Door skin replacement

OK, there’s no way round it, this was a major blunder on my part. Lack of research. Attention to detail (none). All that stuff. In fact I’m reluctant to write this post, but if it stops someone else making the same mistake it will be worth it.

Replacement door skins. Sounds pretty straightforward, and if you’ve done a bit of work on things like Series Land Rovers then a replacement door skin is a full replacement.

Something like this…

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When the doors were dip stripped we had a brief conversation about taking the skins off to ensure that the frames would be properly cleaned. I was replacing them anyway so … great idea.

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Doors stripped with skins removed

Bad idea! What I didn’t realise was that aftermarket replacement panels are in fact 3/4 replacement skins. The logic is (apparently) that the top part of the doors don’t rust much, and therefore don’t need to be replaced. I guess the 3/4 skins are also simpler to manufacture.

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Image from Martin Robey site (2 and 3 show the 3/4 panels)

It was a low point when I got a call from The Surgery, where the body repairs are underway, asking why on earth I had taken the skins off the doors. After a lot of research we concluded it would be simpler and cheaper to see what doors I could find here in New Zealand and we would then salvage the top part from those. The alternative was to try and source complete door skins, which are very hard to find.

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Here are the skins I purchased from Martin Robey

I managed to get four doors at a reasonable price, although they were very rusty. I was still very annoyed with myself for making this mistake, but at the same time relieved to have found some doors so we could now progress.

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One of the four replacement doors I sourced

These doors were stripped and the tops of the door skins salvaged.

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Salvaged door top stripped and ready to be matched to a frame
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Salvaged tops on frames ready for the repair panels to be fitted

Having got to this point we were hoping for plain sailing from here on in. Nope.

The replacement door skins turned out to be a poor fit. They weren’t the correct width, leading to large and uneven gaps between door and frame. This is not a criticism of the Martin Robey replacement panels. After some research we found this is a common problem with replacement door skins “these days”. It seems to be the norm that they require a lot of rework to make them fit well. However, it would be a lot easier all round if suppliers could provide a product that was either a little larger, or even better the right size.

However, in the 1960’s manufacturing tolerances were nowhere as good as they are today, so variation between car bodies may also be a factor. When I dissembled the body of the Jag I could tell by eye that (in some areas) there were differences between one side of the car and the other.

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Gaps
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Gaps
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And, more gaps

After adding metal and weld to the door and pillar edges a much better fit is achieved.

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Edge added to door skin
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Metal added to pillar and door skin
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Much better fit

 

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Final clean up

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At last, doors that fit! Better than the originals. This painful experience has certainly taught me to take my time and consider things carefully before committing to a course of action.

7 thoughts on “Door skin replacement

  1. Hi Tony, I think the trick is get all the gaps the same size. These old cars weren’t made to the tolerances that we are used to today. I will ask the guys at the body shop what they aim for. The car’s still there.

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  2. Hi Phil.
    My name is jeremy. I’m from England. UK. Good to read the story of your restoration project. I to have a mk 2. I only wish I could have stripped my own car down. I purchased mine completely stripped so it is like a jigsaw putting it back together and finding out parts are missing. I was wondering, if I come across any problem or need some advise , could I contact you. I have the engine and gearbox back in. Crossmember in place. Partly wired.

    Thanks
    Jeremy.

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  3. Hi Jeremy,
    There are a number of people out there restoring vehicles they purchased stripped. I’m lucky in comparison! Yes, free to contact me at any time, I will help if I can.

    Thanks for reading my blog and good luck with your restoration!

    Cheers, Phil

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