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Customs Is there such a thing as a reliable door popper solenoid?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Roothawg, Apr 7, 2021.

  1. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,128


    I have been researching this and found mixed reviews. I started leaning towards a starter solenoid, but some folks say they are too strong.

    Shaving the handles on mama's 55 and I don't wanna be pulling off the door panels every 6 months.

    What's the consensus?
  2. Here's what I've learned after many years of installing from scratch as well as fixing several others issues. Most don't understand the little important issues. There are 2 in my book. Leverage and Travel. You need a strait pull on the latch unit so it don't try to bind and full travel' Very important. The solenoid needs to make a full travel of it's piston. To get these 2 items correct takes a bell crank. That unit needs a bearing and Zero drag. I also never use the Cheep cable that comes with most kits. I like 1/4" I.D. mounted bearings, shoulder bolts, hard linkage rods that are adjustable and clips. Explaining things isn't my best thing but I might be able to find photos of the build on my Vicky. It's been together and working just fine for 15 years. Your door latch is pretty much the same unit.
  3. One other item. You want the activator rod to work independent from the inside release handle so that spring isn't hendering the electric unit or moving the handle when activated.
    anothercarguy and AHotRod like this.
  4. 911 steve
    Joined: Nov 29, 2012
    Posts: 621

    911 steve
    from nebraska

    had a chopped 54 chev sedan delivery (not built by me) with them. after driving from Omaha to DesMoines for a show, had a dead battery on arrival. no door poppers, no emergency release. had to climb over high back buckets & out the back door to get out. no more door poppers for me. img020.jpg IMG_2433.JPG
    AHotRod and winduptoy like this.

  5. fastcar1953
    Joined: Oct 23, 2009
    Posts: 2,441


  6. 51 mercules
    Joined: Nov 29, 2008
    Posts: 3,173

    51 mercules

    Thsese were done on my merc in the 50'd with starter solenoids. They still work. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
  7. starter solenoids like of a 55 Chevy are pretty stout to go with. I can not stress enough though a emergency cable hidden somewhere. Then also have to think of a place where you can hide the electric popper. Usually kick and pulls are the easy go to, or you could hide it in the trim in tiny little button like on the Hirohata Merc, or you use Ford starter buttons and put them in the corner windshield trim, like on Taboo
  8. I have generic autoloc solenoids in my 53. They've been there for goin on 5 years. And they're the same brand ones that have been in the car for almost 20 years...

    Sent from my SM-G975U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  9. I also leave the wing windows unlocked and can reach the inside door handles. But so far, no failures.

    Sent from my SM-G975U using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
    51 mercules likes this.
  10. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,128


    This is not aimed at your situation Steve, so no offense intended.
    I always hear stories like these, but they all have one thing in common. No preparation. I plan on easy access to the battery and a remote emerg. cable in case of a dead battery. There's no reason to ever have all of the solenoids go bad simultaneously and your emerg cable not work. I think a lot of these get installed by amateurs or people that don't have a lot of skin in the game (shops).
    51 mercules likes this.
  11. So true. I have a key fob for the car that operates both door openers as well as rolls down front door windows. What are the options of all 4 failing at once? I also have a pair of terminals easy to get to for my Battery tender that will take a pair of jump cables should I have a total Batt failure.
    Roothawg and Sandgroper like this.
  12. So if you had to climb out the back then do these door poppers render the inside door handle useless ? Id never thought of that, be pretty bad if with fire in the cab and cant get out.
  13. This should Never Ever be the case.
    Roothawg likes this.
  14. 3quarter32
    Joined: Dec 10, 2010
    Posts: 371


    I use a magnetic switch to actuate my poppers. I never found an acceptable place for a button. The remote key fob thing was always failing, plus it has to have a receiver on all the time which will drain a battery after a while.
    Roothawg likes this.
  15. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,342

    David Gersic
    from DeKalb, IL

    There probably wasn’t an inside door handle. That’s a design failure.

