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1955 Ford Part 108: Rocker Panel Trim, The Pumpkin Run, and a Big Surprise!

Updated: Apr 5

"Look Mom! No Holes" (Original rocker panel trim fit nicely with the 3M emblem tape)

Regular subscribers to the blog may recall that back in April of 2020 and Part 93 of the series of work on the 1955 Ford Fairlane I acquired a very nice set of original rocker panel stainless steel trim. Back when I was 16 years old and running this car all over town the rocker panels were wearing 1949-51 stainless trim that a previous owner had installed by drilling screws through the trim to the sheet metal. This setup looked ok but over the years I had always longed to install an original set of Ford's 55-56 trim. Not many Club Sedans had this trim of course - mostly these accessories were dealer-installed items; but since I had rocker panel trim on the car when I was a teenager I always felt like I wanted to have this brightwork installed on the car when I got it all back together and put it on the road.

So what has been the hang up here?

Drilling holes! Any time that I considered putting these pieces on the car I always believed I would have to drill holes to install these pesky clips below...

Reproduction rocker panel trim clips with the two tabs for holes in the sheet metal...

From the photo above it is easy to tell that the tabs on the clip are meant to be inserted into holes that are drilled along the rocker panel, front of the quarter panel, and the fender. After all of the body work I have done to the car to prep for paint, etc, I just could never bring myself to drilling all of those holes for the trim. Plus, I knew that after I drilled all of those holes there would be another way for moisture to enter the rocker cavity, lending itself to rot out more quickly than if the sheet metal was left untouched.

After cleaning the surface with alcohol, the tape was cut to length and bonded to the now smooth backing plate of each clip. Care was taken along the way to make sure that the arc of the clips would match up well to the rocker panel, fender, and quarter panel section where the entire strip of stainless steel trim would rest on the car. This procedure took some time, for not all surfaces were 100% true.

Each clip was placed into position before installation.

With the backing still on the 3M tape the entire stainless trim was test fitted to the car. If you look at the photo below you can see that the fender had to be massaged ever so slightly to get a smooth transition from the rocker panel to the area of the fender just forward.

The fender had to be adjusted to allow the stainless steel trim to fit perfectly.

To adjust the fender, simply loosen the two bolts shown in the photo.

While the video below will show more, I ended up centering the stainless by getting the trim into position on the car, using masking tape to temporarily keep it on the sheet metal, and then placing a single dot with a marker. The dot was at the exact center of one of the clips below the door. This helped to keep alignment when actually "taping" the clips/trim to the car. While I am very happy with the results even after interstate speeds and at least one washing, I will say that I had to put a little extra tape here and there to help with my differences in the shape of the clips as opposed to the shape of the sheet metal on the car. This was not in excess by any means, and the end product is quite nice! I even had several comments about the trim when I was at the car show.

Installing rocker panel trim & preparing for the Pumpkin Run!

The Pumpkin Run

I do not attend a whole lot of car shows. Most of the time these types of events are just not my thing; I'd much rather be driving the car, tinkering and turning wrenches, or rummaging through the vendors' tables at the swap meet! Most of this is due to my perception of car shows - static cars on display. Now, there is nothing wrong with that and at this show called the Pumpkin Run in Clermont County, Ohio, there were over 2,400 cars registered by Saturday afternoon so there was plenty to see. One beautiful car was this Continental convertible.

A number of people had encouraged me to take my 1955 Ford Fairlane to this show and after some thought I decided I would attend. The video above on rocker panel trim gave some further details and actual footage, but you can scroll through some of the pictures below to see more of the show. We were #2363 of over 2400 registered, and yes, it was quite busy. I put the camera away kind of early in the day because we had so many that wanted to speak to us, ask questions, or find out what this "Hot Rod Reverend" thing was all about.

Bill and his wife Lois parked their car close to mine and we became friends rather quickly...

I enjoyed going through the vendor swap spaces first thing in the morning. The weather was cool and the sun was out, and it was refreshing to meet others like me who are involved in the hobby. Of course, I made some deals with a few folks and picked up some parts. There were not many who spoke the "mid-50s Ford" language, but I did locate some Y Block parts I was pretty happy with and came away with a few "Made in the USA" tools at good prices. Of special note would be the jar of Blackberry-Jalapeño Jam that I found at a local farmer's table - great stuff!

Any time I was near the 55 Ford Club Sedan there was always someone waiting to talk to me. I guess there were others that stopped by to look at the car when I was not there. Some of you are subscribers! I do apologize for that - hopefully next time I can meet you. I do plan to build or purchase some means of displaying my business cards and brochures. Who knows? That project could end up being placed in a future blog post!

Coming up on October 16 there is a car show at a church in Franklin, Ohio, and the organizer of the event has specifically reached out to me so that I would bring the 55 Ford. It is on a Saturday afternoon. I will be in town for that event, and I do plan to attend since Franklin is only 40 minutes from where I live. Now, they have the wrong brand on the flyer so all you Ford guys help me out here!

The Hot Rod Reverend

aka Daniel Jessup


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