Dyed in the wool

How to properly dye interior plastics

Article by: Bob Goodson

    This is focused more on the details of how to prep and dye the surface of interior pieces.  This article isn’t necessarily detailed in the removal of the dash or interior pieces and how they break down into smaller parts. It is worth noting that you’ll need to break the parts down into the smallest form like removing the padded piece from the door armrests and the small chrome strips. 

    These days when you are looking for a Fox Mustang there’s typically a particular color combo that the buyer wants.  White with black interior, Black with Black interior, Titanium Frost with Red interior…etc.  Those among other combos were easy to buy when the cars were new.  You could waltz into the dealership and put in a request for that color combo you just had to have.  

“Once you have cleaned the part several times, clean the part again”
— Bob Goodson

    Even though there were literally millions of 79-93 Mustangs and Fox Chassis variants made, it can be hard to find the exact color combo you want.  Not to worry, there is a process you can take to create it for yourself.  Between this article, and swap meets; you can make it happen.  

    This particular article is about dying the dash.  The interesting thing about 87-93 dashes is that they are all dyed in some way from the factory.  The 90-93 dashes are molded black and then dyed to match the interior, so this process isn’t something that is abnormal. 

    The first thing you want to do is clean.  Use Dawn dishwashing liquid to clean the parts off (If you’re working on door panels you’ll need to take good care in not getting the cardboard/wood backing wet). This is a process you can’t do too much.  Clean, dry, clean, dry and when you think you have it clean, clean it again.  And after you’ve cleaned it, clean it one more time.  You’ll need to remove ALL of the greasy residue from interior shine treatments, drink spills, and who knows what from previous owners. Be sure to use soft brushes and things that won’t scratch the surface of the interior piece. Stay away from scotch brite pads and other types of “pot scrubbing” sponges. The goal is to have a smooth, dry, clean surface ready for the Plastic and Leather prep from SEM.

    It is important to use the Plastic and Leather prep and wipe down every part of the piece.  This actually activates the plastic and opens up the pores to give the dye something to stick to.  Clean cloths are a must to be sure your surface is clean before applying the color.  

    Applying the color needs to be done lightly.  The best description I can give of this is the spray needs to look like pepper was sprinkled on it.  See the pictures for reference to this.  Each pass needs to look like this.  After multiple passes the color will start to fill in.  It takes a bit of time to do this.  If you apply too much the color will wrinkle and fisheye.  So it is important to be patient and take your time.  Keep the time between coats to 12-15 minutes. It’s very similar to applying color for paint. 

    If you don’t have a paint booth then consider doing this in the spring or in the fall when humidity is at its lowest.  Also,  a bright sunny day is excellent where you can leave the piece out in the sun to bake.  

The process is simple. 

  1. clean the piece like mad
  2. prep the surface using the prep solvent
  3. paint the piece with the correct interior color

    What isn’t simple is going slow and taking your time with each process. It is VERY important that you prep it properly or the dye won’t adhere to the plastic and it is VERY important that you take your time applying the color or it will fisheye on you. 

If done properly you’ll have an interior piece that looks 100% factory, and wont chip off like you see so many times at car shows. BG

Products used in this writeup:

SEM 38353 Plastic and Leather Prep

SEM 39863 Adhesion Promotor

SEM 11449Z Landau Black

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