[ROVERNET - UK] SD1 Interior Door Panels

Robert Heimerl robertime at cavtel.net
Sun Sep 9 16:43:59 BST 2007

Hi Vic,

I have re-done a number of door panels, fairly successfully
(not perfect, though).  Most were sagging badly, many had
splits at the top edges.  This material (some call it mouse
fur) is very fragile.  Many of these cars have been left
sitting in the sun for years, which adds to the problem --
I've seen three or four different shades of brown, depending
on sunlight exposure and/or mismatched materials (based on
those infamous initial build quality issues).  

Overall, this is a rather tedious, messy operation -- so be

First, carefully remove the panels from the doors.  Aside
from the screw behind the ashtray, the key to this is a
screw in the center of the armrest -- many people seem to
miss this one and end up damaging the mounting system as
well as the door panel itself.  It's best to pry the plastic
retaining clips off very carefully (with a broad blade flat
screwdriver), working close to their base in order to avoid
breaking them or damaging the cardboard backing.

[The front side window defroster ductwork often splits off
from the back of the panel.  This must be re-glued with
something like Stick'n Seal (Loctite).]

Next, using a flat screwdriver and pliers, carefully pry
loose the bent over metal tabs holding the armrests to the
cardboard backing, making it possible to access the
underside of the fabric covering.  Use a vacuum cleaner to
(very carefully) remove any dust from the panel.  The fabric
may now be cleaned with a MILD soap/detergent in a spray
bottle, wiping it dry with paper towel. [This may help make
the color more consistent.]  Now comes the most difficult

Starting from the center/armrest area, use a long, thin
screwdriver (or something similar) to carefully raise the
fabric covering off the cardboard panel (it's usually
already loose, folded over the cardboard backing).  Clean
off loose debris behind it with a damp paper towel, then use
Elmer's spray adhesive (or perhaps a similar 3M product) to
spray -- light coating, not saturating -- between the two. 
Smooth the material back into place, using as little
pressure as possible.  In many cases the fabric has shrunk
and needs to be stretched to fully cover the area.  This may
be accomplished by loosening the folded-over parts,
providing a little extra material (use adhesive to re-glue
that part later, too).  If the fabric still comes loose from
the backing, it may be partly held down by the armrest which
can now be put back in place.

[Note:  Using adhesives can be a messy job.  While some may
recommend using latex gloves, I found that this would make
the job more difficult.  It's best to keep some "Goo Gone"
(or similar product) nearby to clean up both your own hands
and any overspray.  Please note all warnings on the above
products, especially the adhesive spray.  I sprayed the
panels outdoors, on top of newspaper or cardboard.  Care
must be taken not to accidentally get adhesive on unaffected
portions of the panels.]

One of the most difficult parts of this process involves
repairing the top edge of the panel (typically split by sun
exposure, wear).  Using the spray and a screw driver or
putty knife (both can be easily cleaned of adhesive),
carefully pry the fabric up and spray a small amount of
adhesive underneath.  Then stretch the material back to its
original location at the top edge, where it meets the
remains of the material that was folded behind the panel. 
In general, it's possible to have these edges meet in a
presentable-looking way.  

If the material is truly shredded, find another panel to
work with (there seem to be a lot of them around -- I must
have about a dozen by now).  If the top of the panel is
split due to people using the side window defogger opening
to close the door, one can try gluing it back together with
the above-mentioned Loctite product.  Again, this is a truly
patience-trying procedure, best performed when one is free
from other distractions -- if that is ever possible.

And, yes, if you can have someone re-cover them
professionally -- or obtain the newer generation SD1 panels
that Kent mentions elsewhere -- you may save yourself a lot
of trouble.

I've concluded that nothing is easily done when it comes to
the SD1.  How's that for a slogan?

Good luck!


1980 Rover SD1 (Turmeric Yellow w/Nutmeg Bronze interior)

> Hi,
> Has any SD1 owner devised a method of refurbishing the
> interior door panels which you could share? I've only
> one SD1 left, but when I had 3 they were all  in "bad"
> shape and I'd like to make the last one presentable.
> I'd appreciate any suggestions!! 
> Thanks, Vic
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