Replacing Exterior Woodgrain Vinyl
By AMC Eagle Nest member "wonderEagle".
PREPARING TO REMOVE OLD WOODGRAIN:
First thing you need to do is remove all the trim so you can get to the old woodgrain. Removing the trim on ours was a lot of work. In order to take some of the trim off of the front fenders we had to remove the headlight buckets. This will enable you to get to the side marker light. I think there is also a nut that has to be removed from a bolt that holds a piece of the trim on that goes around the wood grain in this area. We slid the long pieces of chrome off of the retainers that go across the top of the wood grain and pulled the retainers and removed the bushings that are in the holes the retainers are pushed into on the fenders. Anything that is on the woodgrain has to come off, even the door handles and locks and fender flares and bumper ends.
TAKING OLD WOODGRAIN OFF:
Before you take the old woodgrain off, take the pattern paper and make a pattern for each piece of wood grain. We bought a heat gun from Harbor Freight. I tried to use my blow dryer, but it wouldn't keep it hot enough. This gun gets really hot and it could burn you. I know! This gun has 1500 watts, two position heating temperatures: high and low. 122-570 F and up to 1112 F. I think I used both settings from time to time. You will just have to see which will do for you. Sometimes I could heat a big patch and get it off; other times I would have to reheat it. You don't use anything except heat to take off the old wood grain.
DEALING WITH THE GLUE:
We bought a few quarts of MEK Methyl Ethyl Ketone. This stuff is what did it for us. Some glue spots on ours was really heavy. If the glue is heavy you will use lots of the MEK. We used a cloth rag to put it on and paper towels to wipe it off. When we first did it we thought it was taking the paint off too because it was making it look dull, but actually the glue was still on it. We just kept on cleaning it with this MEK until it looked bright and shiny. After we got all the glue off we washed it with car wash soap.
DEALING WITH THE PATTERN PAPER AND WOODGRAIN:
We bought 4 rolls of the wood grain paper 18” W X 8’ L from J.C. Whitney The kits have everything you will need except some scissors to cut it with. It does take two people to get the wood grain back on.
If my 66 year old memory serves me correctly we got the front fender and the back door out of one roll of paper, and the front door and the back fender out of one roll. The back fender is shaped weird as far as the wood grain paper is concerned, so pay close attention to this fender.
The pattern paper is sticky enough so that you can smooth it over the old wood grain and it will stay on without having to hold it so you can trace around it. When making the patterns for all of the doors add ¾ to 1 inch to both ends of the doors to wrap around to the inside of the door. When making the pattern for the front fender add ¾ to 1 inch to the end where the front fender meets the front door. When making the pattern for the back fender, add the ¾ to 1 inch on the pattern where the back fender meets the back door. Write on the pattern which door or fender it is for.
The paper on the back of the wood grain is kind of thick. I found that it was best to pull the backing paper up, and cut it about every 10 inches or so, so it would be easier to deal with. It was hard for me to try to keep the backing paper pulled off the wood grain and having it hanging in my way as I was trying to get the wood grain on the Eagle. By cutting the backing paper about every 10 inches you can just peel it off, and toss it aside, and you won’t have it hanging in your way. Whoever is holding the wood grain paper shouldn’t turn loose of it for any reason. Believe me it could cause a problem if the wood grain paper gets up against the vehicle in the wrong place.
It worked better for me to start putting the new piece of wood grain on the front fender by starting up by the head light and across the top. I got it positioned at the top upper corner by the head light and on down the side by the head light while Jim made sure that it was in place going across the top where the trim would cover it. Then I just worked across from top to bottom with the squeegee. If the paper does get bubbles under it you can take a pin and make a hole at the bottom edge of the bubble and use the squeegee that you put the wood grain on with to push the air out. I have had to pull the wood grain back off if it wasn’t going on right but you don’t want to do that if you can get out of it. The doors are pretty easy because they don’t have the bumps in them the fenders do. Even though they do have a little curve to them they are flat. Make sure and leave the extra ¾ to 1 inch on each end of the door to wrap around the door ends. Line the wood grain paper across the door so the trim will cover the edge at the top and bottom of the wood grain. I think the edge of the wood grain paper was about to the center of the trim retainer bushing holes. Then I just started pushing the wood grain in place with the squeegee from top to bottom.
I started putting the wood grain on the back fender at the tail light working toward the back door. I got it positioned at the top corner at the tail light end of the fender and made sure it was going on right down to the bumper end. Then while holding the wood grain far enough away as not to touch the fender in the wrong place, Jim and I got it lined up across the fender where it would be under the trim and I took the squeegee and pressed the wood grain onto the fender.