Installing a Headliner in a VW Beetle

Installing a Headliner in a Beetle
Tools necessary for this job is a pair of sharp scissors, a heat gun (a strong hair dryer will help),
razor blade and upholstery adhesive. Start by laying out the large headliner in the sun for a couple of hours,
as this is one job that is better done on a warm day to keep the vinyl malleable.
Another step you should consider is to sound proof the top.
Installing a headliner isn’t easy, there’s a lot of steps, but it isn’t impossible either.
There is a certain anxiety one feels whenever glue is applied to anything, feeling as
though you’d better hurry before the glue dries and then you’ll be out of luck getting it to stick.
Well, that just isn’t so with upholstery glue as its tackiness depends on heat and time.
Sure it will set up after a few hours, but for 30 minutes or so, it is free to work with.
By taking your time and proceeding thoughtfully,
you will have a professional looking headliner to be proud of.

This task in easier with the seats removed

Parts you might need - link to category Headliners

The retaining teeth on the door pillars are bent out and straightened.
This can be done with a pair of pliers as easily as with anything else.
You’re going to lose some paint in this step, but don’t worry,
it will be hidden by the vinyl A-pillar pieces.

After all of the paint chips and dust have settled, vacuum out the debris and make
the surfaces as clean as you can. Glue will only stick to clean surfaces.

Measure for the sound deadening material.
We ended up using two pieces, each approximately 32 inches wide and
totaling almost 60 inches long, but don’t take our word for it, measure it yourself.

With the heat gun, the material is heated up, causing the glue to run slightly
before it is put into place. After a few seconds of holding it there, it will stay nicely.

Starting with the A-pillar piece, feed the rubber piping into the toothed clamps
and hammer them down tightly. Start at the top of the door and go down,
removing excess material at the bottom.

Add a coat of glue to the back side of the vinyl and the door pillar.
Then cut a piece of foam padding with enough clearance to wrap
completely around the pillar, approximately three inches.

Trim the edges.

With another coat of glue, tightly pull the vinyl around the foam and to the door pillar.
The glue should be tacky enough to stick well only after a few seconds.
Start in the middle and go up then down, making sure the foam stays smooth underneath.
If there are any wrinkles, smooth them out with the heat gun and by stretching the vinyl farther.

At the corners–all corners–you must cut slits in the material to not only relieve
stress at these points but to allow the flat vinyl to smoothly make it around the corner.

You’ll notice that with the headliner rods, there are two shorter than the others.
These two go in the front of the car, nearest to the windshield, while the other three
(four if your headliner is original–aftermarket headliners only used three of
the rods for some reason) go toward the back.

The rods are fed into the main headliner piece and the ends of the channels are
cut back a couple of inches to give the rods more space to bend.

Trim off excess

A coat of glue is added to the entire perimeter of the headliner as well as any point
on the car where it is needed. Assistance is needed to keep the vinyl off
of itself once the glue gets tacky.

Each of the five rods are placed into the channel above the doors and windows,
the shorter once farther forward. Don’t worry too much about spacing at this point,
because when you stretch out the headliner, the rods will fall into place on their own.

Starting in the middle of the front (windshield side), Octavio pulls the headliner tight
against the window frame and presses the glue down. This is one of the most important
steps, because if it is off center, the whole headliner will fit crookedly.
Heading to the very back, the main piece is pulled as tight as possible.
This is where the rods will fall into place, for the most part. Fix the piece to the rear
window by the same fashion as the front window.
You’ll have about a foot of material left over.

Another important step to get perfectly correct is the position of the center rod,
as it should be approximately two to four inches to the rear of the center B-pillar.
Make sure it is even on each side. Note the fancy fold on the B-pillar.
This is done by simply tucking in the headliner with a slight downward angle.

From that center point pull and feed the material into the toothed clamps
above the door. Cut the headliner so there’s about an inch of overhang so
there’s enough to grab hold inside the groove.

With a plastic mallet (anything that won’t leave a mark), tap down the clamps.

Working back toward the front pillars, the material is stretched tight and a
similar fold is executed as the B-pillar, just make sure that they are at the
same level on both sides.

Turning our attention to the rear of the car, the most important step in making
the rear of the headliner look good is maintaining the line that comes off of the
bottom of the side windows. If your glue starts to set, heat it until it is tacky again.

From the back corner, mold the material over the rear-wheel wells,
following the curve all the way to the front. Cut away the excess material.

The final step for this kit is to attach the quarter window pieces and they merely
glue into place without much trouble. Since they are the outside pieces,
make sure the lines created are straight and even on both sides.

For later cars, especially Super Beetles, the package tray carpet kit is supposed
to curve up and over this area and cover everything from the window down.

The bottom of which just tucks into the package tray channel and out of sight.

After about six hours of continuous work, the headliner is completely done and looking great.

This article was borrowed from VW Trends web.

Author: on September 23, 2009
Category: How To's

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