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Technical Door skins: Sheet metal, lead or bondo?

Discussion in 'Traditional Customs' started by Dad Was A Racer, Aug 27, 2017.

  1. Dad Was A Racer
    Joined: Oct 7, 2014
    Posts: 130

    Dad Was A Racer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    This is my newly acquired '56 Olds (60k miles, one-owner, 100% complete) that has some pretty bad rust in the lower door panels. The front doors are the worst, with some areas missing and/or holes rotted through in spots. The backs are just kind of swiss-cheesed, but not missing any large areas.

    I've never tackled real bodywork like this before and while I want to "do it right", I don't want to get carried away. I'm already replacing the front floor pans, but when I move to the doors, should I:
    1. Cut out the lower door skins and replace them with new, hand-fabricated skins (no commercially made replacements are available)?
    2. Patch the larger holes and fill the areas with lead?
    3. Take the easy route and patch with mesh and bondo?

    I wanted to avoid painting the car and leave it in it's patina'd as-found state ( I think the original paint with buff out and look pretty good) but repairing by any means will require a repaint to look right, so I'm not sure that's a factor in my method of choice.

    For those that have skinned doors, what should I know ahead of time? I've been through two of Gene Winfield's two-day classes and I'm pretty confident I know what's involved, but I'm open for suggestions or tips. IMG_1347.jpg
     
    Donuts & Peelouts likes this.
  2. You know what to do. HRP

    1. Cut out the lower door skins and replace them with new, hand-fabricated skins (no commercially made replacements are available)?
     
    Donuts & Peelouts likes this.
  3. mikhett
    Joined: Jan 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,409

    mikhett
    Member
    from jackson nj

    Cutoff the bottom of the skins then mig weld the skins to the upper skin.Dont leave a gap.butt them tight .Go Slow.You will get warpage so you will have to hammer on dolly the Haz area only.Good Luck.
     
  4. How close are the door bottoms to Chev pieces (and are they available?)
     
    treb11 and sunbeam like this.

  5. Contact EMS sheet metal,a vendor here,they are extremely helpful and may have something that will work or they may have something they are working on. HRP
     
  6. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,312

    Budget36
    Member

    Weld new metal, filler...lead is tough to do, stick with a good plastic filler.

    Is the body coming off?

    Re-butt welds, look into Cleco-styled clamps....life savers
     
  7. tubman
    Joined: May 16, 2007
    Posts: 5,228

    tubman
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    That looks like a real easy fix because you can hide the seam under the side trim. If you do it right, you won't need any filler at all!

    From what I can see, that looks like the only rust on it; I can't believe the dogleg and rear fenders look so good. How are the floors and trunk?
     
  8. ceege
    Joined: Jul 4, 2017
    Posts: 204

    ceege
    Member
    from NW MT

  9. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

    Yep, I would cut them off right where tubman says, don't worry too much about how much filler you wind up using. You can worry about that on the next set of doors you repair. Trace a pattern and add 5/8" for flanges. I know it's not accordi g to Hoyle to do so, but I would seriously consider a lap joint where the molding would cover it.
     
  10. s55mercury66
    Joined: Jul 6, 2009
    Posts: 3,980

    s55mercury66
    Member
    from SW Wyoming

  11. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 46,907

    squirrel
    Member

    I wonder how bad the bottoms of the doors are? not the skin, but the inner panel.
     
  12. Dad Was A Racer
    Joined: Oct 7, 2014
    Posts: 130

    Dad Was A Racer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    The bottom of the front doors looks about like the sides unfortunately. But I think they can be patched/repaired to an acceptable level. The front floor pans are getting replaced though. IMG_1368.jpg
     
  13. Dad Was A Racer
    Joined: Oct 7, 2014
    Posts: 130

    Dad Was A Racer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Man, most of the rest of the body is really solid. The truck is perfect and except for the front floor pans, the rest of the interior is good to go. All of the glass is there, unbroken, and the inner door panels are good enough to use as-is.
     
  14. Rckt98
    Joined: Jun 7, 2005
    Posts: 982

    Rckt98
    Member

    I have owned a 56 98 coupe and am working on (very long time project) a 56 98 convertible.
    NOTHING interchanges with Chev. Buicks had the same doors ( at least the hardtop doors interchanged).
    We have fabricated a complete new floor, rockers, door bottoms etc, no one I am aware of sells decent patch panels.
    All the best with the project.
    Russell
     
  15. Dad Was A Racer
    Joined: Oct 7, 2014
    Posts: 130

    Dad Was A Racer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    So I have discovered! Nothing like having a "rare" car...
     
  16. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,298

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    You will need to weld on lower door skins. They rust plenty on the inside too, you will need to cut higher than you think to eliminate all the rust. Putting the seam under the chrome is a good idea. Then you can spot weld every 2 inches or so, and seal the seam with seam sealer or butyl calking. It is easy to avoid warping if you spot weld.
     
