Replacing a Parking Brake Cable

I’m about to replace the parking brake cable on the driver side, but I started off the day by reinstalling the missing knobs in the dash.

I have purchased two new wiper/washer knob sets and neither have fit correctly. The existing one has a tendency to spin on the threads when you turn the wipers on, making it difficult to turn them back off. Also, visually, the print is worn off the washer button. So, here we are, with the old button and knob mounted again.

Now, moving onto that parking brake cable. As mentioned in a previous post, the driver’s side cable adjustment was screwed down all the way and the brake was barely grabbing back there. I had the new cable on hand, so let’s dig in.

I peeled back the new rubber cover I had put on earlier and removed the double nuts.

Then I got the rear wheel up in the air and removed the cable mounting plate from the back side of the brake assembly.

It took a lot of finagling the cable ends and moving back and forth between the driver’s seat and the rear wheel, but eventually, I was able to get the old cable out. It was covered in thick, black axle grease, so that’s good.

Once I got the new cable slathered up with axle grease and fed back through to the front, it took a lot of wrangling to actually get it pulled up through from the tunnel. By the time I snapped the next picture, I had removed both front seats and the parking brake handle assembly. That made it a lot easier to get into place.

Time for a break. BEER ME.

OK, back at it.

The new cable I bought already had a crack in the black plastic sleeve. The parts aftermarket manufacturers and sellers should seriously be ashamed of themselves. I have never consistently bought so much garbage in my life.

After getting the wheel mounted and brake adjusted, I was then able to get the cable adjusted. I want to not be able to turn the wheel by hand with the parking brake handle about 3/4 of the way up. The cables will eventually stretch and brake shoes wear, so it’s good to have some room left to adjust the cable tighter as needed.

And now the rubber cover is back in place and not stretched over a hot spot of that long cable end.

Reinstalling the Dash Pad – Part 1

Back out in the car, it’s time to mount this monstrosity and try to put the end result into perspective. It’s hard to tell how it looks when it’s on its own. You need to see it in context. So, off we go.

First, I mounted those long bolts in the corners.

I put all of the knobs and ash tray back in place.

Some of the knobs didn’t fit properly through the new holes with the additional vinyl pushed down through.

I mounted the grab handle and soon realized some of the cuts I had made in the vinyl below the glove box were too close. That’s a job for another day.

My goal has always been not to have visible patches, where I had to add vinyl after the fact, but that looks really bad. It’s a job for another day.

I don’t remember the ash tray being difficult to open before, but it’s really stiff. Like really stiff. The dash pad and extra layer of vinyl aren’t making contact with it, it’s just super tight.

I had stopped at Lowe’s earlier today and bought some new stainless sheet metal screws and washers. All of those that I removed from the dash pad before were mismatched, some were flat head, some were Phillips, some were shorter and longer.

The screw holes along the bottom weren’t lining up properly as I tried to screw them in and I was quickly losing light, so we’ll call it a day and call that a job for another day.

Wrapping the Dash Pad – Take 2 – Day 2

OK, we’re back at it.

I’ve got to tighten up some of these loose corners, making little cuts, gluing little bits, and holding them down.

There’s a soft ridge around the hole for the speedometer that isn’t yet taking an acceptable shape.

There were some more gaps over here that needed some more flaps and glue.

It’s starting to look pretty rough around the corners of the glove box. That needs some more cuts and glue.

We’re getting there, slowly, but surely.

I peeled the loose edge of the vinyl back and glued up underneath the long, straight edge along the bottom of the driver side. CHOPSTICK ENGAGE!

The edge was too thick there to clamp with binder clips or clothes pins. I just held it there for a couple of minutes.

Once that set up, I moved on and started cutting, gluing, and clothes pinning some of the detail edges around the gauge cluster and stereo.

There are lots of loose little flaps around the glove box opening. More glue, more binder clips.

Moving on, there are some more loose edges around the driver side which were exposed after cutting off some more excess. Then I remembered I have this ratcheting clamp, which fit nicely on the large bottom corner. Clothes pins fit the rest of the smaller edges nicely.

