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Discussion Starter #21 (Edited)
Door panel top is aligned and bolted up to lower panel.



Now for some bad news...every project has its set backs and I just got hit with a double whammy.

During final QA of the steering wheel, the guys at Aza Wheels noticed a hairline crack in the top resin. So they are redoing the carbon fiber. I appreciate their attention to detail and better that this was found and addressed before shipping. Unfortunately it could potentially set the steering wheel part of the project back by 30 days. The extra time this will take is what it is and overall this is not as huge of a deal since the steering wheel does not hold up other interior parts being done.

This next one however is a big deal. I got the 3 main bezel components back from hydro dipping and they look terrible. Dust nibs all over, excess runs in the clear, really poor surface prep showing through...This was my firs experience with hydro dipping and I am quite disappointed. I am now debating if I should try a different hydrodip service or just ditch the idea altogether and go full real carbon fiber overlay. These bezel parts do prevent other interior pieces from being able to be installed since they have to go in first. Sigh....
 
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If you want hydro-dip, don’t let that experience change your mind. Sounds like shoddy work. I did some hydro-dipped interior and engine pieces with my 03 Cobra that looked phenomenal and had none of the issues you mentioned.


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Discussion Starter #23
Yeah I have seen from great hydro dip work. The guys I used were highly rated and their stuff looked good. However, they have been super busy (as most of shops have been during the lockdown) and it was clear they rushed my project thru even though I waited 6 weeks when they said it would take 3. And then it spent more time in the hands of the assistant/intern than it did the main guy. The result was terrible looking. The fact that they let it out the door in that state was worse.

I have been getting quotes from other reputable hydro dip shops and the turnaround time is either the same or longer than doing a carbon fiber overlay. The pricing for new prep and hydro dip is also coming back as almost the same or within a few hundred dollars of doing a carbon fiber overlay. So I committed today and shipped the parts out for a carbon fiber overlay of the 3 main interior bezels. Should be done within 4-5 weeks.
 

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Discussion Starter #24 (Edited)
I installed the passenger side door panel and it turned out great. Due to the tight space in the garage, I am doing each door panel one at a time. The driver's side door panel is next, but its not simply a matter of pulling it off and sending to the upholstery shop. With all the stereo gear, my situation and what I have to deal with is somewhat unique compared to most folks.

In stock form, the Gen 3 Viper door panel was designed to be not much more than a lightweight cover...not unlike a lot of cars. The main large lower panel is attached to the top two sill trim and door latch cover with nothing more than upholstery staples. There are 4 screws that tighten it down to the door itself, but those mainly support the door pull and door latch cover. The remaining 3 attachment points are just plastic push pins. The heaviest item, the speaker, is actually bolted to the door itself to bear the weight and the panel with the grill just sits over it.

Al & Ed's Autosound screwed up here when they modified my door panel. They cut it open, molded an MDF frame to the lower door panel section and blended it in with bondo. Then they hung about 6 lbs of speakers and electronic crossovers TO the door panel. Yes... they changed it so that all that weight is now hanging ON the door panel and not supported by the door frame. Over time, with only staples holding the top and bottom sections of the panel together, the lower panel began to sag and pull away causing the panel to rub on the sill every time the door was opened or closed.

So I had to go in and fix this mess by re-engineering their setup. My main goal was to make the connection between the upper and lower panels stronger so they would not sag under the weight of the equipment.

First step was to epoxy and fill cracks found in the plastic door latch cover. I used JB Weld's Plastic Bonder High Strength Structural Adhesive. I have used this in the past with great success. In an effort to reinforce the lower part of the latch cover, I added a 1/16th inch layer of ABS plastic. I cut a form out of paper then cardboard and finally on the ABS itself.


The additional layer of plastic was bonded to the latch cover with a foundation of Plastic Bonder. Definitely felt more rigid afterwards.


The rubberized soft touch coating was also starting to wear in a few spots. I used 90% isopropyl alcohol, a plastic putty knife, and about an hour of elbow grease to scrap it all off. Additionally, I bonded some metal washers to the bolt holes. Here is the "cleaned up" latch cover next to the one on the driver's side which still has the soft touch coating on it.


Looking for a stronger attachment between the lower portion of the panel and the upper piece, I went with an approach that would maximize the clamping force between the two pieces. I drilled holes and used metal brackets, machine screws, nuts and washers to essentially bolt together the two halves. This was only done on the main weight bearing sections at the front while one set of L brackets was used at the rear of the door panel for good measure. In between, we used heavier duty upholstery staples for the non-load bearing section.


For additional rigidity and better distribution of load, metal brackets were used on the top and the bottom wherever I could fit them:


And finally here is the door panel installed! This is without the grills or x-over cover yet just to show off the gear:


With the grills and covers on:


View from inside:
 
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Discussion Starter #25
Its been awhile so time for some updates....

Driver side door panel done and installed.


