1947-1955 Truck Door Panel Installation
By Stephen Kassis
Advanced Design Trucks from 1947 through 1955 (1st Series), had cardboard door panels. These panels are easy to install and add greatly to the finished appearance of the inside of the cab. They have a metal trim edge to prevent damage and warping.
Items you will need for this project include new door panels, good used or new reproduction metal edge trim, door panel fastener set, door and window handle gasket set, door handles & window crank handles.
New door panels have a nicely painted front surface but the back side is not painted. This leaves bare cardboard exposed to the elements. To prepare the door panels for installation, it is a good idea to seal the back side & edges of the panel with paint. The color doesn’t matter as it will not be seen after they are installed. However, it is important to seal the back side to prevent moisture from damaging the panels. If sealed properly the panels will not warp due to moisture in the air or in case of a window left open in a rain storm.
Spray a good coat of paint or clear onto the back surface of the door panels and set aside until completely dry. Be sure to seal the edges of the panels as well as the back surface. Clear paint can be used for this purpose.
The metal door panel edge trim must also be painted unless you are installing custom stainless edge trim. The edge trim goes completely around the cardboard panel and is joined at the bottom by a “J” shaped clip. These pieces should match the door panel color. Spray the plain metal edge trim and clips, then set aside until completely dry.
Assemble the door panel edge trim onto the cardboard door panels. Keep in mind that there are left and right panels & trim. The widest side of the door edge trim (about 3/8″ wide) goes against the door surface. Conversely, the narrow side of the trim is what will show next to the finished side of the door panel. Insert the cardboard into the metal edge and press it down until fully seated onto the cardboard. This will leave a small gap in the metal trim at the bottom of the panel. Install the “J” shaped clip over this gap with the long end going to the back side of the panel. The hole in the clip should line up with the center hole in the cardboard panel.
Insert a washer and screw through the lower hole and the “J” clip. Screw this in place then continue installing the rest of the washers & screws to hold the panel in place. (NOTE: 1954-1955 (1st Series) trucks use a push in clip instead of washers & screws). Each inside handle has a sponge rubber washer and cardboard washer installed under it. Place the sponge washer on top of the door panel opening for the handle. Place a cardboard washer on top of the sponge washer. Next, install the door handle or window crank, pressing it fully down onto the shaft. Screw the set screw in the handle down tight and check to make sure it has seated in the groove on the handle shaft.
Door panels are available in many different colors but the metal trim is plain steel and should be painted to match. Also available for custom installations are stainless steel edge trims.