Thursday, April 21, 2011

(Re)moving Forward

Now that you’ve enjoyed Willie Nelson’s On the Road Again again and again, it’s time to move on. But first…

…an update in realtime: After a short bout with a pesky oil leak and more hours than I intend to admit rejetting/syncing my Weber carbs, all systems are go and I’ve clocked 32.7 exhilarating miles so far. (Yes Willie, we’ve made it.)

I’ll refrain from my customary routine of saying how busy I’ve been or how I intend to post more posts and just continue from where we left off. Getting back to our punch list, we’re about 2/3rds into the tear-down and sometime around April 2009 in blogtime.

Jumping right back into the swing of things, we’ve removed the top, hood, trunk lid, windshield, the entire interior, gas tank, engine/ brake/ clutch controls, wiring, and lights - you should still have your grille, doors, bumpers, and fenders intact. We’ll focus on the doors this round and strip the rest next time.

Before we delve, let’s take a closer look at those doors. From the ‘Misses Dash’ post, you should have a couple of semi-naked doors, but they should still have their innards. Depending on how much bodywork and painting needs to be done, you can leave some of the pieces in there (assuming that the parts are in good, working order). So, my fellow brethren and sistren, I submit to you a two-staged approach for your ponderance and pontification:

I. For those who would rather not rock:
So your windows work, they don’t rattle; your door skins/frames require little to no bodywork; and the various linkages link sufficiently well. Lucky you - good news is that you can get away with a partial teardown of the doors – just make sure the body shop masks everything well when painting so your windows remain see-through. Or mask them yourself before handing them over.

It’s best to work with the doors open and the windows up, so once you’re there, point your attention to the rear part of the door where the door latch loiters. Grab a pick or a small screwdriver and start removing the c-clips and rods attached to the latch device – there’s a rod that comes from the inside handle and a springy-looking connector that goes to the exterior handle.

Once the rods are free from the latch, you can remove the three screws securing the interior handle assembly. They should be large, regular-head screws and shouldn’t offer too much resistance – but since they’re screws, be careful not to strip ‘em. Use some CRC if you need to. Now you can remove the exterior door handle via two screws from the inside of the door cavity. After the handle’s out, remove the latch and other door-related hardware (don’t forget about the catches on the door jamb of the car itself).

The innerworkings of the door look more complex than they really are and you shouldn’t have much trouble remembering how to put everything back together, but if you’re worried, you can take pictures of the parts prior to disassembly. As you're removing the parts, you should also keep the left door parts separated from the right-side ones to avoid further confusion during reassembly. Now I tell you, huh?

If you have side mirrors on your doors (or even on your fenders), g’head and remove them now. Typically, two screws secure the mirror and it shouldn’t be too difficult to figure it out.

Now, go back to the inside of the door and roll the window down. The window seals are next – those weather flaps that keep water/dirt/debris out yo business. They’re held on with clips that can be a hassle to remove - but power through it, man. The inner, fuzzy one can just be pulled up and off and then a small screwdriver can be used to push the clips off and into the door. I think there are 7 clips there, just be mindful that a glass window is nearby. The outer, rubbery (or at least once-rubbery) seal is a little more advanced, but it’s secured with dumber clips. The rubber seal can be pried/pulled off as well, but if not, the clips need to be pushed down to dislodge them from the seal and door frame. Again, I think there are 7 clips, so start at the back side of the door and work your way forward, popping the clips into the door cavity until you’re able to rip that sucker off. (You don’t need to save these clips so throw caution to the wind – they’re readily available and are fairly cheap.) If the window is ominously too close to the danger zone, you can add some slack by loosening the window rails a bit and retighten them after the seals are gone. Got that? Good, you’re done for now. Take a break, grab a beer and a whiskey and come back when you’re ready to blow the doors off.

II. For those who rock:
Apart from saluting you, you’ll still need to not rock for a bit and go through those steps above prior to rocking.

