I’ve been looking for a repro panel to replace the right rear vinyl covered one in the luggage area. Since this one is molded to fit the contours of the gas tank filler area, it’s not as simple to reproduce as all the other ones, or so I thought.

I tried spraying water onto a newly cut panel to soften it, but that only works with a simple bend, and once the panels dry, they end up with a slight amount of warping. I concluded the water method does not work at all for this particular panel. So on to the next attempt……

I saw on a woodworking video that steam will make Masonite panels very flexible and moldable, so I decided to give that a try with another freshly cut panel I previously traced onto 1/8th inch thick Masonite, using the original as a template. I put the panel into 2 plastic garbage bags and then taped them closed around the nozzle of my Wagner floor steamer, which you can get at any hardware store. After 10 minutes in the steam bag, the panel was much more pliably, and I was able to mold it into shape using only hand pressure. I let it air dry in place overnight, using the original screws and a heavy weight, and the resulting panel was a perfect copy of the original.

When the new panel was dry, there were a few small surface cracks in the Masonite from pressing it just a little too hard over the gas tank filler tube bulge, but I just skimmed this with a little Bondo and gave the panel several coats of gloss black paint over which to apply some black “leather look” vinyl I found in the contact paper area at Home Depot. This stuff is a near perfect copy of the factory original vinyl, and was on clearance for $8 (for enough to do every panel). It sticks pretty well over a painted surface, but not so well to unpainted Masonite. As you can see, the end result is nearly identical to the original, so if the vinyl holds up to the summer heat without pealing off, I’ll consider this a success Razz


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