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Jaak's (Jason's) 1968 Dodge Charger GENERAL LEE Project


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After making my post earlier, I had a little time today to address the Dash bezels. Keep in mind the bezels are in decent shape, there may be a small chip or crack in a couple of spots, but they are nice usable driver quality parts.

First I want to address how I had to modify the gauge bezel, due to the way I had to mount my gauges in the cluster housing.

First, on the back side of the gauge bezel I had to trim both 'rings' that are around both speedometer and tachometer openings. I left about 5/16" of the 'ring' in place. The reason I had to do this, from the factory the speedo/tach are tilted back at an angle...with the way I have my new ones mounted the sit straight up, so this area had to be trimmed so the bezel would sit flush, as it is suppose to.


Since I don't have a 'before' pic, here is the material I cut from the backside of the bezel...


Second thing I had to do was grind down the areas around the small gauges. Pretty much for the same reason, only with the smaller gauges, from the factory they are tilted to the left side of the car. My new ones are mounted straight, so once again this material was removed so bezel would sit flush. I simply used a flap disc on my grinder and carefully ground down the excess plastic material.


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Next I scuffed the gauge bezel, both lower corner bezels, and right bezel (the one above glove box) with a scotch brite pad, then thoroughly cleaned all the parts. My radio bezel is in pretty bad shape, so I'm gonna try to find me another one.

Parts prepped/cleaned ready for paint...



You can see on the gauge bezel, I made my own delete panel for the rear defroster switch.

Pics of parts painted with flat black spray paint...



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And now the moment of truth, here is the cluster housing with gauge bezel installed. I plan on masking off and painting the silver highlights after giving a few days for the black paint to cure. I also cleaned up and installed all the switches.

Is it 100% factory correct or perfect? No. But for a little over 100 bucks, and a little prep and elbow grease, I think its a pretty good looking cluster.





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Are you sure you want to add silver highlight? It already looks very nice.

Factory correct? What are you talking about? General Lee is not made in a factory. :p So much is added like the pushbar, new wheels, rollbar.

Funny you mention that about the silver...I had every intention to paint the silver parts, but the more I look at it all black, the more I'm digging it. So I may just leave it the way it is.

When I say 'Factory Correct', I was referring to the cluster, not having the factory installed gauges. I realize when building a General Lee, it's a modified car. So a lot of times I may mention 'Factory Correct' when talking about a specific part, either I'll modify that part, or I will leave it as it would have come from the factory. Make since?

BTW..below is a pic of the cluster in my 69 to show what it would look like if I did paint the silver highlights....



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Last couple of days, I have been working on my upper door bolsters. In this car, they were in pretty poor shape. They are faded green with several cracks and small tears in the material. Of coarse you can buy a new set from Legendary, but they are about $950 a set! As you all know this car is a budget build, so after referring to some threads online, I decided to recover mine using new vinyl. So I'll share some more pics and tell you what I did to freshen these things up.

Upper door bolsters, how they looked before I started...



The first thing you have to do is take off what needs to be out of the way to recover them. On the front ones, you need to remove the door lock ferrules (which mine were already missing), and remove the 'Charger' medallion. To remove the medallion, you have to remove the heads of the two retainer pins on the backside (almost looks like a rivet head). I simply just drilled them off with a small drill bit. Then simply pop them out with a screwdriver.


On the rears, all you have to do is remove the belt weatherstrip, they are stapled on from the factory. A flat blade screwdriver and pliers is all you need.


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The driver's side front was the worst of all of them, it had several large cracks and tears in it...


I started by hitting all the cracked spots with a grinder, just to level the splits out and to grind away busted pieces of old vinyl.


To fill in the areas I ground down, I used silicone. I wanted to use something that would set up and hold its shape, but still remain soft. I had some laying around the shop, so I put it on, and smoothed it out it a spreader. After the silicone dried, I cleaned the bolsters thoroughly with degreaser before I started covering them.


Now time to start gluing on the new vinyl. I used contact cement that you brush on, and it worked great. The first bolster I did was the left rear, I actually used spray adhesive on it... it didn't turn out so great, the glue gave me problems, so I switched over to the brushable type. I found it best to start in the center and work your way out. The driver's side front, was probably the difficult due to the deep hole for the mirror adjuster. I had it pie cut the material there and shoved a socket the same size as the bore to hold the material there while I finished up the bolster. Just brush the glue onto the bolster, and and the back of the vinyl. When the glue gets tacky (after 2-3 minutes) then stick the vinyl on tight and smooth it out.


