Congratulations, you have purchased yet another custom product for your classic vehicle offered by Rhino Fabrication. The RF308 dash pad was created for the discerning customer who desires to have his or her vehicle stand independently from every other 1955-1959 Chevrolet Truck. Since Chevrolet never offered a dash pad for the Task Force Pickup you have purchased a totally custom product personally designed and independently hand produced in our Bend, Oregon facility by our craftsmen.
We have included with your purchase the lower garnish trim necessary to complete the install of your RF308 padded dash. You may choose to polish, paint, or install this lower trim in the brushed aluminum finish as we have provided. If you are really going after a specific look you may choose to create your own lower garnish molding. Whatever direction you choose please know that some sort of lower molding will be required to keep your RF308 dash pad looking it’s best. Without adhesives and perimeter moldings the dash pad will creep, and distort over time with exposure to the elements. Do not attempt to install without adhesives and the perimeter moldings. Included with the garnish molding are the screws needed to install the molding. Please be aware that every Task Force truck seems to have a slightly different location of where the lower windshield molding was installed, therefore we have manufactured the right and left lower garnish moldings longer than needed and you will need to trim these to fit your particular vehicle. Since the molding we provide is fabricated in aluminum so take your time and use special care not to damage the molding. Remember, patience and finesse is the key when completing a project such as this.
We have found that with any dash pad install the easiest method is with the windshield removed. Ok so don’t panic! This pad can be installed with the glass in the truck. It is just easier without the glass installed.
Step one in the pre-installation phase is to remove the instrument cluster from the metal dash shell.
Next you will need to remove the forward lower windshield garnish molding. This molding is held in place with 8 spring clips and two Phillips head screws, one at each end near the “A” pillars. Care needs to be used when removing the spring clips as damage to the windshield molding can result if excessive pressure is applied during lifting upwards and away from the mounting surface. Note: If your spring clips are tired or damaged you may wish to purchase new replacements as the forward lower windshield molding needs to fit down tight for the finished install of the RF308 to look correct. If your clips are tired or not correct, there will be a gap between the dash pad and the bottom of the molding resulting in an inferior looking install. Sometimes I have been able to reshape these clips for additional downward pressure of the molding. Possibly this is just me being very particular.
Once the preceding two components are removed you are ready to do the first of many pre-fitment tests of the RF308 dash pad. We suggest the pad be at room temperature, right around 68-75 degrees for optimum results. Please be sure to store your pad away from the elements and direct sunlight. If allowed to be in direct sunlight or near excessive heat prior to installing, the pad could and probably will be damaged. These pads are created with heat and vacuum pressure so use caution when storing them please. Once you have installed the dash pad using adhesives and the perimeter trim the RF308 will be very stable and perform beautifully. We urge customers to install the pad as soon as possible as this affords the best results and allow the installer optimum success. Within 30 days of purchase is what we recommend simply because we have seen dash pads in general become increasingly affected by elements when stored for extended periods of time.
Remove the dash pad from the provided packaging and inspect the entire dash pad. Please observe that our craftsmen have performed a great deal of the preliminary trim and grind procedures while the dash pad was at our facility. Please don’t freak out if the tips of the dash pad show slight deformation from the packaging. Later in the install you will trim the ends of the pad. The pad was fitted to our 1955 Chevrolet Truck check fixture to ensure that the fit and beauty of your pad is perfect before it was allowed to be packaged for transport to you. We have sacrificed a metal dash shell from a 1955 for the perfect ck fixture. During this inspection phase we have thinned the foam along the lower edge of the pad. This thinning allows the lower garnish molding to seat tightly along the lower edge of the pad. A snug fit is required up against the lower edge of the dash structure in order for the glove box door to close correctly after the install of the pad and lower garnish molding. (Refer to diagram “A”) Also we have tapered the foam in the ends of the dash pad. This will allow the curved vertical portion of the lower garnish molding to seat tightly against the vinyl skin. If too much foam is allowed to remain under the end termination areas it will show and distract from a perfect install.
Slide the dash pad onto the metal dash shell. Inspect the resistance of the dash pad. You may need to slowly and carefully trim away some extra fabric near the perimeters of the pad. Do so very carefully. There are stand offs for the lower windshield molding where the clips install. Don’t trim there yet. We like to run the fabric down the forward slope of the metal dash frame for now but how you choose to terminate the forward edge past the molding is completely up to you. (Refer to diagram “C”) for trim suggestions. Once the dash pad is fitted to the metal shell (fitted not glued yet) you will need to test fit the lower aluminum garnish molding. The molding will need to fit snugly into the inner curve of the dash. Please visually inspect the curved portion of the molding running up to the “A” pillar. As we mentioned this aluminum molding will need to be trimmed by the “A” pillar in a future step.
