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Custom Auto Interiors Paperback – November, 2003
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Having said that, though, it's far from perfect. The photos are poor quality snapshots that make it hard to see three-dimensional shapes, there are strange omissions, and many of the brand recommendations are downright bizarre.
But instead of waxing rhapsodic about the book's problems, I'm going to use the rest of my review to try to give you the benefit of my hard-won experience. Keep in mind that my project was about as difficult as they get--I had to make everything custom, because my truck didn't have much of an interior when it was originally manufactured. Yours should be easier.
This book is obsessed with using chipboard to make complex shapes that can then be upholstered. All very lovely if the shape isn't too complex to wrap smoothly and if this is the look you're going for. In many cases, it's much easier to use fiberglass and body filler to create a paintable custom piece. This is standard practice for virtually everything relating to stereo enclosures (see mine in the photo.) The only reason I can think of that the technique isn't so much as mentioned is that the authors are currently writing a book about it. Check the web for pretty much all the info you need to make whatever you want.
There is no information provided on the tools you'll need, no instruction on sewing, omissions in the information on laying carpet, etc., which (probably intentionally) forces you to read Taylor's Automotive Upholstery Handbook.
WHAT YOU WANT TO AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE
Sewing is hard. And even if, like me, you can con your mother into doing it, then you have seams to deal with and they are brutal to keep straight when you're gluing. Design your interior to keep sewing to a minimum.
I would rather stick my tongue in a hornet's nest than glue in a custom headliner. Nine yards of contact cement-covered material suspended over your head, trying to stick to everything, including your hair. And one mistake, you get to rip it all out. Granted, mine is ridiculously hard due to the acute angles in the back of the cab, but still you should still seriously consider having this done professionally.
There aren't many in this book, but almost none make sense based on my experience.
Glue is all important--the difference between an easy five-minute job and an endless disaster. The only advice given (actually in the Automotive Upholstery Handbook as I recall) is to buy the most expensive stuff you can find. This is just as stupid as it sounds. I tried Stick-it, Tac-it, and Duo-something, among others. All with horrible results. DO NOT USE ANYTHING THAT ISN'T MADE BY 3M!!! Note the cheesy use of caps and multiple exclamation marks. I'm serious here.
Q-pads: This is a messy, expensive, and obsolete asphalt sound deadener. Use RAAM-Mat or go to sounddeadenershowdown if you want to really geek out on the subject.
Mellowhide: This is nice vinyl and I used it based on their recommendation, but it's hard to find and apparently it doesn't store well in non-climate controlled situations, prompting my supplier (the excellent Larry Dennis company) to quit carrying it. It's probably an off-gassing issue and I haven't had a problem with the installed interior, but if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't take the chance.
Foam dulls razorblades incredibly fast and a dull blade can ruin hours' worth of work in the blink of an eye. Figure three feet of cutting in 1/4 foam before you have to throw the blade away.
I made the mistake of using glue in rattle cans. Buy a gallon of the stuff and spray it with a primer gun. It's far cheaper and will give you a more consistent coating with no globs that might telegraph through your material.
This is not a science, it's an art. Buy some cheap materials and play around before trying something that's actually going to go in your car. It's not complicated, but it can be kind of subtle.
That little 3" sander you see them using in the pictures is your best friend. It's called a polisher, though. Searching the Net for "3 inch sander" won't get you anywhere.
Good luck, and remember: Patience!
After reading the reviews - I rationalized that even if it wasn't helpful for aircraft interiors I would eventually use the information contained for another application so bought it anyways and now I can see it is going to be useful for my motorcycle sidecar custom interior and side panel project.