wingless' Headliner / Visor / Overhead Console / Soundbar Over-the-top Upholstery -
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post #1 of 4 Old 08-25-2017, 10:12 PM Thread Starter
Web Wheeler
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1994 ZJ 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,249
wingless' Headliner / Visor / Overhead Console / Soundbar Over-the-top Upholstery

The headliner fabric on my ZJ appearance was great. It wasn't dirty or torn, but it had started to sag. That sagging was bugging me, so I decided to correct the problem.

The headliner is bonded to a molded pressed fiberglass board. The headliner board is retained to the roof w/ the visors, overhead console, hand grips, clips and rear corner body post trim panels. All those were removed and gravity detached the headliner board from the roof.

The fabric was peeled back, revealing the source of the problem. The factory used a soft fabric, bonded to a thin foam, about 1/8" thick. The foam was disintegrating. That foam has a tape backing, used to stick it to the pressed fiberglass headliner board. After the fabric was peeled off the headliner board, the crumbled foam w/ the tape backing remained attached to the headliner board. The crumbled foam w/ the tape backing was peeled off the headliner board, revealing the golden-color pressed fiberglass headliner board. The crumbled foam w/ the tape backing was "easy" to remove, it came off as a large single sheet, shown in a pile in the image.

The pressed fiberglass board was examined. The surface is not smooth. There are many, many, many voids in the surface, some long and crack-shaped, where the pressing didn't result in a smooth surface.

The "easy" path would have been to replace the fabric w/ an identical soft fabric w/ foam backing, like this fabric. Just glue it on and be done. That foam backed fabric would hide all the imperfections.

My plan was instead to use an imitation suede fabric. I chose Toray Ultrasuede HP fabric in Fawn color. I had initially considered Alcantara fabric but it was waaay too expensive. The Ultrasuede has a similar look and feel at an acceptable cost.

The short story is that using a fabric instead of using the foam-backed fabric will reveal / expose all the surface defects in the pressed fiberglass headliner board. There are many completed projects where fabric is glued to that board and all the board defects are visible on the finished headliner.

My choice was to laminate fiberglass onto the pressed board, then fill the surface w/ thickened epoxy, then sand the surface smooth. All those steps resulted in a smooth / strong headliner board. The fabric was glued to the board and the finished result does not show any defects in the headliner board when examining the finished Ultrasuede fabric headliner board.

The materials I used to laminate the pressed fiberglass board are: West System 105 Epoxy Resin and West System 206 Slow Hardener and Whitaker Oil Company 3/4 oz Fiberglass Mat. The mat is epoxied onto the headliner board and allowed to harden. I cut the fiberglass to size, put it into position, then "painted" through the fiberglass to saturate the mat and the underlying headliner board w/ the mixed West System epoxy. The hardened fiberglass mat is trimmed to match the original openings. Then the West System epoxy is mixed w/ their 405 Fileting Blend, mixed to a peanut butter consistency. This is spread across the surface and worked into the surface w/ a squeegee and paint brush, to get a smooth surface. The hardened epoxy is sanded smooth. The process was repeated until an acceptable finish was attained.

The Ultrasuede is bonded to the headliner board using 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive. Plan on 2-3 cans for the project. Follow the instructions. The adhesive is sprayed onto the surface (or surfaces) then allowed to get tacky before attempting to bond. It won't work if the bond it attempted too soon.

The headliner board is not flat, so advance planning is required to get a good fit, expecially w/ the Ultrasuede, because it doesn't stretch as much as the OEM-type soft foam-backed fabric. I found that cutting a dart from the windshield glass to the overhead console opening permitted a MUCH better fabric fit at the visor cavities. All the other shapes were fit by working the fabric to the surface, stretching or compressing as-required.

My experience was that I did a dry fit first, slightly larger fabric than required. I folded the fabric back, exposing the headliner board, then sprayed the board w/ adhesive. I touched the adhesive w/ the back of my knuckle, then applied the fabric when adhesive remained on the board, instead of transferring to my knuckle. I moved in sections across the entire headliner board.

Once the interior surface was glued to the headliner board I flipped it over, then sprayed the extra fabric hanging past the edge of the headliner board. I cut darts in that fabric to near the board, so I could stretch the fabric along the curved edge, wrap around the edge and glue to the back of the headliner board. I cut holes for the three roof grab handles, the two visor mounts, the two visor pivot clips, the overhead console screw, the four push fasteners and the two large center console holes.

The images also show that I applied Dynamat Xtreme deadener squares to the roof, then covered the roof w/ Denim Ultratouch Reinforced-Foil-Backed Insulation as part of my vehicle sound deadening / heat control upgrade. This was also attached w/ 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive. All the perimeter roof cavity voids were filled w/ UltraTouch Denim Insulation poked into all the voids. The effect of this extra insulation thickness was that the visor screws were too short, requiring changing from 3/4" long to 1" long and the rear center roof push retainers were too short, requiring changing to longer generic umbrella push retainer. Also, the center console rear sides are retained to grabbing fingers on bracket screwed onto the roof. I was able to push-on one side of the center console grab fingers (w/ extra effort). The second side required pushing a 2x4 w/ a screw jack until it loudly grabbed, all due to the extra thickness. In retrospect, spacing that bracket away from the roof is probably a good choice, maybe w/ a section of insulation squeezed between the bracket and the roof.

