Headliner repair using wooden battens

Doyt W. Echelberger Doyt at NWOnline.Net
Sat Jun 28 13:25:51 EDT 2003

On my type 44, the fabric headliner detached from its adhesive/foam,
starting at the back window and extending forward almost to the rear of the
sunroof, mostly in the centerline. The rear edge of the fabric fell out of
the retaining trim that surrounds the upper line of the rear window. I
couldn't see out of my rear view mirror. Passengers complained. So, I fixed it.

At several drive-ins, I had seen custom headliners on refurbished cars from
the 60's. They had non-fabric fiberboard headliners secured by side-to-side
chrome plated metal battens that were held up by screws that went up into
hidden strips. The strips were probably epoxied against the roof. Using
that model, I bought an 8 foot section of clear white pine from Lowes,
about 3/4 inch wide and maybe 1/4 inch thick. Wider might have been better,
like 1 to 1.5 inches. I cut it into 3 pieces that ran from one side of the
roof to the other, stopping short on each side before reaching the sharp
downward curve of the roof. You will see why the 3 pieces were different
lengths....33, 32, and 38 inches.

I used an 1/8 inch drill to pierce the battens, with the first hole half
way between the ends, and 4 more (two on each half.) A smaller drill (and
smaller screws) would have been sufficient.

I held the first (33 inch) pre-drilled batten against the droopy
headliner,  20 inches past the sunroof, measured toward the rear window.
The batten ran between the two sides of the cabin. I smoothed the liner
between the sunroof and the batten until the wrinkles were gone.

The section between the first batten and the rear window still drooped, but
the liner between the batten and the sunroof was tight. I forced the point
of an ice pick through the middle 1/8 inch drilled hole, to cut the
headliner and make a starter hole in the fiberboard for the screw. If you
don't do this, the liner fabric twists as the screw goes through it. Then I
just pushed really hard with the screwdriver and turned the half inch wood
screw tight against the batten. Putting the first screw in the center hole
held the batten tightly and evenly against the headliner, and allowed me to
place the remaining screws in the batten. Be sure the fabric is smooth and
tight between the sunroof and the batten, before inserting the remaining

The second batten (32 inches long) went in place in the same manner, about
half way between the first batten and the rear window. The fiber headliner
swoops  up toward the roof at this point, and a slightly shorter batten
fits the space better, with less pulling of the fabric.

The third and final batten is 38 inches long, and it goes in place as close
to the upper edge of the rear window as you can get. The batten is
straight, and the window line is a curve, so at the center of the batten
there is about an inch of space. Just get the fabric smooth and tight
between the middle batten and the last batten, and after fastening the last
batten, use a flatblade screwdriver or putty knife to work the last inch of
the fabric under the rear window trim. Brush off the reddish brown
foam/adhesive that falls all over the place, and be careful not to grind it
into the haedliner fabric as you work.

Wear appropriate protective clothing and safety gear, and do not attempt
such repairs if you are allergic to any of the materials.

Now you can see out of your rear view mirror again, and passengers no
longer need auxiliary tent poles to sit in the back seat.

Doyt Echelberger
87 5ktq
Ohio  USA

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