Sunday, April 7, 2013

Door Panel Protection- Tech Tip

Door Panel Protection

By Bob Lewis

When a T-Bird door is removed you will often find that it has been water damaged, stained and worst yet, buckling and bending.

All this is not surprising as the window/door area was designed to be a "wet" area. Rain and car washing water is intended to pass thru the glass window brushes and exit thru the bottom holes in the door. When new, Ford placed a "tar/oil" paper shield between the door (metal) and door panel to protect the cardboard panel from this flowing water. However, with repeated repairs to door mechanisms, this shield material was often damaged or missing altogether. The "cardboard" door therefore was at the mercy of the water flowing thru the door. Water and cardboard make for warped and stained door panels. Happily there is an ounce of prevention available. The prevention comes in 2 parts:

While the panel is off the vehicle (hopefully still flat and pristine condition) one should seal the back of door panel (cardboard) with any number of products....spar varnish...polyurethane coating....Thompson's water seal... clear enamel from a rattle can...all will do. You should avoid getting the sealing material on the cabin side of the panel.

When the sealing material has dried, cut a sheet Tyvek or some thick plastic sheeting (4mil black visqueen) making a shield to fit and protect the back of the door panel. Cut out the door and window mechanism holes. Glue or tape the shield to the back of the door panel. See attached picture of installed Tyvek shield. The "wet" looking stains are Lubriplate used to lube the door and window mechanism splines and the door retaining clips (lube clips to ease installation to the door frame holes).

BTW, this technique of sealing the cardboard panels with varnish, sealers, etc., can also be deployed to protect your kick panels, quarter panels, side trunk panels (1 per '55, 2 per '56,57?), glove box. air guides in the heater plenum.etc.

Editors note, If your door panel is damaged, there was a tech tip written by Jeff Burgy in the July. 2010 TARTC Newsletter showing how to repair a warped or damaged panel. Repair it, then protect it with Bob Lewis's suggested sealing process.




My very first impressions of the original two-seat Thunderbird were formed fifty-one years ago at the annual Chicago Auto Show It was during the 1954 extravaganza that my father, Ted, and I witnessed one of the earliest public exhibitions of a car that became an American icon.

This historic moment was held Saturday, March 13 on the first floor of the International Amphitheatre, which stood at Halsted and 42'"' Street. A total of 55,000 paid the forty-five cent child and ninety cent adult admission on that opening day, and I clearly remember the mobs of humanity happily jammed into the two story exhibit hall.

When we reached the Thunderbird display on the ground level people were pressing against each other straining to get a glimpse of Ford's elegant two-passenger concept. Since we were standing close to the front and my father was six feet tall I had an unobstructed view of the demonstration while sitting on his shoulders. I recall bright lights illuminating a turquoise car, with attractive female models wearing pastel evening gowns and men in business suits milling alongside the vehicle. As the Thunderbird slowly revolved on the turntable a lady dressed in yellow gracefully pointed out various design details, like the recessed door handles wraparound windshield and easily removable fiberglass hardtop roof. Suddenly she made a swooping motion to illustrate the T-Bird's low silhouette. While sitting inside the car on the one-piece, foam-contoured seat she operated the safety glass roll up windows and telescopically adjustable steering wheel. Later I learned her name was Miss Reggie Dombeck Chicago's "Miss Photo Flash Of 1954.

Next, a spokesman popped the hood and swung it up to expose Ford Motor Company's new high-compression, low-friction, short stroke Y-block V-8 with overhead valves. He announced that this dream machine's engine had a four-barrel carburetor and 160 horsepower all connected to Fordomatic drive with a floor-mounted range selector. Basically this was the same power plant found in the 1954 Mercury.

At the conclusion of the Thunderbird performance my dad took me into the little Ford theatre that was part of the mam floor exhibit. Showing on the hour from 11 AM to 11 PM through March 21 was a CinemaScope film of Fords newest cars and trucks, including behind the scenes planning of the 1954 models. The Technicolor movie was shot entirely at Ford's test track and plant in Dearborn Ml. Admission was free but tickets had to be obtained either from a Ford dealership or at the Ford passenger car exhibit located on the second floor of the Amphitheatre.

