Words and photos: Ben Crockett
First published in September / October 2005
If there is one thing on a Cruiser that will make it go from looking like a pristine piece of four-wheeling history to something that would appear to be a more appropriate home to a dozen pack rats, it would have to be a sagging or otherwise missing headliner. Is anything other then rust more unsightly then a bare and gluestained roof every time you look up? And how many more times do you think you can escape tickets by explaining to the officer that you are a competent driver and there is nothing wrong with your steering, you just got some dry old headliner foam in your eyes? The solution is clear, and now it doesn’t even have to be an expensive, time consuming or mechanically competent endeavor.
LINE IT UP
On this 1968 FJ40’s slow and detailed road to a full recovery from its twenty years of sitting parked in a driveway, a new scalp was just what this Cruiser needed. Since she still has a long ways to go, saving a few bucks is always nice. This is why we surfed our way over to the Cool Cruisers of Texas website (www.coolcruisers.com, (800) 475-4181) and clicked “send” on one of their readyto- install, double-thick padding headliners, for less then half the price of most of the other options out there. For about $100, our liner was on our porch within the week and we were ready to get started. This is an easy DIY at-home job for even the most novice wrenchman. A helping hand is a good idea for the removing and repositioning of the roof, but the rest can be easily done solo. With basic hand tools, expect this job to take around two hours. We couldn’t be happier with the results of ours and our first compliment was “Hey, that’s a great looking Cruiser! What is it, a ’79?” ‘Nuff said.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
• Its not uncommon for old, rusted-out bolts to break away, so expect a trip or two to the hardware store in this event.
• A poor weather stripping seal, especially along the front, can mean bad news for your new headliner. If your weather stripping is looking old, cracked, or in our case, is missing all together, you will want to replace it. Consider the age of your vehicle, and then consider ordering at least the front piece when you order your headliner.
• Go easy on the glue; one bottle should get the job done. Use too much and that thick gummy layer, paired with a hot summer day, may leave your liner in your lap.
• Work with clean hands when it comes to smoothing out your liner, or you may be high-fiving your dirty handprints and cursing yourself every time you look up for years to come.
Begin by laying your new liner on a fl at and clean surface out in the sun. This helps to smooth out the wrinkles caused by the box juggling UPS driver
With the help of some thread-breaking lube (especially important in older vehicles) remove all the bolts around the base rim of the top, including those that hold the interior light in place and those hidden from view above the rear doors. Be sure to disconnect the power wire going to the interior light.
The brackets holding the top to the windshield must then be removed, along with the exterior bolts found under the roofs front awning.
This is no time to play “World’s Strongest Man” and achieve the worlds worst back; the top can now be lifted free with some assistance from friends.
Take care not to damage the paint or fi berglass in older models. Set the roof down, bottom side up.
Take a sanding block and remove both the reminence of the old liner, the old glue and smooth out any large blemishes. Don’t rush the job and put a hole in your roof with the power sander.
Thoroughly clean the roof of any remaining dust and debris and roughly position your headliner with the seamed corners in the rear. CCOT left their headliner slightly oversized to allow for any positioning errors, so be sure to allow yourself room at all edges.
Starting from the center, 3M spray adhesive can then be used to secure the headliner, fi rst working to the back corners, then to the front. A thin layer of silicone along the front rim of the top is a good idea to prevent any eventual peeling resulting from old weather stripping or a poor seal between the windshield and top.
Working the excess material all the way to the base corners of the top, the excess material can now be trimmed. If you are unsure about the exact trim lines, the trimming can be done with a little extra effort when the top is installed.
When given ample time to dry, the top can then be repositioned on the Land Cruiser, taking special care to keep the weather stripping in its proper position. With the top in place, all bolts can be replaced in their proper home and in a few short hours, you just saved yourself a few hundred bucks in parts and labor, not to mention boosted the appearance of your vehicle ten-fold.