How to restore/refurbish the side molding on your 79-84 Mustang or Capri
*Note: Although the car used in this tech article is a Mustang, Mustangs and Capris shared the same 'soft' moldings from 1979-1984. Because of these shared parts, this article does apply to 1979-1984 Mercury Capris. Also note that 1984 Mustang GT350s and Mustang SVOs did not have this type of side molding, therefore, this article does not apply to those vehicles.
Restoration performed and documented by Peter "Hissing Cobra" Slaney.
This article was put together after numerous requests. I hope it helps everyone here in regards to restoring their bodyside molding (which we know is not reproduced for the '79-'84 Mustangs & Capris.) This is meant for the rubber molding only and will not work on the plastic corner pieces of the '85-'93 models (though it may work on their rubber moldings.) NOTE: I have received a few responses from owners of the '85-up cars, stating that their moldings have shrunk from this method. I have not received any responses from the '79-'84 crowd reiterating this. For you '85-up owners, proceed with caution!
This article is meant to be used as a guide to help you through the restoration process and is by no means the "be all" and "end all" of rubber molding restoration techniques. This method worked for my molding and produced factory fresh results.
This article can be copied for personal use only and cannot be sold, nor published without first contacting myself (Peter J. Slaney) or Skye (owner of www.foureyedpride.com) and getting written consent. I am not (nor is www.foureyedpride.com) responsible and hold no liability if your molding is damaged during your restoration. Remember, careful execution and perseverence is the key to a good job. Good luck!
Assemble all of the tools that you will need to remove the molding and its metal backed adhesive strips. These will include the following:
1 Pair of Vise Grips (or Pliars)
1 small chisel bladed putty knife (1" wide)
1 small flathead screwdriver
1 can of lacquer thinner
1 torch (with can of Mapp Gas)
4 cotton cloths
Take the 1" chisel bladed putty knife and begin to pry the molding away from the body of the car. When enough has been pried away, gently pull the molding away from the car until it's no longer attached. HINT: A little heat from the torch (using Mapp gas) will aid the removal by softening the glue. Be very careful!
Once the molding is removed, it will be bent and twisted. This is normal and is the direct result of the metal backed adhesive strips that are on the back. Once they bend, they will not be able to be straightened and must be removed. Once removed, the rubber will go back to it's natural state of flatness. Here's a couple of pic's of the bent rubber molding.
Place two of the cotton cloths on the vise (one on each side, effectively covering the teeth) and insert the molding into the vise, tightening it enough to hold the molding without moving. The cloths will prevent the vise from damaging the molding.
Take the Torch (equipped with MAPP Gas) and gently wave it over the edge of the molding to soften the glue. Care must be taken so that the rubber does not melt or catch on fire. After a moment of heat, insert the chisel bladed putty knife or the small flathead screwdriver behind the metal backed adhesive and pry up enough so that you can grab it with the Vise Grips or pliars. Attach either and begin to pull (applying heat with the torch as you go.) If you're good and the molding adhesive is not brittle, you'll be able to pull each strip in one shot.
Once the metal backed adhesive strips have been removed, the rubber will return to it's natural state of flatness. If it's flat but not level, place it up against the wall like a piece of baseboard and place some books against it for a day or so. The rubber will return to levelness and flatness. Here's two pic's of it after the strips have been removed and before it was placed against the wall to level it. Please note the curve in the rubber.
Take your last two cotton rags and saturate one of them with lacquer thinner. Wipe down both sides of the molding to remove dirt, oil, adhesive, etc...etc...etc... DO NOT soak the rubber in the lacquer thinner, as it will damage it. Wiping it briefly will not harm it in any way. When done, wipe dry with your last cotton cloth.
Now that the rubber is cleaned, it's time to inspect damage. Gouges and scrapes can be filled with rubber repair kits Such as Mar-Hyde's "Flexible Bumper and Plastic Patch" (part #3310.) Light scratches can be sanded with fine grit sandpaper. For what it's worth, I did not have to repair my molding. Therefore, I do not have any pictures of this step.
You've now got the piece ready for paint. A flexible type paint must be used because the rubber will expand and contract over time. I chose to use Mar-Hyde's "Flexible Primer Surfacer" in Satin Black (part #3611), as well as their "Bumper Black" (part #4911.) Both are available in aerosol spray cans. When using these products, please ensure that you read their directions and follow them accordingly.
If an automobile paint is to be used, a flex agent must be mixed into it to give it flexibility. Otherwise the paint will not flex and will chip/peel off when the rubber does expand and contract. Also when painting, you'll have to paint over the factory pinstripes. This is not a problem, as they will be replaced with vinyl pinstripes upon completion of the project. Here's a pic of the painted molding. Though tough to see, this paint dries with a satin type of finish on it.
After a day of resting against the wall like a piece of baseboard, the molding is now straight and flat. Here's a pic.
Once painted, you're ready to install new adhesive strips to the back of your moldings, as well as the pinstripes. There will be two adhesive strips attached to the back side (one on the upper half and one on the lower half) as well as two pinstripes on the front side.
For the adhesive strips, I chose 3M's "Automotive Acrylic Plus Attachment Tape" (part #06383). It's 7/8" wide x 20 yards and two rolls will be required. For the pinstripes, I chose 3M's "Scotchcal" striping tape. It's 1/8" x 40 ft and two rolls will be required. It will duplicate the factory stripe in both size and looks.
Apply the adhesive strips to both the top and bottom of the molding (backside only.) It should look like this when done. The red coloring is wax paper that must be peeled off when it's time to install the molding onto the car.
When done with the adhesive tape, flip the piece of molding over and begin to apply the pinstripes. Follow the factory indentions of the molded pinstripe to maintain a straight edge.
On the front and rear bumpers, the factory stripes were painted on and not molded in. On these surfaces, I sprayed a small amount of Glass Plus window cleaner on them before applying the stripes. This enabled me to slide them around to make them straight. Once straight, I dabbed them with a cotton cloth until all traces of the cleaner were gone (I also squeezed out air pockets and water bubbles during this process.)
Clean the body of the car to prep it for the molding installation. There are a variety of products on the market for this purpose. Please consult with your local autoparts store or autobody supply shop to find the proper product. If you've just had your car painted like me, you can skip this step.
Next, peel the wax paper off of the adhesive tape and align it to the body of the Mustang. Maintain a straight edge. When it's where you want it, press it firmly into place. This adhesive is very strong and removing the molding once it's placed onto the body will be extremely difficult. HINT: The use of a chalk line will aid alignment.
Here's a close up of my molding. Please note it's straightness and factory fresh appearance.
Here's one final picture of the completed job. It was very rewarding for my car to appear new and correct and I hope you all have the same results. Good luck!