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Guest Technical Article:

$10 Vinyl Service
Cover for your 914

Pete Dubler
pete@dublerfamily.com 

This winter I will be having my 914 repainted so I thought this was a good time to get a service cover to protect the new paint from tools and grease. Well it seems service covers are available for 944’s and 911’s but not for 914’s, so I set out to make one. The end result cost about $10 to make. The "deluxe, two-tone" version took less than two hours to cut and sew. An "economy" version, costing no less in materials, but less in time, could be made in 20 minutes or so, but might not hold up quite as well.

The measured drawing shows the pattern we used. I say "we" because credit is due for my wife’s sewing skills which were a key to our "deluxe" version. The photo will help you see how the cover lays on the car and what a "two tone deluxe cover" looks like.

You will need three running yards of "S/C Vinyl" which should be 54" wide. S/C Vinyl is a very flexible vinyl material that has a soft backing material. We found this a Walmart for $3.23/yard. Two strong flat magnets are also needed to hold the front side edges of the cover to the car. I found some "rare earth" magnets at a surplus store for only a quarter a piece. (Got a few extra to put on my oil filters to catch any metal in the oil). I imagine the donut magnets available at Radio Shack and other places would also work, but they are not nearly as strong.

The "economy" version of the cover is made by simply placing all of the vinyl over the back of the car, marking and cutting. You can either cut from the pattern, and hope for the best, or use this stepwise marking and cutting procedure on (and near) the car:

  1. Fold the 54" width of vinyl to 36" wide, colored side out, and lay this on the trunk, splitting the length (~9’) evenly from side to side.
  2. Now, using a piece of chalk (a tailor’s chalk works great here), mark where the sail ends at the trunk. Make a cut square from the edge of the material to your mark on either side of the sail. Then make an ~2" cut between the two long cuts and discard the ~2" x 16" piece.
  3. Lay the resulting wide flap between the sails flap over the engine cover. Carefully press the flap up against the inside of the sail and chalk out the inner line of the sail for a precise fit. Also run the chalk down the gap around the three sides of the engine cover.
  4. Trim the vinyl for the inside of the sail and the engine lid gap parallel to the sail. DO NOT cut the vinyl at the back of the engine lid gap (between the engine lid and the trunk), instead mark a line ~2" in from there creating a flap which will hang into the engine compartment thus protecting the front edge of the trunk. Cut off the excess material covering the engine lid leaving the 2" flap.  See attached figure.
  5. Finally, mark and cut the side forward pieces under the sails. I cut mine short of the doors so I could get in and out of the car without disturbing the cover. The way to do this is to hold the material against the car and draw a chalk line right under the chrome at the base of the sail. DO NOT cut the excess material off. Instead mount your magnet (see "M" on the drawing) on the back of the "excess" vinyl with tape or sew a pocket for it. (The sewing of the pocket should not show on the "pretty" side of the service cover). Then fold the material over at your chalk line and sew just below the chalk line or tape the back . This gives you a smooth, non-scratching surface between the magnet and the car. (CAUTION: If you have a modern, microprocessor controlled sewing machine, do not put the strong magnet near the machine, it might fry the memory. Instead, machine sew a three sided pocket, remove from the machine, insert the magnet, and hand sew the fourth side of the pocket.)

The big difference between and "economy" and "deluxe" cover is finishing the edges with rolled hems (thicker lines on the diagram) and adding bar tacks (sewing back and forth) to reinforce the corners from tearing. Our cover is two-tone simply because Walmart did not have a continuous 3 yard piece of black vinyl the day we shopped for it, but after all, it looks pretty fancy having two colors... (The pre-finishing dimensions of the side (tan) pieces are 55" x 18" and for the center (black) piece is 58 " x 53").  See finished product, Figure 3 and Figure 4.

The dimensions on the diagram are finished dimensions (but I would still use the chalk method rather than just cutting directly from the pattern). For the "deluxe" version, add " inch for each rolled edge and seamed edge.

You may also want to add a softer backing, such as mattress pad material, to the top part covering the trunk to prevent tiny dents from tools which leave your hands prematurely.

This was a great project to share with my wife Jill (without her help it would have been very "economy") and reduced the amount of time she is spending these days as a "914 widow" while I work on the car.


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