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Barring wrecks most door-fitting today is accomplished by springing the hinges, relocating the dovetail or adjusting the door bumpers and latch. We point out, all doors and the frames they fit on modern cars are sheet steel, die stamped. Dies cannot stamp two pieces of different size ; therefore all doors and their frames are of uniform size and cannot be misfits regardless of how combined.

An accident is the only thing that can alter the fit of a door in its frame. No matter how long the automobile is driven, distortion, decay, or warping cannot alter the door fit. It follows then that any adjustment to be made must of necessity be made in the door accessories : hinges, dovetails, striker plates and rubber bumpers, rather than in the door unit itself.

When adjusting doors, one of the door bumpers should be removed and the door fitted snugly against the remaining one, after which the door bumper can be replaced in such a manner that it is slightly compressed when the door is closed. Fitting bumpers in this manner often eliminates the necessity of springing the door to close it.

Caution: When adjusting doors always apply pressure gently.

Rubbing doors

Rubbing doors

In figure top left, the door is shown as rubbing against the post at the two points C. To correct this condition unfasten door checks. Then, opening the door to its fullest extent, exert pressure gently at points D (top right) which will spring hinges A and B.

This will spring the door away from the post and relieve rubbing. When the door does not close tightly at the top (middle left) and closes snugly against the post at the bottom (B), place a block, covered with a rag to protect the trim and paint between the bottom of the door and the post (point E middle right) and press gently the top of the door at point D until the door springs enough to correct the condition.

If the door is found to be closing tight at the top and open at the bottom, simply reverse the method of repair. In bottom left, the door is shown as binding against the post at point A, too far away from the post at point D, moldings out of line at point F, and with the opening between the doors, points B and C, not uniform.

To correct this condition, place a screw driver between the hinge leaves of the hinge (point G bottom right) and close the door gently. Applying pressure at point H, will cause the hinge to open, throwing the door away from the post at point A and dropping the rear of the door to make the clearance uniform and bring the moldings into alignment. If the door is binding at point D reverse the operation by placing the screw driver between the hinge leaves of the lower hinge.

Restoring rubbing doors
Correct rubbing doors

A departure from ordinary door mounting is seen in the 1938 Buick cars. The doors to these cars use no rubber side bumpers. A sponge weatherstrip (picture below left) runs around the door from sill to sill, secured to the door facings with metal clips and sealed with cement. The metal clips are thrust through small holes that are provided in the door facings and they hold by clinching.

The weatherstrip compresses against the outer edge of the body aperture when the door is closed and serves to effectively seal the opening against drafts or leaks, as well as to cushion the door as was formerly done by the side bumpers.

Car weatherstrip

The tightness of the door fit to these weatherstrips can be controlled by adjustment of the striker plate and door hinges as described somewhere else.

On Series 40 and 60, a soft hollow weatherstrip (right) is attached across the bottom of the door and compresses against the door rocker panel to prevent air drafts from below.

On Series 80 and 90, a new type of door bottom weatherstrip is used). The lip of this weatherstrip is pushed inward by the lower edge of the door, sealing the opening effectively.

The inside edge of the door aperture is further sealed by a windlacing attached to the body which presses against the door in its closed position.

Rubber bumpers are mounted on the upper part of the lock pillar to prevent metal-to-metal contact of upper door flange and body.

The door hinges are attached to the body hinge pillars and door hinge pillars with cap screws threaded into the hinges, secured by lock washers. The holes in the body pillars are elongated vertically to permit adjustment of the door upward or downward in the door aperture.

The holes in the door pillars are elongated horizontally to permit adjustment of the door inward or outward.

The striker plate is secured to the lock pillar by means of two machine screws threaded into a movable nut-plate set within the pillar. The holes in the pillar are slotted horizontally, permitting the striker plate to be moved in or out so as to secure proper fitting of the door within the aperture.

Dovetail bumper assembly

The dovetail bumper assembly is built into the lock pillar, the shoes being covered with a casing cap secured to the pillar with machine screws. Removal of the casing cap will permit adjustment or replacement of the shoes.

An adjustable dovetail wedge plate is used which may be moved higher or lower to cause it to enter centrally into the dovetail assembly. The wedge plate is serrated to its base and has elongated holes through which the two screws enter, thus allowing it to be adjusted to fine measurements.

Door check

The maximum swing of the door is controlled by the door check which is located just above the lower hinge, and is comprised of a rod hinged to the door, guided in the hinge pillar, and fitted with a rubber bumper on the inner end. Adjustment is accomplished by screwing the rubber bumper in or out on the threaded portion of the rod, after removing the trim from the face of the hinge pillar.

Should a squeak develop in this door check, align it for clearance and give the rod a light application of soft soap, then open and close the door three or four times. This will carry the soap to the rubber guide on which the rod slides.

Aligning and refitting doors

Barring an accident, a door will remain in shape almost indefinitely. When a door fits the door opening poorly, it is either improperly hinged to the body hinge pillar, which will show at the vertical spacing on the hinge side of the door, or the door opening is out-of-true, usually by reason of improper shimming of the body on the chassis.

Alignment of rear doors

To align the doors of a body correctly, when one or all the doors are fitting poorly, the body workman should start by checking the vertical spacing at the hinge side of the rear door. To do this proceed as follows :

  1. Remove the door wedge plate.
  2. Make sure all hinge screws are tight.
  3. Close door and check vertical spacing, making sure it is equal from top to bottom.

