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54 door replacement saga! Any advice for me?


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Howdy folks!

 

I didn’t turn up much on a search so I’m starting a new thread here to share progress and hopefully hear any helpful knowledge from the masters here.

 

My driver’s door is a total mess but since I’m the only one that ever touches it I didn’t care and just worked with it- it did do all its jobs passibly well with some tricks and TLC, but now it’s forced me to get around to replacing it. 

 

When I built my ‘54 I cut out and replaced all the rust. New floors, extensive windshield flange repair, running boards, all the cancer and swiss cheese was removed, replaced, painted. 
 

Except for the driver’s door, which had long ago removed its own rust by disintegrating the bottom then sagging to let the traction bumps on the running board remove loose material. I did repair the dent from hitting the fender when opened too far without a limiter, and lifted it with a jack which got it bent back high enough to only need moderate lifting to close the door. 
 

Also when I made thicker door cards I had to re-drill the square drives for the crank and interior handle to sit farther inboard. The pin for the driver’s window crank stuck hard 1/2 way through and is now permanent and slightly cocked. I have a replacement crank but removing the old one will be a destructive process before the escutchion and card come off. 

 

And for some reason since I’ve had the truck it never had a rear track inside the door for the glass. Just gone. So that means rolling down the window involves holding and pushing the top so it doesn’t get cocked and stuck in the track in the opening. Also if you roll it too far down you’ll need a spatula to guide it back up out of the slot in the top of the door. 
 

All this was fine until the window regulator (metal tray that the bottom of the glass sits in) popped off and fell out the tray a couple days ago. Gluing it back in is easy but I don’t have access. Taking the card off will require extreme measures to free the window crank (I have a replacement) and at that point I might as well fix the sag, make a rear inside window track, fix the crank pin hole, and replace the glass which is cracked. Ugh.

 

So I checked ebay and FB for parts hoping to find a window track or new crank assembly. Magically there was a complete door for sale that needs a patch on the bottom but not extensive window mechanism fabrication. Seeing no shipping & pick up only I clicked it expecting to see Idaho or 2500 miles away only to find it’s in PA only a few hours NW!!

 

I paid for it and made arrangements to grab it next Monday. 
 

So far I’ve figured out that it looks like the hinges are stuck into the inside the A pillar from the side, and are tapped for the bolts that go in the jam. I don’t know if there are nuts in there or a plate in there that will fall to the bottom of the pillar?

 

I got both hinge pins free after removing the 4 bolts from the bottom hinge A pillar, and confirming that every single of the 4 top bolts will be a fight involving welding torching and cursing.

 

The new door has hinges on it which I was planning to use but currently the plan is to pull those pins and try to just replace from the pivots back. 
 

Again- any knowledge or gotchas are greatly appreciated56E5F17A-81BD-4586-BF3D-5F01384E24B6.jpeg.0d41b0ec26eb5f1b933c3916634eef0b.jpeg

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40 minutes ago, Radarsonwheels said:

So far I’ve figured out that it looks like the hinges are stuck into the inside the A pillar from the side, and are tapped for the bolts that go in the jam. I don’t know if there are nuts in there or a plate in there that will fall to the bottom of the pillar?

There is a plate that has threaded holes .... it does float for adjustment & can/will fall into the abyss ..... or not.

My driver door there was enough surface rust to hold into place ..... the passenger side did fall.  I used a telescoping magnet to reach in & pull it back up.

I was able to grease it  .... just awkward trying to hold it in place, line up the door hinge & start the bolts into the threads.

 

If you pull the bolts and it stays in place, I would re-install the bolts to keep it there until ready to put the door on.

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Killer info! Thanks Los!

 

It makes sense that there’s a plate rusted in place in there. I definitely will throw the bolts back in- maybe some new ones with antisieze even. 
 

I’m guessing it’s a tapped plate that is thin enough to slip in to the slot in the pillar before the hinge itself? If it was a plate with nuts welded to it there’d be no way to get it in there. I wonder what the factory assembly technique was. 
 

Fingers crossed I have enough parts between the two doors and it drops in without too much drama!
 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Got em! 
 

I went to see a huge hoard/ private junkyard in Starlight PA including a fluid drive and several job rated and pilot house trucks. Like 800 cars in a private junkyard! 
 

I picked up two ‘54 doors, one I paid $212 on ebay, and the passenger side I don’t really need was another $80. It does have cleaner outer skin than mine and the biggy is both doors have 100% working vent window locks which are both missing on mine. And of course the driver’s side has an inside rear window track which is totally gone on mine!
 

This morning I vacuumed out like ten pounds of fluffy mouse nests and soaked everything down with Kroil. It all seemed pretty frozen but after some time and attention everything started working and getting smooth again- a really good sign. 
 

Next is to test fit the driver’s door and to decide if it’s easier to try to swap the passenger vent window or just swap out the whole door. They both have hinges so the plan is to pull my hinge pins and just see if the new doors drop on anywhere close.

 

I didn’t find much searching about vent window replacement- anybody done it? 
 

D4287E83-6275-49CF-B79C-D3D42EEA7343.jpeg.527e694ccbe666745cec477a8946d963.jpeg

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Some highlights from the private boneyard- it was mostly 50s stuff with a good amount of prewar and early muscle era. The owner was friendly and totally willing to part with stuff once he knew it was going to go back on the road. 875CB8D3-3BE1-4A65-967B-D77DD426B00D.jpeg.6961b46b9566c37682412337593c3871.jpeg
Check out the bullet holes in the bottom right pic 😮 

Edited by Radarsonwheels
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3 hours ago, kencombs said:

Maybe it's just me, but removing the hinge pins would be my last choice.  Just unbolt the hinges.  Yeah, I know, then you have to adjust the door, but the odds are that will need to be done anyway.

