RS Door Panels

There are a few vendors that sell nice RS-style door panels and I like the look. They looked pretty easy to make so it became another DIY project.

The original panels are a thin, easily water-damaged composite board. One of mine was good but the other was rotted at the bottom. You could replace with the same but I chose to go with ABS plastic. I bought one sheet of 4ft x 8ft x 1/4in ABS plastic. It came with one side smooth and the other side with a rough, “hair” finish.

Disassemble your doors per the manual.

Place the original door panel on your replacement material and trace out the new panel with a sharpie. I have a silver one for marking black things but you could also use blue painters tape and a pen/pencil. Only mark the outline as you may need to adjust it.

Caution – If you are going to cover your new panel with foam and leather/ vinyl, be sure to adjust your outline accordingly. I originally meant to recover mine and cut them accordingly but then liked the look of the raw panel which left them slightly smaller than I would prefer (it may expose some unpainted inner door).

Cut out your new panel. I used a drill and a jig saw with a wood blade.

Trial fit your door panel and trim/ adjust as needed.

At this point, I determined that the 1/4in plastic was too thick (it didn’t look right), so I bought a 1/8in thick sheet and recut the panel.

The next decision is what kind of door pull and door opener you will use. You need to decide as different handles and different strap solutions will require different penetrations in your panel. I like the webbing loop for the opener but did not like the door pulls I saw online. So, of course, I made my own (details below). Since I was going with a raw panel, I just cut a slot for the opening strap rather than attaching slot trim as seen in the “pro’ versions.

You can mark the handle, lock, window switches and any other holes now that you have adjusted the overall panel for the correct fit. You should be able to use your original panel as a go by. I recommend cutting the openings a little small and then adjusting after another trial fit to save some cursing.

The next decision is whether to install speakers in the door or not. If you choose to install speakers, you will need to mark the door panel appropriately. Additionally, I found that my 1/8in panels were a bit thin to secure the speakers so I added a backer plate (1/4in plastic or wood will work) that was screwed to the door behind the panel.

Once all of your cutting is done, fit foam pieces to the back of the new panel to both provide sound insulation and to press out properly against the top trim and door lock trim. Trial fit and add foam as needed for a proper fit. I used 3M #77 spray glue for the foam.

The original door panel attached using some screws and some pressed trim attachments. If you are covering your door, you can re-use them or buy and install new ones. I bought a package of assorted size inserts for the door and installed them so I could use screws all around the perimeter.

If you are covering the door, now is the time. I did not cover mine, so no help here.

I grabbed some one inch nylon webbing strap from my climbing gear and cut it to length. I then burned a hole in the doubled-up end with a soldering iron. This was attached to the door opening mechanism with a bolt, washer and locknut.

Thread the opening strap through the slot on the panel and attach the new panel to the door using new screws.

As I said before, I didn’t like the look of the door pulls I saw online for most RS door panel builds. My solution was some hand shaped 3/4in x 1/2in x 10in aluminum bar which I rattle-canned black and attached using some allen-head cap screws.

The final product.

Eventually, I got tired of no storage and passengers complaining about no grab bar and the “confusion” of pulling the strap to unlock the door. So, I bought some black covers, handles and pocket covers and put some similar carpet on the old pockets.

Not a perfect match for the door pocket carpet but close enough