Brothers Trucks 1955-1959 Chevy Dash Panel Restoration

02/29/2016

Brothers Trucks 1955-1959 Chevy Dash Panel Restoration

02/29/2016

How many times have you looked at an old stock beater that had the radio section of the dash all cut up for installation of an aftermarket radio? There are all kinds of holes for larger radio units and sometimes even plates to cover holes that didn’t quite match the newer unit. In ’55-’59 Chevy trucks, the center portion of the dash was set up for a small radio face and a raised, circular area at each end for knobs plus three more raised areas above the radio. What you see mostly is the radio opening enlarged to accommodate newer units, and in most cases, that opening overlaps into the raised circular areas, and the new knobs do not match up either. For truck owners who are reworking a vehicle that has a dash like this but want to return it to stock configuration, BROTHERS offers a patch panel that makes it easy. It is a job for someone who is a capable welder and grinder though. The tight area where this repair is done requires a skilled welder to butt-weld the panel into place and work it so it looks original. This is a great item for truck owners planning to restore their trucks or take them back to a mostly original state, but update the running gear. BROTHERS produces new radios in the form of the original Chevrolet unit. In this case, a stock-looking radio was chosen to create an up-to-date sound system. A BROTHERS cassette radio unit was selected for the dash, and a remote six-disc changer was mounted under the seat. Whether you want to take your Chevy truck back to its original condition or just clean it up and add a modem radio, components are available to allow that to happen. It will require good welding and grinding skills to make it happen.

This altered dash does not look all cut up and was usable in its reworked state.

Brothers offers a ’55-’59 Chevy pickup dash patch panel. It allows a builder to cut out the section of the butchered dash and weld this stock-looking piece in its place. The job does require good welding skills for a good, finished job.

The new panel was held in its proper location and scribed around it. The lower portion of the patch panel was cut off to make the installation easier. It was cut off evenly with the lower edge of the opening on either side. The lower area of the dash has a reinforced section that includes the bottom edge, so it should be retained for strength.

We used a die grinder with a thin cut-off disc to cut slots on all four sides to allow a Sawzall blade to be inserted into the dash. The patch panel was about 1/2-inch narrower than the space between the ashtray openings, which left approximately a 1/4-inch lip on each side to help when welding in the new panel.

The small slots on each side made it easier to cut out the opening with a Sawzall. Make each cut as straight as possible for a close fit when welding the new panel into place.

After the hole was cut out, we gave a trial fit to determine the placement of the new panel and to see if the opening needed to be enlarged

The area around the opening was taken down to bare metal to ensure a good, clean surface for welding.

We fit the panel into place and clamped it in evenly along the top edge. He tack-welded the panel in four or five spots across the top and rechecked its fit.

After the top edge was tacked well, he started working down each side. He continued to check the panel to ensure that it remained even with the surrounding surface; heat buildup can distort it some. It’s best to clamp and tack, clamp and tack.

We tacked around the panel about every 1/2-inch. That keeps heat buildup and warpage to a minimum.

Workaround the panel spot, welding the open space and moving on until it was totally welded up as shown here.

Because of limited space between the welded area and the raised portion, it was difficult to grind the weld smooth with a disc, so a 1/2-inch round head carbide rotary file in a die grinder was used to remove the bulk of the weld.

The round head cutter allowed work to be done on flat surfaces as well as around the curved areas. Be careful not to slip and cut into that raised portion, because this will add extra work.

We finished off the area with a disc sander using a 50-grit 4-inch disc. Work very carefully here.

By working very carefully, you can grind down the welded area along the sides, but do not cut into the raised area. The disc sander works fine along the lower area.

The hard work was about finished. A little more work with the disc sander and the dash was ready for the finished work.

When everything was ground down, we wiped the area clean with lacquer thinner.

Wipe a light coat of body filler over the area affected. Then sand the affected area before using primer and paint.

Now that the dash was repainted, we installed the new Brothers stock-style radio.

This unit was one of Brothers cassette player units that connects with a remote six-disc CD changer. It has the shape and appearance of the original radio but offers modern stereo sounds.

We also offer an overhead speaker unit in the form of a stock item that fits between the sunvisors and special kick panel speaker units so no unsightly holes need to be cut in the interior door panels.

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