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TECH new boards for old door panels

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Squablow, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,939

    Squablow
    Member

    The original door panels on my '55 Dodge had good vinyl on them but the boards behind them were totally shot, leaving the vinyl to flap in the wind. This is the process I used to redo them. I realize there are other techs on making door panels from scratch, so some of this will be redundant, but this is a little different.

    Here's pics of the panels as they were on the car, you can see on the bottom the vinyl is all loose and wrinkley. Looks like shit and after a while that vinyl is going to be destroyed from getting caught in the door jamb.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here you can see the driver's panel from the back side, it's really wasted. When I got the car, there was a mouse nest in the driver's door so big you could only roll the window down a couple inches.

    [​IMG]

    I took the panels off and I touched the bottom vinyl, -crack- oh shit! It was all brittle and shitty. I read somewhere on the HAMB about using baby oil to soften up old vinyl, so I rubbed down the vinyl with baby oil and brought the panels inside where it's warm. It really seemed to help, I think it would all have crumbled away otherwise.

    Luckily, the door panel board on the passenger side was at least intact enough to use as a pattern. I pulled out all the staples around the outside edges, took the stainless trim off, and peeled back the old vinyl. I set the vinyl aside to use later.

    Then I took the board without the vinyl and traced it out on the new material. I'm using 1/4" Luan board, as suggested by other HAMBers who have used it on door panels. It takes a staple well, it's easy to cut and it's cheap, a 4x8 sheet cost me $13.

    [​IMG]

    Then I cut the pattern out using my jig saw (which still has the $5 rummage sale price tag on it) and I cut the holes in it using a hole saw set that some nice Chinese slave children made for me (from Harbor Freight for $3.99) Finished, it looks like this

    [​IMG]

    When I make the driver's side, I'll use the passenger side door board as a pattern again, I'll just flip it over. The driver's side board is too far gone to trace out but they're a mirror image so it won't matter.

    I stapled the vinyl back into place along the top edge, then I spray glued the board and the vinyl, working my way down from the top.

    [​IMG]

    Once I had it glued, I stapled the rest of the edges, and this is what it looked like on the first attempt.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,939

    Squablow
    Member

    But the bottom section was all wrinkley and still looked like shit. I couldn't glue it down solid to the board since I had to be able to wedge a clip in between the board and the vinyl, and the vinyl is so old and has been wrinkled so long, it doesn't want to keep it's shape. Here's what I'm talking about.

    [​IMG]

    So I pulled the staples back out from the bottom section and came up with a new plan. I cut out a section of card stock to match the shape of the bottom piece of vinyl, then I glued it to the back side of the lower vinyl. This way, the cardboard keeps the vinyl flat and smooth but doesn't block clips going in from the back.

    [​IMG]

    Looks much better, I'm glad I did that. Looks much cleaner this way.

    [​IMG]

    I bought a big box of new clips from the auto supply store, they're identical to the old ones. I put them on the panels, had to bend them out a bit to fit over the thicker Luan board.

    [​IMG]

    Then I drilled out the holes where the stainless trim goes and put that back on.

    [​IMG]

    Once I had it all assembled, I scrubbed the shit out of it with Simple Green since the vinyl was all dirty and had marks all over it. Came out nice, here's the completed panel.

    [​IMG]

    I put it back on the car, along with the door handles, window garnish and arm rest. The arm rests for the '55 Dodge aren't vinyl covered, they're like a big molded block of urethane, so they held up really good. Here's what it looks like.

    [​IMG]

    I'm real happy with the results. I didn't have to replace any vinyl, it matches the interior perfect since it's original stuff, and with the luan, the clips, glue, hole saw kit. and 1/4 staples, it cost me about $50 to do all the panels.

    My '59 Edsel door panels are the same way, good vinyl but junk backs, so I'll be doing the same to those. This process was pretty simple but a little more time consuming than i thought it would be. Hopefully this is interesting enough to read and I didn't put anyone to sleep.
     
  3. Docco
    Joined: Mar 23, 2007
    Posts: 286

    Docco
    Member
    from Ippy

    Good save, most would have tossed them and started again.
     
  4. 1/4" luan is a little thick..I've been doing this kinda stuff for years and always used 1/8". 1/8" is more the stock thickness...stock vinyl fits better too.use a heat gun to
    get your wrinkles out...
     
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  5. Nice thing with 1/4" Luan - which is as thin as you can get I believe - is the light weight.

    I wanted 1/8" veneer door faces, but could only find 1/4" Luan when I built the potty room for the enclosed car trailer.
    Idea being to keep any additions to the trailer light weight.
    The more pounds you add the less you can haul.


    Regardless, good thinking on the upholstery panels.
    Came out nice and no reason to toss good panels if you don't have to.

