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Old 05-28-2007, 01:30 PM   #1
tdellaringa
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Default Loose door panels - how hard to fix?

One of the issues with my new vette is loose door panels. Apparently the previous owner had them off to replace weather stripping. (On the right side, it apparently was so bad it scratched the window).

Well whoever did it, did a horse-butt job of putting the panels back on. Here is what they currently look like:

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Obviously they rattle when you close them and the doors don't close firmly. I have no idea why they were left this way (other than laziness).

I also have a part that he bought (I have all kinds of bags of screws and such that he bought and never used) that supposedly helps the door/window not rattle - apparently they were never installed:
(Sorry for the bad pic, I put the text on the bag clearly)

Click the image to open in full size.

So I'm wondering how much trouble it is to take these apart and fix them up right... and should I use these anti-rattle parts he has? It seems like the panel is not hooked on right. I have nothing to reference though, so I have no idea. Any tips are appreciated!

Tom
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:37 PM   #2
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Looks like they're not even installed correctly.

Remove them and make sure they're hooked over the top of the door snugly before screwing them in.

Those pads just push the window towards the outside to keep it tight. They have nothing to do with the panel.

Metal "arm rest savers" will help secure the panel better.
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Old 05-28-2007, 02:07 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CentralCoaster View Post

Metal "arm rest savers" will help secure the panel better.
Are these internal or external pieces? (I assume internal inside the door?) Is it a big job to take these off and put them back on?
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Old 05-28-2007, 02:24 PM   #4
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This is one of those "small" jobs where having the Helms manual really pays off. You don't have your profile filled out so I'm not sure what year your car is but judging by the end of the panels, it appears to be a '95 or '96. There is a lattice affixed to the inside of the panel that has 4 hooks on it that go into corresponding slots on the inside of the door. These lattices are made of plastic and will often be broken, so I'd check that first. If they are ok then you should be able to correctly install the panel with no trouble. Also, the factory decided to not install a screw in the ent of the panel on '95 and '96's for some reason. You can see the bracket where the screw goes in your picture, it's opposite the door latch. But the plastic inserts and drill the holes and they will help greatly. The "door savers" CC mentioned do not apply to '95 or '96's because the door panels are screwed directly into the door on these years unlike eariler cars. Best of luck and congrats on your new Vette.
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Old 05-28-2007, 02:25 PM   #5
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They go where the handle is, on top of the panel and secure it to the metal part of the door, so you're not pulling on the plastic panel when opening it. Not even sure if that applies to newer doors. Mine is an 85.


The panels tend to crack where they hook over the door. If yours are, you can either reinforce the panel, or put some brackets on the top of the door to hold what's left of the panel better.
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Old 05-28-2007, 04:45 PM   #6
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Where's the best place to get a Helms -ebay? Are they year specific? My car is a 95'. Are there any parts I should make sure I have before I start this? I don't think my panels are cracked, they seem in fairly good condition, but I guess you never know til they are off.
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Old 05-28-2007, 04:52 PM   #7
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A Helms is the way to go for the detailed instructions. You just need a screwdriver and time. There is nothing special about this. You need to take off the door panel, and then reinstall it correctly. There is a lip on the top of the door panel that fits over a flange on the door sheet metal. You need the manual for the instructions on how to disassemble the door panel.
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Old 05-28-2007, 05:06 PM   #8
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Many people get a Helms off Ebay and save a good deal. I bought mine directly from Helms for about $125. The manual is a 2 book set, if you buy off Ebay make sure you are getting both volumes. Also, there are two versions, a white one which is a preliminary version and a red one. I would get the red one.
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Old 05-28-2007, 07:56 PM   #9
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the door panel hangs from the top and then screws hold the panel against the door. if all the screws are in place and the top keeps coming loose then its cracked ribs. once the ribs crack the panel can't hold its shape and it slips off the top lip of the door. it's very common on these cars. get your self some "J-B Weld" adhesive and give all the ribs of the door panel a generous coating then wrap the panel with masking tape tightly to keep its shape until it drys. did this fix a few years ago and it's still holding strong.
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-28-2007, 09:00 PM   #10
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I do not see the point in buying a Helm manual to reinstall a door panel.


Wiring diagrams / diagnostic info sure. But for basic assembly, no.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:40 PM   #11
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Cracked ribs, very common. Door panel spreads out and won't stay hooked on at the top. The other common problem is broken corners and cracked retainer holes at the bottom from prying it off the door and not being careful. Excellent fix advice above. When you have the door panels off for the repair job take the opportunity to examine the plastic window guides at bottom of glass toward the front. If half worn through they need to be replaced or will break soon and window will flop around in the door.
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:59 AM   #12
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Helms manuel is not that expensive...good to have
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:28 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ynk1121 View Post
the door panel hangs from the top...did this fix a few years ago and it's still holding strong.
Click the image to open in full size.
Thanks for the detailed info! I appreciate you writing that up.
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Old 05-29-2007, 07:30 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CentralCoaster View Post
I do not see the point in buying a Helm manual to reinstall a door panel.

