In general I suck at making decisions. Usually once I decide something I spend what feels like an eternity time agonizing over whether I made the right decision or not. Second guessing exponentially.
I’ve wanted a white interior for the Hudson for a few reasons: I love the traditional and vintage style, when kept clean it always looks great, and since I don’t know what color I will eventually paint the color the white interior will match. I despise doing work over – which is not aided by my lack of patience and low-on-the-totem pole skillset. It’s not so much the actual redo of the work that bothers me, more that once I start down the path of redos I know I have a hard time stopping. If it looks ok in red maybe it’s better in brown. If brown is better than black is best. And on and on.
So my plan was a poor man’s tuck and roll with vinyl marine fabric. I had picked out my white vinyl but then saw a nice traditional maroon/purple color that would work well now but be an eyesore if I ever paint the outside. Course that’s assuming I’d ever make up my mind for a paint color. I flip flopped like usual and finally had to phone a friend. I asked my buddy Eric what he thought. He liked the white but thought a diamond pattern may be a nice option. Since he was on the hook for the decision I bought 3 yards from a place online and had it shipped for a total of $63. Not bad at all.
Did some more digging online and had all sorts of ways people have done their panels. While this won’t be a show-car I do want it to be respectable and something others will want to get in and not fear a tetanus shot. Folks over at the JalopyJournal.com forum have tons of interesting and inspiring ideas. I tried to leverage them as much as possible and set to work.
First thing was to get some large cardboard and make a rough template for the passenger door. I taped the cardboard to the door and poked a hole in a spot to let the door lock poke through to help locate the board. With some tape along the sides and up through the window I was able to trim the cardboard to fit the contours. I was planning on a flat panel as opposed to the factory style with indents and angles. I just like this style and it is obviously easier to make.
With the cardboard template I opted to make a second template out of thin trace paper bought at Lowes for about $8. This would help me more accurately locate the holes needed for the window cranks and the door handle etc. I probably didn’t need to do both steps but oh well – what’s done is done.
With the tracing paper mated to the cardboard to be sure I had done it all accurately, I made the actual backing board I also got at Lowes. The board is called Masonite and comes in 8×6 sheets for about $12. I had them cut it in half for easier carrying. It’s thick but somewhat bendable and seems to make for a good panel backing. I got the white version thinking maybe it alone would suffice as the panel. Once I held the template in place this was absolutely NOT going to work as-is.
Decided last night to actually get to making the panels. Simply laid out the fabric with the outside part of it on the back. Placed the new backing board template (with all locating holes etc already drilled) upside down and MADE SURE of the orientation of the design (don’t want 1 panel having a horizontal pattern and the other vertical!) Cut off the extra around the edges and lined the lower end of the panel up using the center of the diamonds in the pattern as a guide. Sprayed some Loctite spray adhesive on the board and the fabric and waited a minute or 2 for the stuff to get tacky. Folder the fabric over and stuck onto the board. Repeat for other 3 sides. I cut various angles etc for the corners. they aren’t perfect but they work. Rinse and repeat for the other side
I still need to extend the square rods for the window rollers so I’ll do that tomorrow. They came out nice and clean looking which is all I wanted. Not fancy by any means but I dig them.
Overall the process isn’t difficult for a hot rod/rat rod. Everyone has opinions and would do it his or her own way. For my budget and experience I am happy with them. For today anyway. All said and done is maybe 3-4 hours for the front driver and passenger side and a cost of a little more than a C-note.