How many Holes Does it Take to Fill the Albert Hall?

How Many Holes Does it Take to Fill the Albert Hall?

I took the fitted back panel back to “East Coast Trim” now that I made absolutely sure it would fit the car when it was done. I also cut new door panels from the templates I made last week, and will take them up to the car to check them for fit as well. Losing a day of work on the door panels to check for fit is worth making sure everything is perfect.

I sized a piece of leather for the back panel, and cut it to fit. Remembering to check for wrinkles and scars in the leather is something I have to remember to do when working with this stuff.

After a thin layer of foam is attached to the back panel, I cut out an area to put the brackets that will support the rear defroster fan assembly.

This brought me to the process of replicating the holes in the leather for the defroster intake. The old panel shows how it should look, and I took some notes. My panel has 15 holes across, and 14 holes in the other direction. Each hole is spaced 5/16 inch apart, on center.  I’m sure when these panels were made, they had some kind of template to follow, or maybe even a punch that cut all the holes at once, but I would have to somehow cut these manually.

When I showed Frank the old leather with the perforations, he pointed under one of his counters, and told me to pull out this machine. It was a hole punching machine, specifically made for this kind of job!

I spent some time carefully measuring the leather and marking where all the holes should go. Before cutting the holes in my back panel, I practiced, and then practiced some more! The hole punching machine worked like a drill press with a lever that pressed the motor and bit down onto the leather. Frank had a home made foot pedal that attached to the press handle. He explained that having two hands to move the leather into place was absolutely necessary for accuracy. Thankfully I didn’t have to learn that out the hard way!

The bit was hollow, so as it spun, it would cut a clean hole, and the plug would drive up into the bit. Occasionally the bit would clog, so I would have to stop, pull the bit, push out the stack of plugs, and resume punching holes.

It was slow, stressful work! One wrong move, and I would ruin a huge piece of leather! There were a few that didn’t go exactly where I wanted, but I found if you “fudged” the adjacent holes a hair, the errant hole would not look so bad. 210 holes later, and I finally finished. I can’t wait to see other restored GTEs to see how they did with this part of the upholstery!

After I finished the perforating, Frank came over to help me glue it to the panel. Once we get the panel glued and stapled, we’ll trim the excess leather off the back, and it’ll be exactly like the old one.

The holes look pretty good from this angle.

The hole making took most of my day, so the project of stripping the transmission tunnel will have to wait until next time.

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