Tasmin/Wedge Door Cap Refurbishment

Spring is in the air and my thoughts turned to ways of doing something about the interior of the car to pretty it up a bit for summer. The carpets have signs of water damage and the veneer has started to crack and de-laminate in places. The leather is also in need of some restoration but apart from a good cleaning this can wait for another time. The veneer door strips over the years have also seen better days. I phoned around for a few quotes to get these re-veneered but these came back at least ÂŁ100+ to do the work!
As you can see from the pictures below the door cap ‚veneer‘ had started to crack and flake off badly. After a little research I discovered that the wood is not actually a veneer or indeed even wood!
In need of some TLC Not good....
It is an aluminium rod that is attached onto the door panel with a few bolts that run in a slot on the back. The aluminium half round face is then covered in a brown paint to match the rest of the proper wood in the car. The paint then has a wood effect grain ‚film‘ bonded to the top of it to give a wooden look and feel. The whole lot is then sealed using a thin varnish to protect the ‚grain‘ and to give it the same lustre as the other wood used in the car.
Over the years the varnish had cracked probably due to the extremes of humidity, heat and cold the car endures. The wood effect had flaked off in many places in large chunks and the whole lot now looked very unsightly and needed doing badly. After counting my pennies in my ’secret TVR slush fund‘ (come on boys admit it we have all got one!) I decided that I could not afford to have these done professionally and my only option was to go for plan ‚B‘ – the cheap DIY option.
Plan ‚B‘ consisted of somehow removing the interior leather door trim panels. Somehow removing the varnish and wood effect paint from the door strips and then somehow cleaning up the metal and then hope it would all turn out ok – some plan eh?!
The leather covered door panels are held in place by several large self-tapping screws that run along the bottom of the trim panel. If you have the rear black plastic false ‚door panel speaker‘ bezels these will have to be removed as well as these four screws also help hold the leather panel in place. The top of the panel then sort of hooks over the inner fibreglass door skin. With a bit of moving about the door panel should lift clear (after remembering to disconnect the real front speaker wires!).
The door cap strip is then held in place by five small bolts that protrude out of the rear of the door panel. These will be rusty and might need a little ‚persuasion‘ with a spanner or a squirt of WD40 to remove. Undo the bolts and the strip can then be lifted out from the panel. At this point be careful not to bend the strip as it is only aluminium and might get distorted if you use too much force.
I set about removing the varnish with quite coarse medium grade sandpaper (18p a pack of five sheets in Tesco’s Extra), this had the effect of removing large amounts of the brown paint and wood effect film in very little time. I made sure that I kept sanding in the lengthways direction so as to try and create a brushed aluminium look in the metal.
Flaky varnish Keep in lengthways direction
Once the majority of the varnish was removed with the sandpaper I then used wire wool on the metal, again ensuring to keep the direction lengthways along the strip to enhance the brushed effect. One tip though when doing this try and use disposable gloves as the black and brown fine powder that comes off is a mare to get off your hands afterwards….and your living room carpet – do this outside!

Once I was happy that all of the imperfections on the metal were ‚brushed‘ out I used a degreaser on the metal surface to give it a thorough clean and buff up. I then used a spray sealer / varnish obtained in B&Q (ÂŁ4.99) and gave the strips an even spray coat, this would ensure that passengers would not get marks on their clothes or hands after touching the bare aluminium. After several hours the strips were completely touch dry. The sealer once cured dried completely transparent to clearly show the detailing of the brushed aluminium beneath. In my opinion the door strips looked excellent and as luck would have it, were also an exact match for the Clarion speaker bezels that were mounted directly beneath the strips on the door panel. Whilst the strips were drying I decided to take the opportunity to grease all of the door lock and window lift mechanisms. I also used silicone spray along the window runners to help the glass along. I can recommend doing this as afterwards the window glass shot up and down at near light speed instead of the usual will it / won’t it make it to the top syndrome.
Another thing I took the opportunity of doing is getting some sticky backed plastic and sealed all of the inner door skin access holes up. Originally these would have been sealed at the factory to help stop draughts getting into the car at speed but over the years previous owners had opened these up to carry out work on the window lift workings and had not bothered to seal them back up again. The final thing I did before refitting the whole lot was to clean the leather door panel, this being a light magnolia colour had become incredibly grimy and soiled looking. I used ‚Jif‘ scouring liquid in very small quantities and with a clean damp cloth started to clean the leather.
Langs leather dressing Door strip in place
Now using this method does indeed clean the leather without a doubt but you also have the danger of over doing it and taking the leather off – especially if the leather has been ‚painted‘ on over the years – be very careful. The other downside of using something like ‚Jif‘ is that it incredibly dries out the leather and will make things worse unless you have good quality leather feed to apply straight after. I used ‚Langs‘ leather dressing paste as supplied by Richard Thorpe at RT Racing which gave a very good result.
Close-up of door strip Clean door panel
The difference was astounding; you do not realise just how dirty the leather is until you start cleaning it and make a clean spot! Using the above cleaning process the results were very satisfying. If in doubt however employ a more conventional method of leather cleaning using purpose made cleaning products. After re-bolting the door cap strip to the nice clean leather door panel the whole lot was re-fitted to the car using brand new self tapping screws, as the old ones were now loose.
The entire job did not taken long but now the leather was clean, the windows operated as they should, the door locks locked! I no longer had draughts coming through the door when going down the motorway and best of all the door caps looked brilliant.

Total cost ÂŁ5.17, it is also a relatively easy job and the results are more than satisfying especially for the cost – give it a go

Best regards
Mike


Article by: Mike Bressington / thewedgepages.co.uk