Thursday, July 2, 2009

Panelectomy - Interior Part I

Taking stock of where we are: Hood, windshield frame, top, and trunk lid removed. Taking stock of when we are: About 14-15 March 2009. Since I decided to start The Blog after most of the demolition work was complete, the beginning posts (this one included) will be a couple of months off. (Psst: In real-time, the bodywork is done and it’s in final primer - paint should be applied soon, the engine is almost put back together, I have a bunch of brand-new parts in boxes, and my walk-in sandblasting/painting enclosure is complete.)
So there I was, looking at an orange-ish, faded red, semi-stripped down ’67 TR4A knowing that everything was going to be dismantled eventually, but wondering how to put the work into some level of orderly chaos. I had been working from a top-down approach and I was noting what needed to be done to separate body from frame.
- Hood? Check
- Windshield Frame? Check
- Top? Check
- Trunk Lid? Check
- Dash, Wiring, Seats, Steering Column, Doors, Fenders, Body Chrome, Gas Tank, Seatbelts, Bumpers, Grille, Heater, Interior Panels (what was left of them), Kick Panels, Linkage, etc.? Nope

Today, we will focus on the interior and door panels - after a short introductory tangent…

Even though the seats are some of the easiest things to remove on the car as a whole, you may want to leave them in for a while so you have a place to sit while taking stuff apart in the surrounding area. Also worth mentioning now, during preamble, is the door jamb seal. In the previous post, ‘The Bonnet, to Boot’, I neglected to point out that this seal goes all the way up the windshield frame so some of it will need to be removed before getting here. As with much of the pieces/parts removal, please inspect the seal prior to pulling the ripcord – replacement costs are typically directly proportional to the amount fun had taking something apart. The seal consists of an outer ‘furflex’ material (it’s just furry/fuzzy rubber stripping that keeps noise, wind, and water ingress to a minimum and, to an extent, keeps your doors from rattling) and an inner steel-reinforced strip that secures into the seal channel along the door recesses. Removal is just a matter of working one area loose and pulling until you get it all off. Fortunately, my ramblings have not strayed too far from the topic. Getting back to the panels…

By now you should have a nicely-accessible cab to work in without the hindrances of the windshield or convertible top (or surrey top if that’s what you’re into). The interior panels on the ’67 TR4A are not very sophisticated in the fastening department. Aside from screws and glue here and there, the only unobvious fasteners are those that hold the door panels on. So, after you’ve unscrewed the kick panels (the panels under the dash directly forward of the doors), quarter trim panels (those right above the wheel wells), and rear bulkhead board (I think you can figure that one out) you should be left with glued-on vinyl trim stuck to both wheel wells and ‘B’ posts (we’ll get to the door panels in a minute). There is a nice, big, shiny bolt that holds your seatbelt in the middle of each wheel well in addition to two eye hook bolts on either side of each seat. For now, just remove the chromed bolts on the wells and leave the eye hooks on the floor pan and ‘B’ posts.

Intermission Time: The car’s posts are the vertical support structures found forward of and behind each door. On the TRs, the front posts, holding the door hinges, are ‘A’ posts and the back ones, holding the door strikers, are the ‘B’ posts. Unimaginative as it may be, a four-door car would have a set of ‘C’ posts, normally housing the striker assemblies for the rear doors (the ‘B’ posts would share front and rear door duties). Limousines could have more exotic letters in their posts’ names, but we don’t have all day here.

Regardless of your post situation, we’re left with removing vinyl from them and your wheel wells. They’re just glued on, but the wheel well coverings have some troubling material behind to add padding and plush to the d├ęcor. There’s really no secret here, just scrape, pull, swear, and sweat. You could leave remnants, just enough to provide a good base to hold new glue – a wire brush would be good here.

The door panels! Each door panel will have some obvious screws (that may or may not have plastic caps on them) and some hidden tricks that will surely frustrate you to no avail. Before going further, please get/borrow a 90° pick and a door upholstery remover tool (both pictured below).

After removing the screws (including the swinging door-shut knocker), make sure the window is rolled down because we’ll be removing the window crank and door handles. They’re spring-loaded and are held in place using a pin/collar arrangement (see photos below). With your door secured (either fully shut or fully opened), press the black plastic collar surrounding each base on the crank/handle far enough to see their ends. Now, there will be a pin going through one side of the base straight through to the other side – it’s tapered so you’ll need to feel around with that 90° pick until you find the correct side and work it out. Repeat until all handles are off their respective nubs. The second, appropriately named, tool should then be used to pry the hidden clips underneath the perimeter of the door panel. Work it like you’re trying to open a pan of caint. Or, a can of paint. Again, taking care to find the clips before prying if you plan on keeping your door panels intact – otherwise, I suppose a screwdriver and brute force will work just fine. The last part is getting rid of the arm pads along the top of the door frame. They’re just glued on so if you remove them, plan on getting new ones because they’ll get a bit chewed up while removing them. When the doors are free of their dressings, you can sit back and survey your accomplishments, recall feelings of uncertainty, and pay homage to the determination that got you here.

The Aforementioned Tools

Spring-Loaded Cranky Handle

Beat-up Door Panel and Clips