You’ve made it this far, not much further to go. You should have unfettered access to the top of the window glass with the removal of the window seals. You’ll need to roll the window up about halfway, until you feel like you can reach behind those arms that are pushing the window up. Find a way to secure the window in place – keeping in mind you may need to adjust the position a little during the removal. I used wooden shims and strong spring clamps at the front and rear to hold ‘er in place – just remember that it’s glass you’re dealing with here – a lot stronger than you may think, but just as fragile as you know it to be.
There’s a metal channel at the bottom of the window glass with two slots in it - the regulator arms have pins that go in those slots. (The ‘regulator’ is the thing that moves the window north and south.) Behind the pins, there are some retainer clips that hold the window to the regulator. These clips are different from regular retainer clips in that they’re a pain in the ass. You need to blindly feel back there (in the door, not the ass) to raise a little tab on the clips and push them off the pins. Here’s a drawing I made with my mad skills in MS Paint, if it helps at all.

After you finagle the clips off the pins, the regulator should come off the channel and the window glass will be free – good thing you secured it, right? Now you can carefully pull the glass up through the door and set it aside for safe keeping. Window rails are next.

Down at the bottom of the door frame, there are a couple of screws holding a brace in place. This brace serves two purposes: it acts as a window stop and it applies tension on a rod that, in turn, holds your window rails taut. Remember that when you’re putting things back together because you need a balance between window height and tight. Just remove the screws right now and leave the tensioner-stopper there. Move on to the front (hinged side) of the door and remove the hex bolts that hold the window rail in place and then to the back (latch side) of the door and undo the bolts on that side. The three pieces that you’ve just unscrewed/unbolted will be joined together loosely by the tension rod. If you can manage to get those parts out, do it, otherwise leave them in there until the door has been disemboweled of everything else.

Back to the door frame: Using the map I’ve provided below, you’ll see a nut and bolt right about in the middle (#1) and another one nearby (#2) that looks like it’s not doing anything – it actually holds a stop in place that limits how far the window goes up. You can remove the stop first and then move back to nut in the center. This one secures the scissor portion of the regulator – loosen, but don’t remove this nut yet.

Next, go to the cranky section and remove its four bolts (#3). The regulator assembly might flop around, a little, but should be secured by the channel (behind #4), and the #1 bolt. Now, reach in there, hold onto the regulator, remove that #1 bolt and slide the assembly forward until it’s free from the channel. You should be able to move the regulator around and may need to move the crank nub to position the scissors so you can remove the whole thing from the door cavity. And viola! You should now be able to get all of those parts out and be left with a door shell on hinges. Yay.

We’re almost ready to remove the doors, so let’s get everyone back together.

I know you’ve all been wondering about your brightwork, right? What about the shiny trim on the doors and front fenders? You’ll have to leave it on there until the doors have been removed, but there is some preparation you can do right now. The stainless steel trim is basically just a channel that slides onto buttons that are riveted to your door/fender. The one on the fender, as we'll see in the next post, will slide right off with some coercion, but the door trim is held in place by a barrel clip and pin at the tapered end. It’s this pin that needs your attention now. Looking into the hollows of your door cavity (if you decided to leave the windows in, please roll them up), you’ll see the backend of the pin and barrel clip right above where your outside door handle used to be. Give that pin a swift, light, but solid tap with an appropriately-sized punch/hammer. You just want to unseat the pin, not knock the trim off and the goal is to create space between the trim and the door surface at the taper – just enough to create a foothold for later. If you want, you can loop a piece of string or zip tie through there or pop a popsicle stick in there to mind the gap in your absence. One word of advice/caution: these trim pieces are currently not available, but they are resilient and can usually be reconditioned so just be careful. Okay? Back to business…

Now open your doors wide and you’ll see a checkstrap there between your two door hinges. Well, it’s not really a strap but you get the idea. This check-thing is held to the door with a rivet pin that you’ll have to grind off or drill out. Either way, do it from underneath so it won’t fall out before you’re ready. When you’ve got the pin loose don’t take ‘er out yet - close the door slightly to push the checker into its channel to overcome the spring stop. Whenever you’re comfortable removing the rivet do so but be wary that the door is now free to swing all the way open, which could cause damage to the door or your front fender, quarterpanel, wing, or whatever you want to call it. Lastly, reach around behind your A-pillar and the checkstrap should there waiting for you to pluck it from its perch. There’s a rubber hood surrounding the strap’s trap - you can remove that now or later, whenever it feels right. If it helps, listen to the doors. (Punchline drum sound, please.)

Anyhoot. We’re now ready to take the doors off and there are a few different ways to do so: the right way, the wrong way, and WGAS (that’s ‘who gives a …’). But let me tell you a little about the hinge system on these cars first.