Included in that upper level space were cutaway models of the l-block 6 and Y-block V-8 engines which operated in slow motion to reveal the action of every piston and valve. Another interactive Ford display allowed visitors to compare power versus manual steering, brakes, window lifts and seat action.

Two fiberglass sports cars also vied for the publics attention at the 1954 show the limited production Chevrolet Corvette and the Kaiser Damn by Kaiser-Willys Motors. But as I recall the enthusiastic approvals from the auto show crowd back then was that Thunderbird was really something special. Here was an American designed steel bodied sporty car that had personal luxury comfort and safety combined with high performance. When the 2002 T-Bird went into production it was deemed a 21st Century interpretation of the 1955-1957 classic. Yet none will have quite the same impact for me as the turquoise two-seat Thunderbird that debuted in the spring of 1954.

(Mitchel J Frumkin is the author ot six books and writes auto related columns for web sites and publications including "You Auto Know" in the Northwest Herald newspaper. He served as Director of R & D for 14 years at Publications International Ltd and was responsible for the development and photographic acquisition of more than 300 Consumer Guide books and issues of Collectible Automobile magazine. Mitch's original paintings and computer-enhanced photographs have appeared in many books, newspapers and magazines. Prior to entering the publishing field Mitch designed toys for companies including Playskool and Kenner and he holds several design patents )

This page first appeared in the CTCC "B-4" Program Book (2005). The event commemorated the 50lh Anniversary of the Ford Thunderbird, featuring an aerial photo of 50 classic T-Birds - parked in a "50" formation.

The truly spectacular salute to the original Thunderbird also included a one-half scale
color photo of the "first production 'Bird," - S/N 100005. The T-Bird, owned by the late
George Watts, has since sold for $660,000 (at a Barrett-Jackson auction!).

Directors Report



Since Perry Anthony was unable to attend the CTCI Board Meeting (Doctor's orders), we are publishing this account by Martin Bierman, Director, Region 5. Perry is facing surgery in the near future, so we wish for his speedy recovery.

Region 5 Director's Report
Spring 2013

Greetings from the CTCI Board of Directors. I would like to share with you some CTCI information from our Annual Board Meeting February 7-9. CTCI finished the 2012-year strong, with a very successful International Convention in Memphis last August. The event generated lots of publicity and the club store sold a significant amount of 50th anniversary merchandise. We ended the year with approximately 5700 members (that) is similar to last year. Jack Gray was hired as Managing Director last October and (he) has proven to be a valuable asset. He has updated our accounting system, inventory, and policy and procedures manual. Several projects are in development that will relate to member recruitment and Chapter benefits. Unfortunately, our 2012 budget ended in the red, due mainly to increased personnel expenses and required some supplement from our savings. We also will be over budget for 2013 due to some needed capital improvements and computer replacements. Since most of our revenue is from membership dues a Board working committee to develop a strategy to increase membership was established. It is possible that a member dues increase will be needed in the future. The 2013 President of the Board is Bill Long, a retired Ford executive from Tennessee; Vice-President and Secretary are Geraldine Nuckels and Sandra Hood (respectively) from our own Region 5 and Texas; Sue Smith (CA) will serve as interim Treasurer until her replacement is found. Watch for more CTCI involvement with our Chapters this coming year, with a Chapter benefit program and a member recruitment program.

Two Regional Conventions are scheduled this summer. Region 3 will host a Convention in San Jose, CA July 31 - August 4 and the Region 2 Convention will be in Des Moines, IA August 21-25. 1 would like as many of our Region 5 members to attend the Des Moines Convention as possible. The Hawkeye Classic Thunderbird Club has been working hard to develop a Convention that will be fun and enjoyable. Please bring or drive your Thunderbirds to Des Moines so we can have a great show. As of this report we do not have a club to host the 2014 Convention, and if no club comes forward, CTCI itself may need to sponsor the Convention. Many classic car clubs have the national office develop and sponsor their Conventions, but CTCI has always had local Chapters willing to volunteer in the past.

This will be my last year on the Board, and according to the Bylaws, I have to sit out two years before I could return to the Board. I have enjoyed my time on the Board and as the 2010 President and 2012 Vice-President. I would encourage Region 5 members to run for the 2014 Board. A call for resumes will be in the EarlyBird this summer.

Thanks, and enjoy the Thunderbirds this summer.
Martin Bierman
CTCI Region 5 Director