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PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2005 9:58 pm 
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UPDATE 2016: Blue Star Spares went out of business. The armrests I colour-matched in this writeup have held up very well; they still look great.

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I discovered some months back that Graeme Jenkinson's Blue Star Spares in Australia had a bunch of new repro parts for early Valiants. One item that caught my eye was new armrests. The armrests in my '62 Lancer were getting a little dowdy—the vinyl had split on three of them, and all four were kinda wavy and warped. I ordered a pair of the new ones from Australia to see how they are.

Well, they're pretty darned good! Here're two pictures of the armrests as they arrived:

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These are obviously patterned upon the '63 style of armrest, which has the vertical lines in the embossed face, rounded contours in the grip area, and a sturdier grade of vinyl and thicker shape than the '60-'62 items. Here is a good pair of original 1963 armrests I pulled from a '63 Dart in a Denver wrecking yard in the mid '90s (together with a scarce '63 aluminum 225). This pic was taken AFTER I'd put in a good amount of effort scrubbing the armrests to clean up the dirt and grease, a fair amount of which is still visible:

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You can see the only major visible difference between the new repros and the original '63 items is that the repros have a moulding seam line that follows the contour of the grip area on the armrest's top surface. In a perfect world, we wouldn't see this seam, but given a choice between having the seam or not having the armrests, I'll gladly accept the seam, especially since it's far more visible in these pics than in real life.

Now, for comparison, here are some pics of my original '62 armrests:

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I was very concerned about trying to get the new armrests to match the odd medium metallic green colour of my car's interior. None of the major paint companies produces even a remotely close match. I took one of my original '62 armrests to a reputable local auto body and paint supply store (check your yellow pages). They had a handheld computerised colour scanner, which they pressed against a cleaned part of the armrest. The scanner flashed and clicked five times. Ten minutes later, they handed me a custom-mixed aerosol can of plastic-and-vinyl paint formulated for adhesion and flex on a plastic "wear contact" part like armrests. The cost was very reasonable.

Back at the house, I set up my painting surface, an upturned shipping box, and shot the repro (black) armrests, starting with a few thin base coats which I allowed to 'flash off' (begin to dry) for about four minutes each, then laid down a couple of heavier coats at ten-minute intervals. The important thing is to keep the can moving and make sure to hit all the visible parts of the armrest, which can be a challenge with so many differently-angled surfaces. Here's a shot in mid-job on the repro armrests:

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I would learn a few minutes after this pic was taken that it's best NOT to set even a touch-dry paint surface down atop oversprayed paint. Sticking results, which necessitates touchup.

And here's a shot in mid-job on the original '63 amrests:

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Defying gravity? No, I just used one of the armrest attaching screws to thread the rest to my boxtop's edge. Worked perfectly and allowed me to hit all the necessary surfaces without danger of sticking to the boxtop.

So how'd the match turn out? GREAT! I was not expecting the results to be this good:

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(Yep, I need to clean the driver's side door panel!)

And here's a direct comparison of new (top) vs. old (bottom):

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The extremely blue light of the sky coming from overhead, contrasting with the very yellow light reflecting off the fields behind me, made it difficult to show in photos just how good the colour match is. In person, it is basically impossible to tell these replacement armrests are anything but original equipment. Not only that, but the original '63 armrests and the new repros match each other nicely.

Aside from the (slightly) visible seam, the only other complaint I could lodge at the new repro armrests is that they are slightly "overstuffed" with filler foam, and as a result they stand off slightly from the door panel:

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Not a huge deal, and I imagine the overstuffed foam could probably be levelled down with a body file or maybe even sandpaper on a chunk of 2x4. I'm not certain I'll bother; the fit is quite nice as it is. I am very pleased with the outcome of this project, and I highly recommend these new armrests. Note that even though these armrests are '63 style and are a little different from '60-'62 style and quite a bit different from the 2-piece '64-'66 style (which used a hard plastic base with a thin vinyl-covered-foam top insert), they will bolt right onto all '60-'66 A-bodies and quite a few B-bodies. Some of the 2-door cars used much longer armrests, so you'd be out of luck there, but 4-door owners are good to go. I've always liked this style of armrest better than the '64-'66 style anyhow.


Last edited by SlantSixDan on Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:29 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 6:10 am 
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Turbo EFI
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They look nice! I had a cracked one on the driver's side that I swapped with the rear armrest as those get no use at all. I'm very interested to see how that paint holds up. My bench seat has areas of wear and discoloration that would be WONDERFUL to touch up if the paint doesn't wear off.

Nice writeup!

MJ

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 8:10 am 
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Great post, Dan! Thanks for taking the time to do a top-notch job once again.

I've painted arm rests in two of my cars and if you prepare the surface properly, they will wear like the original. Those in my '66 Dodge still looks very good and they were painted about 1982. I painted the ones in my Valiant 2 years ago and they still look new and it's a daily driver.


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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 11:42 am 
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Turbo EFI
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what would you guys recommend for cleaning? I used some general purpose cleaner like simple green to try and clean it up (which it did) but what would you use before applying paint?

MJ

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 11:57 am 
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Nice write up!

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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 12:10 pm 
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NewLancerMan wrote:
what would you guys recommend for cleaning? I used some general purpose cleaner like simple green to try and clean it up (which it did) but what would you use before applying paint?


SEM products ( www.sem.ws ) makes the plastic-and-leather-prep compound the paint supplies place sold me with my custom-mixed green interior paint. After I'd scrubbed the armrests with plain soapy water (Simple Green would've worked, too) and rinsed, I scrubbed with the plastic prep. Surface prep is crucial!


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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 12:15 pm 
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sandy in BC wrote:
Nice write up!


Thanks, Sandy. There're more coming up, as I get time to process the photos and jabber about the work.


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PostPosted: Tue May 03, 2005 3:24 pm 
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Turbo Slant 6

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Keep it coming :D
I need to know more stuff


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 Post subject: Update 4 years later
PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:34 pm 
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2 BBL ''SuperSix''

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Ok Dan ... It's been four years since you painted your replacement armrests. How have they held up? Any cracking paint? Do you still feel you chose the best method?

Thanks
Otto


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 1:40 pm 
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Actually, May of 2005 was 18 months ago, not 4 years.

They're holding up great!

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 13, 2006 2:13 pm 
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EFI Slant 6
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What's $77 in Uncle Sam's BUCKS :lol:


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 21, 2020 10:33 am 
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Blue Star Spares closed down years ago, but repro armrests like these have resurfaced here. As of 21 January 2020, the price converts to USD $47.27/ea.

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Too many people who were born on third base actually believe they've hit a triple.

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