Rear headliner takes shape

Headlining resources

Waste not, want not. I used a large ply offcut from cutting the sheets to length, as a full-size test piece to check the width dimensions inside the bus. Better safe than sorry. It’s got to be right. This way I can make sure that the final fit should be nice and snug.

We now live in an age of computer precision and robotic production lines. Cars are mass-produced by the thousand. Dimensional tolerances are tiny. Easy to forget that these vintage VW campers are from a different era. As such dimensions and fit can vary a bit!

suns out and the roads are clear… happy days!
suns out and the roads are clear… happy days!

Key dimensions

So off in the bus to work in the supermarket car park again. The internal curved underside of the bus roof is one key dimension I want to check. The positioning of the front overhead air-vent (old skool air-conditioning!) is another aspect that needs to be factored into the final cutting of the middle section of the headliner.

Headliner details

At the rear of the bus, there is an internal overhead light. I had got the basic positions before, now I wanted to double-check and get accurate shape allowances for it. I was hoping to allow for the curved ends of the light fitting which might prove a little challenging. I need to think about how best to do that!

rear interior light – headliner obstruction to work around
rear interior light – headliner obstruction to workaround

Alternative workspace

I tried to maximise time in my mobile ‘studio/workshop’ to make sure I get all the information and dimensions jotted down in my sketchbook. Helps avoid that moment when you get back ready to cut something out, only to realise you’ve missed that one critical dimension! From my notes and sketches, I’ll be drawing up a full set of scale dimensioned headliner plans from this.

social distancing – headliner work in progress in the car park
social distancing – headliner work in progress in the car park

Dimension testing

It’s all very well having sketches and dimensions, but nothing beats having a full-sized testing piece to check everything in the actual bus itself.

dimension testing is an essential part of the making process
dimension testing is an essential part of the making process

Being able to check things in their end-use environment is really helpful. To see if adding or subtracting the odd millimetre here or there could make things work better, or possibly tighten up the neatness of the fit. All an essential part of the design/making process.

checking dimensions with a headliner test fitting strip
checking dimensions with a headliner test fitting strip

Headliner cuts

Having tested and gathered all the extra information I needed, it was back to my other temporary workspace of the kitchen again. Time to take the raw ingredients of the measurements and cook up the final headliner shape.

setting out the headliner detailed dimensions
setting out the headliner detailed dimensions

Measured cut

With the width dimension checked for the middle and rear sections, I could cut them to their finished sizes. The rear headliner piece also tapers towards the rear of the bus. This is to allow for the more pronounced double curvature of the roof as it nears the rear tailgate. With these easy bits done, I can now move on to cut out the notched areas for the front overhead air-vent and rear light fitting.

careful cutting to enable the use of offcut for template testing
careful cutting to enable the use of offcut for template testing

Making round corners

I decided to drill out the corners needed for the curved recess of the rear light fitting. Once these are joined up with a straight cut, they should mirror the shape of the base of the light. This is done on the rear edge of the middle, and the front edge of the rear headliner sections. All being well, they should meet up to form the complete shape. That’s the idea at least!

creating a shaped recess for the rear interior light
creating a shaped recess for the rear interior light

It’s just the internal corners I’m interested in at this point. They end up being effectively radiused. However, I needed to clamp some offcuts to the edge of the ply to help support the drill bit and allow it to cut through cleanly.

matching notches to allow for the rear light
matching notches to allow for the rear light

In a similar fashion, but with a way smaller drill bit, I’ve added small radiused internal corners for the front overhead air-vent recess. This should help when it comes to the final fitting of the headliner. Having a little wiggle room is always useful.

It’s taken a while to get to this stage, but the pieces of the headliner are all finally cut to shape now – happy days!

Headlining end stages

I’m planning on applying the final finishes to the plywood before it gets fitted. Applying any kind of a finish in situ would be a bit of a nightmare. This hopefully should make things much easier to do. Great to be moving onto the final finishing stages at last!

 

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