No joy in Cooks Brook!

This is my door panel after three (3) coats of heavy duty contact cement. Seemed OK. It took that much to get a shiny reflection when dry. Other two coats seemed to soak in. But it was not to be. Next to no stick at all. After some head scratching I read the instructions – when all else fails eh! The cement needs a temperature between 18 and 24 C. or between 65 & 75 F. I don’t have the luxury of a fully heated garage. I keep it above zero when I’m not working and then about 50 F. when I’m working. A nice work temperature with warmer clothes on – not a t-shirt. Maybe that’s the problem. Back for another can of glue tomorrow and we’ll see how it does at 70 F. Stay tuned!

Door panel #2

I was very careful when removing the upper beige vinyl so that the backing came out pretty well in one piece and without too much distortion. I laid it out over my quilting batting and cut around the edges.

This is what it looks like after. Better than trying to figure out where it should be on the backing board and then cutting it out and trying to make it fit.

Next I marked the arm rest screw holes and used a good sized punch to remove the batting.

No problems now when it comes time to mount the armrests.

With the top and back of the old and new backing boards lined up, you can see the extra material on the new board. Isn’t much, but enough to skew the position of the lower clips and keep the vinyl from fitting over the top properly. I put lots of weight on the old board, lined it up, marked the new board and trimmed. I needed to shave a bit off a tip corner too.

Some of the mounting holes didn’t line up all that well either.

This corner slot isn’t even in the picture!

This is the way to remove the clip opening plugs.

This is what happened when I simply punched out the plugs – some of the panel paper layers pulled off. Learning curve strikes again.

I cut off the excess with the utility knife and also modified the holes to match those in the original boards.

This time I decided to test fit the board with all the clips in place. It fit quite well with just a few of the clips needing a bit of a twist. The clips are designed so they can be twisted as needed to fit properly.

After getting a good fit with the clips I marked each one so they will be close to being in position when I fit the recovered panel to the door.

Time to put the backing in place and staple it to the board. This time no guesswork. I just put the batting exactly where it was on the original board.

Next I put both vinyl sections in place using the edges of the board and lining up the stainless trim tang puncture marks. I then removed the blue vinyl and test stapled the beige vinyl in place. Next I put the blue vinyl back to make sure the beige vinyl was still in the right place. I then added more staples along the stainless trim line.

Next I went around the edge with my 1/8″ staples with tabs of batting.

I replaced the blue vinyl and lined it up again. With the stainless tangs lined up I clamped the bottom edge. I then turned the everything over and stapled the bottom edge and the sides just up to the line for the lower stainless trim.

Here’s an earlier shot where I have weighed down the blue vinyl section – trying to get the cardboard backing to flatten out. It still was quite warped. After I fitted the blue section in the shot above I again weighed down the panel. I did that yesterday and today I left it in place. Tomorrow I’ll try to glue it down to the backing board with some full strength Lepage’s contact cement.

More door panel work

This is the lower felt along the bottom of the board. I stapled it using full 1/4″ staples.

I then just snipped off the excess staple length. I did this the same way for the upper padding that is under the beige vinyl section.

I then laid out the two vinyl sections to get the correct positioning for the beige section. I matched up the outer edges with the board and then the tiny trim strip holes between the two vinyl sections where the chrome strip is inserted.

That done I stapled the beige section down using 1/4″ staples and cutting the excess off. Notice here that I didn’t punch out the padding material for the arm rest bolts. This is the first panel and with it comes the usual ‘learning curve’. There will be a number of changes in how I do the second door.

Time to get the blue section on the board. Here I have positioned the blue section again to make sure it fits well with the beige section. Next I flipped the board and stapled the loser section across the bottom edge and a bit up each side.

I have flipped back the upper section of the blue board. I have applied a first coat of Lepage’s Low VOC contact cement. The backing is thick box board. The design stitching has been sewn right through the box board. It will need a second coat. With the vinyl stapled securely along the bottom it will match up properly when I lay it back onto the backing board.

Second coat on the vinyl backing and a matching coat on the backing board. I let it dry completely before pressing the two parts together. It fit nicely and I used a roller to make sure good contact was made.

Once the panel was cemented in place I finished stapling the panel using my shorter1/8″ staples. I had to add another bit of felt under each staple to be sure not to go through too far and punch through the vinyl on the front. This was a tedious job because the stapler wasn’t made to handle staples shorter than 1/4″ They often jammed or twisted on the way out. I pulled the vinyl tight with each staple.

I needed to make openings for the stainless strip tangs. The original boards had holes already in position. These boards did not. I found that I could make good 1/8″ holes using a squeeze punch. I rotated the1/8″ punch to the back side then pressed and twisted until it worked it’s way through the vinyl and backing board. I made a hole for every tang.

