I installed the passenger side door panel and it turned out great. Due to the tight space in the garage, I am doing each door panel one at a time. The driver's side door panel is next, but its not simply a matter of pulling it off and sending to the upholstery shop. With all the stereo gear, my situation and what I have to deal with is somewhat unique compared to most folks.
In stock form, the Gen 3 Viper door panel was designed to be not much more than a lightweight cover...not unlike a lot of cars. The main large lower panel is attached to the top two sill trim and door latch cover with nothing more than upholstery staples. There are 4 screws that tighten it down to the door itself, but those mainly support the door pull and door latch cover. The remaining 3 attachment points are just plastic push pins. The heaviest item, the speaker, is actually bolted to the door itself to bear the weight and the panel with the grill just sits over it.
Al & Ed's Autosound screwed up here when they modified my door panel. They cut it open, molded an MDF frame to the lower door panel section and blended it in with bondo. Then they hung about 6 lbs of speakers and electronic crossovers TO the door panel. Yes... they changed it so that all that weight is now hanging ON the door panel and not supported by the door frame. Over time, with only staples holding the top and bottom sections of the panel together, the lower panel began to sag and pull away causing the panel to rub on the sill every time the door was opened or closed.
So I had to go in and fix this mess by re-engineering their setup. My main goal was to make the connection between the upper and lower panels stronger so they would not sag under the weight of the equipment.
First step was to epoxy and fill cracks found in the plastic door latch cover. I used JB Weld's Plastic Bonder High Strength Structural Adhesive. I have used this in the past with great success. In an effort to reinforce the lower part of the latch cover, I added a 1/16th inch layer of ABS plastic. I cut a form out of paper then cardboard and finally on the ABS itself.
The additional layer of plastic was bonded to the latch cover with a foundation of Plastic Bonder. Definitely felt more rigid afterwards.
The rubberized soft touch coating was also starting to wear in a few spots. I used 90% isopropyl alcohol, a plastic putty knife, and about an hour of elbow grease to scrap it all off. Additionally, I bonded some metal washers to the bolt holes. Here is the "cleaned up" latch cover next to the one on the driver's side which still has the soft touch coating on it.
Looking for a stronger attachment between the lower portion of the panel and the upper piece, I went with an approach that would maximize the clamping force between the two pieces. I drilled holes and used metal brackets, machine screws, nuts and washers to essentially bolt together the two halves. This was only done on the main weight bearing sections at the front while one set of L brackets was used at the rear of the door panel for good measure. In between, we used heavier duty upholstery staples for the non-load bearing section.
For additional rigidity and better distribution of load, metal brackets were used on the top and the bottom wherever I could fit them:
And finally here is the door panel installed! This is without the grills or x-over cover yet just to show off the gear:
With the grills and covers on:
View from inside: