Before attempting to install your new RF307 (1962-1965 Ford Fairlane or 1962-1963 Mercury Meteor) dash pad a couple of things need to be addressed.
First inspect your pad to become familiar with the perimeter, any areas that you believe may be a challenge to you during the install and in short take a few minutes to examine the task you are about to tackle.
The pad you have purchased is a relatively simple pad to install considering you have the skill sets and knowledge to complete the install. Be aware that soft trim installation is not a job that everyone can do, or should attempt. An install job done well gives a great deal of satisfaction and can complement the vehicle that is installed in. On the other hand should mistakes or errors occur during the installation process a great deal of extra expense and frustration can be the result. This dash pad is not an item that will not just fall into place. As the installer you will probably need to sand or grind the foam on the back side of the pad to get the perfect fit. You will also need to use a razor knife to trim the perimeter of the pad. This is soft trim and like any other soft trim it takes finesse and patience to get the desired result. If you are not experienced do not attempt this install unless you can live with less than perfect results. If you seek the help of a professional do not hand the job over to just anyone who believes they can do it. Jeb, or Billy or whoever says he is experienced because he once owned and old Ford is probably not qualified to do this install. This pad is like seat upholstery, it takes skill to know the tricks to get it correct. I’m just saying, DON’T TAKE THIS TASK LIGHTLY! If you are giving yourself the best opportunity for success you have removed the windshield, if not the job can be accomplished, but with some extra aggravation and higher risk for error.
Once you have your confidence in hand examine the metal dash shell for smoothness, cleanliness, and make sure it is free of foreign matter. If debris of any kind remains on the shell and the pad is installed over that debris the end result will be compromised. The back of the pad is foam material true, but over time any imperfections in the metal dash shell surface allowed to remain could transfer through to your dash pad skin and you will not be pleased. Remember this pad will sit in the direct sunlight and heat for many hours and that will mean that anything underneath will want to work its way upward over time. In short do a very thorough job of prepping the metal dash surface.
Since you should have already removed the windshield garnish, A pillar moldings, instrument cluster and lower chrome garnish molding it is time to dry fit or test fit your Rhino Dash Pad. With the pad acclimatized at close to 70-80 degree temperature it will be flexible enough to better conform to the dash shell but not so hot as to distort. Slide the pad onto the shell and check to see if the pad settles against the metal dash shell. Examine the ends of the dash pad before you push the pad to far forward. We have left you extra material there so that you can trim to the exact fit of your metal dash shell. Examine how your end caps will fit prior to trimming the end of the dash pad. If you push too hard before fitting the ends you can split the skin of the pad. Although the pad will still fit if split it will not look be as nice after the install. Be really careful!
Next, Inspect the forward edge of the pad to ensure it is not pressing against the windshield, or the pinch weld that sits below the windshield. If you have removed the windshield glass prior to beginning the dash pad install that is excellent, but for this particular pad it is not completely necessary. If the windshield is out of the vehicle it makes it much easier to attach the pad with adhesive on the forward edge when we get to that later on.
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Do not, we repeat, DO NOT COLOR YOUR PAD UNTIL DRY TEST FITMENT IS COMPLETE. Before you do anything else, you, the installer, needs to slowly and methodically dry fit the pad and ck the entire fitment. This means the speaker grill area in particular. We have more individuals who fail to dry fit the pad completely and then end up later finding out the pad does not fit as they think it should. Many times these pads will need some foam material removed from the rear surface in order to get the perfect fit. Remember, these pads are built by hand one at a time so they all have a personality of their own. The density and mass of the pad as well as the age of the pad all contribute to how the install is completed. We strongly suggest installing this pad within 30 days of your purchase. We keep our inventory fresh to make your experience better, do yourself a favor and get this pad installed as rapidly as possible. If this pad is only a few days old it will be somewhat softer than a pad that may be a couple of months out of the manufacturing process. We usually will concentrate on the rear curved foam surface if we feel the pad needs to slide further forward to allow proper fitment of the speaker grill in the recess. Make sure the vinyl material is not pushing against the windshield pinch weld which would prevent the pad from fitting perfectly. You are working with automotive soft trim. This is not a slam dunk install. You likely will be required to sand and or grind areas of the pad for the perfect install. We have done most of the fitment for you but you will need to do the remainder. If you are not up to the task do not continue. We have benched these pads to make the install much easier for you but you will still need to do a fair share of adjustment of the foam and or perimeter trimming.
If you have hired a professional shop make sure that they are familiar with this type of install. We are confident that the pads we produce fit the vehicles for which they were designed. We have tested and retested these pads, as well as installed dozens of pads in Fairlanes and Meteors.