I have removed quite a bit of excess vinyl, which has just been piling up over here.

Enough of that for the moment, I decided to move back onto the ash tray, trying to find a suitable substitute for the missing spring clip washer thing that’s missing. I started twisting up little mechanics wire fittings, but nothing would grip it properly long term.

That’s the fancy new afghan my mom made for me. She would be so happy to see dirty tools laying on it.

So, then I gave up and glued the face onto the ash tray.

I picked up that little tube of Scotch Maximum Strength Adhesive ( link) to serve as a backup for the contact cement when trying to get the vinyl headliner glued back down. I used it liberally behind the face of the ash tray and also on the inside, to cover the pegs.

The face of the ash tray isn’t flat, it has a slight angle, so I couldn’t just clamp it down. I found just the right angle in the vice to put pressure on the contact surface to let that glue set.

Now that the corners of the dash pad are starting to get cleaned up, I decided it would be a good time to re-mount the mounting bolts.

We’re still a little flappy around the stereo opening, so that’s the next place for cuts, glues, and clothes pins.

And then some more clips around loose edges in the glove box opening.

Another big corner, you say? Sounds like another job (the exact same job) for the ratcheting clamp.

Back to the ash tray, now quite a bit later, the glue has held well. Trying to pull the pieces apart, gingerly at first, then with increasing effort, there is a little creaking sound, but it doesn’t budge.

Good enough.

Back to the dash pad, I moved on to opening up the holes for the switches.

It’s kind of creepy looking. Like Blair Witch crosses.

I had been noticing little puddles of glue in places that I hadn’t intentionally put them and was just convinced I was being extra sloppy. Then I saw it…

Death by a thousand little squeezes.

I found some more loose edges around the glove box opening. You can see how much extra glue I was using once I realized the tube was leaking. That’s not a great approach. More of this glue is not better.

Another edge on the glove box opening, just below the new opening for the grab handle.

And now we’re here, kinda rough, but still kinda done, mostly because I’m kinda done with it.

I mounted the matte vintage blue painted grills and speedometer bezel, bending the metal tabs around the back to hold them in place.

It doesn’t look great, but it looks better than it did. That has been an ongoing theme with this car.

Wrapping the Dash Pad – Take 2 – Day 1

After failing to vinyl wrap the old dash pad the first time, I ordered a new dash pad, which didn’t fit. So… Plan B was always to try wrapping the vinyl again. There’s lots of leftover glue on there.

I ordered some new vinyl (Amazon link), which took a while to get here and is different than what I bought before.

This is some very nice PU Leather Fabrir 2 Yards NEW.

It has a kind of fabric backing instead of the thick 3M adhesive that the previous vinyl (Amazon link) had.

I found that rubbing the dried glue made some of it flake off around the edges. To give my thumbs a rest, I whipped out a little nylon brush that came in a Harbor Freight set (Harbor Freight link). It did a better job than my thumbs.

What I didn’t think of was that is still glue. It’s stuck all over the new vinyl. Luckily, there are 2 Yards NEW and I can just use the other end for today’s project.

Cut to size…


I sprayed a stripe of 3M Super 77 (Amazon link) three or four inches wide on both the fabric and the dash pad.

I waited for it to get tacky (you know how we do) and started smoothing the vinyl down all around the top edge. Try to leave no wrinkles.


I flipped the dash pad over, so it was face down (you know how we do). I sprayed another few inches of glue to cover the face and underside, and then waited for it to get tacky.

Apparently, I didn’t learn from dash pad covering part one, because I stretched the vinyl over the whole face, not accounting for the low spots. The glue is drying rapidly and I have to stop to cut holes for the dash and gauge area. I guess I moved quickly enough, because I got it wrapped up pretty well.

No PB Blaster was harmed in the wrapping of this dash pad. It was only there as a prop to stand the dash pad up while the glue was drying. There’s a teeny-tiny wrinkle here that I spent a lot of time working on.

The radio area is not too bad.

