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Discussion Starter #1
I'm restoring an 86. I've bought several center vents and finally have one that isn't cracked and doesn't have broken or repaired screw lugs. In getting ready to install the part in my dash, I noticed what appears to be a characteristic failure. Gravity closes the vent flap. There is a piece of felt that originally provided enough resistance against the thumbwheel to hold the flap in the desired position. All of the center vents I have exhibit this problem. I'm not sure if I should try to repair the vent by attempting to put in new felt (seems close to impossible) or use an 87 vent (heresy) which has no flap (because the 87 has the flap built into the heater box). Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Actually, my previous post is slightly incorrect. I completely disassembled my vent and discovered that the felt I was observing on either side of the airflow redirection component is only to keep that part in place (they don't touch the thumbwheel). Those felt pieces are still serviceable.

I was able to fix the original problem by applying a small (roughly square)piece of adhesive backed Velcro (felt side) to the inside wall of the vent. The trick here is to insert the corner of the Velcro square under the thumbwheel. The resulting slight interference between the Velcro pad and the thumbwheel keeps the flap in the desired position. This technique results in a very nicely working vent but is reversible which is what I always shoot for when performing modifications during a restoration. The Velcro can be removed (admittedly a little difficult, but possible) to get back to a vent that is just the way I found it.

Vent disassembly is not required for the above procedure. If you want to do this procedure with the thumbwheel in place, carefully cut the adhesive backing on the Velcro pad so that the part that has to go under the thumbwell retains its backing (won't try to stick to the vent wall as you insert it). Insert the square with all of the adhesive backing in place and then carefully remove the backing from the accessable portion of the Velcro pad and press it to the vent wall.

Putting the Velcro pad in place with the the vent disassembled is much easier. You can simply remove all the backing from the Velcro pad and stick it to the vent wall.

Make sure your Velcro pad isn't too big. The rearmost edge of the Velcro should be about 1/4" from the back edge of the vent. This gives the flap plenty of room to close.

I did these procedures on two vents (one apart, one together) without breaking anything. Patience is required.

Vent disassembly is tricky. First remove the air redirector. It comes out the front of the vent. Insert a screw driver or similar tool into the inside of the redirector housing (thumbwheel side) and lift the flap until the lug comes out of the pivot hole. Next, push in on the other pivot lug (visible on the side of the vent furtherest from the thumbwheel). Once both lugs are out of their pivot holes, the redirector can be jiggled out.

Next, remove the vent flap. The vent flap has just enough flexibility to allow its lugs to be popped out of their holes.

Next, remove the thumbwheel. The thumbwheel has a hole in the middle. Its pivot lugs are cast into the vent body. The trick is to gently pry the crosspiece that holds the inside lug until the wheel can be dislodged. I inserted a feeler gauge between the dislodged lug and the wheel to keep it from snapping back together while I worked on the other lug. A slight amount of additional flex in the crosspiece will allow the wheel to come free from the other lug. This procedure is a hassle. If the crosspiece snaps, the vent is junk. I don't recommend doing this unless you're prepared for the possibility of disaster.

Why don't I have pictures? Well I took a bunch of them but these parts are so small that the picture didn't come out good enough to use. Sorry. Good luck and please post your results. Let me know if have questions.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Yeah, I know. I did take pictures and they all turned out crappy. Sorry. When I do another vent (hopefully soon), I'll take pictures and make sure they turn out decent.
 
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