Returning to the test fitment: Once you are satisfied that the pad fits comfortably on the metal dash shell, check to see if adjustment is needed to allow the pad to slide down into the recessed speaker area. At the Rhino Fabrication shop we trim these pads pretty close for you but usually the installer will need to grind or adjust the back foam as needed to fit their particular vehicle. The only difference between the 1962-1965 Ford Fairlane and 1962-1963 Mercury Meteor install will be the amount of material trimmed away from behind the instrument cluster. Do not skip this step: Make sure the pad drops down into the recess for the speaker grill area, and test install the speaker grill before you go any further. I cannot stress this enough. We have had many individuals as well as shops that slide the pad onto the dash shell and think it is ready to glue….test fit the speaker grill. If it does not drop down then you will need to remove some additional foam from the area that contacts the curved rear edge of the metal dash shell. On the Fairlane pad, look to see how the pad fits just aft (towards the rear of the car) of the speaker grill). We sometimes see pads that are not installed flat, in the last maybe ½” closest to the speaker recess. They look as though there is a ski jump type of effect because they were not seated correctly in the recess. As I mentioned, take your time and inspect and adjust everything.
With the pad fitting where you want it to be examine the rear lower edge of the pad and determine (but do not punch the mounting holes) where the lower chrome mounting trim will be. The foam directly along this trim strip needs to be as thin as possible to create ease of the trim installation later and for the best looking install. If the foam appears too thick carefully use a Rol-Loc pad in a die grinder to thin the flexible foam. If that makes you too nervous use a course paper and hand sand that area. Be very careful with this operation!
Ok so now you have the pad fitting properly so sit back and double ck everything! Take your time! After all you are supposed to be enjoying this activity.
Remove the pad from the metal dash shell and place it somewhere out of the direct sunshine and excessive heat. Heat and hot sun will destroy an uninstalled padded dash faster than anything so protect your investment.
Now you will attempt the technical portion of the install. You will be gluing the pad along the perimeter of the pad with a spray adhesive that gives you only one opportunity to get it correct. If you get this step wrong you very well may destroy your Rhino Padded Dash. This is important! DO NOT FOREGO GLUING THE PERIMETER OF THE PAD! I have seen far too many installs go bad because the pad was not glued. A band of perimeter glue 2” wide works the best we have found. These pads will shrink if allowed so the glue and the perimeter trim will prevent the pad from moving after the install. We like to use a product by Cascade Audio Engineering, their Heavy Duty Spray Adhesive used in a variety of Audio and Sound Proofing applications. It is a thick bodied spray that far surpasses anything on the market but you may not be able to find it in your area. A second choice but still very workable is the 3M Spray Adhesive Hi Strength 90 or the 3M Headliner Spray Adhesive. All will work on our foams but none are easy or forgiving. Remember, you get one attempt.
One method I use to keep the glued surfaces from contacting before I am ready for them to do so is to cut 8” x 16” strips of plastic sheet and once the spray adhesive has tacked out I place the plastic strips over the glued surfaces on the metal dash shell. This will allow you to position the dash pad where you want it, then slowly remove one strip at a time allowing the pad to make contact with the glued surface on the vehicle. This can be difficult along the windshield but believe me when I say that without the sheeting or another barrier it is near impossible to get the pad positioned correctly. I usually prepare the perimeter, both forward and lower rear prior to contacting the pad to the glued surface of the metal dash shell. Now you can better understand why we checked and trimmed the foam earlier in our installation.
Well, by now you should be grinning because you have mastered 90% of the install or you are wondering how to explain to your spouse why you need to purchase another pad because you screwed up the first one. I really hope it is the former. The only tough part remaining is locating the holes for the rear lower trim strip. I use a very small pick (actually a curved or offset dental pick works excellent here) to locate the mounting holes from the inside of the dash shell out. Attempt to locate the lower edge of each hole to give yourself just a bit extra room for error if you can. Once located install your trim with trim clips in those predetermined locations.
Next reinstall the instrument cluster and surrounding trim. This can vary according to the make and model you are working with. Once all the trim is installed you will need to trim the excess pad material protruding from under the lower rear trim strip. I use a razor knife to slide along the bottom of the strip, angling slightly upwards so that I won’t leave a cut line in the dash panel paint.
Lastly reinstall the lower windshield garnish moldings and the A pillar moldings. We like to install the lower stainless trim rail and then use a razor knife to trim along the lower edge. When doing this, angle your blade slightly upwards to avoid scratching the surface of your painted dash metal.
At this point you have one important element to complete. Call your friends, grab a cold brewski and revel in the fact that you did it yourself. It is a great feeling of accomplishment to complete the install of one of these early pads. Also the visual impact the install has on the beauty of your vehicle is wonderful. Enjoy and thank you again for using American Made Products from Rhino Fabrication, Bend, Oregon.