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I came across the photos I took a decade ago of my dash repair project and I thought I'd post here for anyone that is curious. Someone long in the past thought it would be a great idea to modify the dash to support a different radio. This drove me crazy as I really prefer the look of the original AM radio.
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To make matters worse, the dash had quite a bit of rust on it from abuse over the years.
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I bought a replacement panel for the radio, but I did not like how the metal was stamped... the depth of the line down the middle did not match the line down the dash. I also didn't think the eyes above the knobs had the correct depth. I discussed with my buddy and we decided to file the metal smooth on my existing dash and to only cut out the pieces needed to make the repair.
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Here is a picture during welding. You can see the piece we cut out on the right side since the lower portion is welded and we are waiting for the metal to cool before continuing to weld the top:
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Welding completed. Not horrible for a cheap harbor freight welder:
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After grinding down:
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Sanding the rest of the dash:
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Lots of sanding to get the surface perfect and to ensure zero rust remaining. I probably had 150 hours into the dash sanding piece of this project. Had to use a very slight amount of bondo to ensure the dash was perfectly smooth/flat when we finished grinding. I was pretty uncomfortable using bondo as I figured it would crack and wreck our paint, but the layer is so thin that I'm confident it will never cause problems.

Fast forward to today... here is what the dash looks like after painting and with the radio installed. I haven't finished putting the chrome on yet... also I decided not to paint the dash pad as I really prefer this lighter color compared to the darker/golden color that I'm supposed to paint the pad. Sort of funny because I purchased the paint for the pad and have left it sitting in the can for ten years.

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Maybe given how glossy the paint ended up I should have posted this in the non-concourse section... but I thought it was more appropriate here given the effort put in to keep as much original metal as possible and to reinstall the stock AM radio (that still works great)! I didn't want the paint to be this shiny... that part was an accident. I do really love how shiny it is, though: )
 

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Nice job keeping as much of the original lines and metal intact! If you like the shine, rock it!
My first son's Emberglo 66 had some character on the dash but was thankfully uncut. We dismantled everything to a bare firewall, scuffed and used lacquer to respray it and we're happy with the results. Gotta get a new dash pad for it eventually, and hope to have the AC installed before summer!!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nice job keeping as much of the original lines and metal intact! If you like the shine, rock it!
My first son's Emberglo 66 had some character on the dash but was thankfully uncut. We dismantled everything to a bare firewall, scuffed and used lacquer to respray it and we're happy with the results. Gotta get a new dash pad for it eventually, and hope to have the AC installed before summer!!
Your sons dash looks great after all that work! Which compressor will you be using for the ac? Eventually i we’ll reinstall my ac... but i have bigger fish to fry at the moment... too many leaks!!!
 

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Your sons dash looks great after all that work! Which compressor will you be using for the ac?
Thanks.
We're going to put the OE style compressor back in after a rebuild if needed, for the nostalgia if nothing else. I know some are lighter and more efficient but we like to make old things new and keep them going. If I could figure out how to hide a new compact compressor inside an old one...
 

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Nice project!
 

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Thanks.
We're going to put the OE style compressor back in after a rebuild if needed, for the nostalgia if nothing else. I know some are lighter and more efficient but we like to make old things new and keep them going. If I could figure out how to hide a new compact compressor inside an old one...
I think my plan will be to use the OEM compressor as well as long as it will work. I put the under dash unit on a shelf for now.. honestly I don't really love how it looks when installed. Even so, I do like original appearance... so I'll probably end up using it when I put my system back to work.
 

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@rhough I guess the underdash "hang-on" air could have been better designed, but those units fit a TON of Ford, Mercury and Lincoln vehicles and have been awfully durable. Dash-integral air in the 64-66 would have been nice, and still can be done with nice custom jobs, but
1) I'm not hacking my dash
2) I like the aftermarket designs even less
3) I do love original parts and the novelty when another Dad points out to his child, "That's what air conditioning looked like back then, sweety..." is still cool.
 
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