Pony/Deluxe door panels warping

These things have to be the curse of the interior restoration process. The problem seems to be that the panels themselves are thicker than standard door panels to accommodate the arm rests & other trim pieces, and when the vinyl and arm rests are installed on the panels, due to the adhesive or whatever process they are using, the panels warp. When they warp, the clips pull out of the door & leave an ugly gap, that is typically “corrected” by sheet metal screws through the panel & into the door.

After years of putting the panels on stands face down & then piling on steel blocks (about 50 lbs.), where they sit for a week or two, we would install them, only to find that eventually they warp again & pull out the front and/or rear clips.

We’ve recently had a “brain cramp” here & “may” have a solution. We recently took the usual “warped” new door panels, and, with a cut-off wheel, cut a series of vertical and horizontal grooves on the back of the panels so that they would “flex” more easily. We then taped off any holes or openings for the arm rests, remote mirror hole, etc., stuffed strip caulk into the aluminum trim “tang” holes, covered the panel with fiberglass cloth cut to shape, then resin, threw our weights back on (don’t glue them to the panel), & let it dry. In a couple of places we had to cut a slice or two in the stainless trim on the back of the panel where it began to buckle.

The next day, we pulled off the weights, sanded down any high spots left by the fiberglass & they seem to be retaining their correct shape. It’s been a few days & all’s well, and we’ll keep an eye on them.  Be sure to keep the fiberglass resin away from your clips as they may need to be moved around a bit for installation & you don’t want them fiberglassed into the wrong position.

As with most restorers, we’re always a little optimistic & always searching for “silver bullets” to fix age old problems, and if this “silver bullet” doesn’t work, I’ll let you know through future blogs.