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  View original topic: What the flock is flocking?
harrymarlin Fri Feb 14, 2020 12:22 pm

As part of restoration, I took a look at the mesh behind my speaker grill, and did a little research on TheSamba. I found out that the mesh was actually flocked, on one side, like an old speaker cover. What the flock is flocking, you ask? Wikipedia says that flocking is the depositing of many small fiber particles (called flock) onto a surface. It was originally there, it's just not noticeable anymore. Here's a pic, I believe, of an original mesh:


In a Beetle, flocking is done most obviously in the glove compartment. But it is *also* done on the speaker mesh. This isn't as widely known because 1) it's not as obvious and 2) it falls off over time. After I got my mesh replated and put it in with no flocking, it also became apparent that flocking also helps the mesh not be so "harsh" and noticeable behind the speaker grill. One issue is that the flocking is also only done on *one* side of the mesh (the side facing the driver).

OK - so, I wanted to flock, but what do I do next? Well, TheSamba came to the rescue, and one of the posters suggested a mini-flocker kit from Flock It! (http://www.flockit.com/index.php/products/suede-tex/mini-flocker-kits.html). It looked like they had a good system, so I bought the cream (Ivory) nylon kit, and sent my mesh out to be zinc re-plated.


The mesh came back beautifully done, and, interestingly was pretty flexible (the cleaning and re-plating apparently allows the mesh to move against itself much more easily). I'm glad I marked what side went towards the driver, because both sides look good, now!

Before I started with my mesh, I decided to do a few test flockings first. I went to the hardware store and bought some window screen and some chicken wire (the mesh is somewhere in between these two sizes). I'm glad I did, as well, as all did not go as planned!


My first few attempts were a disaster. The adhesive (really, very sticky paint) was too thick (you apply it with a brush)! It kept on flowing into the screen holes and my flocking basically would (inconsistently) cover up all of the holes. In addition, it would get on both sides, so I had a completely flocked screen. After a few more frustrating attempts, I decided that the adhesive provided was not meant for screens - it was meant for self-leveling for things like glove boxes. Even using mineral spirits did not make it thin enough (and still work) to not flock the screen holes! I thought I could do it right on the original mesh. Nope! Luckily, it all came off after soaking in nail polish remover and scrubbing with a nylon brush! whew!

My next attempt was to try a spray. I purchased four different spray adhesives: Elmers extra strength spray adhesive, Loctite spray adhesive (general performance), 3M super 77 multipurpose adhesive, and Rust-oleum paint+primer. What's that? Paint is not an adhesive? Well, it has some adhesive qualities, and, since the Flock It! adhesive looked and felt like paint, I thought I would try it. Here's how it went:
* Paint+ Primer: This was a very weak adhesive. It did spray well, and dulled the metal, but it just didn't capture many fibers
* Elmer's: This was slightly better, but was more like the paint without the coloring - it didn't hold the fibers *and* the metal showed through
* Loctite: Slightly better than Elmers - held more fibers, and sprayed fairly well
* 3M: This was the stuff! It was strong and could hold a lot of fibers.



One problem - with the spray, I was still flocking both sides (the spray stayed in the air and adhered to the back of the test strips I propped up). My solution? Lay the test strips down on the ground (or, on some cardboard), and spray directly down on them. Amazingly, all flocking, after this point, only happened on one side. Win!

OK, so now it was time to do the final flocking!
1) I set up my "flocking booth" (a plastic tub I had gotten from Target) - this is used to recapture the flocking that does not stick (you can reuse it). I put a piece of duct tape on the bottom to make sure the mesh didn't slip down (I had a problem with this one time, as it fell over, and messed up the consistency of the adhesive)

2) I set up my "spray booth" (a cardboard carton)

3) I filled my flocking bottle half way with flocking, and got it ready
4) I shook up my 3M adhesive
5) I put on my latex gloves (wow, the first time I flocked I got paint all over my hands - and I didn't want adhesive all over them)
6) I put my first mesh piece in the spray booth, facing up the way it would face towards the driver
7) I heavily sprayed the mesh, going evenly back and forth (maybe too heavily)


8) I quickly took the mesh by the edges and put it in the flocking booth, propped up, facing towards me
9) I started pumping the flocking bottle, facing down at a 45 degree angle and twisting it at the same time, to make sure the flocking material came out. I kept doing this until the mesh was completely covered and I couldn't see anything (only what sticks will stay)

10) I let it dry in the booth
11) later that day, I knocked it down a little to get off the excess flocking, and recaptured it into the flocking bottle

Whew! I then repeated this for the other mesh piece.
Front of mesh:


Back of mesh:


What I noted was that even with my many attempts, I didn't evenly coat it enough. As a matter of fact, I missed a corner of one of the mesh pieces, and tried to redo it (mistake - you can not spray adhesive evenly on just one part, after flocking - as you can see, it's a little over covered in that corner, now).

So, it's not perfect, but I'm pretty happy with it. I also know that the flocking will fall out over time, so it may weather/age well. Before installation, I might scrub it all off and try again, now that I've learned a bit. But I might not. My goal was achieved. I notice it's already shedding, though. :shock:

In the end, I just wanted to pass on some of what I learned during my screen flocking work. I'm not sure how many people want to do this, or care - but I'm trying to get as original as possible - and this is part of it! If this helps someone else, then it was useful!

bluebus86 Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:07 pm

Thank You, Most Excellent!

