In a previous article for The Shop magazine, veteran auto trimmer Harry Weimann taught rookies how to replace a foam-back headliner. His latest article deals with the suspended type, which are common in cars manufactured prior to 1974.
Before diving into his lesson on suspended headliners, Harry briefly explains why they were developed and how they evolved — which history buffs like us will appreciate:
In the early 1900s, most automobiles used wood inside of them as a way to attach body panels as well as the vehicle’s interior. The headliners in these vehicles were made of some style of cloth with individual cloth panels sewn together.
A piece of cloth known as the “listing” was sewn to the headliner panels. The listing was used to nail or staple the headliner to the wood that went side-to-side in the inner roof panel.
The headliner was stretched from front-to-back and side-to-side and nailed or stapled to the surrounding wood and panels. These were typically made of flexible pressed cardboard material that was covered in the same headliner material and surrounded the sides of the roof area surrounding the windows and doors.
As time went on, suspended headliners started to change as the automobile evolved. Automobile manufacturers started to use less wood as they developed different ways of attaching the headliners inside of the vehicles.
Metal rods—or “bows,” as most people have come to know them—are used to hold the headliners to the interior roof panel. The bows attach to the vehicle differently, depending on the manufacturer. Some use clips on the end of the bow that either screw to the interior roof rails, slide in holes, or the bow itself is bent so that it will slide into holes in the inner roof rails.
Harry wastes no time in providing step-by-step instructions on how to remove and replace a suspended headliner. He bases his lesson on a 1957 Chevy four-door sedan, which should be familiar to most auto upholsterers. Both rookies and veterans will find the tips, tricks and advice he shares throughout the piece very helpful.
To read the full article, “Repairing Suspended Headliners,” download a free copy of the May 2016 issue of The Shop by clicking here and skip to page 28.
Deedee Lewis says
I’m looking to get the headliner in my car replaced due to some serious wear to it and I love that you go into the history of the headliner and how it used to be attached. I just recently got into rebuilding cars so this was very interesting to me to read how older cars have their liners attached. Now I just need to find someone to repair mine!
Craig Boggs says
Amazing article on these old suspended board types. Very informative and factual. I have a small headliner repair shop in Oklahoma city, I know how much of a hassle these older vehicles can be. Your article cover key issue and was extremely thorough. Thanks for writing this and keep up the good work.
I thought that it was interesting when you said that hiring a professional for headliner repair in your vehicle is crucial to ensuring that it is stretched and stapled on the ceiling properly. I have been thinking about completing a headliner repair by myself but I have been worried that I wouldn’t be able to do this without creating damage or inconsistency. I will be sure to hire a professional to complete this task for me in order to ensure quality in the repair.
Can you use headliner with foam backing with bow style ?