A Boat on the Side

Cutting a Dash

I’ve done some pretty unusual jobs in my time, but this one was quite unexpected. A local wedding car businessman wafted into the yard with a gleaming black Bentley Mulsanne. The dashboard had de-laminated and was looking a bit sad – could I re-veneer and re-polish? Yes I could, I’ve done a bit of antique restoration work and while the thought of working on automotive royalty was a bit daunting, I set to work.

But first, in the privacy of my own bathroom later that evening, I practised some forelock touching and general bowing and scraping. I’ve got form on this – way back in the seventies I was fitting out a hotel in Doha when a panicked diplomatic person from the British Embassy asked me if I could urgently build a full-length hinged mirror for Her Majesty’s imminent arrival. The embassy people hadn’t read their instructions properly and while Phillip could make do with a hand-held mirror, the Queen could not. I worked night and day for a few days and delivered the job, jolly well done I might add, to the Britannic premises. With a flourish, I presented my exorbitant bill and departed hastily with a hot regal cheque in my hands. Days later I was duly summoned to the opening of a new English school where I had the pleasure of meeting the Queen and the Prince, I have to say they were charming and unpretentious. I momentarily thought of inviting them back to my hotel room for a few brandies but thought the better of it as I had to do some overtime that night.

So working on the (almost) Rolls Royce brought back some fond memories.

The dashboard was actually quite tricky, requiring sanding back, repairing de-laminated bits, veneering twice in burr walnut and painstakingly sanding, arrising and spraying (all twelve coats.) Finally I cut it back carefully with 2000-grit wet-and-dry and polished with 3M Imperial Compound. None of your ordinary compound on this job.

Here’s a photo and it was surprisingly difficult to show the richness of the walnut and the mirror finish of the lacquer but it will have to do. I must admit that it wasn’t 100% as good as the Rolls craftsmen could achieve, but close enough.

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