Imperial Home Page -> Repair -> Interior ->Bronze Paneling
Question from Dave (1968):
Where can I find replacement bronze paneling for a '68 Crown convertible?
If you want to refinish them, just pop them off the backing (they are glued in place, not very securely, usually) and polish off the old coating with long steady strokes of fine steel wool, then coat them with clear (I used clear Krylon rattle cans, but others have used spray lacquer, polyurethane, and who knows what). They will look beautiful, and you can carefully glue them back into place using spray glue (I use 3M upholstery spray).
I did my '68 in 1991, it still looks good.
I know a person who has found a plastic substitute. I think he found some material that was used for awards or name plaques and cut it to fit.
The "antiqued bronze" on the '68s are subject to tarnish. The factory put a clear coating on them (I wish I knew what it was) to retard the tarnish, and for the most part it lasted pretty well, but 34 years later almost every '68 is going to have some discoloration of the dash & door panel bronze inlays.
I restored mine. Basically it involves removing the bronze, being careful not to bend it (I suggest a putty knife-- don't try to pry it off, but pop it off), then removing the old clearcoat & tarnish (I used a commercial stripping agent in a can), and then recoating it with something to protect it and prevent oxidation. The key, I found, was a lot of patience-- this is a job that can't be rushed-- and keeping everything spotlessly clean during the process. Any fingerprints or oils you leave on the freshly scrubbed bronze will tarnish. You really need to use gloves and prep each piece carefully with alcohol or something like Eastwood's "Prep" that removes oils before you cover with a clearcoat.
I don't think anyone who owns one of these cars has found the perfect way to do it (if you have, please let me know!), but it can be done.
I did a conv a few years back with brushed gold vinyl sign material from a local sign shop. It gave a very nice and uniform brushed look which I was having a hard time achieving by steel wooling the bare bronze. The vinyl must be applied with soapy water to eliminate bubbles, etc as it is very well stuck once the surface is dry.
I just thought I'd mention that I own the type of computerized plotter/sign cutter that is used to cut this material. I considered the same idea myself (sign material as a replacement for the bronze) but never pursued it, and sold the '68 I owned.
One item that would be critical to success is a completely clean/flat surface. *IF* someone were willing to send all of the key dimentions for me to feed into the computer, I might be able to cut these as a kit.
BTW, there is a bronze material available that is a near-perfect match.
Follow-up from John:
I used the sign material in large enough pieces to stick to the whole metal piece and then used an Exacto blade to cut all of the excess material off. The cutting is very easy as you just follow the metal edges with your blade, but be sure to squeegee (however you spell it) the water out from between the vinyl and metal and let dry completely before attempting to trim excess.
Another advantage to using this method is the replacement of missing pieces is easier if all pieces ar covered in matching material. I added power vents to my '68 Convertible and needed the bronze plates to cover the vent crank holes and only found one, so I had a metal shop cut the other out of the closest thickness brass sheet and all matched once covered.
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