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Old 06-11-15, 03:51 PM   #1
t2d2
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Default custom door cards?

Here's what I've got so far...

Click the image to open in full size.

Plastic hanger strap as temporary door pull, window controls' plus looped through other wiring to stay in place, spare inner handle mounted without wood trim.


Just kidding. I've been doing door and window work this week, and every time I take the panels and window trim off, I get increasingly fed up with something new showing signs of failure. I'd like to vastly streamline the door card setup, but there are so many contours to the frame, it's difficult to come up with anything that would work short of complex fiberglass molds.

Has anyone come up with creative solutions? All I've seen are near-duplications of the stock cards, but modified for a bigger speaker enclosure.

Ideally, the door/window controls would all be moved to a central location. Being a 2-door, it's fairly pointless having more than one set of controls. I know you have to have the pass. controls hooked up for the drivers window controls to work, though, so I'll have to play around with jumping pins to see if there's an easy way of fooling the computer.

I have a couple spare drivers door/window controls and am not averse to cutting one up as an experiment... I already took one apart to separate the door/window and mirror controls. (BTW, how do you get the adjustment **** off the mirror controls? You can't pop the switch out of the back with the **** still attached, and I can't figure out what's holding it on.) It seems like it would almost fit where the cup holder is, but the wiring would have to extend back into the console bin. Not the cleanest solution, but it has potential.

I also have a spare set of inner door handles, which is what I threw on for the above picture. Without the trim piece, it wouldn't be too tough to trim off the front screw holes and possibly blend it in with a new panel.

My best idea so far is a simple panel along the back 75% of the door, which is nearly flat, then some sort of contour around the speaker and assorted wiring. That still leaves the issue of wrapping the panel around to the recessed edges of the frame, though. There would probably need to be some contour to blend into the window trim and vent, anyway. Nothing about this is easy... If doing all that, I would probably make a new speaker mount and step up to a bigger size. The opening is 5-3/4" wide.

I don't care about the courtesy light, and the map pockets aren't the most useful design. Losing the arm rest would be the main downside.

It may prove to be too difficult, but I'm willing to explore any crazy ideas... Oh, and I weighed the pass. door card at 10 lb even, perhaps a bit more since I was balancing it with my hands. There's a lot of dead weight there.
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Old 06-11-15, 04:02 PM   #2
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I feel like you're trying to reinvent the wheel.

If your door panel is cracking, I would just repair it with epoxy and call it a day.
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Old 06-11-15, 04:10 PM   #3
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It's not cracks so much as plastic gradually disappearing from mounting holes, fiberboard losing rigidity a bit more each time, etc. Epoxy can't do much for filling voids. If all else fails, I'll have to peel back the vinyl and try to reinforce everything around what used to be a small hole. That's just buying me a bit more time, though.

These door cards are way too heavy for their own good in terms of taking a beating over time, and like most stuff on the car, Lexus tried to conceal the mounting points to keep things looking luxurious. That makes for extra vulnerable mounting points, especially the two at the front edge.

Yes, I am trying to reinvent the wheel -- one which won't go out of round after a few years.
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Old 06-11-15, 05:10 PM   #4
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Epoxy actually works great for those things. My driver window trim was cracked by the person doing my alignment. The mounting holes were all cracked, held together by the foam so I just epoxied everything while I was at it. They've held up for over two years now and I've removed it again while swapping my door. There's no reason your fiberboard should be losing rigidity, you don't have to bend the panel at all when removing it.

As for doing a better job than Lexus engineers, their stuff has lasted over 20 years on your car. That's way more than a few years.
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Old 06-11-15, 05:25 PM   #5
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I've gone through three sets of window trims and two sets of door cards, and they're all broken/breaking in the same few places. I disagree with your statement about these pieces lasting over 20 years. From what I've seen, they were all failing way earlier than that. Lasting 20 years would imply they're just now starting to show signs, rather than being patched multiple times and barely hanging on. There are numerous things about these door cards and window trims that were very poorly designed. I take offense to the suggestion that I can't out-engineer the engineers! They did some stuff very well, but they completely missed the boat on others.

The fiberboard gives out around the plastic clips. They clip into the door nearly as snug as they do into the fiberboard, stressing it a bit more each time. I've got epoxy along little cracks everywhere, but it usually fails again in time ... or the next weakest link alongside it does.

