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97-04 CORVETTE (C5) DOOR PANEL INSTALLATION INSTRUCTIONS
1) Remove door panel from the car.
In order to do so, unscrew two Torx 30 screws underneath door pull. They are hidden under a small plastic piece you need to pry with a small flat head screwdriver.
Then, pull door opening handle to 'open' position and you'll see a small void in the bottom part of the bezel surrounding the handle. Insert a flat screwdriver there and push the bezel towards the inside of the car.
Then, release the door panel from 6 pins holding it to the door - there are 4 of them along the bottom edge of the panel , one in the top part of the front edge and one about the middle of the rear edge of the door. Wrap flat head screwdriver in a some thick cloth to prevent from scratching the door or the panel and pry the panel around all those areas.
Once you have all the pins released, grab the door pull and lift the door panel upwards to release it from the ledge that goes along the top of the door. Once you do it, there's only one thing you need to do - unplug the window switch. And you have the panel fully separated from the door and can take it to a more comfortable workplace.
2) Separate the panel into two parts
Depending of your plans, skills and expectations, you may consider separating the panel into two parts - main (upper) and lower. This is not necessary but makes the wrapping process easier (even though it will be quite difficult to put the panel back together after you finish wrapping) and the final result better.
Before you start, remove the speaker cover. It's mounted by 8 metal tabs bent in the inside of the panel. Just straighten them with a screwdriver or pliers and pull the cover out.
Remove the Styrofoam lining - it is held by 3 screws and glued so after you undo he screws you will have to pull it quite strong. You may even break it but do not worry, after you glue it back it will be OK.
The panels are joined together by a line of heat-welded pins. The easiest way is to melt those pins with a cigarette lighter while prying them apart with a flat head screwdriver.
Work with all those pins the same way. After a few minutes you should see the panels separated:
3) Remove factory vinyl
In order to do it, you need to remove hundreds of staples all around the panel. Pry them with a medium size flat head screwdriver and pull with some pliers.
After you have all of the staples removed remove the vinyl. Starting from one of the edges lift it slowly and gradually trying to avoid separating the vinyl from backing foam. If you see that the foam is separating from the vinyl and sticks to the panel, try to undercut it with an X-acto knife so that you remove the foam together with the vinyl. You can try to heat the foam with hot air gun but be careful not to heat the panel too much as it may get deformed. Once you get a firm grip of the vinyl with the foam, slowly and gradually pull it off the panel.
After removing factory vinyl your door panel should look like this:
But if you're left with large areas of foam remains, as in the below photo, then the only thing you can do is to remove the foam with wire brush and then polish the remains with sandpaper starting from a coarse grit and finishing it with a fine grit sandpaper in order to achieve a smooth surface.
This is a very important part of the job - any foam remains, sandpaper particles, even the smallest objects left on the panel will be visible after the leather is applied. Therefore after finishing the panel, wash it down properly and check with your bare hand to be 100% sure you have a smooth surface.
4) Glue the cover to the door panel
At this stage it would be wise to have an extra pair of hands. You'll have to apply the glue to quite big areas of door panel and his extra pair of hands will be necessary to prevent the cover from uncontrolled falling onto the glued areas forcing you to make numerous corrections that may spoil the final effect.
First of all do a dry-fitting to find the areas where you will see you will have to pay a bit more attention to fitting and alignment of the cover. Once you do that, apply the glue to the first part of the door panel you will be working with. We suggest it should be rear half of the armrest and the area above it (where the pleated part goes). In the photo you will see that the glue is applied to bigger area - including the area above pleated part - but this turned out not best way to go.
So now - apply the glue to the area described above, allow it to dry a bit (2 minutes is more than enough) and lay the leather cover onto armrest area first.
Start from aligning the inner seam (between armrest and the pleated) and glue the armrest part first by pressing it firmly. This is where you will need an extra pair of hands - you need to keep the pleated part of the cover from uncontrolled laying n the cover - have your workmate hold the cover upwards while you are working with the armrest.
Then align the curved seam going along the top edge of the pleated part (regardless of whether or not you have this part pleated, the procedure remains the same) to the curve on the door panel. Press the leather firmly to make the glue stick starting from the bottom of pleated part asking your workmate to lower the leather gradually while you work your way towards the top.
This is why you shouldn't apply the glue to the top part of the panel yet as we initially did - it will be difficult to prevent the leather from uncontrolled laying on the glue causing nasty wrinkles.
Then, apply the glue to the top part of the door panel, above the area you've just glued and to the rear of the pleated part, allow it to dry a bit and glue the leather to the panel stretching the leather evenly towards the top and back edges of the panel.