    Good write-up as well.

    Your use of paragraphs is appreciated, lots easier to read that way....
     
  6. Great tech and tips; thanks for the thread!

    Hope to save the 50's era vinyl panels in my 36 Ford...
    Robb
     
  7. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,373

    40StudeDude
    Member

    Here's a tip...do not cut gigantic holes for the clips...simply drill the holes in the Luan (or whatever material) so that they simply pop in...use the same size hole as you're using in the door...place the clips in, then put the material over that. Yes, with the clips sticking thru, you'll need to elevate the panel to work on the vinyl facing side...but at least when you pull the panel off to do something else, the clips won't shift and let go.

    R-
     
  8. Turbo442
    Joined: Nov 27, 2005
    Posts: 702

    Turbo442
    Member

    Good post! Thanks!
    I think I will fix my old panels for now rather than replace them, the board is all that is bad just like yours.
     
  9. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,965

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    Great tech, I can't believe you were able to salvage the vinyl without it cracking around the edges.

    Did you use a heat gun like one might on new material, or would that have been too much stress for it?

    Did I mention? great tech
     
  10. retromotors
    Joined: Dec 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,045

    retromotors
    Member

    Great tech and nice job!

    Not tryin' to hijack the thread, but thought this may be of interest or help to someone.

    I'd never heard of the baby oil idea to soften the vinyl, but sounds good.

    Here is what I've always used on funky motorcycle seats.
    (Keep in mind that the average motorcycle seat spends way more time out in the weather than your typical auto interior!):D

    Your basic ol' 99 cents a can hand cleaner works wonders. (The old fashioned smooth kind, not the newer gritty type!)
    In addition to cleaning the material, it also has lots of lanolin (or whatever) in it to protect & soften your hands, and it does the same for vinyl, even gets the stitching.

    Below are a couple OT images of a seat that had been lying in my stash for years. Even after washing it was pretty funky. Just spread a coat of hand cleaner on it and rub it in. Use lots, it will soak some of it into the material.
    Leave it for a while (overnight is good) and then wipe it down with a clean cloth. Sometimes a second application is called for, but not too often.

    I did half of this seat to demonstrate the difference. After these photos and doing the other half of the seat, I took some #00 steel wool to the rusted grab rail, and the old seat ('76 model) looked pretty damn spiffy!

    Hope this helps someone.
    Regards, Retro
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,939

    Squablow
    Member

    Thanks for the replies.

    I would use a heat gun if I had one, it's on my list of tools that I need. I think it would help with the stiff/old vinyl, I could tell a difference just bringing the panels in from the back building (which isn't heated right now). The baby oil trick worked wonders too, not sure who mentioned that but it's a good one.

    The holes for the clips I made so I could move the clips around somewhat to make them line up. I would have made them a little bit smaller but I had to work with the hole saw sizes I had. The end of the clip is at least a half inch long so I can't make them too small. The original slots were nice but I don't know how to cut a slot like that without a lot of extra effort.

    As for the lanolin/hand soap, lanolin is a wax made by sheep, it's waterproof so pretty ideal for a motorcycle seat, but I'm not sure it would soften vinyl like baby oil does, baby oil is just mineral oil with perfume in it, soaks into skin easy and apparently does the same on old vinyl. (and PS, never use steel wool on chrome plating. You'll make it shiney fast but you're scratching the surface of the plating and you'll pay for it later)
     
  12. tanker1
    Joined: Apr 18, 2004
    Posts: 24

    tanker1
    Member
    from OK

    Looks good. Thanks for the post.
     
  13. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,965

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    Luan cuts pretty easy with a stiff backer and sharp utility knife. Would be relatively easy to connect 2 small holes and make a slot. I still like what you did though.
     
  14. Dick Dake
    Joined: Sep 14, 2006
    Posts: 788

    Dick Dake
    Member

    Yes! I plan on doing this this summer to mine. I'm glad it worked. I hope mine look as good.
     
  15. WQ59B
    Joined: Dec 14, 2005
    Posts: 1,088

    WQ59B
    Member

    Excellent article.
    Question: Lauan warps easily (& sometimes delaminates) if exposed to water... any thought to including a waterproofing to the backside of the lauan, such as either some sort of spray wax or paint or a heavy mil plastic like OEMs usually did?
     
  16. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,939

    Squablow
    Member

    I was planning to put a sheet of plastic on the door before the panel went on, like they do at the factory, to be a moisture barrier. The guy at the lumber yard where I got this (who is very knowledgeable) said that moisture on this would not likely be a problem, especially considering where it is in the car, but that I could also coat it with polyurethane on the back side if I was really concerned.