FWIW, the insulation helps big time w/ solar heat gain, as-desired and as-expected. Vehicle operation prior to replacing the headliner revealed that, when entering the parked vehicle, the metal roof was MUCH hotter than the insulation sections.

All my work is done w/ me working solo. Handling a large overhead panel requires brain power. Fortunately I keep corks in my ears to contain my brains from oozing out, useful in these situations. I used cardboard cartons as building blocks, to space the headliner up to the roof and hold it against the roof. This method permitted fine positioning while securing the headliner against the roof. This method worked great.

The overhead console was disassembled to remove the OEM fabric then replace it w/ my Ultrasuede fabric.

This part was "easy", unscrewing the parts and releasing the plastic catches. The old fabric was peeled off. The old adhesive was peeled off. Everything was scraped clean on the plastic body to prepare for the new adhesive / fabric. It was applied like on the headliner, allowing the adhesive to get tacky, also wrapping around the edge and gluing to the rear.

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post #2 of 4 Old 08-25-2017, 10:25 PM Thread Starter
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1994 ZJ 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,249
Shortly after I picked up my new ZJ in '94 I special-ordered, then installed the soundbar. The original fabric was peeling off that soundbar, it also doesn't match my new fabric. For some reason, those original soundbar speakers were fine, while my original Infinity Gold speaker cones have all crumbled to dust.

The soundbar interior was also treated w/ Dynamat Xtreme deadener squares and Denim Ultratouch Reinforced-Foil-Backed Insulation and was also attached w/ 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive.

These speakers were replaced w/ Infinity Kappa 60.11cs Component Speakers to match the pair I installed in my front doors / dash. For my system I retired the rear door speakers. The speaker system includes an external crossover. That crossover box doesn't fit within the soundbar. I cracked open the crossover box and removed the guts. The circuit board was attached to the soundbar w/ heavy-duty Velcro. The boost switch was depressed and attached to the circuit board also w/ the heavy-duty Velcro.

Attaching the Ultrasuede fabric to the soundbar was a challenge. The soft / stretchy OEM fabric can be pulled to match all the unusual contors. The Ultrasuede cannot be pulled to match the contours. I needed to cut a dart on each rear corner and glue an overlap on the fabric to make it fit. The "U" shape around the rear light was impossible to get a tight fit. All in all, I think it looks fine, even w/ these "issues".

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post #3 of 4 Old 08-25-2017, 10:30 PM Thread Starter
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1994 ZJ 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Florida
Posts: 3,249
The visors are a BIG challenge.

The visors are a molded plastic clamshell w/ the fabric stretched around the perimeter, then snapped shut, w/ hidden internal clasps.

Preparing for upholstery requires removing the mirror, releasing the clasps, peeling back the fabric, THEN sliding out the "nail" that secures the hinge rod. There are pockets on either side that permit using a screwdriver to inch out the "nail" that secures the hinge rod, as-shown in the image.

The image w/ the colored arrows shows the various clip elements. The red arrows point to the mirror-side single-side clasp hooks. The green arrows point to the only mirror-side two-sided clasp hooks. The gray arrows point to the cabin-side clasp catches. The yellow arrows point to the hinge rod "nail" loops.

When I opened my clamshell I broke some of the gray arrow clasp catches. I used Super Glue to replace the broken parts back into position and it worked fine.

Once the clamshell is open there are perimeter grip hooks, that probably work fine w/ the soft OEM foam-backed fabric. They didn't work at all for my Ultrasuede, so I used hot glue on the grip hooks, pushing the fabric into the hooks. The hot glue made the fabric stay put during the process. This is essential.

There are two big deviations from OEM fabric layout. My Ultrasuede doesn't / can't stretch like the OEM at the hinge rod or at the attachment shaft. I trimmed the fabric and glued around those points, as-shown in the images, instead of attempting to replicate the OEM layout at those places.

Once the clamshell is snapped shut the hinge pivot is replaced. The rod cylinder is positioned, then the "nail" is worked through the loops, then into the beginning of the rod cylinder. I used a very small narrow alignment tool to finish pushing the "nail" back into the final position, as-shown in the images.

The mirror pocket fabric cutout pocket trimming was replicated, as-shown in the images. It worked fine.

The mirror is upholstered w/ glued-on fabric. I used a putty knife to scrape off the upholstered aluminum panel. The fabric was stuck to the aluminum w/ a tape, just like to the headliner board, except removing the tape was difficult from the aluminum, unlike the "easy" removal from the headliner board. The aluminum was also stuck to the mirror lid w/ a tape that was "easy" to remove. I used WD-40 and a putty knife to remove the old glue from the aluminum and plastic. An SOS pad was used to finish removing the glue from the aluminum.

The fabric was attached to the aluminum w/ the 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive and the upholdered aluminum panel was also attached to the mirror door w/ the 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive.

The mirror electric connection wires were poked into the receptacles and the mirror assembly was pushed back into the cavity.

The Four Wheel Drive transfer case decal was attached to the mirror door fabric w/ 3M Super 77 Aerosol Spray Adhesive.

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post #4 of 4 Old 08-28-2017, 10:06 PM
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1987 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: 3rd rock from sun
Posts: 14,191
Nice work here, thanks @wingless .


"You can set my jeep on fire and roll it down a hill,
But I still wouldn't trade it for a Coupe DeVille."

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