 

Well I found the top hinge doesn’t want to unbolt from the A pillar on the driver’s side, and I don’t have a great understanding of what’s actually in there- the hinge slips in from the outside and there’s a plate with four fine thread holes in the A pillar that sandwiches the hinge? Does it slip in first? The threaded plate would have to be kinda thin to slip in to the slot where the hinge emerges. 
 

I can get destructive and cut open the pillar or drill out the stuck top hinge bolts but that’s a whole can of fabrication worms I’d rather not get into if I don’t have to. 
 

If you have a good understanding of how it works and I’m missing something I’m all ears Ken! I love to learn more about how to work on these beauties.

 

This drawing is how I think it works. How does the plate get in there? Can I get it out and or make a new one if it’s stripped or rusty after destructive bolt removal? 
 

I don’t want to poke the bear here but maybe I’m overthinking it

 

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Edited by Radarsonwheels
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Your drawing looks pretty accurate to me.

My first thought here is rusted bolts, time to throw some heat at them.

It is a pretty thick plate & decent sized bolts. ... If you break one you can drill it out ... just not the end of the world.

 

I really would have to look at mine again, I know I dropped the plate, picked it up with the magnet several times before I finally got it bolted back in place.

I know I cleaned mine & greased it .... so I assume it can come out.

Realistically is almost impossible to get your head in position to actually see. Everything is done by feel.

Just been over a year since I messed with mine. .... My bolts came right out. ..... get a breaker bar & a 3' cheater pipe .... time for them to move.

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Your C-series may be different than my B-series truck, but it looks similar. Your drawing is close, but there is another piece of sheet metal between the hinge and the threaded plate. As I remember it, the hinge slides into a pocket in the A pillar and the threaded plate is captured in front of that pocket. I recall that it can float slightly, but is caged in place when the bolts are removed. As mentioned earlier, try some localized heat on the bolts to break the rust bond. I’ve had luck in similar situations by heating the head of the bolt to cherry red, letting it cool, sometimes repeating that process, then try loosening again. The heat-cool cycles will weaken the rust bond. Of course that would damage the surrounding paint if you are worried about that. Otherwise just rattle away with an impact gun to see if they’ll come loose. Switch the gun between loosen and tighten as you rattle on it.  

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I hung the door which has a rivet repair on the inside bottom 4” all the way across. The bottom gets into the running board pretty badly but will push closed and has the same decent gaps and flush fit with the cab & fender as the old one. 
 

No hinge adjustment will be necessary- not that I am vindicated Ken but more like I got away with it!

 

The outside handle was the only thing still frozen and it was frozen good. Having the handle straight made getting the outside handle escutcheon and screws out interesting but the thankfully came out. The handle bushing is in better shape than my original which is also a score.

 

I made a tool by necking down a piece of 9/16” square steel rod. I considered using tool steel and hardening it but I’d rather sacrifice the tool than the square socket in the door. A bunch of Kroil and working it back and forth started freeing it up and after a few cycles of tapping the bolt back out after I was able to successfully open it and the return springs came back to life too. More Kroil thru the long nozzle tube washed away the old grease, dirt, and rust and I was able to get it moving pretty well. 
 

Now the door needs to go back on the bench and get the bottom interior and bottom section re-made, and a few old mirror mounting holes welded up. 
 

All good news so far!! 6DFD16C9-B883-4615-BF0E-2C3A0F29710D.jpeg.6b25c278682a5fd14eb07d3a5afb6162.jpeg1AF3AE08-1524-48BC-8B8E-F2392743A790.jpeg.6bb9cc20a51f3ca3d23e607e75ce0bfd.jpeg

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Got the door card installed. Apparently I did a decent job locating the holes when I made it because I was able to use all the stock holes as pilots for the oversize short stainless phillips screws I used.

Drilling the square drives for the handle and crank inboard to account for my thick luon and diamond stitch padded vinyl door card went well but is impossible to do 100% straight without removing the assemblies from the door so some fiddling had to happen. The early deco style repop chrome handles are all installed with stainless spring collar eacutcheons. Man I love how those look. 
 

And of course after all that I realized I forgot to swap out the new fine machine thread clip on sheetmetal nuts for the arm rest/door pull. I think I’ll trim pockets out of the card for access- a hack job but with future ease of maintenance in mind. Should be a minor pain cutting luon with a razor knife. 
 

Here’s a pic of the arm rest, the angled spacers I made to match the angle in the door stamping, and the original door with the clip nuts still installed (d’oh!)B824C70F-AC1D-484F-AE83-E8FAD75633B4.jpeg.2cd3eba1485a5e69aee77fd815955ece.jpeg

Edited by Radarsonwheels
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Like usual, overthinking it. Trimmed the card with a razor knife and sharp wood chisel, swapped the nuts, and everything is right with the world again! 
 

Gonna drive her to my annual thanksgiving breakfast target practice session with a good buddy at the rod & gun club in the AM.3FF274E4-80BF-4864-95ED-52A239B85827.jpeg.1d02cafefc71711ff8093e969c9656e1.jpeg

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