Headliner Replacement on cars with Molded Panel roof.

This type of headliner was used on the 1966 Town Landau and the Town Coupe. It was also used in the 1967 Thunderbirds.
The roof panels in these cars are made from a fiberglass reinforced type of fiberboard and you must be very careful not to break them as they are quite fragile. You will not be able to reuse the old material even if it seems to be OK. Over the years it has shrunk and you will find that it will not cover the edges of the panels if reglued.
New vinyl material is available from a number of sources. It was also used on the Mustangs and is commonly referred to as “moon crater” finish. When ordering you must take into consideration that you will need to have extra. This is so that you do not end up short on one end when you already have the other end all glued down.

The first steps in preparing to installing a new headliner in these cars is to remove the formed panels from the car. Carefully remove all the trim from around the headliner. You will want to keep track of what screws came from what holes as there are different lengths and need to go back where they came from. The center console in the roof must also come down. On the ‘66 be careful when removing the front section of this console. Remove the screws but DO NOT LET IT DROP. There is a small plastic switch for the emergency flashers that will rip apart. Once you get the screws out let it down slowly and carefully until you can access the plugs and carefully unplug the wires. The rear part of this console or center trip is held in by screws on the front and the rear and then it just slides forward about 1/2 inch to un hook from the roof support. You will also have to watch so that you do not drop the headliner panels when you remove the trim. Sometimes this can become damaged this way.
Once the panels are out of the car you will want to put them on a flat solid working surface. I suggest a piece of plywood on a couple sawhorses. Peel off any headliner vinyl that may still be there. You are now going to have to remove all that gooey foam stuff that is left on there. This is critical. I use a leather glove and just keep rubbing in the same direction until it is all off. This will take time so have plenty of patience. You may end up making the panels a bit rough looking also but this is necessary in order to get the new material to stay on there. If you have broken or badly worn areas they can be repaired when you get that far.
The next step is to coat these panels with some sort of paint to seal them off so that they do not keep on shedding loose material. I like to use POR-15. It will take a couple coats as the first will soak in. If you have areas that are broken out or badly gouged you can use body filler on them once the sealer coat has set up good. For the broken areas you can repair or reinforce with some fiberglass cloth to add strength. If totally broken you will also need to add some reinforcement on the back side. Remove the paper first then use the POR-15 here also on the area you will repair. A trick is to use the POR-15 instead of fiberglass resin. It works fantastic. If you let it dry totally you may need to sand or grind a bit to get a good bite for the filler. Treat all of this as you would a n exterior body panel. When you are satisfied with the surface, and it does not to be really smooth as the material is textured and will hide some of the imperfections, then you are ready to start with the “upholstery phase”.
You will need some good contact cement, I like the stuff you buy at the hardware store, Elmers is a good one. Remember---contact cement. Another newer product that I have heard of and comes highly recommended is 3M "Foamfast 74 ". You will need about a quart. Before you go any further size up your material and cut a piece for each half of the headliner. I like to have about 4 inches extra all around if possible. You will also need a good cheap paint brush and some lacquer thinner handy. You will apply the glue with the brush and need the thinner to keep the brush from hardening up.
Now, lets go. Start coating the panels with the glue. Give both of them one really good coat. Let them dry. Then you will need to lay them aside and cover you work table with paper or something. Lay one of the vinyl head linings face down and coat about one foot of the end with glue. If possible have a friend help you from here on in. You will need to put the panel back on the table now and carefully position the material over the panel setting the glued portion down CENTER FIRST onto the panel. Carefully work from the center out pressing the material into the panel and work it out to the edges. When you get this smoothed on then fold the material back over itself and coat another foot of it with glue letting it dry to a good tacky state. (you may want to lay paper in between the vinyl as you fold it back--you do not want to get glue on the face of this as it will be tough to remove.) When it is tacky then fold it back and glue this section down working from the previously glued area forward to the unglued area. Continue doing this until you have completed the project.
A few cautions now that you have read this.
When you have these two surfaces that are covered with glue in close proximity to each other, take care not to let them touch until you are really sure they are where you want them. Some of this glue is very unforgiving. If you feel that the surfaces are not bonding tight as you rub them down---stop and pull them up and apply more glue, letting it tack up again before pressing it down. Leave them lay for a day after you glue them on to make sure you have a good bond all over.


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