June 1955 140DHC door construction

(Roger King) #1

Just for info, in case anyone is interested - I thought I’d give a brief summary of how the doors on my car were constructed given that it differs slightly from the information given in Viart’s tome. I understand that Jaguar records were not clear on these points and that this is not an exact science, and given that BV (and RP)'s book is a tremendous undertaking which is invaluable to us restorers, these comments are entirely for variation info only and are in no way a criticism of the book.

As mentioned, my car’s variation from BV’s description is minor. This car (***499) was supplied new to the Sacramento area in June '55, was used for around 70k miles in the same area until the early eighties, after which it was dry-stored before shipping to the UK in 2016. At some point in its active life it was resprayed from Carmen Red to a metallic maroon.

Having carefully dissected these doors down to their component elements and studied closely areas of paint, overspray, fasteners etc., I will say with confidence that they have never been apart before. I have used a double set (narrow-jaw and broad-jaw) of doorskin removal pliers ( http://www.evotec-swiss.com/products/panel-bending/door-skin-removing-pliers.html ), which have allowed easy removal of the entire skin with no damage. All the woodscrews, despite heavy rusting into the wood, came undone with firm, careful pressure using very carefully-selected screwdrivers.

BV describes the timber frame as Ash. On this car, the only Ash in the door frame are the three small-cross-section cross-braces, two on the outer face of the frame (against the doorskin) and one on the inner face, at the bottom of the inner frame, sitting on top of the sill. This last is severely compromised in strength by a relieving chamfer for the window mechanism and a small one opposing it for the trim panel location tab, which reduce its width overall by around a half. All three Ash braces in my car were badly rotted and crumbling. I took the decision to replace all the timber apart from the complex curved dark hardwood top rail, which was split and in three pieces, but easy to screw and glue along the breaks and which is in any case located in position by its close moulding to the top section of the doorskin. Pattern-making for a replacement for this piece would have been very complex, and shaping the replacement would require specialist equipment. The thick front and rear endplates were originally made of dark hardwood and would possibly have been reuseable were it not for the complete splitting of the front one by forcing the door closed against a welded hinge pivot in an attempt to free it off, and terminal rot at the base of the rear panel. Given that the skin was off, thus allowing easy access it was only sensible to replace. The steel flanges for mounting the skin also came unscrewed easily and all metal parts were media blasted and painted for re-use.

In addition to the three timber braces, the metalwork was as in BV, with two screwed panels mounted to the inner face with relief areas cut out for the window and door latch mechanisms. These cut-out areas were clearly done on installation with tin snips by the fitter as they are rough-cut and not symmetrical. One third metal panel braces across the middle of the door skin like a modern impact bar - apart from being retained by two underwhelming small blocks of hardwood and a couple of woodscrews.

On this particular DHC, a further variation from BV’s description is that whilst the doorskin is steel, both endplate trims are aluminium (BV describes a steel hinge panel facing). The lower angled panel that sits over the sill is one piece of aluminium. Thus the only steel panels in this DHC’s doors are the skin and the three bracing parts.

As noted in another thread, the edges of the timber end panels had strips of thick laminated card tacked around them, seemingly to damp the steel skin against the end plates and steel flange strips, but possibly also packing the skins out for alignment purposes - although it’s hard to see how this would have worked as once the skins are fitted there is no access to any of these parts for adjustment.

A minor modification I will make to the rear endplate concerns the hole for the door latch mechanism. The factory drilled a large-diameter hole through the side-grain of the rear endplate to allow the external door latch to connect to the door lock mechanism. In fact, this hole needs (for the most part) to be full diameter for only the stamped cup immediately behind the chromed handle escutcheon, which is pretty much contained within the curved top hardwood rail. The main part of the hole, in the side-grain of the endplate, only needs to accommodate the square X-section actuating shaft. A reduced diameter hole here will leave a lot more strength in the surrounding hardwood. No doubt plunging a router or drill bit right through this wood was much easier and quicker for the factory to manufacture.

I hope all this is of some use to others - loads of photos are available if anyone needs them.