October 2001            
Of all the cab interior, the doors looked the worse and needed the most attention.  Here's a partial listing of the condition of the doors:

  • paint worn off of the top of the doors from years of arms leaning out the windows

  • door panels stained, scratched, and very worn

  • arm rests hard, brittle, and worn

  • woodgrain design entirely missing from sections of the door panel inserts

  • window rubber wipers hard, brittle, and cracked

  • window glass very difficult to roll up or down

  •  rubber door seals brittle and cracked

While the list is long, the problems were mainly cosmetic.  More importantly, the doors were structurally sound.  There was some surface rust on the inside of the doors but they were not rusted through anywhere.  The hinges were tight and the doors aligned and shut securely.  The glass was all in excellent condition.

As I did with the dash and the cab roof, I began the door restoration by removing items.   The first items to be removed were the door panels.  In order to remove the door panels, you have to remove the window crank and door handles.  I didn't have one of the tools that is especially made  to remove these items so I first attempted to remove them using a small screw driver.  I had used a screw driver to remove the handles on other vehicles, so I figured it should work on these handles also.  I quickly learned that the screwdriver trick wasn't going to work.  The reason it wouldn't work on these door panels is due to the woodgrain door panel inserts.  This metal panel simple does not give enough to allow any room for access to the spring clip with a screwdriver.  I picked up a tool from the local auto parts store and had the handles off in less than 5 minutes.

With the panels off I had access to the window crank mechanisms.  Because the windows were so hard to roll up and down, I thought I would have to remove the mechanisms in order to figure out why they didn't work.  I was hesitant to remove the crank mechanisms because it is basically a pain in the butt -- the mechanism is hard to get at and there are lots of moving parts to juggle in such a tight spot.  I thought I would first just try lubricating the moving parts and see if that made a difference.  I spread wheel bearing grease on the gear teeth, the X hinge, the roller bearings, and in the tracks where the roller bearings rode.  I used a spray lithium grease to lubricate the coil spring and WD-40 to lubricate the crank handle shaft.  I did most of this blind which meant a lot of lubricant was sprayed or spread on the inside of the door.  But what the heck, there was a lot of surface rust inside the door, so what would a little lubricant hurt.  Maybe it would even help.  I tried putting a drop-light inside the door and using a mirror to see where I was spraying but I wasn't too successful with this technique.  Everything's  backwards in the mirror so I wound up spraying in the wrong direction half the time.  Anyway, by the time I finished the driver-side, the window would roll up and down with only two fingers on the knob.  Before, you practically had to use both hands.  Big difference.  I was glad I tried this before taking the mechanism out.

I preformed the same lubricating feat on the passenger-side window, but it didn't make as big an improvement as it had on the other window.  It was much better, but the window seemed to bind in a place or two when it was rolled down.  I think it may have something to do with the window rear channel but I'm not sure.  It isn't bad enough to warrant taking it apart to find out, so I'll call it good for now.

For now, the only other thing I took off the doors was the wing window handles.  All they needed was a good polishing and a little lubrication which was much easier to do after taking them off.

That's all I'm going to do to the doors for now.  I will wait until I find someone to do the body work and paint before I do anything with the outside of the door.  Same goes for the door seals and window seals/felt.

The only items I knew would need to be replaced where woodgrain door panel inserts and the door and window handle escutcheons (fancy word for the plastic washers that go between the handles and the door panels).  There is no way I know of to restore the woodgrain pattern on the door panel inserts and the escutcheons were simply beyond help.  

After a little research I decided it might be worth a try to re-paint the arm rests and the door panels.  I had found that several of the classic parts suppliers sold a "vinyl upholstery dye" especially made for painting these items.  If that would work, it would same me a bundle.

I checked with three internet parts suppliers that sold the vinyl dye and all of them told me that the color I needed to match the rest of the interior trim (parchment) was dis- continued.  I thought it was strange that this was the only color of the product that was discontinued.  I knew parchment was one of the more common interior trim colors, so I don't think it was discontinued because of less demand than the other factory colors.  I concluded that there must have been some problem with the color match.  I've also noticed that "parchment" is often referred to as "off-white" in some of the supplier's catalogs.  

Anyway, the dye idea didn't pan out, so I bit the bullet and decided to order new door panels and new armrests.  Seems like all of the suppliers sell these items, so I checked around for the best price/quality combo.  The armrest prices are all over the board -- everywhere from $50.00 to $80.00 a pair.  The door panels prices are more uniform among the suppliers.  Several suppliers also sold the woodgrain panel inserts, but most were plastic reproductions, not metal like the originals.

I wound up ordering the door panels and the armrests from Classic Parts and the metal door panel inserts from C.A.R.S. INC.  I forgot to order the door and window handle escutcheons at the same time but I've got much more to order before I'm done, so it's not a big deal.

This order turned out to be my first "problem" order.  Problems with orders are a pain in the neck but it does give you a change to see how a company reacts when you have a problem.  How a company responds when I have a problem normally dictates whether I continue to do business with them in the future.  I'm one of those types that doesn't complain a lot to a company when I am less than satisfied with their service -- I just quit doing business with them.

The door panels I ordered from Classic Parts were not the correct color.  I had ordered parchment and the ones they sent were dark brown.  Thinking maybe parchment was indeed a brown color I called and asked if parchment was an off-white color or a dark brown color.  They told me parchment was off-white and if I received dark brown then they had mailed the wrong color.  They not only apologized for the error, they sent me a pre-paid shipping label, called UPS to pickup the item at my house, and shipped out the correct ones the same day.  That's good service in my book.

Another problem with the order was my fault.  I didn't know the new door panels came with new door panel clips, so I also ordered the clips separate.  I wasn't worth the hassle to return them, so I just kept them for spares.  Maybe I'll sell them at a swap meet.

The other items I ordered were all correct and I was more than satisfied with the quality.  The woodgrain metal door panel inserts from C.A.R.S. INC. were dead-on perfect matches for the originals.  I was a little concerned they wouldn't be because the woodgrain glove box trim plate I ordered was, although very close, not a perfect match.

All of the new stuff I ordered for the doors is sitting in my basement just begging to be installed.  But, it will just have to be patient.  Also, waiting patiently in the basement are new seat covers and new carpet.  I don't want to install these items until the paint and body work is complete, so finishing the cab interior will have to wait until that time.  I'll chronicle how that goes in future episodes.



Copyright 2001-2006 by Johnny M. Patterson
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