Edited by jaak
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Applying/smoothing out the vinyl...


After finish the front side of the bolster, turn it over and continue gluing the vinyl around the edges, trimming as needed. I also found it helpful to put clips on to hold material in place as the glue dried.


After all gluing is done, now its time for the finishing touches. I punched out the holes for the door locks using a drill bit the same size as the hole. I did it by hand (don't use a drill), slightly twisting as I pushed it through. Like I said, these bolsters didn't have the lock ferrules in them when I began, but I found a couple in my shop...one used one, and one new one that was never used.


Now time for the 'Charger' medallion. Since I had to drill off the heads of the retainer pins...I simply glued them back on. I used the same contact cement I used on the vinyl. I used a small c-clamp and a bottle cap (slightly smaller in diameter than the medallion, to hold in place while glue dried).


Edited by jaak
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Below is the finished project...



The left rear isn't pictured, it was the first one I did, and I am not happy with it. I got enough material left I think I am going to re-do it. Also note, after finishing the rear bolsters, I still need to install new belt weatherstripping on them.

All in All I am happy with them. They are very presentable, look good and I did it myself, cheap! I spent about $25 bucks for 2 yards of the tan vinyl and $10 on glue. A whole lot better than paying $950 for new repops.

That's it for now,


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Did the camera change the colours a little bit? It looks a bit orange instead of the darker brown from the early seasons.

Yes, I don't know if its the camera or maybe the florescent lighting in the shop, but the color looks different on screen...like you said looks like its got an 'orange' hue to it. I was trying to match the material up to these repops sold by BEA, by going by computer pics. But I am having a hard time finding a plastic/vinyl paint that matches this material perfect. I may end up dying these in the future, don't know yet.

reproductions sold by BEA...



Edited by jaak
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Small update...

When I started recovering my door bolsters, I mentioned on the rear ones, you have to remove the belt weatherstripping. When I fixed up my 69, I bought new belt weatherstripping, but did not replace the rears, because they were in great shape.

Well, I found the new rear ones I never used, so I went ahead and installed them on these I just recovered. Like I mentioned on the earlier post, from the factory they are stapled on. When I reinstalled them, I simply used short 1/8" pop rivets to install the new ones.



Another 'update', on my posts where I cleaned/painted my dash bezels, I mentioned I needed to find a better radio bezel. I found/bought one. It has been slightly modified, but it wasn't as hacked up as the one I had. Here it is after I cleaned, then painted it to match the other bezels. Not bad for 15 bucks.


COMING SOON..... Grille repair/restoration (almost done)!


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Here is what my grille looked like when I bought my 68….


I found and bought a 69 center section on eBay. It had just been listed with a buy it now price or $250 plus 25 to ship. The very next day a guy posted a wanted ad online looking for a 68 center section, so I sold him mine for $225. That means I only had 50 bucks in my 69 grille center!

As with any old grill, it needed some attention. I will post pics and share how I repaired common problems found on these 45 year old parts.

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The first thing I addressed was missing/broken fins. There was one Large fin is the center that was missing. There is also small fins around the perimeter of the grille. Mine had 5 of the small fins broken off, I had 4 of the pieces and had to make the 5th one. I had an old broken grille from a 73 charger that I had replaced a few years back, it was what I used to salvage plastic parts to repair my grille (knew I hung on to it for a good reason)!

’73 “Parts†grille…


Large Broken fin in center…


I cut a fin out of the old 73 grille (I measured it, it was actually the exact same thickness as the fins on the 69). I trimmed and filed the piece until it fit perfectly where the fin was missing. I used JB Weld to attach the fin. I like using JB ‘Quick’ Weld, it sets up in 5-10 minutes, and to me seems it’s stronger than regular JB Weld. After drying, I used a combination of files, and sand paper wrapped around a paint stick to remove the excess JB Weld, and to sand everything and blend it in.


