Did the last guy leave you something “special” buried under the paint? Replace that battered doorskin with a new one from YearOne.
For a hobby that openly prides itself on brotherhood, integrity, charity, and social responsibility, hot rodding sure is filled with an apparently limitless number of scoundrels who will sell you a car whose body is loaded with unseen rot and mayhem. If you’ve ever handed over your hard-earned Benjamins to one of Craigslist’s finer proponents, congratulations! You’ve experienced that special thrill of finding a prize in the bottom of your automotive Crackerjacks.
After removing the door, unbolt...
After removing the door, unbolt the hinge hardware and set it aside. (Now’s a good time to mediablast and repaint hinges.) Here, Outlaw’s Ron Aschtgen is using an Eastwood hammer and dolly to straighten a bent corner before the old doorskin is removed.
We know that pain. Being gainfully employed at a well-known car magazine is no vaccination against buying a pooch packed with poor quality bodywork. Our ’68 was thusly ravaged. After stripping off all the paint, we uncovered the full extent of the carnage. It looked like the Nova had hit an iceberg on its starboard side, starting at the fender and gashing all the way to the quarter-panel. Unlike the Titanic, the Nova hadn’t slipped to the bottom of the sea, but found itself in the hands of a jackleg with an unbridled passion for putty.
Up to a point, it’s more economical to repair a damaged doorskin. Nevertheless, when the rust or physical damage is too extensive, your best bet is to replace the doorskin. Even a high-quality doorskin like the one we got from YearOne isn’t that expensive (under $180), and the tools and techniques required to replace it aren’t that extensive, so the threshold of making the decision to replace it is actually pretty low. (Note: Such is not the case for the quarter-panel, which we also needed to replace. That operation is far more complex. We’ll have that for you in a later issue.)
Chisel away the remainder...
Chisel away the remainder of the old doorskin where it folded over the doorframe. There are periodic spot welds that need to be broken—most of which can be split with a screwdriver and hammer.
With these tips, you’ll be armed with the knowledge and confidence to replace a doorskin the right way. It’s so easy—especially with the doorskin installation tool from Eastwood—that the job can be done in about three hours, not including paint. This is one job you should not be afraid to take on at home; the only tool of note that you want to make sure to have on hand is a good MIG welder; we like the dual-voltage Millermatic 211 with Autoset. It’s got foolproof automatic settings for wire feed and amperage; it’s the perfect tool for this job since only minimal welding skill is required, and all you’ll be doing are small spot welds.
As mentioned in last month’s paint stripping story (“Life’s A Blast”), we’re getting some great help from Outlaw Motorsports, and shop owner Ron Aschtgen walked us through the doorskin replacement procedure, a job he’s tackled on muscle car restorations many times. On a scale of 1 to 10, replacing a doorskin is about a 4, so follow along, and don’t be afraid to dive right in!
…hot rodding sure is filled with an apparently limitless number of scoundrels who will sell you a car whose body is loaded with unseen rot and mayhem. "
Since the doorskin is mostly...
Since the doorskin is mostly pinched around the doorframe, then spot welded to the frame, taking the old skin off is as easy as grinding down the edges on both sides, and the bottom. Here, a 4.5-inch 40-grit grinding wheel on a variable-speed grinder gets the job done pronto.
When you’re done removing...
When you’re done removing the old doorskin remnants, you’ll have a handful of scrap that looks like this.
The old doorskin is attached...
The old doorskin is attached to the top of the door at a pair of tabs on the doorframe. These can be severed with a cut-off wheel. Now the old doorskin just peels right off!
Before putting your new doorskin...
Before putting your new doorskin on, you’ll need to grind the doorframe smooth with a Scotch-Brite grinding disc where the new doorskin lays. Most of the rust will come off with the wheel, but some deeper rust areas may need a coating of spray-on Rust Converter, which we got from Eastwood for about $20. Use it; this stuff will save you grief down the road.
The old doorskin still has...
The old doorskin still has tabs welded to the doorframe, and those welds need to be drilled out with a sheetmetal hole cutter kit. These bits have a central guide pin that centers on a dimple that you’ve made prior to drilling out the weld. The Nova has four of these welds—two on each frame tab. After drilling them out, pry away the remaining doorskin tab to reveal the bare doorframe tab.
Time to lay on the new doorskin...
Time to lay on the new doorskin from YearOne. The new skin is pre-bent on three sides at a 90-degree angle, so crimping it down in the proper location is a snap.
Start forming the folded-down...
Start forming the folded-down edges around the doorframe with a ball-peen hammer. Begin at the corners, and work your way to the center. Work the entire door a little at a time—try a 3- to 4-inch section—rather than trying to smash one area completely and moving on.
Now fill the spot welds on...
Now fill the spot welds on the sides and bottom, taking extra care to fill the corners. Some touch-up with a grinder to the weld areas will be necessary before any paint prep can take place.
Once the door edges and bottom...
Once the door edges and bottom are bent over at approximately a 45-degree angle, use this special Eastwood tool to bend it all the way over. It has a soft polypropylene-lined jaw on one side to prevent surface damage. Once the edge is folded over, drill 1/8-inch holes in the folded flap every 6 to 8 inches. These will be used for new spot welds.
On the top of the door, you’ll...
On the top of the door, you’ll need to drill out new spot weld holes, two in each of the two doorskin tabs. Note the fatigue cracks in our doorframe tabs (the white area)—we ground those down to metal and welded the cracks shut. These are common in a 40-plus-year-old car and should be repaired at this stage.
The entire re-skin job took...
The entire re-skin job took about three hours, thanks to Outlaw Motorsports’ Aschtgen. You’ll also notice that we have a far larger problem looming—quarter-panel replacement! We will have the juicy details on that coming soon!
The spot welds can now be...
The spot welds can now be made, starting with the tabs at the top of the door. Aschtgen says it’s best to run the MIG welder “hot” because you don’t want to build the metal up; you just want to lay it in.
|Passenger-side doorskin, ’68-69 Nova
|Doorskin installation tool
|Seven-piece hammer and dolly kit
|Spray-on Rust Converter
|Doorskin crimping tool
|Variable-speed angle grinder (with 40-grit grinding wheels)
|Pneumatic cutoff tool (with 3-inch cut-off discs and Scotch-Brite grinding discs)
|Screwdriver and ball-peen hammer
|Ratchet wrench and selection of sockets
|Spot-weld remover (hole cutter kit)
|Hammer and dolly set