Now about flock colors? What colors may have been used stock? I got one of them early1961 Turkis color matched interior cars, would the flocking be grey, white, or a light blue, green, turquoise, or...?

Thanks again for the info!

Bug On! With Flock!

KTPhil Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:10 pm

Funny, my Bugs were always old when bought, and I thought the speaker grille "flocking" was just corrosion from exposure to moisture, and paid it no mind!

[email protected] Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:39 pm

Not that I doubt your findings, but for future car show reference, where did you find that the grills are flocked?

WADVR Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:51 pm

KTPhil wrote: Funny, my Bugs were always old when bought, and I thought the speaker grille "flocking" was just corrosion from exposure to moisture, and paid it no mind!

Ha That is what I thought too. :lol:

Chickensoup Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:04 am

Wow! thank you for your time!! bookmarked this one. :D

bluebus86 Sat Feb 15, 2020 8:59 am

[email protected] wrote: Not that I doubt your findings, but for future car show reference, where did you find that the grills are flocked?

I have had my 61 Bug for 40 years, And rode in it for 16 years prior to my ownership. I can attest that it was flocked, nowdays it is not so evident, but it was once very evident.

Bug On!

[email protected] Sat Feb 15, 2020 10:33 am

bluebus86 wrote: [email protected] wrote: Not that I doubt your findings, but for future car show reference, where did you find that the grills are flocked?

I have had my 61 Bug for 40 years, And rode in it for 16 years prior to my ownership. I can attest that it was flocked, nowdays it is not so evident, but it was once very evident.

Bug On!

I completely believe you guys. Coming from a show car restoration background, and knowing a few certified judges, Iím always intrigued to find actual documentation.

The owner, and a coworker of the shop Iím at now were at a GTO event where a participant was docked points for a very rare dealer installed exhaust tip. Turned out, a few cars down the row, a car within their class had the same tips. Only they were the original owner of the car, had the Pontiac documentation of the accessory, and the actual receipt of the purchase for the car from the dealer.

harrymarlin Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:27 pm

[quote="[email protected]"] bluebus86 wrote: The owner, and a coworker of the shop Iím at now were at a GTO event where a participant was docked points for a very rare dealer installed exhaust tip. Turned out, a few cars down the row, a car within their class had the same tips. Only they were the original owner of the car, had the Pontiac documentation of the accessory, and the actual receipt of the purchase for the car from the dealer.

That is a cool story, and gives a really good lesson in documentation.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to find any official flocking documentation, at all. I would love to see actual documentation that VW did this. The flocking makes sense to me (and it was on mesh, and other's have mentioned it on theirs), but I have only seen some official advertising photos in which it *looks* like something could have been on them - nothing that states it.

Anyone have any ideas on documentation?

harrymarlin Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:29 pm

bluebus86 wrote: Now about flock colors? What colors may have been used stock? I got one of them early1961 Turkis color matched interior cars, would the flocking be grey, white, or a light blue, green, turquoise, or...?

I have a ruby red, and the remnants of my flocking looked off-white, so I would *guess* that flocking was not color matched with the car - they were all off-white (especially as folks have only mentioned off-white flocking).

harrymarlin Mon Feb 17, 2020 8:07 am

Just to tie these two threads together:
https://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?p=8863947

67conv Mon Feb 17, 2020 9:03 am

Harry, you "flocking" rock!! The attention to detail and minutia you have been putting into your 67 vert restoration is beyond sublime! I'm sure that in the end, you will possess one of the finest 67's anywhere! Having owned and cared for a Ruby red 1967 convertible myself for 30 years, and having also the pleasure to own an original low mile (57,000 orig mi., orig paint, interior, engine, etc) 67 Savanna beige (bought from original owner in 1985), I can attest to the fact that both cars had this 'cream' or white-ish colored dash grill screen flocking material. Apparently, the color of the car made no difference in the speaker grill color of 'flocking' - at least not in 1967 anyway. Both 67's were early 1967 model year versions - Aug 1966 manufacture. As a side note, I foolishly removed my original screens 30 years ago on my 67 vert when installing a replacement speaker and cleaned up & re-painted them thinking the original "paint" was getting old and corroded not knowing it was the flocking. We call this "killing with kindness" haha :roll: Thank you for a very informative and well written article.

harrymarlin Sun Feb 23, 2020 12:44 pm

As a follow-up, I did decide that I wanted to try to make the mesh flocking look a little better, so I made a couple of changes to my process:
1) I did both pieces together to make the cover more consistent
2) I did a base coat of the Rust-oleum ultra cover smokey beige paint (I did this to ensure it still looked colored if flocking falls off inconsistently)
3) I did a heavy spray of the 3M super 77 multipurpose adhesive
4) Applied flocking on all pieces at once
5) Used a wooden skewer I bought at the grocery stores (for kabobs) to poke consistent sized holes in the mesh

After flocking, while poking the holes with the skewer:


At the end, front of the mesh:


At the end, the back of the mesh (to show the metal hasn't been coated - just the front):



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