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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 8:21 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 31, 2002 5:39 pm
Posts: 23752
Location: North America
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The speaker grille in my '62 Lancer is in excellent condition, but most of the time, this component is found in these cars in poor shape since it's up at the top of the dash and is subject to all kinds of abusive mayhem by the sun. '60 Valiants used a metal grille with a fussy bracket, but '61-'62 Valiants and Lancers used a plastic grille. I bought a new reproduction from Blue
Star Spares
, and figured to paint it my '62's medium metallic green while I was working on the armrests.

The new speaker grill arrived painted (...why?) light grey. It's possible Australian cars all had grey speaker grilles, rather than colour-matched as in the North American cars; I'm not sure.

Image

The shape, size and form are all spot-on perfect. The material is different, though the new grille is made out of a much harder plastic than the original. This is probably good for durability (the new plastic feels like it might be a phenolic material, such as distributor caps are made from), but worried me from an installation standpoint: this grille must flex in order to be installed into the dash.

I painted the new grille at the same time as I did the armrests. Here's a photo of the painting in progress:

Image

This was really a challenge, to get good even paint coverage in the grille's slots without creating sags, drips or runs on the outer surfaces. I used thin coats applied from a different angle each time, and it came out well in the end:

Image

Then came time for the big test: Would the new grille match the original, and would it fit and install properly? Well, yes and no. Yes it matches, no it doesn't quite fit and install properly. Because it's made out of much harder plastic, the upper tabs lack the flex needed. I hooked the upper tabs into their dashboard slots and carefully swung the lower edge of the new grille down, and heard a "crrack!" from one of the upper tabs. It didn't break off completely, but it does have a nice (not!) "hinge" crack in it. It looks to me as if this harder plastic would work fine, but the mold needs to be modified to provide more "drop" (clearance) on the upper tabs, so that the grille can swing all the way down and the lower snaps can engage their dashboard holes without putting the top tabs under such stress that they break. I'm going to bring this to Blue Star's attention; they've always been very responsive to the needs of their customers and maybe they can have the mould altered. In the meantime, I can probably save this grille by gluing the broken tab and then carefully filing both top tabs to relieve the bending stress by the dashboard metal.

Here's my original speaker grille installed:

Image

And here's the new speaker grille (almost!) installed:

Image

Definitely a quality product, and certainly a badly-needed one. With just a minor tweak to the production process, it'll be perfect.


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