That's all beside the point, though. I know perfectly well what the shortcomings and temporary workarounds are. I'm more interested in sidestepping them altogether. Designing a door card for a flat paneled door is easy, but they didn't do us any favors on these with the numerous contours to take into account.
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Old 06-11-15, 06:33 PM   #6
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I kinda agree and disagree. I think the panels are built quite strong to be able to hold up this long. The problem lies within the door itself. It's too heavy, causing us to pull harder on the door to get it to close. Every single person who's ever sat in my passenger seat in the last 3 years has had to close the door multiple times because the first try just isn't enough. All that pulling takes a toll.

If the door didn't weigh as much as it did these panels would have held up much better. The other problem is... I've never seen an SC in which the door panels weren't previously removed. People(even audio installers) just can't figure out how to get are door off properly to maintain it's structural integrity. They aren't meant to be removed on a regular basis.

It varies car to car, I just picked up a 95 SC400 with 195K, and the window trim pieces are perfectly intact... I'm guessing the previous owner didn't put his arm up there while driving or press off it to get out of his seat with the window down. That's 20 years old @ 10K a year...

Anyway there was a thread on here with a few examples of custom door panels. I would love to build one myself with an arm rest, similar to the original design. Perhaps I'll give it a try soon.
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Old 06-11-15, 07:30 PM   #7
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Biddles, I totally agree that the length and heft of the door is a major part of the problem, but that's a design shortcoming on the part of the cards and window trim. They have the amount of mounting points and supports that you'd expect of an item weighing a quarter as much. That puts way too much stress on the few reinforcements that were designed in.

That's awesome that you found a SC with non-damaged window trim, but not being able to rest your elbow there being a measuring stick of how likely they are to hold up tells you just how flawed the design is. (It's 100% an issue of too few support pieces -- the cracks develop in the long spans between the minuscule supports.) And for all you know, a previous owner ponied up for new trims because the original ones were unsightly.

All six window trims I've had in my possession have at least two of the lower mounting tabs or upper clip tabs broken. They were designed to look nice when fully assembled, not to hold up to being removed. I had one last week where the plastic clip that holds the upper trim to the door frame held stronger to the frame than the tab on the trim could. Broken tab... I've only removed mine a few times, but each time they degrade a bit more. I've given serious thought to whether I'd be happier with a partially stripped interior -- now that I've got almost everything back to factory fresh-ish -- than dealing with these crappy (but awesome looking) door pieces long-term.

If you remember the link to that thread with custom cards, that would be great. I've searched and haven't found anything, other than the aforementioned stock-like designs with bigger speaker enclosures.
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Old 06-12-15, 04:07 AM   #8
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http://www.clublexus.com/forums/sc-4...or-custom.html

This was the thread I was talking about, but my eyes must have missed it... I thought this pic showed SC doors modded with flat panels. Taking a better look now they aren't SC doors, but there are some good ideas here.

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 06-12-15, 07:15 AM   #9
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Shoot, you got my hopes up... I remember, and commented in, that thread. Unfortunately, it fizzled out before seeing a finished product. And yeah, those example photos definitely were not SC doors. I've done flat panel door cards like that and they're a piece of cake.

It occurred to me last night, the wood trim could assist in: a) tying a custom card into the dash, and b) anchoring the inner lock/handle better than the single mounting point can. If going that route, I would have to seriously think about using my spare wood trims and cutting down / routering the longer back section to just be a little stub.

Click the image to open in full size.

Wood trim added back in.

There's also that indentation right below the inner lock/handle, right within wiring reach of the window controls, that is begging for a horizontal mount of the controls if retaining them.
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Old 06-13-15, 09:00 AM   #10
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I epoxied some mounting points and various cracks on my pass. door card last night, bonding in nylon washers front and back on the two flimsy front bolt holes -- one of them was more of a void than a hole -- hedging my bets for coming up with a good alternative.

Using this thread and a couple others I was able to find with sparse information, here's what I've been able to determine for the window controls:

driver's switch: red = dr. up, green/yellow = dr. down, red/blue = pass. up, green/white or black/white (could be either) = pass. down

pass. switch: 1) red (w/ silver dots), 2) red/blue, 3) light blue (power), 4) green/white, 5) green/yellow

I'm guessing that means red/silver and green/yellow are the keys for making dr. controls think pass. controls are connected, but I'm unsure what to do with that info. It could be that it needs to see all four (up/down for both windows) connected, though, or maybe it just needs to see 'power' connected to all four filling out the circuits... To make a window go up, it applies power to that wire and ground to the 'down' wire. Any suggestions what to try?