Now the first corner wrinkle doesn’t look so bad.

Overall, not too bad.

Now it’s time to start digging into that detail work. Cutting in the edges, another shot of glue – this time the Gorilla Clear Grip (Amazon link).

Loads of wrinkles around the outside edges now.

I need to trim all of the excess to give myself some room to work in there.

Binder clips around one of the side vent openings.

There’s a wide-open corner here, from all of the excess vinyl that was wrapped up in there.

Loaded all the edges up with glue and folded them in.

Binder clips are great for these vent openings.

And all the flat tabs where there are screw holes.

I have soooo many binder clips. I love them.

We’re getting more and more presentable over here. I like it.

The other top corner was as mess as well and needed to be dealt with.

I’ll give it six out of ten. F PLUS.

I needed to get out in the sunlight after being hunched over on the basement floor all day.

So, I headed out and put my big ass to work, getting the rear seat, well, seated. It’s a tighter fit now with all of that padding.

I hope I don’t have to jump start or charge the battery any time soon. Getting underneath that rear seat, then putting it back in place is just about my least favorite thing. Other than dealing with drum brakes.

So I previously spray painted the spring lever on top of the ash tray. The 1634 was shooting silly string and apparently didn’t adhere to this metal, either.

Bummer. So I moved on to trying to lock that other tab in place. I had several pieces of metal, the little clip that speakers mount into. Kind of a washer with a split in it to catch the threads. Anyway, whatever those are called, I had a handful of them (had) and made a few attempts at bending them into shape to grip that little knob (you know how we do). But, nothing held firm for long.

Another job for another day another job for another day another job for another day another job for another day

I Give Up.

I came back out this evening after work with renewed determination to get the dash buttoned up.

After five or ten minutes of wrestling with the piece of garbage that is a $110 rubber dash pad, I threw it out into the yard and got busy reassembling the dash without it.

I don’t fully remember the story, but this plastic trim piece from around the glove box opening has been floating around in the car, laying under the passenger side seat. Screwed it back on using some of the now leftover dash pad screws.

I got most of the dash knobs and the ashtray mounted. The brake test button light thing doesn’t snug up into the hole in the dash panel. It is made to fit into the rubber dash pad.

Since the weather stripping wouldn’t stick to the underside of the bonnet, I instead turned it on its side and used that to replace the old gasket in the fresh air intake box.

Making some progress, getting organizized.

Since that mess of wiring is going to be behind and below everything else, I decided to get the stereo and speaker wires connected and routed through the car.

Not all permanently routed, just enough to be out of the way when I’m driving.

I can’t fully wrap my head around where and how those drain hoses work. My setup doesn’t match any of the pictures and diagrams I’m seeing online.

But that’s a problem for another day.

In the Continuing Saga of the Dash Pad

After letting this crappy new dash pad upset me so badly before, I decided that I was going to make it work. I won’t be defeated!

I first mounted the large built-in bolts in the top corners, then mounted the grab handle above the glove box. The rest will be just a few little screws across the top and bottom.

It’s WAY too long of a stretch to get that screw from where it is to where it needs to be. Also, the provisions for the dash knobs are all wrong.

The ash tray won’t fit without a big trim.

Since the dash pad is rubber and is pretty flexible, despite having metal plates inside, I removed the grab handle and big bolts in the corners. I figured that it would maybe line up better if I started in the middle and worked my way out.

Nope. I still couldn’t get the screws close enough to mount them. The next surgery I attempted was to cut off the ears around the screw holes, hoping to let it snug up to the windshield.

Instead, I broke my tin snips. After binging Forged in Fire over the course of the last couple of months, I instinctively checked out the grain of the metal where it broke.

Anyway, I finished cutting the ears off. Still too far away!

I realized that the back side of the dash pad doesn’t have enough space for the rounded contour of the metal dash panel and won’t allow it to be pushed on any further.

I’m giving up for the night.

Dash Pad Install

As I mentioned previously, the new dash pad appears to be very high quality, but at a glance, you can see it’s not an exact match to the old one.