  17. dave 62 pb
    Joined: Nov 5, 2013
    Posts: 216

    dave 62 pb
    Member

    A lot of sound advise given, although it is not my trade I love doing bodywork making repair panels and lead loading , i am self taught but have picked up a lot of sound tips along the way
    This is how i repair doors, take a card template of the door cut the door skin well above the rot then carefully grind away spot welds on the outer skin where it folds over the door frame, remove the outer skin and double check it with the template
    Work out the depth of steel to fold over the inner frame and allow that amount on your new sheet + extra to lip over your cut on the door, buy a good joggling tool (stepper ) and step the door inwards ( this allows any water that runs down the inside of the door not to get trapped , draw out the shape on new sheet steel
    do the first fold on the bottom of the door skin
    Now get a piece of flat bar 1/2 inch by 1 inch cut a slot in it the depth of the lip you need to fold over the door I use a 1 mm cutting disc then square the cut with an hacksaw place over the sheet and gradually start working your way around the sheet for the curves, put the skin on the door and work your way around with a hammer tapping the fold
    Plug weld the lapped joint making sure the panel is clamped tight if you are not leading the joint use seam sealer as mentioned then you only need a thin skin of bondo over the joint
    Hope this helps it sounds a bit long winded but practice on some scrap first
     
  18. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 4,979

    sunbeam
    Member

    I'm pretty sure Olds and Buick doors interchange. Eastwood sells a door skin tool for $30+ make the new skin go to the trim line and use panel adhesive and let the trim cover the joint.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2017
  19. Dad Was A Racer
    Joined: Oct 7, 2014
    Posts: 130

    Dad Was A Racer
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Lots of really useful info there, thank you!
     
  20. mgtstumpy
    Joined: Jul 20, 2006
    Posts: 8,225

    mgtstumpy
    Member

    I'd do a 1/2 panel sheet metal replacement from the stainless strips down and fold (Hammer & dolly) the edges like OEM. Not a fan of those flange tools although they make it easy. The gap between the panels traps moisture. I've always butt welded the new section(s) in where practicable and used these clamps to secure panels together. It's a lot easier to dress up a single panel layer than a double panel layer. A lot also depends on your skills and access to tools etc. A good template is a start. When I did body work many moons ago we were taught to not finish them once tack welded. Fit the panel(s) and check all your gaps, it's too late once its finish welded!
    upload_2017-9-4_16-41-12.jpeg
     
  21. ffr1222k
    Joined: Nov 5, 2009
    Posts: 1,120

    ffr1222k
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

  22. I love '56 Oldsmobiles.
    You could buy another set of doors like the ones posted, save a lot of time, but where's the fun in that?
    I wonder what the differences on the Chevy? A door bottom is a door bottom. I've used a "Universal Door Bottom" from a supplier and with some creativity, made it work. Plus it was cheap. So, if you have a lot of time than money - there's plenty of alternatives.
    When hammering over door seam use a sanding block for a dolly. You can pull off dent free sheet metal if you're patient. Good luck and most of all, have fun!
     
  23. joeycarpunk
    Joined: Jun 21, 2004
    Posts: 4,443

    joeycarpunk
    Member
    from MN,USA

    3. Take the easy route and patch with mesh and bondo?

    Sadly this is even considered as option for repair.
     
  24. GordonC
    Joined: Mar 6, 2006
    Posts: 2,105

    GordonC
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    I was thinking 4 door doors are probably easier to find and get than the amount of work to make those right but ffr1222K beat me to it!:D
     
  25. mikhett
    Joined: Jan 22, 2005
    Posts: 1,409

    mikhett
    Member
    from jackson nj

    I DONT LIKE THOSE CLAMPS!THEY LEAVE TO BIG A GAP.
     
  26. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 14,545

    Squablow
    Member

    I'm with those saying just look for some better doors. I parted out a '56 Olds 88 4 door years ago and I couldn't give the doors away. Granted, yours looks like a 98 and I don't think the doors interchange but I'd bet with some looking you'd find some real nice doors for not much money. Lots of 4 door sedans get parted out with the doors left behind. Especially in Texas.

    Work on your floor pans and other areas of the car that need work, and just put the feelers out for a junkyard that might have one of those cars in it. You will find some.

    I'm usually the optimist in what is fixable, but in this case, you'll be glad you held out for some better units. You can always swap your trim and glass and stuff over to the new shells if they don't have any.
     
  27. merc-o-madness
    Joined: Aug 23, 2004
    Posts: 1,544

    merc-o-madness
    Member

    4 door doors are cheap better off looking for good ones
     
  28. I know the cheap shortcut to about anything but replacing the metal is your only real option on those.
     
  29. Gene Winfield taught this?
     
  30. dave 62 pb
    Joined: Nov 5, 2013
    Posts: 216

    dave 62 pb
    Member

    I joggle the original door/panel so pressing is to the inside that way any water or moisture runs over and downwards rather than seeping into the joint also the lap joint reduces warping
     

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