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Old 08-31-2009, 10:31 AM
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Interesting Door Panel Project

Hey everyone. New member, here. I just posted my introductions.

After reading a bunch of your threads, many of you seem extremely knowledgeable in automotive interiors. I'm more of the mechanical persuasion, but interiors is something that I want to be able to do. However, I couldn't really find any thread or post, after using the search function, that really answered my dilemma. I've gleaned an inkling of what is required. But since this is new to me, and I really do want to do this my self, I thought I would post a direct question.

Here's the situation. I'm looking at bringing the interior of my current daily driver back up to original condition. It's a 1996 BMW M3 with just under 100k miles on it. Everything in it is tip top except for the door panels, the vinyl is bubbling and starting to pull away from the door card. I've read the door panel tutorial thread, and about 10 other threads on door panels and my situation wasn't really brought up in those. I looked at purchasing new panels from the dealer, but BMW just stopped supporting these parts. I could buy "fresh" ones online, but I would probably run into a similar problem in a year or two considering they're made the same way, and they cost quite a bit. So I've decided to make a project out of it. I decided that I wanted the door panels to be covered in leather, instead of vinyl, mainly because it feels nicer and looks better. I found a supplier of leather that could match the oem interior colors.

The problem is that the door panel is very contoured. I know leather stretches, but only so much. Is it feasible to cover the panel with a closed cell foam like volara or something, then cover the panel with the leather, stretching it to fit some of the contours? Would the foam be hard to contour? Considering the working time of contact cement, how would be the best way to apply the adhesive, foam, and leather if in fact that is a feasible way to do it in the first place?

The reason I ask is because every door panel thread that I've read has dealt with relatively flat panels.

I already have a compressor, a spray gun, and some DAP weldwood from a previous non automotive project. It seems as though weldwood works well in this application, too.

I understand that most of you guys work with classics and domestics, but based on what I've read, this is one of the most knowledgeable forums I've come across.

Many thanks for your input.

The Green Machin3

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Old 09-01-2009, 07:01 AM
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First of all, your DAP contact adhesive needs to be Top and Trim adhesive. If it's not, don't use it. The glue needs to be able to withstand high temperatures and regular contact adhesive like you would use for counter tops won't work.

The substrate of your panel will need to be smooth and solid before you try to glue anything to it. Just covering the old panels with Volara won't solve anything if the underlying problems aren't corrected. Can you post some pictures or provide a link of what your door panels look like? It's easier to give you advice when I know what we're talking about.
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:15 AM
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I concur with what Dan has said, in addition I would add that you being in Dallas are near a great supplier of interior supplies, Sunbelt Fabrics. That is where I bought all of my interior supplies from.

Sunbelt Fabrics
2506 Louise Ave
Dallas, TX 75226
214-421-9882

Vince
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:24 AM
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DanTwoLakes, 302 Z28

Thanks for your reply!

Here is a picture of the door panel when covered in the factory vinyl:

E36 Door Panel

Mine was bubbling at the bottom pockets and right in front of the hole where the door handle is, the two most contoured areas.

The panel comes in 3 parts, made of fiberboard and plastic. One part is the "insert" which is the area containing the side impact air bag. This part can be removed, and is upholstered individually from the main door card. The second part is the main door card and is almost like a frame for this insert. The 3rd part are the plastic bits like the door pockets and the arm rest handle, which are also removable.

I've stripped the panels and have sanded all of the original adhesive residue off. It;s quite smooth now. I'll try to upload some pics later today when I'm not at work.

Thanks for the heads up on the correct DAP adhesive.

The hide I'm looking at is pretty thin, a little less than 1/8 inch thick. Would it be possible to glue the leather directly to the fiberboard? Or would foam be required? If so, what thickness, because I don't want there to be a loss in the sharpness of some of the edges.

Many thanks.

Greenmachin3
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Old 09-01-2009, 08:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenmachin3

The hide I'm looking at is pretty thin, a little less than 1/8 inch thick. Would it be possible to glue the leather directly to the fiberboard? Or would foam be required? If so, what thickness, because I don't want there to be a loss in the sharpness of some of the edges.
If the substrate is smooth enough, you can glue the leather right to it. It is not necessary to pad it in any way if you don't want to. I wanted to see a picture to see how many parts there were to the door panel. Just take your time, do one piece at a time and it should work out fine for you.
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