The hinges are adjustable on either mounting side, we’ll call them the pillar-side (the half that attaches to the car) and the door-side (no comment). The pillar-side can adjust up, down, left, and right. The door-side hinges go up and down and also do in and out. As you can tell, there’s quite a bit of freedom of movement and even more room for error with these hinges. And, since the two hinges can be adjusted independently, you could wind up with a nightmare of odd angles and weird twists in multiple dimensions when trying to realign your doors. With that in mind, here are your options:

The right way is for those of you who have decently-aligned body panels and your gaps and seams seem acceptable. You folks want to keep the realignment as easy as possible to only have some slight left-to-right or up-and-down adjustments (like trying to hang a picture on a wall). So, leave the door-side hinges attached to the doors (ask the bodyshop to leave them be, too) and figure out a way to ‘remember’ the door’s position.

One option is to mark the hinge bolts inside behind the A-pillar (you don’t want to mark the outer side because it will be repainted and you’ll lose your evidence). Since the area that we’re talking about is hidden, you could spray some spray paint in there or use a permanent marker to mark the bolts’ positions. This is a little risky because now you’re trusting your bodyman to preserve that area from overspray or any other number of perils that are not under your control. What to do? You could come up with an elaborate measurement scheme with angles and millimeters. Yuck. Or you could get some wooden shims from your local hardware store, jam one in the front bottom corner, one in the rear, and mark the shim where the door hits it. You may need to break off some of the skinny side of the shim to get it to wedge in there nice or tape a couple together to get the right thickness. After you mark the line, just label which shim goes where, put them somewhere safe, and remember where you put them. Cool? Cool.

(Drum roll, please.) You’re now ready to remove the doors. There are three bolts for each pillar-side hinge that we’ll be working, all located behind (technically, in front of, I spose) the A-pillar. For your own comfort, you can loosen and remove the bottom two bolts on each of the hinges with the door open. While you’re in there, you can also crack the top bolts loose, but just slightly – they still need to hold the weight of the door for a few moments. Climb back out of the car and close the door. Holding it closed with your legs, you can now lean into the car to remove the remaining two bolts. The door may give a little, but once the bolts are off, the door can be easily removed – it’s lighter than you may think even if the hardware and windows are left in.

The wrong way to remove your doors is not necessarily how you actually take them off, but rather how you plan to put them back on. Remember that when they go back on, they’ll have fresh and fragile new paint all over them. You’ll need a plan that significantly decreases the chances of scratches and chimps (er…chips). You’ll need to keep tools away from them and you’ll need to protect them.

To illustrate my point, let’s mentally jump ahead to the remounting process and run through the right way backwards: this presents a situation where your door is securely held in place before any tools come near the doors and any tools that are used are used in a non-visible area. Bra-vo, sir!

If you were to remove the doors via the door-side hinge (or, more to the point, if you plan on putting the doors back on in this fashion), you’d have to rely on scary jacks or elaborate hoistings to hold your precious cargo in place. Not to mention, the right way is just so much easier.

Hold on sec. What about those hinge pins? If I were to remove the pins, I wouldn’t have to align a darn thing when it all goes back together. Well, I’m glad you’re thinking and this is a viable way to preserve those door positions. What could be better? It really comes down to risk tradeoffs. I’m picturing a swinging hammer and your beer buddy holding your door in place. I’d rather spend the half hour aligning the doors. I’ve said my peace.

WGAS may sound like a quicker version of the wrong way, but it’s really just a silly name I came up that was better than “the right way for those who don’t care about their doors’ alignment when removing them from their car for whatever reason”. Pretty much 90% of us.

WGAS is just commentary on avoiding the dangers of the wrong way for my peeps who don’t want to mark a damn thing and who want to take those hinges completely off the door when everyone is looking. Be proud of who you are! You are basically going to follow the right way, ignore that shim business, and remove the hinges after the doors have been lain to rest.

Well, we’ve made quite a lot of progress here tonight and I hope that this post displays the appropriate amount of fervor to appease everyone’s anticipation and expectations. My restoration project has taken two years, one month, and thirteen days to date and I’m still as interested as the day I bought it. Granted, the car has been completed by most people’s standards for about a month, but we all know that there’s always something left to do.

Until next time…