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sunroof panel re-glueing (long)

I finally worked up courage to tackle the job of reattaching the narrow
panel of headliner fabric to the sunroof tilt-up section. Funny how that
kind of job can take a back seat to other stuff that tends to be more "in
your face". I thought I'd describe the procedure, in the hope that others
may avoid the weeks (months?) of procrastination I went through. Sorry this
post seems long enough to describe an engine overhaul.:)

(1) Old adhesive removal: perhaps optional, but I think it is needed to
guarantee a long-lasting repair. I had a few ounces of acetone available
and found that it worked well on the sunroof's metal "flap". Don't be too
stingy with it; apply it somewhat liberally (using a solvent-dampened
cloth) and you should see the old, dry adhesive disappear leaving a smooth,
clean painted metal surface. Use plenty of ventilation (a fan, an open
garage, etc.) and put out that cigarette. :) The same solvent can also be
used (but more carefully) on the rubber backing of the headliner panel, but
I found that it was easier to simply rub off the old glue--dry--using a
clean piece of shop rag. Too much acetone and the rubber seemed to be
affected. Perhaps another solvent would work better. Oh yeh, some old
towels or sheet to protect upholstery.

(2) Adhesive: I used 3M "Super Weatherstrip Adhesive"--a rubber cement. A 5
oz. tube cost about $5 or $6. That is enough stuff for 10 of these jobs,
but unfortunately this kind of adhesive doesn'tseem to have a great shelf
life. Initially I tried to use an old, but almost unused tube that was
sitting in my workshop, but I found it contained a dry, non-adhesive glob.
Make sure you use pretty fresh adhesive. Permatex also sells something
(around 3 oz. I believe), with the same name. I decided against using any
kind of spray adhesive, considering the need to apply it to the sunroof,
_inside_ the car.

(3) Application: I did a couple of dry runs first--very strongly advised
when rubber cement is to be used. I found that the cloth panel can be
easily pushed to the outside of the car with the sunroof fully tilted. Just
give it a little push from inside and you can pull it all the way out with
no problem. Practice replacing it in the same way--from the outside. Lay
the panel flat on the (clean!) roof, tip it slighty up at the rear and push
it forward so that it drops into the roof opening. Someone inside the car
can help guide it (very gingerly) into place and keep it centered. The
crucial trick--when glue is present--will be to keep the headliner panel
from _any_ premature contact with the metal sunroof panel. It's also
possible to remove/replace the headliner panel through the inside roof
opening, but I didn't choose to do it that way.

I placed strips of masking tape around the edge of the roof opening to keep
off any glue during the next step. The masking tape was removed before the
cloth panel was inserted.

I chose to first apply beads of glue overhead to the sunroof panel (roof
tilted up) running no more than a 10 or 12-inch-long bead at a time. Each
glue bead is _immediately_ spread out with a flat wooden applicator (about
1/2" wide, like a popsicle stick?) . Don't worry about getting 100%
coverage. I think 50-75% coverage is plenty--making sure the center area
and perimeter is glued. Also take reasonable care to approximately match up
the glue-covered areas on the two surfaces. The best bond requires cohesion
_between_ the glue layers on each surface. Avoid getting glue too close to
the forward edge of each panel--where there seems to be the greatest danger
that they might stick together _before_ the positioning is satisfactory.

Then quickly, in a similar way apply adhesive to the rubberized back of the
cloth panel. Avoid placing glue along the forward (approx. 3/4") edge, as
previously mentioned. If this is completed within a few minutes, the glue
on the first piece has probably dried sufficiently, and the glue on the
headliner panel will be approaching proper "dryness" as soon as you can get
it back in place. Carefully guide it in place making certain not to let it
touch the upper panel as it goes in. Tap it gently from side to side to get
it centered. A 12" long, flat stick (like a paint stirrer) can be used from
outside to press the cloth panel downward and/or push it forward as needed.
Have a helper inside! If necessary, use the stick to break apart any spots
of premature, unwanted bonding between the two pieces, if that should occur.

When the cloth panel is lying flat in the roof opening and well-centered,
turn on the ignition switch and lower the sunroof (i.e., un-tilt it). The
panels should come into contact and be in correct registration;  you now
can the apply some upward pressure to bring them into good contact. I just
ran my (clean!) fingers firmly along the cloth panel, although there is
only some spring tension to work against, even when the sunroof is closed

BTW, although the manufacturer recommends that a fresh, second layer of
glue be applied to one of the surfaces just before bonding, I didn't do
that. I thought it would take too long. I hope that wasn't a critical
omission. Time will tell.


Phil Rose

         *  Phil & Judy Rose     E-mail:              *
         *                       pjrose@servtech.com  *