While holding the molding in position look to see how it fits in regards to the raised area that holds the instrument cluster. Both moldings should encounter the instrument cluster area with similar setbacks. Do not worry about installing the instrument cluster yet, just use the raised areas there for reference so that you position the lower moldings correctly. If you see a difference in the setbacks (ends of the moldings to the raised instrument cluster mounting area) you need to figure out why. One reason may be because you may not have the moldings pushed tight enough into the curved area of the dash. Adjust the moldings, and then and only then proceed.
When we begin an install of the lower trim moldings I like to start with the large right hand molding. Start by counting from the top right moving left and select the #5 hole in the molding. Push the molding in tight against the inside edge of the dash shell and drill the pilot hole for screw #5. It is very important to center your pilot hole on the molding hole to keep the mounting screws flush after installing them. Loosely install a screw in the #5 hole, then move to the #3 hole, and again drill a pilot hole. Caution: Do not tighten the screws yet! Leave them loose to avoid bending the moldings. Install a screw in the #3 hole you just drilled. This sequence seems to keep the molding parallel to the metal dash frame and allow the installer to proceed without damage to the molding. Next do #2 then #12. You may observe now that the end of the molding near the “A” pillar will need custom trimming to match your application. (Refer to diagram “B”) Do not trim the end yet. Take five, do some inspections and move to the driver’s side of your vehicle to begin fitting the short aluminum molding.
On the driver’s side I like to begin by drilling the pilot at #15. Inspect the fitment at the cluster area and at the A pillar. I then do #17, then #18, installing screws after each pilot hole. Now that both moldings are semi installed you can get a better visual for the next step. Once both lower moldings are gently secured fit the forward lower windshield molding loosely into place. The trim you will perform on the forward edge of the pad is critical. (Refer to diagram “C”) The pad needs to terminate as far forward as possible under the lower windshield molding. Examine how much of the dash shell is visible forward of the lower windshield molding. This painted area needs to be protected from adhesive and not covered by the dash pad fabric. If the windshield of your vehicle is out this is easy but is more difficult to trim later if the glass is installed. The forward windshield molding does not cover much. We suggest that only a small square of material be trimmed where the clips will penetrate the standoff. If you cut a large notch for the clip insertion you will probably ruin the pad. I don’t like to make any cuts for the clips until the pad is glued down. If you cut early and install this pad even slightly off line the lower windshield molding will not cover the cutouts and you will see the notches you made just aft of the molding. Only attach this molding using the two stock screws you removed from the molding previously. Yes I realize that the molding cannot be installed with the ends untrimmed. You need to examine your intersection of the upper and lower moldings at this time and determine how much and where trimming is required. Mark it with a fine tipped marker or tape. Don’t bother with using the molding clips now. You will need to determine how much of the ends of the aluminum moldings need to be trimmed away. On the last two installs we performed we filed a slight notch in the ends to better fit the lower windshield moldings. I believe that each Task Force truck windshield molding will fit slightly different from another so this is where you need to get creative in your fitment of the aluminum molding we have provided. Push in on the curved vertical portion of the molding and examine how it intersects the lower windshield molding. Ideally it should butt into the lower windshield molding and require a straight cut or trim but some installs require that the installer cut a slight notch to better fit the end of the lower windshield molding. As I mentioned every application seems to be slightly different so take your time. You can slightly bend the molding ends to intersect where you want them to be, slightly forward or aft. Once you have determined and marked the fitment you need for the aluminum molding ends you may precede with the trimming. I prefer to remove the 6 or so screws and cut the molding away from the area of my finished dash, then reinstall the trimmed moldings and re-inspect the fitment. Once you are satisfied go ahead and drill the remainder of the holes and install the mounting screws.
After all of the molding mounting holes are drilled and the screws are installed it is time for the final fitment. Gently snug up the lower molding mounting screws. Recheck the pad for fitment. It is now that you need to ensure that the foam directly under the lower aluminum garnish molding is thinned to the point that almost no foam remains. (Refer to diagram “A”) The objective is to allow the lower molding to sit as tight against the steel surface as possible. This helps also to keep the molding from being distorted. If you leave too much foam under the lower molding the top of the glove box door will contact the molding. We have experienced that some glove box doors need adjustments and shims behind hinges to achieve proper fitment to the pad and the dash shell. On our personal 57 we thought the door fit was fine until we examined it closely, then we discovered we simply had never scrutinized the prior fitment. Another point of inspection is the forward windshield molding fitment. Examine if the molding fits down against the pad as you desire. Now is the time to adjust, remove foam, add filler material, etc. This will be almost impossible after adhesive is applied.
