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Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car
Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car
Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

Second Chance Garage

For the Classic Car Restoration Enthusiast

Second Chance Garage

1955 T-BIRD CAR RESTORATION PROJECT

T-Bird Project — Part 16: Back to the Body!

We last left off the details of bodywork a few months ago, and at that time the overall sheet metal activities were nearly done. All, that is, except the doors.

We didn't attack the doors until the rest of the body was reasonably straight, since they were very handy "in place." That is, while latched in place they served to help keep the body straight and gave us a good edge line with which to shape the door openings. Once all that was done, however, we needed to get the doors off and taken apart so that we could shape and prep them for final finishing. Removal was easy and we took the doors to the indoor workshop.

With the door laying on the bench we could start disassembly.

With the door laying on the bench we could start disassembly.


The first thing to do was remove the windows. The rear (lock end) channel assembly was taken out by removing three screws, followed by removing the clips that secure the rollers in the other window channels. Being careful not to scratch the glass, we lifted out the windows and then removed the remaining tracks (marking them as to which door they fit.) It was then easy to remove the crank assembly, door lock and handles.

The rear channel comes out the big hole in the side of the door.

The rear channel comes out the big hole in the side of the door.


The securing clip pops right out, so watch where it lands on the floor!

The securing clip pops right out, so watch where it lands on the floor!


The door lock assembly is held with four screws.

The door lock assembly is held with four screws.


The window mechanism looks complicated, but it really isn't. Don't be afraid of it.

The window mechanism looks complicated, but it really isn't. Don't be afraid of it.


The next step was paint stripping. We wanted to get the outer skins and sides completely down to bare metal to see what needed to be repaired or replaced. Once done, we found serious rust on the bottom of both outer skins. The rust wasn't bad enough to require replacement, but some new metal would have to be shaped and welded in.

More chemical stripper, more scrubbing!

More chemical stripper, more scrubbing!


The best tool for straight cutting is the jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade.

The best tool for straight cutting is the jigsaw with a metal-cutting blade.


It looks worse than it is, but it needs attention.

It looks worse than it is, but it needs attention.


When we finished cutting we had a narrow area of door skin to replace, which meant some cutting, shaping and welding. After cutting some 20-gauge sheet metal we bent a lip for the bottom and made our measurements. Trial and error were the keys here, and eventually we had our acceptable fit. Once we were satisfied with our fit we tacked the patch into place and made some surface measurements to make sure the skin was conforming to curvature.

This really isn't so bad...

This really isn't so bad...


The sheet metal is going into place for its first fitting. Note the previously welded repair on the left end of the door skin.

The sheet metal is going into place for its first fitting. Note the previously welded repair on the left end of the door skin.




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