Steering wheel from Aza Auto Wheel arrived and sitting here waiting for install.

They really did an awesome job on this custom steering wheel. From the leather to the carbon fiber to the index stripes to the stitching and the flat bottom...everything came out as I specified and looks gorgeous. The guys at Aza packed the wheel incredibly well and then placed it in a custom wood box!









Also very happy that I took the extra step to have them wrap the rear cover in leather.



Other news...

Main cluster bezel is returning from having carbon overlay done. Should be in my hands next week! I can't wait to see these parts after the terrible disappointment from the hydro-dip shop. More importantly, the main cluster bezels were THE key set of parts holding up the interior from progressing. I need these in first before installing the leather console and driver side lower panel. I also want these in before replacing the steering wheel.

LeatherSeats.com are making a set of custom seat covers for my project. I am working thru their LS Prime Division. I am in the queue and they are thinking late Aug. or early Sept. Then of course I will need to have my upholstery shop install them.
 
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that is sweet! good work
 

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Loving the progress! The door panels are maybe a bit more than I would do, but look very high quality. I love the wheel.

I might have mentioned this in my PMs or previous replies, but note that LeatherSeats sent me bottom seat covers with symmetrically placed openings for the recline levers. This obviously didn’t work when the levers are positives on the same side for each seat. They resolved the issue and sent me a new cover, but I more quickly just cut and re-welded the lever on the frame for the passenger seat to use the first cover. I asked them to correct their pattern file for future orders, but something you might want to ask about.


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Discussion Starter #29
Thanks guys!

Widow Maker - Thanks for the reminder re: the seat levers. I have sent them the note to be aware and do it right the first time. Hopefully it was just a one time mistake from them. Good to hear they ultimately addressed it for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #30 (Edited)
The bezels arrived earlier in the week. After the disappointing issues with the hydro dipping (which set the project back 12-14 weeks!) I have been anxiously awaiting the parts and the carbon fiber treatment...they turned out great!

The carbon fiber was done thru David Schamerhorn of Exotic Car Gear https://www.exoticcargear.com and took about 6 weeks door to door. The process employed is referred to by different names...carbon fiber overlay/skinning/lamination. You can read more about it here: https://www.exoticcargear.com/carbon-fiber-laminating-skinning/ Its real carbon fiber with the resin and all- laid over your parts. David has been easy and great to work with every step of the way. He is also responsive to messages and addressed a volley of questions I lobbied his way during the process.

I spent a lot of time researching this and many hours contacting vendors. Exotic Car Gear had some of the best work, the best pricing, and the fastest turnaround time. I went with the 2x2 twill weave pattern. I am actually glad the hydro dipping did not work out otherwise I would have never come across this option for the interior!













 
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Discussion Starter #31 (Edited)
Here are some pics of the interior pretty far along...parts installed back in...

  • New Aza Auto Wheel
  • Exotic Car Gear carbon fiber overlay on bezels
  • New leather shifter boot and parking brake boot
  • New leather center console
  • Hydro-dipped steering column shroud









The hydro-dipped steering column shroud was the only part that came back from the hydro-dip shop that was good enough to be installed.

I drove her for about an hour today with the new steering wheel and it just felt like driving nirvana! How was something that feels this wonderful kept out of my life for so long?! Additional note...I took some measurements and the flat bottom steering wheel gains 10.5 mm (just a hair over 3/8") of clearance over the stock wheel.

Still waiting on seat covers from LeatherSeats.com. Once I pull the seats out there are two other pieces in the back I want to reupholster. Hopefully these will all be done by end of Sept.
 
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Wow, great attention to detail. Don't know how I never saw this thread before.
 

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That steering wheel is what sets the whole thing off - absolutely epic.
 

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Thank you for sharing your project. The steering wheel and bezel really seem appropriate in that car. Did not think so before seeing it, but it really works.
 

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Discussion Starter #38
Thank you guys for taking the time to post and comment on this thread! It does help with the motivation as you can imagine it can be quite time consuming documenting this stuff, taking photos, editing photos, uploading all the pics, and then writing it all up. Great to know some folks appreciate the info provided.

The last few months have been very busy so I have not had time to post any updates, but things were still progressing forward on this interior upgrade project. Here comes some updates...

While waiting on the seat covers from LeatherSeats.com, I went ahead with removing the last remnants of alcantara from the interior. The stuff Al&Eds used during the stereo install was pretty cheap and feeling dated. This meant I had to tackle the rear interior panel that goes over the subwoofer. It is one of if not the single largest piece in the interior. I also re-worked the amp rack cover in the trunk...no small piece either. In both cases, I used a very high grade vinyl from Spradling part of their Caliber line. This thing is quite impressive...it is soft and supple and feels like leather, but it is thinner so it did not create any clearance problems. As usual, my upholstery shop did a great job. Very happy with how these turned out.



Went with contrast double stitching to tie in with the other elements of the interior.