Trim strips in place. More details on the removal and replacement of the trim strips on the next panel. Looks good but I had problems getting the top of the vinyl to fit properly over the backing board???

Turns out the reason the original vinyl didn’t want to fit was that the backing boards are too big. I managed to get the panels on but I had to frig a lot with the clips along the bottom to get the panel high enough to fit under the top trim. Even so it fits but, not properly. The backing board is being stressed along the bottom. I’m not keen about taking the panel apart because the stainless trim tangs are pretty flimsy and some have rust issues. Another problem is the contact cement. Even though I got the vinyl with the sewn-in box board fairly flat the glue really isn’t strong enough. It being a low VOC product likely means it performs less well than the regular product – another change for the next panel. The quilt batting I used is some tough stuff! I just didn’t want to cut with scissors or a small utility knife when I tried to make holes for the armrest screws. I will punch them out ahead of time with the next panel.

Next – panel #2

Back to the door panels

There are two pieces of thin felt on each door. This one at the top rear and one other about 4″ or 5″ wide that runs along the bottom of the door. The old stuff is too ratty especially along the bottom edge where the backing board was rotted out. I happen to have a supply of closed cell foam that is about 1/8″ thick which should work nicely.

The foam is wavy by design so I will need to glue it down to the backing board so it remains flat. I’m using Lepage’s low VOC contact cement here for the test. Unfortunately the test didn’t work out. The glue tended to run into the tiny grooves in the foam surface. So it didn’t have enough good contact surface to bond with the test paper. Now I need to find another way. Much of my work here is going to be finding ways to do things that are straightforward for an upholstery shop.

Here I have marked out where the top felt needs to sit. It is a bit tricky as it must extend beyond the vinyl at the front, but about a 1/4″ inch back from the top and bottom. The rear edge needs to run up to the edge of the board. I was careful when removing the old felt and this provided the correct measurements.

Luckily my wife is a quilter and she happened to have some felt material that was suitable for the job. I needed to double up on the material to get the correct thickness. Now I just need to staple it in place.

Here is the result using a 1/4″ staple through two layers of felt. The original backing board appears to be about double the 1/8″ thickness of the new door boards. This isn’t going to work. I need shorter staples.

I really need 1/8″ staples, but I cannot find any home staples that are shorter than 1/4″. To get shorter staples I would need to buy an upholsterer’s air staple gun and the special thinner shorter staples. It hardly seems worthwhile to buy all this equipment for this one job of two door panels and I don’t plan on doing any other upholstery stapling. So what to do? Each door panel will need about 200 staples. Here’s my solution. I took longer staples and marked each row with a marker at 1/8″. I then snapped off 3 or 4 staples at a time and using a set of side cutters, I snipped them off at the 1/8″ mark.

Starter # 2

This is an Autolite starter that will be the main unit. I have also built a backup Delco-Remy to keep in the trunk. Here I’m putting in the main battery positive post.

Here I have installed the brush plate. The arrows point to where I attached the leads from the secondary field coil. One lead is already attached to the battery + terminal and the other is yet to be attached to a ground point.

Here I have installed the mid-plate and bearing and the bendix. I will attached the mid plate to the snout and then put the unit in the vice and drop the field coil housing over the armature. I did a final check on the field coils and the armature with my 110 volt tester to be sure all was good before final assembly.

Armature in place.

Good used brushes are all in place. The starter is all assembled at the time of this post, but now I see that the bottom brush may be held out by the wire covering. As the brushes wear they have to have freedom of movement to adjust inwards. I’ll pull off the commuter end plate and remove a bit of the wire’s covering.

Just a shot of the new commuter end plate. I was able to get this plate as well as a new mid-support plate w/bearing from Stephen Allen’s. I find they are a good source of parts. Especially the more hard to fine ones. I added a few drops of oil to the felt at the back of the bearing.

All assembled and almost ready for paint. I used a bit of chain lube on all of the bearings. They are oil impregnated bearings, but a little extra should help the initial wear-in. It sticks well and for the amount the starter spins it should stay in place. I will tape off the bendix opening and any other openings before sand blasting the field coil body for paint.

A little diversion, but now I must bite the bullet and build the new door panels for the ’54.

Still on the doors

I have one door installed and complete and am mostly done with the second door. For a break I decided to break down one door panel to see what I’m up against. No trouble removing the door clips all around the sides and bottom. Next I pulled all the staples. They are 1/8″ deep. That may be a problem as I have not been able to find any for a hand staple gun. they are all a bit longer and thicker. When I did the rear quarter panels I had to use small wads of man-made fiber I had lying around to staple through so that the points didn’t go beyond the mounting board. Same issue here I bet.