When I got started installing it today, it became very apparent this was not going to be plug and play. First, I had to cut off a big section to fit around the ignition switch in the steering column.

Next, the glove box door was bound up and would need a heavy trim.

The kick panel speaker looks pretty good hanging out all casual over there.

In preparing to re-mount the decorative grill plates around the speedometer, I decided to use some of that black vinyl as a backing. The benefit is two-fold. It looks pretty nice, but will also block some air coming in from the poorly sealed front end.

The new dash pad has a speaker hole cut in it and there won’t be a speaker in there anymore.

Time to bring the Matte Vintage Blue out of retirement!

Apparently, I didn’t get them clean enough before spraying the first coat. There are lots of bubbles.

That’s nothing more coats won’t fix.

The New Padded Dash Has Arrived

As we saw last time, I had to order a new padded dash and it has now arrived.

The new padded dash seems to be very high quality, metal reinforced, and made in USA, which means different things to different people (re: PT Cruiser).

It is not an exact match to the one that came out of the car, which is a little concerning.

It also doesn’t have all of the screw holes pre-drilled, but that shouldn’t be an issue. My plan is to tackle all of this tomorrow and try to get the car back together and on the road for the first time this year.

It has been sitting too long!

Recovering the Dash Pad

It’s Saturday morning. Too early and too cold to be outside working. Luckily, I brought lots of projects inside with me after tearing the dash panel and rear seat apart.

I have just enough of this roll of vinyl patch kit (Amazon link) left to recover this crumbling foam rubber dash pad. I wiped it down, to get some of the old, caked-on dust off, then laid it out on the remainder of the roll of vinyl.

There are some tight bends around the edges of this dash pad and some complicated contours. The vinyl roll was thick enough that I expected to have to use a hair dryer or heat gun to get it shaped in properly. Surprisingly, it actually bends and curves nicely into place.

The self-adhesive 3M backing on the roll of vinyl is surprisingly strong, but I wouldn’t trust it long term in a closed up car in the sun, so I’m going to have to glue it somehow as well.

Approach 1. Push Pins

Last night, I picked up a pack of push pins in the office supplies isle at the grocery store. I was looking for thumb tacks, because they would have been flat enough to leave in place on the back side of the dash pad. These multi-colored plastic handled push pins was all they had at the grocery store.

Approach 2A: Binder Clips

The push pins pulled right out. They wouldn’t hold up against any pressure at all. So, next, I grabbed the last few unused binder clips I had laying around. They worked better, if situated just right, in the right place.

Approach 2B: Clothes Pins

I also have quite a few clothes pins left over from hanging the moving blankets in the basement (to calm down the echos when recording drums).

I started peeling off little bits of the wax paper covering the self-adhesive backing and started trying to snug the vinyl in from the top down.

There are two mile-long screws embedded in the top corners of the dash pad. I figured they would be good anchor points for the vinyl, but it stretched and tore instead.

Cutting in the vent holes

It doesn’t look bad from the front, at least around that top edge and slicing, folding, and fitting around the vent holes on the back edge.

I took that last picture about 30 minutes in. I wasn’t ready to make anything permanent yet. I’m not sure that this is the direction I want to go. Should it fail in a month or two once the summertime heat and humidity come, I don’t want something like Gorilla Glue or whatever smeared all over underneath the vinyl.

I have left it in this state, with most of the wax paper still on the self-adhesive backing. The center vent piece ( link) hasn’t been shipped yet. I may end up searching for a different source for that part. It is still back-ordered and the rest of the items have already arrived.

Anyway, what I’m trying to say is I’ve got some time until I can actually reassemble the dash panel.

* Update 03/16/2023

As mentioned, I left it in that state, laying on the floor, half of the adhesive backing along the top edge removed and sure enough, it has pulled away from that grimy, crumbly foam rubber.

I think that some really strong, yet flexible, glue will be required. Either that, or abandon the idea and just put the ugly thing back in place as is. Again, there is no way I’m spending $300 for a new one.