Re: Upolstery of door panels for the 1950`s

Posted by Leeedy On 2023/1/6 12:10:26

kevinpackard wrote:
I've been thinking about ways to go about this for a while. I don't want to send my door panels into SMS and wait an unknown amount of time to get them back (2+ years?). I also don't want to sew the lines in either.

I came across a method on YouTube of mimicking the lines using a stiffer foam that is glued directly to the panel. It is shaped to follow the contours you are going for in the end. Then the vinyl is glued and pressed into the shaped foam, and the heat-pressed lines can be imitated. It looks okay. I'm going to experiment with it once I gather the materials.

The problem with trying to do your own heat treated lines is going to be maintaining correct temperature and pressure. I can see it being difficult to maintain consistency.


This fellow is a real virtuoso in many ways. Applause.

However, he is simply cutting forms– easy to do with straight lines. He is also using contact cement (or what the trimmers in my shop years ago called "gorilla snot"... decades before there was such a brand name).

This all looks good in a video and even in a car. When first done. But just try parking that car somewhere on a 100-degree F summer day. You may return to your vehicle to discover your vinyl-covered door panels have lost their glued-in lines and gone flat. Or are hanging in drooping balloons. Or worse.

Unless the vinyl (or any) covering is "taught" to memorize a certain shape or embossing, it will eventually revert to being the flat sheet it was when you started. And the only way to "teach" sheet vinyl and many other materials is with steam heat or electro heat combined with pressure.

I posted photos of Mitchell-Bentley's (they made interior components for postwar Packards) door panel embossing presses. This was in a previous thread like this one.

I have seen limited success with a heat gun and wooden forms. But then somebody's gotta make the wood forms. And... with a heat gun there is always the danger of scorches or burning. AND contact cement can be extremely flammable and provide a whole new meaning to "losing face."

Things to think about.

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