Ok, yes, I know it’s a bummer but remove all the lower aluminum moldings and the lower windshield molding. Now is the time to clean and color the dash pad if you desire a color change. There is a write up on how to color a dash pad on the Rhino Fabrication website if you need help. If you are planning to keep the pad black you may wish to spray a top coat of black spray to change the sheen. A top coat is not necessary but simply personal choice. During the forming of the dash pads the sheen changes slightly and picks up a semi gloss finish. My personal preference is to apply a light coat of SEM Black as this offers a lower gloss surface which to me is a better looking pad with reduced reflection during bright sunlight. Once the pad is the finish color and sheen you desire you are now ready to apply the adhesive.
Our favorite adhesive is 3M 38808 spray adhesive. Others can work but we just like this product.
The key to using contact adhesive to install a dash pad is to always apply two coats of adhesive. Allow the first to tack out (dry to the touch) and then spray a second coat. We seldom coat the entire surface of the pad because it creates a real bugger to install. Also when using contact adhesive on opposing surfaces, you get one attempt and only one attempt. If you position the pad incorrectly you will probably destroy the pad before you remove it or even adjust it. We find it very important to use adhesive along the perimeter or the pad, about a two inch stripe will do. If the windshield is removed you can easily spray the adhesive and allow it to tack out on both the back of the pad and on the metal dash shell. After the second coat tacks out use small 8”or 12” squares of heavy 4 mil or thicker plastic sheet to place between the glued surfaces. These plastic shingles, as they may be referred to, will allow you to position the pad exactly before making the contact between the two surfaces. Once the pad is perfectly positioned, pull out the plastic shingles and press the surfaces together.
Ok, so your windshield glass is installed already, I hear your panic! Then go on to option #2.
Use the contact adhesive or a similar product but apply it to only one surface. Another adhesive our customers suggest is 3M trim adhesive in a tube. This can be your best friend if you have the glass installed or have limited room to work. Remember, the key to a great install is to use adhesive and the trim moldings together. Whatever you do don’t call me and ask if liquid nails will work. I don’t know if it will or not but would not suggest you try it for this application. Might be great for wall paneling but… Also if you skip the adhesive your pad will creep in the future heat and look like hell. Remember I am warning you. Don’t be fooled into thinking you can skip the adhesive. I like to use adhesive on the forward edge of this pad because the defroster areas are open and there is an unsightly mess that will certainly be seen if the correct install is not completed. I usually use an acid brush for applying the adhesive on the lower edge of the pad. The method of application is up to you here. Just remember to use adhesive.
I usually pre-trim for the defroster ducts but this can be done after installing the pad too. After the pad is installed reapply the lower aluminum molding and snug up the screws. Be really careful not to distort the trim. The lower molding needs to be tight in order for the glove box to close correctly. On every install I have performed I have had to adjust the glove box hinge screws to make it perfect. I believe that the fitment of these Chevrolet truck glove box doors was pretty poor from the factory so take your time. If you need to use some shims here or there and possibly even alter the hinge mounting holes to get a correct fit that is what needs to be done. This part of the install may be more than a one beer task. Again, take your time. I always hate this part on these trucks but it can be achieved with patience. I have even made the mistake of distorting the aluminum trim by getting too aggressive with the screw driver. If you need to bring things back into alignment use a wood block and a dead blow hammer to tap the lower aluminum molding back into the proper alignment. Remember, its tap, tap, tap, it in!
So it is time to install the forward lower windshield molding. You will need to notch out sparingly for the clip locations. Be very careful. As I said before, this molding does not cover much. I only trim to the center of the standoff, or better yet only cut a small slot in the vinyl dash pad skin for the clip. If you cut any further aft on the standoff the pad will creep and the slot will show to the rearward edge of the molding. You will be starring at this unsightly mess forever. Do not trim more than you need to. I even go so far as to cut a small slot for the clip and apply adhesive to that area under the vinyl. Once the clips are installed in the molding position it end to end for correctness and install the two screws in each end of the molding. Just start the screws, then press the clips down into the stand offs. Once the clips are seated tighten the two end screws.
Now it is time for the instrument cluster. This was intentionally created to be tight. It will install tight so don’t panic, it will go in. Try not to scratch the vinyl when pushing in on the cluster. Again, use finesse!
After everything is reinstalled I use a very sharp razor knife to trim the ends and perimeter of the dash pad. This creates a very clean and professional look to the install. Remember there are some really great pictures of the dash pad on our website. These will help you envision the finished install.
Well, by now you should have a great looking dash pad installed in your ride. It is unique, it is classy and you have bragging rights! Remember, we love to hear from you. What you liked, what you didn’t, all of it. Send us some pics of your ride and it may end up for others to see on our web site if you allow us to publish. We won’t use last names to protect you but we would love your pictures and your input.
Thanks for being our customer, call or write me anytime.
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