    With the amount of clips and screws used to secure the panel, I'm not concerned about it warping. In an old thread about making door panels, someone said that Sid Chavers uses this stuff to make all of his door panels, and if he does it I gotta think it's the way to go for materials.
     
  17. Django
    Joined: Nov 15, 2002
    Posts: 10,197

    Django
    Member
    from Chicago

    Fan-Freakin'-Tastic. 5 stars from me...
     
  18. 57 shaker
    Joined: Aug 2, 2008
    Posts: 316

    57 shaker
    Member
    from phx.az

    I think the panel looks great.You give me hope for my old bomb.
     
  19. dirty old man
    Joined: Feb 2, 2008
    Posts: 8,238

    dirty old man
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    An article in HRM within the last year or so on an A roadster described the builder using vinyl sheeting used in shower stalls and bought @ either Lowe's or Home Depot. Waterproof and comes in colors. I'm planning to look into that once I get to the upholstery phase of my build.
    Dave
     
  20. Shaggy
    Joined: Mar 6, 2003
    Posts: 5,208

    Shaggy
    Member
    from Sultan, WA

    I used sintra, It's a plastic, it's cheap, worked swell, and it will probably outlast the whole interior unlike wood
     
  21. mj40's
    Joined: Dec 11, 2008
    Posts: 3,265

    mj40's
    Member

    You have to be careful what you clean vinyls with. Nothing with alcohol in it. 409 Cleaner is the worst. Not sure about Simple Green. Just read the label or use a commercial vinyl cleaner from your local auto parts store. Vinyl needs to have the oil conditioners in it. Alcohol will dry it out and will soon crack. Have you ever been to a bar and seen how the vinyl bars rails are hard as rocks. Bar rags aren’t the best to clean them with.
     
  22. Orn
    Joined: Jul 17, 2005
    Posts: 1,036

    Orn
    Member

    Nice tech. Looks real good. I’m about to do the same to my ride but I can’t use the old stuff like you did.:(
     
  23. jmh
    Joined: Jun 30, 2008
    Posts: 446

    jmh
    Member

    Where to get sintra? How does it come? Thank in advance!...John
     
  24. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    pasadenahotrod
    Member
    from Texas

    Mopar door panels are particularly susceptible to this deterioration or so it seems. The OEM style waterproof black board is still available at any upholstery supply house by the sheet (one per door).

    A great and well-illustrated post but take a hint from the manufacturers of vehicles, not the lumberyard man, use a full sheet of heavy vinyl on the inside of door with adhesive holding it at the top and forward edges as you would find it on a factory. For hints at proper sealing pull a panel on your late model and see what they do there to protect that ALL-VINYL classic upholstery on your doors.
     
  25. 231ramona
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 274

    231ramona
    Member

    Here's how the panels on my Falcon came out with nearly the same proceedure.
     

    Attached Files:

  26. Shaggy
    Joined: Mar 6, 2003
    Posts: 5,208

    Shaggy
    Member
    from Sultan, WA

    Plastic places have it look 'em up in your phone book. it comes in 4x8 sheets, it is black and pretty hard i cut mine with a hack saw, It comes in different thicknesses I use 3/16 at work sometimes, but for my door panels i used 1/8"

    One thing though, it might not flex enough to get my 60's gm door handel clips back off, without a fight, havent needed to yet
     
  27. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,939

    Squablow
    Member

    For those who were wondering, I picked the 1/4 Luan over the shiney bathroom paneling and the black hard board because I needed to shoot 1/4" staples into it to keep the vinyl in place. With nice new vinyl, you could just glue it without staples, but that was not going to work while salvaging the old vinyl.

    I don't have any experience with the plastic, don't know how thick it is or if a staple will go through it. Perhaps there are 1/8" staples out there somewhere but I don't know of any. And that 1/8" hard board stuff will not take a staple anyway, it's too hard, I don't think any other material would have worked when reusing the old vinyl.

    Like I mentioned before I am planning to put a sheet of plastic between the door and the panel to protect it from moisture so I would think it'd last a good long time, the original stuff wasn't exactly waterproof either.
     
  28. Rob Paul
    Joined: Nov 11, 2005
    Posts: 1,264

    Rob Paul
    Member

    I like it. sweet tech.

    Rob
     
  29. Nice tech, I have a set of factory panels for my '57 Ford I need to do this too. Mine look close to what you started with.


    CBB
     
  30. Shifty Shifterton
    Joined: Oct 1, 2006
    Posts: 4,965

    Shifty Shifterton
    Member

    I'll add that you can waterproof the luan with actual wood sealer or just a quart of cheap enamel. Luan is porous and will absorb paint like a sponge.

    FWIW by the 70s they were using even lighter cardboard on door panels and they hold up fine.

    Luan is also far more stable than hardboard when exposed to moisture.
     

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