inserting the wire armature and aligning after glue was applied, and ended up with a crooked visor that had to be taken apart.)

two sides glued together

The Super 77 bond started pulling apart within minutes, and we decided that it'd be necessary to sew the edges. The visor was too thick to fit in our sewing machine, and we wanted to avoid a top-stitched seam anyway, so we sewed a blind stitch by hand around the entire perimeter of each visor. (This was time consuming.)

I'm reasonably satisfied, and would have been even more satisfied if our hand sewing skills were more practiced. But all in all, I think the visors look pretty good.

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