Recovering Fiero Dash Speaker Grills
by Tyrone Johnsen
The speaker covers in the dash just did not match well with the dark gray color of the dash or any of the other gray shades of my Fiero’s interior. The cloth covers had turned to a bluish hue because of sun fade. They detracted from my Fiero’s interior. Paul Vargyas suggested recovering the grills with new cloth, right over the existing cloth and securing it to the plastic grill with hot melt glue. This turned out excellent.
I found that the Charcoal Gray, Speaker Grill Cloth, part number 40-1953, from Radio Shack appears to match the dark gray dash of my 1987 Fiero GT perfectly. It is a polyester knit cloth and costs about $10 a 32 x 36 inch roll at Radio Shack. You should be able to get polyester knit cloth for much less at a fabric store; but I was never able to get as good a color match from the fabric store as the Radio Shack Grill Cloth. Unfortunately, I do not have a material source for the tan interiors.
Overcome the urge to remove the existing cloth covering unless there is some particular problem. The extra layer of cloth appears to give it more of a padded look that I really like. I do not believe the extra layer changes the sound from the speakers such that any of us could ever discern it. The extra layer of cloth did not seem to affect the fit of the grills into the dash opening either.
Start by carefully removing the two speaker grills from the dash. The grills are cloth covered plastic with four molded spring pins which fit into four holes in the recessed cavity in the dash. I used a common table knife with a typically dull edge to pry up the grill out of the dash. By gently prying up in different places along the edge close to you, the grill can be worked out without damaging the pins. Be careful not to stick the knife too far into the cavity which could result in damaging the speaker. When the grills are removed, note the color of the gray along the edge of the grill which was not exposed to the sun. This is probably the color or shade the grill cloth was when new; it should also match the color and shade of your new cloth.
Cut the cloth so that it is approximately one inch larger in each direction than the grill face. The polyester knit appears to have a slight difference in texture or pattern on one side versus the other side. So I decided to use the side exposed which appeared to match the original appearance. Place the desired side down on a clean work surface. Lay the grill face down over the new cloth; center the grill on the new cloth such that you have adequate material all the way around the grill. Have your hot glue gun ready. I used a clear glue stick I had. Start by putting a thin bead of hot glue along one of the long rear edges -- right on the raised back edge of the outer rim, right on the joint of the original cloth and the plastic grill -- and quickly fold the cloth over into the hot glue. I did not stretch the cloth the long way; just made sure to eliminate any wrinkles. You have to work fast as the hot glue starts to cool and solidify quickly. Pushing the cloth down by hand quickly, I was able to get the glue to hold and I did not burn myself on the hot glue. But if you are too slow in this process, the glue will dry and it will not stick. The best bet is to work in segments down the length of the grill. Next, do the opposite long side. Give the cloth a very, very slight stretch crosswise to eliminate wrinkles. Then, lay down a thin bead of hot glue as done on the opposite edge and repeat the procedure of folding over the new cloth and pushing it into the hot glue. Next, pick one of the short ends and repeat the same procedure. Do not glue all the way to the corners yet, do the corners after all four sides are glued. Now, do the fourth side. Carefully turn the assembly over to check the appearance; it should be wrinkle free. If not, try to adjust it or start over. Now go back to each of the corners, one at a time, and tack them in a similar fashion such that the front surface is still smooth and wrinkle free.
At this point I used a very sharp knife to trim the excess cloth. I did one side at a time. I folded the cloth all the way over the back edge and down onto the flat back; then I trimmed the excess cloth off using the rim and back interior corner as my guide. I then put a hot glue bead along the junction of the edge of the cloth and the plastic and pushed the cloth and glue down into that interior corner. I repeated this on the remaining three side edges of the new cloth. Finally, I trimmed and glued down the four corners in a similar, neat manner.
The new cloth extends further around the back of the grill than the original cloth did and there are two beads of glue all the way around. I would hate to have it come loose later. I would rather put more work in at this stage so, hopefully, it will last as long as the new cloth color does.
Originally, I tried to glue the new cloth down with super glue. I found this to be a very bad idea. It wicks into the cloth and can find its way around to the front (exposed) side leaving a very unattractive appearance. Also, it did not hold the cloth well at all.
Now you have speaker grills in your dash that blend in with the dark gray dash and appear as if they were brand new.