There are no specific hints for this part of work, however there are two things you need to remember: apply the same amount of stretch to the leather to all directions in order to avoid wrinkles and prevent already glued area from getting unstuck or moved - just hold them in place firmly with one hand while working with the other.
Once you glue the leather all the way to the edges, apply the glue to the rear bottom part of the panel - from door pull void to the rear end - and, just like above, stretch the leather evenly towards the bottom and rear edges of the panel holding the armrest area in place with one hand.
At this stage you must also align and press firmly the stitching around door pull recess.
Now you can proceed to the front half of the panel, starting from the pleated part and armrest part as before. And then, just like before, align the cover to the edges of the armrest part and the top edge of the pleated part.
Then, before you start to press the cover against the panel to glue it, align the 'tip' of the cover (the top front part of the panel) to the tip of the panel. Here it may be a good idea to apply a small amount of glue to the area around this tip to hold the leather in place with the tip aligned so that is stays in place.
Then, press the cover to the panel firmly starting from the top edge of the pleated part towards he bottom. Here it should be easier than the rear part as you can use the door opening handle hole to stick one hand there and align the leather cover with one hand while pressing the leather with the other.
On this stage, as thee leather is stretched a bit you may want to apply the glue to the lower part of the panel to make the leather cover lay properly - this way you'll be able to align the outer seam properly - just align the seam after you glue the part where the window switches go and press the leather starting from the seam downwards. At the same align the stitching of the front part of the door pull hollow and glue firmly the inner seam of the hollow.
Here you can also use window switches hole to align the seams - reaching the leather from the bottom with the other hand:
Then apply the glue to the door pull hollow with a thin brush that you will stick under the leather. Align the seams that go around the hollow first, press the leather there and work your way from outer seams towards the inside of the hollow - one hand from the top seam, the other from the bottom. When you have the leather pre-glued, make 4 cuts where the screw holes are - an x-acto knife will be great here - you will need those holes to put screws there later but the holes will also allow the leather to stretch more allowing you to glue the leather properly in this area.
This is a bit tricky part as the leather is cut with no excess here to avoid wrinkles so it will require you to apply some strength to stretch and press the leather here.
Once you finish, apply the glue along the bottom edge of the panel and press the leather along this edge with a brush end, wooden paddle or any object blunt enough not to cut the leather.
You can now proceed to the top of the panel - you can apply the glue to the two remaining parts and work them both at the same time - first the top part where you should work your way from the pleated part towards the top edge of the panel and then the part that is hidden after you close the door. Just press the leather to the glue firmly starting from the seam and working your way towards the edge of panel.
When you have the whole cover glued to the panel you will need to fold it around the edge and glue it to the back of the panel - where factory vinyl was stapled. This is not difficult and you can start wherever you like. Just apply the glue to the back of the door panel along all outer edges, let it dry a bit, fold the leather stretching it a bit to make it lay smoothly and press firmly to the glue on the back.
You will have to make some V-shaped cuts on panel corners and where the edge is curved in order to avoid ugly wrinkles. Be careful not to cut too far so that the cuts are not visible after the panel is installed back onto the door.
Cut the leather around door opening handle hole and around window switches hole - make a few V-shaped cuts the same way as around the edges of the panel and glue the leather around the edges.
Cut the leather along the bottom part of the panel approx. 3mm from the inner edge.
6) Lower door panel
This is quite easy as there are no tricky shapes. Just align the leather, apply the glue to the panel and press the leather evenly on the whole surface stretching it a bit along the curves and edges to make it lay smoothly and evenly without wrinkles.
Then fold the cover around the panel edge and glue it the same as you did with the main panel, making V-shaped cuts on the corners and curves.
Cut the leather in the reflector hole, make V-shaped cuts around and glue the leather to the back.
Make cuts in the leather where the speaker cover tabs should go through.
7) Install the panel back
As you destroyed the heat welded pins that hold the main panel and door panels together you will have to remove the remains after those pins and glue both panel parts back together.
Install speaker bezel by folding the tabs.
Install door pull with 2 torx screws from the back of the panel.
Install window switches.
Put the reflector in place.
Glue the Styrofoam lining back and secure it with the screws.
Install the panel to the door by 2 screws under the door pull and 6 pins around the panel.
Enjoy your revamped interior! :)
You have installed a product made out of genuine leather. As you know, to maintain a leather product in good condition, you should take care of it. We suggest occasionally (every 4-6 week for example) applying some leather conditioner/UV protector to keep your leather from drying up in the sun and cracking.
Redline Automotive Accessories Corp. will not be held liable for any labor, incidental or consequential damages of any kind. Proceed at your own risk.
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