Headlining - alternative method

Lotus Excel Headlining

The standard headlining is fitted to the Excel by gluing the fabric around the removable trim pieces, and gluing two large fabric panels directly to the roof. This is not a fun job, and takes time to get a perfect finish - whilst upside down. A few owners have tried an alternative method, using removable panels, with some success. This is Bryan Barker's version of the removable panel method.

I completed my headlining replacement using an alternative method to the original, which used material stuck directly to the roof of the car in two strips. This write-up gives some hints and tips on how I completed the job using two pieces of acrylic sheet.

Materials

  • 2mm acrylic sheet. 101cm x 100cm (see templates)

  • Headlining material, backed with foam and scrim.

  • Trimfix spray adhesive, 500ml can. (supplied by Woolies)

  • Alpha AF178 contact adhesive, 1 can. (supplied by Woolies)


Roof Area – Acrylic Sheets

I covered the two large flat areas of the roof with 2mm clear acrylic sheet, with the headlining material glued to it using Trimfix spray adhesive. The brand name of the sheet I used was Makrolon, but there are lots of others that would be suitable. The dimensions of the 2 panels are in the template below. I suggest making cardboard templates first and checking the fit.

The front Makrolon panel is held in place on all four sides by the sunvisor rail and the roll bar cover plus some self adhesive Velcro. The rear one was only supported on three sides, and the acrylic is heavier than you might think (sorry Mr Chapman…). So I added some self adhesive Velcro across the edge that meets the "hump" along the top of the back window, and also a couple of strips down the middle to hopefully stop the panel flexing around too much. Over time, the panel has started to sag slightly under its own weight, so I intend to add more Velcro to that shown in the photos.

Removable Trim

All the other removable trim pieces were covered in the normal manner using the headlining material from Lotusbits - it's nice material to work with, somewhat thicker than the Woolies material, and worth the extra cost. I glued the seams on the cant rails, sunvisor rail, and at the bottom of the B pillars. The glued seam was simply about 1cm of material turned back and glued onto itself. I used about 3/4 tin of the Woolies contact adhesive .(Alpha AF178), plus a full can of their spray glue (Trimfix). High temperature adhesive is essential, or the headlining will just separate from the roof on the first sunny day.

B Pillars

I didn't remove the B pillars - they are part of the moulding covering the whole rear quarter of the interior, which is difficult to remove. Once you have removed the roll bar cover and unbolted the seat belt mount, it is possible (carefully!) to lever the B pillar cover inwards. I inserted a pencil between the bodyshell and the trim at about the height of the door latch - that levers the trim inwards and gives you about half an inch at the bottom of the B pillar trim to get your fingers behind it to remove the old trim and gently press the new material into place.

To lever the B pillar inwards, it is necessary to remove the seat belt top mounting bolt and all its hardware. You shouldn't lose any parts when unbolting the seatbelt; there are a series of washers and spacers that come away with the bolt, but there's nothing to fall away behind the roll bar.

For the B pillar you will need two pieces of material. One is a sliver which sticks to the bodyshell and tucks under the door seal, and goes behind the B pillar. For the main piece, I made a hem at the bottom by folding and gluing a 1cm section back on itself. Note the shape of the old material removed from the pillar - it isn't a straight line across the bottom, more an arc.

I applied glue to the material and all over the B pillar, and behind the edges as best as I could, then started by gently pressing the material into place on the front face of the B pillar (where the seat belt mount is). I then gently worked the material around the contour of the pillar, and finally tucked the edge around behind the pillar trim. It's probably the most fiddly part of the whole headlining.

The other tricky part of the B pillars was the coat hooks. They were held on originally by a single self tapper into the fibreglass of the B pillar. The thread went in mine and the screw wouldn't tighten up. I repaired it by using a flat spire nut inside the B pillar trim so that the screw had something to tighten up into. Stronger than new now!

Sun Visors

The sun visors were well beyond my needlework skills, and so were recovered by a seamstress. They are a work of art - I was amazed how well they came out. The secret was that she added a band of black webbing around the edge of the existing black vinyl, to give herself some more material to play with since their was no excess on the vinyl itself.


Parcel Shelf

The rear parcel shelf carpet came out in one piece (phew!), and was replaced with a piece of carpet cut from a large doormat I bought in Dunelm for £3.99. There are a wide selection of colours there, including a very good match for my sand coloured carpet. The carpet is hard wearing, but also thin enough that it can be tucked between the parcel shelf and the bottom of the window, as per the original.

So next time you're being dragged around Dunelm on a wet Sunday afternoon by SWMBO who is looking for curtains, bedding, scatter cushions, etc. etc. make your way to the big pile of doormats and choose yourself a new parcel shelf carpet!