This spacing may vary from 3/32 inch to 1/4 inch on different bodies, but it should be fairly equal at all points. If necessary, the spacing may be reduced by inserting a shim between the body hinge half and the body hinge pillar. Thin washers inserted at this point on the hinge cap screws will have the same effect.

Alignment of front doors

Alignment of front doors

After the rear doors are in correct vertical alignment, the front doors are aligned in a similar manner. Figures 1-3 represent three different conditions of front door misalignment commonly met with in body shop work. Each is a problem to be solved before its correction is attempted.

In each of these diagrams, as well as in figures 4-6 it is assumed that the rear door has been aligned vertically as instructed, and the work yet to be performed involves only the front door, and the horizontal alignment of the two doors at the belt molding. Therefore, all these diagrams and the corrections indicated are applicable alike to four-door sedans, two-door sedans, and coupes.

Figure 4 and 5 represent two extremes cases of front door trouble. In either case the door opening is so distorted that a special operation is necessary to make the door fit the opening properly. These cases will seldom be encountered in the field.

In figure 3 and 5, both front and rear doors are perfectly aligned and no body shimming is necessary.

Body shimming

Figures 7 and 8 represent two cases requiring only body shimming to correct. In either case both front and rear doors are in correct vertical alignment. These diagrams indicate typical conditions of doors shown in figures 1-3 after the vertical alignment operations have been completed.

Body shimming

Briefly stated, the rules are as follows :

  1. To raise the lock side of the door, a thicker shim should be installed at or near the hinge pillar on which that door is hung, or a thinner shim should be installed at or near the lock pillar.
  2. To lower the lock side of the door, a thinner shim should be installed at or near the hinge pillar on which that door is hung, or a thicker shim should be installed at or near the lock pillar.

The directions for door alignment here given, if followed carefully, will align any ordinary set of doors. It must be remembered that checking for alignment should start at rear door always.

After door alignment and shimming operations have been completed, the door wedge plate may be reinstalled, and the fit of the wedge plate in the dovetail bumper casings checked carefully.

Shimming convertible bodies

The foregoing diagrams illustrate 1938 closed models only. The 1938 convertible bodies are shimmed and bolted to the chassis frame in the same manner as the corresponding 1937 models, except that the body bolt at the wheel-housing, that is, the bolt next to the rearmost bolt, has been omitted on each model.

Drafts and dust leaks

The high speed of today's streamlined cars, combined with modern ventilation, has a tendency to cause an indraft or suction of air into the body. This suction takes place at any unsealed opening or crevice, and is particularly in evidence at the door openings unless the doors are well fitted and aligned and the weather stripping properly adjusted.

In making corrections for drafts entering through the door openings, first check the doors for alignment and proper fitting within the openings and make any necessary adjustments.

Second, check the weather cord and weatherstripping around the doors for proper contact with the edges of the doors, and to ascertain if any part of the weather cord may be squeezed in the door opening, causing a hard-closing door and usually an air leak close by. Make necessary adjustments to the weather cords as may be indicated by this inspection.

Hard-closing doors

Hard-closing doors may be divided into two general classes; first, those doors which are only normally tight, the hard-closing being due to the comparatively large area of the door acting against the cushioning effect of the air within the body and, second, those doors which are hard-closing due to misalignment, undue friction or obstructions of some character.

The doors on late model cars are so large comparatively, and the body so well sealed, that the air cushion created when slamming the door shut is an appreciable factor to be considered. In particular, many women find it extremely difficult to close one of the large coupe or coach doors without first lowering the window or opening the ventilator to relieve the pressure within.

Therefore, in checking a hard-closing door, which appears at a casual glance to be properly aligned and fitted, it is well to slam the door shut, first with all windows and ventilators closed, and then with the door window lowered a few inches, to note the difference, if any, in operation. For, if this test indicates that the difficulty is due to air pressure only, no mechanical adjustments should be made, since any easing up of the door fit by adjustment of the hinges or striker plate will probably lead to a loose and noisy door in a short time.

In starting to work on a hard-closing door, it is assumed that the door is in correct alignment and properly fitted to the body so far as outward appearance may indicate. If not, the necessary operations should be performed to make it so, as described in the preceding sections.

Any one or several of the following items may be causing the hard-closing condition :

  1. Weather cord or weatherstripping improperly fitted ; catching and compressing between the door and door opening.
    Correction: Examine weather cord and weatherstripping and adjust the same as necessary to clear door opening.
  2. Door dragging on lock pillar or roof rail.
    Correction: Examine outside edges of the door, front, top, and rear, as well as the adjacent surfaces of the opening, for bright or scraped spots, which would indicate a rubbing condition. If any such are found, the contacts must be eliminated by re-aligning door or peening metal away, or refitting screws, the heads of which may be projecting.
  3. Wedge plate misaligned with dovetail bumper assembly.
    Correction: Check fit of wedge plate in dovetail bumper casing. If a misaligned condition exists, it may be corrected by adjusting the wedge plate upward or downward.
  4. Excessive pressure in dovetail bumper assembly.
    Correction: If the wedge plate enters the dovetail bumper casing centrally, remove the wedge plate and check operation of door. An occasional dovetail bumper assembly may be encountered requiring an excessive pressure to close the door.
  5. Door hinges misaligned or binding internally.
    Correction: A misalignment of the hinges may be located by removing the lower hinge pin, dropping a wire nail in its place and operating the door. Both hinge pins should be examined for score marks which would indicate an internal binding condition.

If the foregoing instructions are carefully studied, and the operations carried out in the order indicated, no particular difficulty should be encountered in locating the cause of the trouble, and making proper adjustment.