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Question about door panel backing


Guest bofusmosby

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Guest bofusmosby

When I bought my car ('37 Pontiac), the previous owner had re-done the interior. It looks pretty good, but it is not like the original. Fortunately, he had saved the original door panels just in case someone ever wanted to duplicate the originals. On the replacement door panels, the backing that was used is about 2-3 times the thickness as the originals. The original backing looks more like a thinner type of cardboard. The thicker backing that is on the car now sticks out more, making it difficult for the window cranks/door handles to properly fit. Does anyone know of a source for this thinner backing? Also the stitching on the original looks to be pretty simple. Is it possible that a regular sewing-machine could be used for this? There is no way that a regular sewing machine could be used for the newer/thicker backing, but the original thinner backing might be a different story.

I know, I know, I should let a professional do the work, but the funds are short right now due to the economy. Anything I can do myself will be a big savings to my wallet. Any advice or recommendations would be appreciated.

Thank you!

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The original cardboard backing can be purchased at most any trim shop. It is dense and a standard sewing machine may not have the power to punch the needle through the cardboard. Also the area under the machine between the foot and the arm needs to be big enough. The weight of the thread needed is also an issue. Most light weight home sewing machines can't handle the heavy duty thread. You can try, but the labor involved to do it right is most likely equal to the cost of materials.

Frank

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I agree with Frank. In my upholstery experience there were (are?) two common types of panel board, a thick version with weather resistant surface on both sides and a thinner type that was treated on only one side. Even the thin version would likely be too much for a regular machine to sew through, not to mention the crooked stitches that would result.

I would think in Tampa there should be trim shops available that would probably be able to do the sewing reasonable though, you could still do the fitting and attaching.

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What you want is waterproof cardboard, a relatively substantial black material. If you use the thin stuff, with only one side sealed, I guarantee it will warp. Even with waterproof cardboard, a lot of people use a plastic lining (sheet or a heavy garbage bag) on the inside toward the window, as water does get down in the door.

A regular machine might sew through it, but what you need is a walking foot maching, that pulls both fabric and cardboard through the machine as it sews. I don't believe most home machines are walking foot.

The other problem is that a lot of the sewing detail sometimes is far enough away from the edge of the panel, that a regular neck machine can't reach it. In that case, you need a "long neck" sewing machine, or you can fake it. Faking it means sewing the pattern into the fabric with a thin backing (white cotton cloth used for drapery backing works perfectly), then you glue the sewed piece to the backing board, making sure seams are straight.

Your best bet is finding someone who knows what they're doing, and get it done.

Now, one last comment. There's a restorer in Virginia who specializes in Ferrari restoration. He uses not cardboard, but thin aluminum sheet for panel backing. In that case, you do have to "fake" the sewing, but it's guaranteed not to warp!

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Guest bofusmosby
Faking it means sewing the pattern into the fabric with a thin backing (white cotton cloth used for drapery backing works perfectly), then you glue the sewed piece to the backing board, making sure seams are straight.

You know, I was wondering the same thing. After reading the various posts on the subject, I see that specialized equipment is a must for this work. I must admit, I believe that the pattern of stitches on the panels would be simple enough to do on a regular sewing machine, if I then glued the finished material to the backer board. If I were to do this, what would be the best type of glue to use?

The backing board being used right now is the type that one would find at someplace like a home depot. Its just not right for the job. Also, the material is sort of "pleated", but it is not fastened to the backing except along the edges. It just doesn't look right.

Thanks guys, I appreciate it! You have definately given me some food-for-thought. You have also pointed out the error in my thinking.

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For glue, a lot depends on the material that you're using. With leather, contact cement (I prefer the gel variety) works fine. Apply cement with brush, let get tacky, carefully line up and mount. For vinyl or cloth, I probably use contact cement on the panel, and 3M or equivalent spray glue on the backing. Contact cement can bleed through at times, not worth chancing it.

Waterproof cardboard used for cars is not, to my knowledge, sold at Home Depot. Sources are easily found online.

I am sure that with patience a home sewing machine could be made to work. A walking foot machine helps prevent puckers in the fabric, and can give correct stitch length, which is an important detail on exposed stitching. You also need special feet, or modified feet, for the machine, if, for example, you're putting in a half round rubber detail under the fabric (as many designs had).

good luck.....

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Guest dokks6t9

Try finding a shop that does canvass boat repair, or someone who has horses and has a commercial sewing machine that can sew leather. I had a friend repair my canvass on my pop-up camper,using his machine that sews leather, with 100% success. Just might do the trick. The local camper stores around here quoted me $100 per hour for sewing jobs. It's no wonder they have a hard time staying in business.

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Guest bofusmosby

Thanks guys. You have given me a lot of food for thought. If I do this myself, I will be sure and document my work and post some photos.

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Guest Skyking
You know, I was wondering the same thing. After reading the various posts on the subject, I see that specialized equipment is a must for this work. I must admit, I believe that the pattern of stitches on the panels would be simple enough to do on a regular sewing machine, if I then glued the finished material to the backer board. If I were to do this, what would be the best type of glue to use?

Metropolitans use a hard board similar to Masonite. When I did my cars I used exterior Masonite which worked out perfectly. It was thin enough to wiggle into the upper lip of the window finished moldings. On Mets, the finished moldings are in place before the panel is applied. Once the material was "faked" sewed together I used a glue gun on the wrapped edge. I used the same method for the hard card boards that wrap around the back seat.

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Guest pete324rock

I have used Meranti plywood which is a thin mahoghany that you can staple to and it will stand up beter than cardboard and is fairly cheap if it is offered in your area. It is used as a floor underlayment. Probably should paint it also for added insurance. You can cut it with a jigsaw and score it with a steel razor knife for precise cuts around door handles.

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There should be an upholstery supply shop in your town, or not too far away. They sell the black cardboard you need. It comes in 2 grades, a thin kind for the bottoms of kitchen chairs and a heavier stock for door panels.

You will want to seal the door with a sheet of plastic with caulking around the edge. To prevent dampness from warping the door panel. All new cars have this vapor barrier and have had for many years. There is just no way to stop moisture from running down the window into the door. Make sure the drain holes in the door are open.

Here is another good trick. Put Velcro around the panel to hold it in place. Better and easier than the stock clips which are usually shot anyway.

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