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Author Topic: New Door Card Vinyl - A Tutorial  (Read 601 times)

Offline weitrhino

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New Door Card Vinyl - A Tutorial
« on: 06:19:46 PM / 03-Jul-20 »
It’s been almost a full year since I moved to the west Texas desert and lost the garage space I once had for the S12. Now she sits in the driveway taking all the solar beating she can handle.

And I bet fellow S12 owners know where the beating is the worst.





Yes, my nearly pristine door panels began deteriorating rather rapidly. I’ve seen much worse; peeling, cracking, chunks of the foam backing crumbling out - and I didn’t want to suffer the same fate so I determined to reupholster the top of the door cards before it got way out of hand. Frankly, it was hurting my pride to witness the slow, steady downfall. Something had to be done.

A trip to Joann Fabric - a place I’d never been inside before - was all it took. I’d spent days hunting around for a suitable color match and came up empty. My eyes aren’t that great at subtle color differences and that made online shopping for vinyl a difficult prospect. Most vendors wanted to sell a minimum far larger than I needed, but at Joann I could buy only what was required. Their vinyl is 54 inches wide, plenty long enough for the length of the panel so I only needed to buy a single yard for something like $20US.

Royal Marine was the closest match. It’s a bit bluer than the original interior which has a grayer tone but sometimes we can’t be choosey. Nissan really built these door cards the cheapest way possible. It looks like the main panel is simply heat-pressed to the door card which sealed the vinyl from the top and bottom portions together. Then they heat-shrunk the top over the edges and glued it down.

First things first, splitting the vinyl. Use an X-acto knife to separate top from bottom following along the heat-pressed seam.



You must then separate the main panel from the plastic top. Here’s where you resign yourself to understanding there’s no way to save the plastic nibs from breaking off. Seriously, they’re going to break and there’s nothing you can do about it, so just accept it.



That’s ok because you’re going to drill through the same spaces and insert a flathead screw. You’ll need 20 of them for both doors. Be prepared with star lock washers, I also pounded the broken nibs through the metal retainers so I could use them as washers. Place the nib-filled retainer over a socket and tap the nib through with a hole punch.




The defogger vent on top of the door is also held in place the same way as the panel top. Try not to break both nibs from the vent because you’ll need at least one intact to install the vent after the new vinyl is done. I was able to get small wire cutters on one retainer. Later for the second door I used a cut-off wheel on my Dremel. If you break both you’ll have to drill and use screws, and it will show.



Now carefully peel the old vinyl off. It seems it’s not glued on the foam itself. Only on the underside of the plastic upper door panel will you find glue, but take care around the edges and around the lock and air passage holes so you don’t accidentally tear away any of the foam.



The foam does not do well when directly exposed to the sun.



You may very well find the upper plastic card is cracked as I did, especially on the upper portion of the door lock hole. That upper edge takes a beating every time someone flips the lock and it cracks out. This is why so many door lock bezels are loose and get lost. Save the cracked out piece(s) and glue a reinforcement behind. I used a snip from some exhaust hanging strap I had. It’s soft enough to bend easily and tougher than the plastic ever was. I used more to support another crack midway through the card. Scrape out the old glue so the new vinyl will adhere better.






After the panel had cured I drilled through all the nib locations and inserted a #8 flathead screw. I chose flatheads because they would disappear under the new vinyl without leaving a lump.



Insert all ten screws first then begin gluing the edge of the new vinyl to the back of the bottom edge of the upper plastic card. I used a headliner spray glue. It comes out of the can a little bit foamy and slightly like silly string - and it’s quite sticky. In fact it remains sticky even after the stated 24 hour curing time. If any gets where it shouldn’t be you can rub your finger on it and it rolls up in a ball. It doesn’t stick much to the foam but does a good job on the plastic and the mesh backing of the vinyl.



With just the edge glued in place, attach the lower card to the upper plastic card. Use the old retainers with a star lock washer and secure with a nut. Use a cutoff wheel to remove all the excess screw length.





When you’ve cut your vinyl to size be sure to leave enough so you can stretch it without getting glue all over your hands. You can always trim it back later.

When I wrapped the vinyl over the top of the plastic card I discovered some of the particle board door card was still exposed, and that just wouldn’t do.



So I came up with what I thought was a clever way hide it by placing a strip of soft nylon rope underneath the new vinyl before stretching it over the top.



The result speaks for itself. Heavy duty paper clamps did a good job of holding the edges in place while the glue cured.




The door lock bezel fit rather tightly with the new, thicker vinyl installed and now that it had something solid to clip into again. All in all I’m pretty pleased with the result on the passenger door. The driver door is now undergoing the same process. The whole project cost less than $40US.







 






























« Last Edit: 11:39:24 AM / 10-Jul-20 by weitrhino »

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Offline rednucleus

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Re: New Door Card Vinyl - A Tutorial
« Reply #1 on: 10:42:26 PM / 03-Jul-20 »
I am shipping mine to you for expert restoration! Mine are in much worse shape; lots of "foam cancer"
Great write up!

Offline weitrhino

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Re: New Door Card Vinyl - A Tutorial
« Reply #2 on: 12:30:46 PM / 04-Jul-20 »
If you have holes in the foam you could probably use a can of spray foam insulation for filling cracks and gaps. Spray some into the cavities. It will expand and harden then you could trim and sand it down smooth. I didn't want to wait until the foam began falling apart before refreshing my doors.

Offline weitrhino

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Re: New Door Card Vinyl - A Tutorial
« Reply #3 on: 05:49:46 PM / 10-Jul-20 »
Here's what awaited me on the driver's door. The top of the lock hole was broken out and the pieces would not fit again.



I got a little smarter on fixing this one compared to the passenger door. Doing it this way made it far easier to fit the lock bezel into place again, and it remains snug.





Nice fit here, and it's firm without being overly tight with the new, thicker vinyl in place.