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It was near the end of the year and I happen to mention to a friend that I was looking for a pair of metal half doors for the TJ. As I had obtained a soft top and had been using it for the past 6 months, I thought a set of half doors for trail use would help shed a few more pounds. He had a set of black doors with grey panels that he had gotten a year ago and was looking to sell. I had another friend who could paint them for me so I decided to pick up the doors. I also checked in with the local Jeep salvage company to see if they had a pair of soft upper frames (I already had new sailcloth skins to put on them). No problem, $40 later and I had a pair of ratty old windows on good frames. A box knife would make quick work of the old skins\ and a bit of black spray paint would have them looking good in no time.
I decided to change the door panel color to either match the
interior color or just make them black. Regardless of the color (yet to be
decided), I needed to remove the panels from the doors. There might very
well be a better way to do it (I don't have all of those cool body and interior
tools) but this way worked pretty well for me. So I thought I would put up
a few pics along with some comments in case you may need to pull your panels.
Besides the paint job, the driver's door would not open when using the inside
handle. As I later discovered, a crappy little piece of plastic had broke
which allowed the actuating rod to detach itself from the handle mechanism.
Two zip ties were pressed into service and only time will tell if my idea will
work long term. If it does not, I guess I'll need to visit the dealership
and see if that plastic clip is sold separately or comes complete with a door
The upper door frames mount in three removable inserts in the lower door body. Two of these need to be removed before the panel can be removed. (You do not need to remove the one at the very front edge of the door.) With a thin screwdriver, carefully pry the lip of the plastic insert up and away from the top of the panel. Grab the piece with your fingers and continue to carefully pull up. If the insert resists, try rotating it. It will come out.
Here are the two inserts after removal from the door. You can see the metal fingers that are attached to the top of the insert. These help secure the legs on the frame when the window is pushed into place.
The panel is also held in place with a plastic fastener. It is located near the top edge of the half door. These are the type of fastener that has the barbs that allows it to be inserted fairly easily but makes it quite difficult to extract (without bending or breaking the tabs on it). I lifted the edge of the fastener with a knife blade and then slipped a thin needle nose pliers under it, as shown above. Pry the fastener out of the hole the best you can. I had one come out in good condition while the one on the other panel broke in half. I've seen these at the local auto parts store and I believe ACE Hardware carries them as well.
There are two metal screws at the lower edge of the panel, below the molded side pocket. Remove both of these. There is also a single screw located near the back edge of the panel. Remove it. There are two long screws that hold the pull handle in place. Remove them also.
Around the edge of the panel, there are a number of while fasteners, one of which can be seen in the above picture. I started at the upper front corner and carefully pried the panel away from the door using a flat blade screwdriver. These fasteners should survive the process better as they appear to be designed to be inserted and removed. Work your way around the edge of the panel. There are about a half dozen of these fasteners to remove. The head of the fastener remains attached to the panel. They can be removed if necessary but unless you break one, I see no reason to do so.
Once the white edge fasteners have been detached from the door, the panel should lift off of the door body. That is it. From there, you can gain access to the inner works of the metal half door. As for me, I'll be painting the panels (once I figure out which color I want).