Next I removed the two trim strips. They are held on by pointed tabs that protrude through the backing board and are simply bent over to hold the trim in place. The majority were in good shape, but there are one or two which might not put up with being re-bent. I’ll try to bend them back in the same direction they were removed.

The two trim strips. Why one has such an arc I don’t know. It will be a problem unless I can somehow straighten it out. The tab strip seems to be holding it in that position. Notice that the new backing board does not have any holes to take the trim strips. I assume this is because these boards were common over many years with many styles of interior trim. The original trim strip tabs were actually pushed through the original backing board as far as I can see. No chance this is going to happen with the new stiffer backing boards. Once the vinyl is in place I’ll drill or punch out a hole for each tab to ease the install.

The vinyl is two toned and each part is separate. This will make the job even more fun! You can just make out the original padding along the bottom of the photo. It is thin (1/8″) loose felt-like material. It also covered the back of the beige top piece. There is a layer of it behind the sewn fabric on the bottom section. It will have to stay as I’m not taking the stitching out. You can just make out the holes for the trim tabs.

The bottom panels with the stitched-in fabric and filler has warped over the years. I will have to glue the panel to the backing board to flatten in out. Sounds simple, but gluing with good contact cement doesn’t allow for any mistakes. This is going to be a bit of a trick.

But back to the second door. I’ll be back with more news when I can continue with the door panels.

More door stuff

Before applying the weatherstrip contact cement I traced out the rubber’s shape to help put the cement where it should be.

I’m using 3m weatherstrip cement. The brush is a disposable that I have shortened to make it stiffer. It will only last long enough to put on the two strips of weather seal.

It has been awhile since I bought a tube of 3M weather seal. My last tube was a product called rapid dry… It was a bear to put on and it dried too quick. Half the time you were pulling off the semi-dry sealant while trying to spread it around. This stuff is much better to spread and it dried quick enough for me.

Stuck on real nice.

I did the fender seal in two parts. The upper part is a bit tricky to place correctly. Doing it by itself was easier. After it was well stuck I applied the cement to the fender track and then to the rubber. I could have held the rubber until it tacked up – as I said above it dries quickly, but not too fast.

I’m also installing new front window channels. These are really hard on the thumbs to get into place. The only way I could fit it in was to slide it into the outer lip in the trim strip and then use a tool to push the inner lip into the trim slot. I got about an inch or so in at the top and then pushed the rubber up into position at the top of the door frame. Easier that way.

This is a nylon tool for working window seals without damaging them. Good to use here – I used the wide end. A screwdriver might work but the sharp edges could damage the seal. Could only do an inch at a time. Not a fun task!

I want to move the door to the rear by about 1/8″. To make it a little easier I made a line towards the front of the door. This is the left door. I’ll line up the door with the front line to start the fitting process.

I don’t mind had painting. Here’s the latches and strikers and striker spacers are all in prime. I’ll give them two coats of chassis (satin) black. A very forgiving paint when doing hand painting.

Next – getting the door back in place. This is a time consuming process. Adjust a little here and then fit a little there until it is all right. I will go ahead and do the second door once this one is in place. Before all that I have to do some work on my ’74 Dodge -the Big Yeller Express. I won’t put that on a Studebaker blog! So it will be a few weeks before I get back to the engine work.

Rubber replacement

The upper inside front door seal is badly crushed. The rubber in the same place on the body was pretty crushed as well.

Of course the rubber doesn’t want to come off easily. I went at it with paint reducer and it came off fairly well. I’ll try acetone on the other door.


Reducer and a small wire brush and it cleaned up OK. Still a bit in some spots, but I don’t think that will be a problem.

Same story with the door channel.

Next – gluing in new rubbers. Not very exciting!

Door panels and rubbers

A nice tight fit at the door front.

A somewhat wider gap at the back, but fairly even.

The door panels themselves are fairly presentable. I do need to change the colour of the armrests. You can just make out a bulge in the lower front.

Upper door trim, handles, etc removed.

A handy little tool for prying out door panel and other clips. I’ve had it for years and I have used it often.


You can just make out the waves in the blue section of the door pane.

The panel is a whole lot worse than it appears in the photo.

Rear bottom corner looks really sad. No wonder the panel was wavy!

Front bottom corner isn’t much better.

Before removing the door I traced out the hinge to help make the re-install a bit easier.

The door latches look pretty ugly too without paint. They didn’t get painted when the car was done. No idea why not. It’s been a few years since it was painted. I don’t have any of the original paint so I’ll just give them a nice coat of chassis black.

Not very sophisticated but I find this getup works to hold up the weight of the door while I take it off. The adjustable seat pushes up nicely on the door taking the weight. My wife will hold the outer end steady while I remove the last two hinge screws.

Next – the rubber situation.