Reskinning the Door


Figure 1

Scale Drawing of Door Skin

The dimensions of the door illustrated in Figure 1 above, are based on my 1972 4/4 and may differ from your own, but the methods described below should still be relevant when removing and replacing the door skin. Longer doors were fitted to the 'plus 8' in 1997 and the more modern models have side impact bars. Hopefully, if you have rescued an old basket case, the dimensions diagram may be of some help.

The sides and bottom of the door skin are mounted on four panels, which form a steel inner frame, that is nailed to the timber door frame. The top of the skin is formed into a flange which is screwed to the top rail of the ash frame. The door skin overlaps the bodywork as shown in diagram 1. An accurate template must be made of the door skin before removing it. This will help when making a new one. If you look at the front view in Figure 2, you will notice a weather proof wire beading is soldered to the scuttle close to the front of the door. Without an accurate template it may be difficult to get the door and the beading to fit the same profile. Apart from looking unsightly, an inaccurately constructed door skin may cause damage when opening the door.

Door Slam

Figure 2

Door Twist

The shape of the door does not only depend on the metal parts, it also requires the ash door frame being perfectly shaped, otherwise it will not fit properly. On older cars the door frame may have partially rotted, particularly in the joints. If the metal work is removed before an adequate number of measurements have been made, it will be difficult to reproduce the original. The doors are not as flat as they first appear. If you view the doors from above and in front, a certain amount of twist will be observed.

In Figure 2 it can clearly be seen that the front of the door leans at a greater angle from vertical, than that of the rear. This is referred to as 'slam' and is deliberately built in to ensure the door latches tightly. It also helps the door flow with the lines of the body.

Removing the Door

The door is fixed to the hinge post by 6mm countersunk bolts. If there is no play in the door when lifting it from the latch end, it can be removed by releasing the hinges on the door frame. To gain access to the nuts on the bolts, remove the door trim.

The door is also fixed to the hinge post by 6mm countersunk bolts. The hinge post is sandwiched between the hinges and a steel plate as illustrated in Figure 3. When removing the door, check the hinge post is free of rot. Any movement in the post will require urgent attention. To gain access to the nuts securing the hinges to the post, remove the trim in the footwell, forward of the door.

Figure 3

Removing the door

Removing the Door Skin

Figure 4

Door SkinComponents

Remove the trim panel from the inside of the door, then release the nails securing the elbow padding and remove it from the top rail of the ash door frame.

Before removing the door skin, make an accurate card template of it, whilst it is still fixed to the frame. Also make card templates of the skin overlap on the inside of the door. This is important when aligning the four inner steel panels before attaching the new door skin. Having produced accurate templates, undo and remove the six bolts fixing the door to the hinges. Gently clamp a 500mm x 800m metal sheet to the outside of the door and use a divider scriber to mark out a 6mm border around the perimeter of the door. Allow a 10mm border At the top of the door skin as illustrated in Figure 4. Make sure the scriber has left a line along the perimeter of the door and the outside of the border (indicated by the red broken line in Figure 4). The card template of the door should align perfectly with the inner scribed line on the new metal skin. This may seem a little fiddly, but if you mess up your first attempt of making the new door skin, it will prove worthwhile. Always label and keep your templates for the future.

Remove the metal sheet and cut the marked shape out, taking care to cut as accurately as possible on the outside of the line. I prefer to use Monodex cutters as they do not distort the metal, although they are hard work. Other metal cutting tools are available, including ones that can be attached to an electric drill.

The next job is to grind off the edge of the hem around the perimeter of the sides and bottom of the door. If you have a work bench, use some padding and firmly hold the door in the jaws. G cramps can be used to help stop the door skin from flapping about whilst grinding the edges. When you are happy that the door is secure, an angle grinder can be used to grind off the edge of the door hem. You MUST wear adequate face and eye protection during this operation. Welding gloves will help prevent injuries to the hands. Be careful not to grind the edge of the steel inner frame. You will need these four pieces of metal to retain their original shape if they are to be used again. If they are corroded, use your templates to make new inner metal frame pieces

Replacing the Door Skin

Before fitting the door skin, make sure that you have renovated the ash door frame and trial fitted it to the body frame. Check that the slam and the margin around the door are correct.

Carefully fix the four metal inner frame pieces to the Ash door frame with a few nails and use your templates to check that they align properly. There should be a 6mm border around the new inner frame, except in the hinge recesses and the top rail of the ash door frame. The border at the top of the door should be 10mm. When you are happy that the inner metal frame pieces are in the correct position, finish nailing them firmly in place. The nail hole positions in the metal frame pieces should be made with a sharp punch so that the heads of the nails are countersunk behind the door skin. Punch the panels on an old scrap piece of timber. Do not do it on the ash door frame. Make sure the ash frame is supported firmly when nailing the panels on.

Turning the Door Skin Hem

Figure 5

Door Skin Hem

When the inner metal frames have been fixed to the ash door frame, align the new door skin and clamp it firmly in place. Check the 6mm border around the inner door panels is accurate. If all is well, cut small 'V' shapes in the border as illustrated in Figure 5. These are to allow the hem to be folded over without an overlap. At this stage it is wise to paint the inside of the door skin and frame with anti-corrosion primer and paint. When the paint has dried, clean the metal up around the two 'V' shaped cut outs. Make sure that no paint, grease or dirt is present, then apply flux and tin the bare metal with solder around the 'V' cut outs.

The hem is formed by turning the edge of the door skin over the inner door panels. Various tools are available for turning the hem on car doors. Power tools, specially made for the job, are expensive. Special seam pliers with wide jaws are less expensive, but they will set you back 20 - 30 pounds. If you regularly hem doors you will be quite expert and will certainly not need my advice. However, if you are only going to fix one or two Morgan doors you may wish to try the same method as I use to fold steel sheet. If you check the section on Removing and Making the Rear Panel, you will see the technique of sandwiching a sheet of metal between hardwood or plywood, to produce a ninety degree flange. In the case of the rear panel, the flange was then beaten around a length of wire. When producing a door skin hem, the wire is left out and the flange is simply beaten down over the inner door panels. You must support the opposite side of the panel on a flat surface though. The twist in the door will require it to be supported as you move along the seam, Experienced panel beaters can perform the operation with just a dolly and hammer.

It is advisable to hem the front of the door first as illustrated in Figure 5 parts 1 and2. The outer skin is folded around the inner skin. The straight edge at the rear is then hemmed as shown in parts 4 and 5. Be careful as you hem around the curved parts of the door. Making plywood patterns and sandwiching the edge of the outer and inner skin will help when folding the skin at right angles without distorting it. The plywood pattern is then removed before finally finishing off with hem pliers. Keep checking the skin alignment on the inner panels. Turn the flange over the top of the door by using the same method used in Removing and Repairing the Quarter Panel. Finally solder the two seam joints at the top of the door and file them so the seam appears continuous. Check that no play exists in the hinge post and rehang the door. If you have taken enough care the door should not foul the drip wire. A paintable sealant applied around the hem should prevent the ingress of water in the future. As there are no window gaps or drains in Morgan doors, applying a sealant should prevent door rust forming on the inside of the door skin. Sealant on the inside of the door trim should also help in this respect.

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