First let me thank all those who responded with hints on dash
refinishing. Second, let me say that I should not have tried to
fix something that wasn't [too] broken.
I spent a good part of the long weekend gutting the interior,
replaced the rear engine mount, prop shaft U-joints, all windscreen
gaskets, carpets, all dash pads, made several misc. repairs and the
I went with a chemical stripper because, other than the lower
corners under the vents, the finish was okay, and I didn't want to
spend 2-3 hours scraping. Under the vents it was bare veneer. It
took five 25 minute sessions with the stripper before all the
varnish was off. After the last application of the stripper, I
cleaned the surface with 50/50 lacquer thinner & denatured alcohol
and '000' steel wool (very gently). Then I put it aside to dry.
About 4 hours later, the wood had about 3 different shades of
brown, along with some areas that were blackish. All together, a
very mottled look. I now assume that this is what the 'wood grain'
actually looked like under the heavy coating of translucent yellow
varnish. I didn't think it was an improvement, and went back and
did yet another application of stripper and 50/50.
I am now on my third coat of poly, and, well, I guess I'm getting
used to it looking like this. Maybe I won't notice it as much with
all the gauges in......
Which leads me to a question: Several listers suggested that I
clean the inside of my gauges and replace rotted gaskets (yes, they
fog up every time it rains). The two large gauges were no problem,
but I can't budge the bezels of the 4 smaller ones. I've tried
spraying WD40, and let it sit overnight, but that was no help. The
three slots on the rear of the face have what looks like melted
black goo in them. Could this be the remains of the gaskets? Has
anyone found a way to twist these off, without resorting to gorilla
power? I'm hesitant to bend the tabs and pry off the face; it
looks too easy to break.