Wiring diagrams / diagnostic info sure. But for basic assembly, no.
That was going to be my next question. I do plan on getting one sometime, but I have shelled out a lot of cash recently. I imagine if I take note of everything as it comes off I would be okay...
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Old 05-29-2007, 11:32 PM   #15
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I just went through this last winter and found that all the ribs in my drivers door panel were cracked. If they're cracked they won't hold the top of the door panel on and it will keep slipping off. I had no trouble removing and reinstalling the panel and I'm not what you would call an expert at working on cars. At the time I didn't have the Helm manual but I do now and it is an excellent resource. I only had the Chilton repair guide which had adequate information about removal and reinstallation procedures for the panel. This can be purchased at your local auto parts store. I also installed an L bracket at the top of the door to hold the top of the panel on better. My repair and some more information is in the link below. Its still holding together strong. I hope this helps.

http://forums.corvetteforum.com/show...ght=door+panel
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Old 05-30-2007, 08:07 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 96polovette View Post
I just went through this last winter and found that all the ribs in my drivers door panel were cracked. If they're cracked they won't hold the top of the door panel on and it will keep slipping off. I had no trouble removing and reinstalling the panel and I'm not what you would call an expert at working on cars. At the time I didn't have the Helm manual but I do now and it is an excellent resource. I only had the Chilton repair guide which had adequate information about removal and reinstallation procedures for the panel. This can be purchased at your local auto parts store. I also installed an L bracket at the top of the door to hold the top of the panel on better. My repair and some more information is in the link below. Its still holding together strong. I hope this helps.

http://forums.corvetteforum.com/show...ght=door+panel
Thanks! That is helpful. I still don't quite get what the ribs are, but I guess when I get it off I will see. The L-brackets make sense. What did you use as a glue to reinforce them?
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Old 05-30-2007, 02:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CentralCoaster View Post
I do not see the point in buying a Helm manual to reinstall a door panel.


Wiring diagrams / diagnostic info sure. But for basic assembly, no.


Even the simplest jobs have caveats that having a manual around will help you to avoid. Plus if you have never done work like this before it's good to learn the CORRECT way to do it than to go diving in because someone who has done it a number of times told you it was simple and then you crack the ribs, strip out screws or 1000 other things that could go wrong.

Get the manual, do it right the first time. One of my favorite quotes:

"Why is there never time to do it right the first time but there is always time to do it over?."
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Old 05-30-2007, 03:00 PM   #18
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Darnit, he has a point there.
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Old 05-30-2007, 03:02 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdellaringa View Post
Where's the best place to get a Helms -ebay? Are they year specific? My car is a 95'. Are there any parts I should make sure I have before I start this? I don't think my panels are cracked, they seem in fairly good condition, but I guess you never know til they are off.

You can order them here.

http://www.factoryautomanuals.com/home.php
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:11 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tdellaringa View Post
Thanks! That is helpful. I still don't quite get what the ribs are, but I guess when I get it off I will see. The L-brackets make sense. What did you use as a glue to reinforce them?
You can use a construction adhesive you get at a hardware store. I used a product called Titebond Polyeurathane Liquid Glue. If you look closely at my pictures in the link above you will see the ribs on the underside of my door panel. I have a 96 so mine should be similar to yours. I put a metal bracket on each side of the rib over the crack and bolted them in place. If you look at the picture the repair should be self explanatory. The liquid glue I also used to hold everything in place. Glue alone probably won't do the trick as the ribs of the door panel flex alot and there is a lot of stress every time you yank the door to close it. The glue is the white squishy stuff you see in my picture.

When you remove the panels undo all the screws with red arrows in the diagram above and don't forget to pop out the interior door light. Take your time and remove the panel slowly, disconnecting the wires in the trunk release and window switches very carefully before removing the panel all the way.

When installing the L brackets you just undo the bolts on the top of the door and place the L bracket on them. The rear one has a window buffer in the door so be ready to catch it on the inside of the door or it will fall inside the door when you remove the bolt to place the L bracket on it. I used 1" metal corner brackets from the hardware store. You bend them about 10-15 degrees towards the interior of the car for a good fit.

You may not need to repair your ribs, you won't know what it needs until you remove the panels and look the inside over. Like you said it could have just been a half @ssed door panel reinstallation. Another option if you got the cash is to purchase new door panels online for about $500 apiece.
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Old 05-30-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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