It is easy to pop the window switch out of the pass. control unit, however, taking up very little space if mounting it to a custom card. I don't see why the passenger needs power door lock controls...

I think today I'll try mocking up some cardboard panels to see if it's remotely realistic to get a flat panel on the rearmost section of the door. If that works, then the main consideration would be molding something into the dash contour, following the line of the speaker grills. If going to all that trouble, I would almost surely take out the 4.5" speaker pods and replace them with 6x9's on a custom panel.
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Old 06-13-15, 02:20 PM   #11
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Whoa, I stand corrected. The pass. window control on the driver's switch works just fine with the pass. switch disconnected. I swear I tested that before, but maybe I had the key turned to ACC instead of ON or something silly. It's also possible I got myself confused by the pass. window control not working on the pass. switch when the driver's switch is disconnected, as was the case last week when doing window work and giving someone a ride. Something in the driver's switch must complete the circuit for the pass. switch, but not vice versa?

So, if figuring out a way to move the controls to a central location, nothing would need to be done to fool the computer into thinking the pass. switch is still connected. There's still the hassle of rerouting all the wires to the center console, though.
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Old 07-19-15, 10:24 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by t2d2 View Post
Whoa, I stand corrected. The pass. window control on the driver's switch works just fine with the pass. switch disconnected. I swear I tested that before, but maybe I had the key turned to ACC instead of ON or something silly.
Well, shoot. I've converted my car to a 3-seater, with no passenger seat / seat belt / airbag, so the bulky door card and controls no longer have any purpose, bringing me back to this project. I have a ratty spare card that I took apart to start making a fiberglass mold, but now it's back to the driver's switch not operating the passenger window when the passenger switch is disconnected. That's with the car running.

I'm drawing a blank at present as to what could be causing the inconsistent behavior.
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Old 08-18-15, 06:04 PM   #13
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Here's what I came up with a couple weeks ago. I was disassembling my ratty spare door card to try and make a template for fiberglassing, and in so doing realized it could mostly do what I wanted as-is. Unfortunately, the fiberboard was too far gone, so I disassembled my good one.

Click the image to open in full size.


Click the image to open in full size.


Click the image to open in full size.


I still need to come up with something for a speaker grill and to cover the exposed rearmost corner, but it's a pretty good short-term solution. Even with all that wide open space sans passenger seat, the unfinished portions are hardly noticeable. That's really all I hoped to accomplish for this stage.

The full door card weighs exactly 10.0 lbs, while the full thing minus the inner lock/handle and wood trim is exactly 9.5 lbs. I figured those tidy numbers are mere coincidence, but then discovered that the full card minus the plastic portion and armrest is exactly 5.0 lbs. Hmm. It sounds unlikely, but I can't help but think the door cards were designed with symmetry in mind, rather than long-term durability. Those crazy Japanese and their symbolism. (Er, and their metric system.)
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Old 08-19-15, 09:57 AM   #14
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This is a performance and/or maintenance topic now? I guess I don't understand the definition of either term...
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Old 08-23-15, 04:56 PM   #15
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A bit more progress, albeit of the sidetracked variety. I had a set of Infinity 5.25" speakers with aim-able tweeters (making them a good alternative to the factory 4" w/ separate tweeter) lying around, plus a spare set of speaker buckets from the parts car. I figured a flat mount enclosure would make the eventual patching of the door card's speaker opening much, much easier.

Click the image to open in full size.

Infinity Reference 552i 5-1/4". I used only 3 of the 4 mounting points to the door. 1/8" ABS mounted to the stock bucket, stock wiring and grommet run through the bottom of the bucket. Mirror wiring clipped to the ABS panel without the silly stock ears.

5 oz weight savings per door, to boot. (Edit: Actually, 1 lb 5 oz. I forgot how massive the stock 4" speakers are; I was comparing to the upgraded, lighter 4" Pioneers for savings, but the stockers are exactly 1 lb heavier.) The only downside is, it sounds so much better than the anemic 4" in the driver's door, now I have to build a box for that one, too. I was expecting only a modest improvement, with the Infinity being not much higher of a price point than the Pioneer it replaced. 4" is just pitifully small, though, so any step up in size is going to sound a lot better unless the quality sucks.

I'm still trying to make sense of the window switch wiring between the two doors and how it interacts... Hopefully, I can pull the unused wiring through to the cabin and eliminate the window rocker switch (already removed from the overall switch housing) that's currently tucked away.
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