Small Broken Fin around the perimeter…


To repair these, since they aren’t structural… I simply glued them back into place. I used and automotive super glue made by Loctite. It is a gel formula which helps the glue stay in place while the part sets up. Like I said earlier, I had 4 of the missing pieces… just glued them directly back on, but for the on missing in the above pic, I had to make one…using a scrap from the 73 grille. I just sanded/filed to the right shape, then glued it on.

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Next issue to address was a large crack in the lower part of the grille (also had a crack in the upper corners of both the headlight door housings). Cracks like these are what I consider the be ‘stuctural’ so I want to make a good strong repair.

Large crack in grille…


I find it best to start the repair from the back side. When a crack like this goes all the way through, I like to use thin strips of metal the ‘splint’ the repair. I either use small scraps of thin sheet metal, or a roll of this stuff (don’t know what it’s called). First I apply JB Weld to the area, then my metal ‘splint’, followed by another layer of JB weld. After drying, you can sand/shape up the JB weld, but since this area won’t be seen after the grille is installed, I usually just leave it as is.



After repair from the rear side, now its time to address the side you can see. First thing is to widen the crack to give the JB some area to bond to. You can use a dremel tool, I used my air grinder with and round shaped cutting tool.


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Next I filled the ‘valley’ I created with more JB. After it sets up, you can sand/shape it up. The only thing with JB Weld, it isn’t a good filler and doesn’t ‘feather’ out real well. So after rough shaping the JB, I put a coat of filler on it. I used glazing putty.

Crack with JB Weld applied and sanded….


Filler applied….


Filler sanded/shaped ….


Next repair I had to take care of was the mounts for the ‘U’ nuts. The grill had 4 broken mounts, one one the grill center, one on the left headlamp housing, and 2 on the right headlamp housing.

Typical Broken mount….


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I just cut out the broken area, I used a cut off wheel to buzz it out, then used a file to square up the area for the replacement piece. It just so happened I had a plastic box in the shop that was made of a similar plastic, and it was the right thickness also. So I used it to make repair patches.


Then I took the repair patch and JB welded it in place. After the JB sits up, just sand it flush, and redrill the hole for the mounting clip.



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After all repairs are completed, I thoroughly cleaned the grill, and painted it black. With this grille, all the parts black, then assembled it to paint the silver. When I did the grille on my Green 69 years ago, I painted the grille disassembled…when I put it together, the silver did not match, and it come from the same can! Go figure? My theory is painting them separate, I must have put heavier or lesser coats on some parts. So I wanted this one assembled to paint the silver, where I can get a smooth even coat on everything. The only thing I did separate was the silver strip on the headlight doors. I removed them before painting all the silver sections. I used Argent silver wheel paint, I think it’s a little more brighter than the factory paint, but it will do.

Grill painted all black…


***Note, one thing about my General Lee, I don’t want any emblems on it. Using the 68 Grille door it has the ‘arrow’ emblem. If I remove it there is a flat area with 2 holes so it can be mounted. So I decided to leave the emblem, but paint it black to ‘camoflauge’ it.

Masked up, ready for silver paint….


Silver paint applied…


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The last thing to address was the trim. Since I converted it to a 69, I had to find the center molding. I bought a decent used one from a Moparts member for $40. On a 68 it has two long pieces of trim, and on a 69 it had 4 short pieces. Instead of fooling around with selling my 68 pieces and trying to find/buy the 69 parts, I simply took a cut off wheel and cut the 68 moldings to the correct length for the 69 grille. Of course the moldings on the ends are exactly the same on 68’s and 69’s. My trim is in decent shape, it cleaned up ok. I still may do some more to the trim, on my Green 69 I stripped all the anodizing off the moldings and polished them, then clear coated them. After 2 years of use, they still look as good as the day I finished them. So I may wind up doing this to these in the future.

69 center molding I bought…


So here it is completed….


I am really happy with how it turned out, Its as nice (other than the trim) as the grille on my Green 69.

Keeping with the budget theme, I spent 280 shipped for the 69 center section, sold the 68 one for 225, I probably got around 35 bucks in supplies (jb weld, paint, etc.) and I spent 40 on the center molding, and used the 68 headlamp doors/hardware, and the all the other 68 moldings…which means I got around $130 bucks in the conversion/restoration!

Until Later,


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