The Door, Part II

Today was the day to get the passenger door all put together. Instead, I installed a screen door on the house–and the T-bird’s door still needs a little work.

Fiberglass Application
Fiberglass reinforcement, just applied.

I had no idea how intricate that door panels on these cars could be. The are made of multiple pieces and can be disassembled, unlike that door panels from cars in the 70’s and beyond. Many of the pieces are stapled together, some are held on by bent tabs and others are glued.

The bottom of the panel slides into a small channel at the base of the door. (Later cars typically use clips to hold the panel to the door.) If you’ve been following the saga, you know that the molded cardboard at the base of the panel, which is supposed to sit in the channel, was rotting away. I spent a good deal of time reinforcing the rotted elements with fiberglass this afternoon, and the results were good–the bottom of the panel should slide far enough into the channel to give it some support and hold it in place.

Fiberglass, Cured and Sanded
The fiberglass, cured and sanded.

Once the fiberglass reinforcements were done, I removed the carpet trim and glued it firmly in place. (It had been held on–sort of–with double-sided foam tape.) After that, I was able to install the stainless steel trim between the carpet strip and the vinyl. The trim came with the car and is probably original, but it has been floating around in the trunk for years.

The last piece was the felt strip at the top of the door panel. Aside from acting as a trim element, the window glass rides against the felt, preventing it from rattling around in the door. The old piece was shot and there was a new one–once again–in the trunk. I had to remove a number of old rusty staples to get the old trim off. There was no way to staple the new one on (and I don’t have the right tools anyhow), so I glued the new trim piece on with epoxy.

The Restored Panel
The restored panel

At the end of the day, I left the panel out so all the glue could cure properly. If it all appears solid tomorrow, I’ll take a stab at putting it on the actual door. In the end, it’s hardly perfect, but it’s much better than it was.

The screen door looks nice, too.

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