The clearances on the amp rack were particularly tight so I was very glad we went with the Spradling Caliber otherwise we would have had fitment issues.


Of course I had to add some additional touches such as the metal American Flag plate and the "Don't Tread On Me" emblem.


 
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Discussion Starter #39 (Edited)
The custom seat covers from LeatherSeats.com finally arrived in late Sept.
It took a while, but they did come out looking and feeling amazing!

My upholstery guy was not able to fit me into his schedule until mid Oct. He finished up the seats by late Oct. As I have learned since the start of this project...waiting for stuff is just part of the process. In this case, it turned out awesome! Being a professional seat installer he was able to put the covers on better than factory fit and finish. Everything was tight and smooth and nary a wrinkle (same way we like our women).
This was done in LeatherSeats.com's highest grade of leather called "Ecstasy Leather".

The double diamond stitching was the main custom touch as was the removal of the OEM pleats which would have broken up the design. This required the project to be taken up by LeatherSeats.com's LS Prime division which specializes in custom projects. This of course increased the cost and turnaround time.

You'll notice that the harness insert bezels are not installed. Those are getting a special treatment which I will share and update when they are done. It was not done right the first time so I had to resend back to get redone which starts the clock all over again...sigh...

The other custom touch was removal of the hideous carpet material on the backs of the seats. I rate that right up there with carpet on door panels like the Gen2...ugh. I had them use a high grade vinyl on the seat backs.

I'll take more pics of the interior with the new seats once she is 100%. Things are at about 98% until the seat harness bezels are back and I install them. In the meantime here is a peek...



I did weigh the seats before installing them because I knew they were too heavy for their own good and I just needed to know how heavy. Well the seat bottom alone is 34 lbs and 2 oz. The seat back alone is 15 lbs and 10 oz. All told each seat weighs 47 lbs and 12 oz. Porky! But now at least I have lipstick on the pig. :D
 
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Discussion Starter #40
Floor mats?! I know...it seems somewhat anticlimactic after all the major interior upgrades, but while floor mats are an easy and simple upgrade, they do make a difference especially when the rest of the interior is looking so nice. Besides, this was my chance to finally experience Lloyd Mats.

My old floor mats were going on some 13 odd years and showing some signs of wear and tear mainly on the driver side embroidery. Back in the day, I believe I got them from The Viper Store and while they seemed fine at the time, I frankly had no reference point so did not know any better. They did end up more of less lasting over a decade. However, these Lloyd Mats are on a whole other level of quality! Before you jump on eBay, you should do yourself a favor and check out the Lloyd Mats website https://www.lloydmatsstore.com/ This will give you an understanding of the choices and customization options. You can also order direct from them and it ends up being about the same price as eBay within a few dollars.

The top 3 tiers for carpet Lloyd Mats are...(they have a total of 6)

  • Top tier is the LUXE line
  • 48 oz / square yard 2-ply nylon
  • 11 color options
  • Stain-resistant treatment
  • Lifetime warranty

  • Mid tier is the ULTIMAT line
  • 32 oz / square yard 2-ply nylon
  • 30 color options
  • 5 year warranty

  • Standard tier is the VELOURTEX line
  • 20 oz / square yard single-ply nylon
  • 12 color options
  • 3 year warranty

Given that I've probably added weight to the interior, I went with the Velourtex version. And with it being almost 2.5x lighter than the Luxe line, I like to think of it as the superleggera edition :D

Apparently they are dog approved because mere seconds after I had finished brushing them and placed them on the floor for photos, my dog sits all over them....ah dog hair...


The embroidery is large and bold. The silver on black matches the color scheme of the Viper.


This is Lloyd Mats standard edging. They also offer a premium edging with a colored vinyl strip and stitching you can customize.


Lloyd Mats are really the best option for floor mats.


Compared to my old mats...old n busted - new hotness. Notice also that the old mats only covers the flat floor area while the Lloyd Mats extend deep into the footwell.


Lloyd Mats edging is tighter and smaller. Looks cleaner in my opinion.


Close up of the pile depth and embroidery of the old passenger side mat. Granted these have 13 years on them.


How was it ever a question in my mind that I needed to replace my old mats?! The answer was YES! I have trouble letting go...


The old mats were made in Poland which is better than China I guess. Rubber spikes that do not do a good job of preventing slippage thus the need for the plastic button clip.


Lloyd Mats are Made In America AND are officially licensed by Mopar! It comes with proper metal retainer rings and a very grippy rubberized backing. The passenger side did not have retainer rings, but since the backing is so grippy and the fact that it extends far up the footwell, the mat sticks in place.


Old mat, passenger side


Passenger side Lloyd Mat extends deep up the footwell




Old mat, driver site...duh!


I may have rarely paid attention to the floor mats when getting in and out of the Viper, but I sure do notice them now!


Sweet glory! The Lloyd Mats really do help this interior feel complete!
 
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