Mark Houlahan
Tech Editor, Mustang Monthly
November 1, 2000

Step By Step

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The fresh paint on our ’65 hardtop is now enhanced by the bright, new driprail mouldings we’ve just installed. Follow along with our tips to reduce your frustration level.
Besides replacement, there are several good reasons for removing the driprail mouldings. This Mustang was recently repainted, and if the mouldings had been removed before the paint job, the driprail could have been better cleaned and prepped for painting. Instead, old seam sealer and other “nasties” remain (arrow) with fresh paint over them.
After 30-plus years of washings, exposure, repainting, and other atrocities, the driprail mouldings are usually quite banged up. The most common eyesores are dents in the mouldings (arrows) and scrapes and scratches.
Our first trick is using the proper tool. Believe it or not, you probably already have one (or more) of these handy: an old-fashioned bottle opener. As you can see here, we’ve wrapped the bottle-cap end (NOT the can-puncture end) with several protective layers of electrical tape. Violà, a custom tool for driprail moulding removal.
Using the bottle-cap lifting tab, carefully lock the tab under the moulding lip at the rear of the moulding and pry upward. This takes a little practice and some finesse. Don’t try to pry up the actual driprail; you want to catch only the edge of the moulding itself.
Slowly work your way up to the first corner. Corners are difficult and take even more patience, so take your time. Of course, if your mouldings are not worth saving and you have replacements, then feel free to rip away with reckless abandon!
Using a two-handed approach, work your way across the long top edge of the moulding. Use your left hand to pry up the moulding with your tool and your right hand to guide the moulding over the driprail. Work in short 1- or 2-inch segments. If you attempt to pry up 6 or so inches at a time, you will bend the moulding.
While you’re prying and twisting your way toward the front half of the driprail moulding, the rear half will start “flopping” around. So make sure an assistant holds the rear half to prevent scratching your paint on the roof sides.
Though a bit difficult to determine in this photo, the original mouldings showed evidence of at least two different color paint jobs, something that can seriously detract from a car’s appearance but that can be easily improved with new mouldings.
The driprails usually have light surface rust or a buildup of old paint jobs, which makes installing the new mouldings more difficult. A Scotch-Brite pad will help clean the driprails and prepare them for the new mouldings.
Position the new driprail moulding along the long, straight top part of the rail. Make sure the corners are correctly positioned. If one end appears to be too short, you’ll have to reposition the moulding. Again, make sure an assistant holds the ends of the moulding to prevent paint damage.
At left, the moulding needs to be coaxed over the lip of the driprail to allow a secure fit. Depending upon your comfort level, you can use the palm of your hand, a soft rubber mallet, or some other means to ensure a secure fit. We used a rubber mallet and a double-folded piece of cardboard for extra cushioning. Make sure you give the moulding a glancing downward blow to snap the moulding onto the driprail. Do not hit the moulding square or you will distort it.
Here is a good view of the underside of the driprail (looking up). You can see the edge of the moulding and how it snaps over the underside of the rail. Continue to work the length of the moulding to secure it from the front curve to the rear curve.
The corners are the trickiest part of installing new mouldings. Sometimes a third hand is helpful at this point. You will need to apply hand pressure to conform the moulding to the angle and direction of the driprail, then you will need to snap the moulding over the rail. If you have the option, a third hand could be employed to push the moulding down onto the rail, then you could secure it with a few light blows from a rubber mallet.
Some of you might encounter rusted driprails. In fact, some driprail problems don’t rear their ugly heads until you attempt to put on the mouldings. This gaping rust hole at the base of the driver-side rail gave us some problems. We didn’t have any “backbone” to hammer upon, thus we had to support the driprail so that we could secure the moulding over it. Look for these problems before you start. If your driprails are in poor condition, have them replaced by a competent body shop.
Once the mouldings have been completely secured along the length of the driprail, you can proceed with removing the protective plastic covering from the driprail mouldings. Leaving on the plastic covering will prevent scratches and rubber marks from your mallet.
Our new driprails from Virginia Classic Mustang are now installed. They make our new paint job look great, just as any new exterior chrome would. So don’t overlook these important items when you’re refinishing or freshening your ’65-’68 Mustang.

Whether it’s prepping for a paint job or a simple replacement, driprail mouldings can be challenging to the uninitiated, as there are no visible screws, clips, or other attaching hardware. Since the mouldings aren’t part of the body structure, how do these bright trim pieces stay intact, or come off for that matter? The simple answer is, the mouldings clip on to the driprails. Putting them on and taking them off is the difficult part.

Removing the mouldings from the driprails is a relatively painless process if you follow our string of how-to photos and fashion the custom tool we show you here. Installing mouldings, especially new ones that have never been on a car, can be challenging. The new set we used here, a high-quality reproduction from Virginia Classic Mustang, gave us a fit or two, and we’ve installed several sets of these mouldings before! So you can imagine the frustration and anxiety levels you might reach if you’ve never done this. Sometimes it’s easier to install mouldings on one car than another, so keep your fingers crossed and hope you own one of the easy cars.

We won’t lie to you; these things are just plain tough to put on. We don’t even know exactly how the factory managed to get them on without denting them; it must be a miracle. If you’re replacing your mouldings, we suggest you practice with your old ones first by actually reinstalling them back on to your driprails.

Lastly, if you can get the old ones off, but you’re having trouble installing the new ones (even with our tips), don’t fight the mouldings until they’re wrapped around your spouse’s neck. Calm down, take a deep breath, then drive to your favorite body or restoration shop and write them a check. Otherwise, you’ll end up ordering three sets of mouldings before you get it right, and you won’t have kind words to say about me or Mustang Monthly. Remember, I warned you.