    Sent from my iPad using The H.A.M.B. mobile app
  16. I'm going to stay with the original door handles on Ozelle the '55 Ford, but I did shave the decklid with no key hole, and I'm using a trunk lid solenoid out of a late '80s/early '90s Buick Roadmaster. Actuated by a universal push-button starter button. There are probably a dozen other GM vehicles that use the same trunk release solenoid, and no doubt there are others that would work just as well. The Buick Roadmaster trunk lid solenoid is hooked via a heavy wire linkage to the original Ford trunk latch. The Ford trunk hinges are spring loaded, so it works well. What I'm getting at is that the Buick Roadmaster trunk release solenoid would probably work equally well on doors.
    David Gersic and Roothawg like this.
  17. Sandgroper
    Joined: Jan 20, 2019
    Posts: 292


    I usually scavenge the system and poppers from an OT GM wreck. Never had a problem and cost me nothing, easy to get spares as well. 30-40 year old cars and no problems. I have stacks of them from every car I wreck for parts. I did keep my handles and door key locks just in case. I agree with Pist-n-broke and his setup sounds great.
    My battery is accessible in the boot (trunk) on another factory popper with a hidden button but kept the key lock there as well.
    Roothawg likes this.
  18. Stooge
    Joined: Sep 9, 2015
    Posts: 447


    I've had an AVS set up with key fobs in an off topic C10 for probably atleast a decade without any problems, and have installed their power bear claw latches and universal kits in cars for others, still in use as far as i'm aware off. Good group of people over there, and customer service has always been great when buying other parts from them
    Roothawg likes this.
  19. stubbsrodandcustom
    Joined: Dec 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,368

    from Spring tx

    Use door handles like a real man....
  20. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,893

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    I've been using "Ball's" gear reduction motors for many, many years. Only had a couple failures. On some cars, I weld an extension onto the actuating arm of the latch, and drill it out to match the entire travel of the motor. Gives it more leverage, and probably, longer life. I, too use solid welding rods, instead of cables. Cables stretch and need to be readjusted.
    I use buttons under the rocker, magnetic switches, and remotes. Again, very few failures. I also put in an emergency cable opener, in case of electrical failure/dead battery.
    On the issue of starter solenoids, I've seen a few cars burn up when they seize, and burn up your wiring. If you do use them, be sure to use a fuse, circuit breaker, or something to prevent this!
    Atwater Mike and Roothawg like this.
  21. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,942

    Corn Fed

    I've only done 1 car with door poppers. I first used those universal cheapy solenoids but they didn't last. I switched to some 1980's GM (like an '84 Cutlass or such) door lock solenoids. They have a flat bracket, seemed to work and are easy to get new. If I was to do another car I'd probably use them again.
  22. I used back up wires as I believe in redundancy. Outside and under each door on my '37 coupe is a looped stainless wire hanging. With the running boards it cannot be seen unless you are on your face looking for it. I know this as I have been on my face looking for one once.

    There is also the same treatment on each side on the inside. Looped stainless wires reside right by the lower seat belt mount and are easily accessible. I don't have inside door handles but I do have the remote fob on the key ring.

    After all is said and done I have had all the fun I want with poppers. This is the first and probably last setup and although they have been problem free I wouldn't do it again.
    flatheadpete likes this.
  23. flatheadpete
    Joined: Oct 29, 2003
    Posts: 10,112

    from Burton, MI

    I had a daily driver with 'em. Never again. It sucks sitting outside during a Michigan winter snowstorn with a hair dryer trying to get the cheap ass solenoids to thaw enough to open the door. Door handles seem to work pretty well.:cool:
    Atwater Mike, TCATTC and guthriesmith like this.
  24. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,128


    and that's why I live here.
  25. Roothawg
    Joined: Mar 14, 2001
    Posts: 21,128


    Can you explain this further? I have always wondered about them.
  26. ROBRAM
    Joined: May 4, 2013
    Posts: 50


    Everyone I know that has them wishes they didn't. I just like jalapeno poppers.
    TCATTC and Roothawg like this.
  27. Moriarity
    Joined: Apr 11, 2001
    Posts: 20,489

    Staff Member

    I have had the same 55 chev starter solenoid in the door of my 61 impala for 35 years, I used a ford starter solenoid for a relay, I only did the drivers door, I did not add an emergency backup cable and it has been absolutely trouble free.
  28. The only one I've worked on was a simple Reed Switch and was mounted inside the fender with a trim clip stud. The owner had a Magnet on his key ring and when placed on the Fender in the correct place it transferred through and drew the reed switch closed in turn becoming a Ground transfer to a relay converting to 12-V to the solenoid. Having a magnet in his pocket made his Pants do strange things at odd times and made ya think you should give him some extra space and not shake his hand.
    Tman, Atwater Mike and Roothawg like this.
  29. I’m still liking the pull cable method on my brothers Buick. I’m not sure whether Bob did it or someone else, but it’s pretty slick. Seems pretty fail proof to me. Thinking that is what we will do with my sons pickup.
    Roothawg likes this.
  30. Don't even need a dead battery to have a bad day; friend was working inside his '37; set the keys with the fob on the seat; eventually got out and shut the door; oops.
    flatheadpete and rusty valley like this.

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