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Lining up doors

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 54rat210, Jun 12, 2013.

  1. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    Does anyone have a good method they use for lining up the doors on a 54 Chevy 210?

    I installed my door. Looks good. But makes contact somewhere. Does this have to be a 2 person job?

    Thanks
     
  2. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,719

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    First off, you have to remember that the old cars were not made with the exacting standards of modern luxury cars. Fit and finish can range from OK, acceptable, to horrible, on the cars when they were new. It really takes a lot of work, and skills to get a car lined up really nice.
    First align the doors to the edges of the quarters. Go for good even gap, top to bottom, and staying the in the correct "plane" so the surface of the doors and quarters are in alignment.
    These are done with the hinge adjustments. If the gap doesn't run true, say it starts out tight up top, then gets wide, then tight again, it is a parts problem, not alignment. In these cases, you need to assess if it is better to shave off the door where it is too close, or add metal to the wide gaps. Sometimes both is best.
    If the window frames, or top or bottom of the door is out of align, and the rest looks good, you can place a 2 x 4 in the jamb and push against the door to adjust the plane to match. Just be conservative with this approach if you're unsure of yourself.
    Once the door matches the quarters, readjust the fenders to the doors. SOme spots where the fender bolt on have adjustment, some will need shims to move that area. You may even have to tweak the hood a bit too, once the fenders fit.
    I always start out aligning doors without the latches working. They are something to get in the way of getting it right, in the initial stages. Once you get the door hung right, then install the latches and be sure they work without any binding or extra effort to close the door.
    You can do it yourself, if you're really good, but it's much better to have 1 or 2 friends help out. Especially if you have to do some prying to get things to line up.
    If you have installed patch panels, or inner door skins, they might not fit correctly, or you might not have installed them perfectly if you have rubbing issues. Same with rocker panels. I always do the patching ON the car so I know they fit up closely, even if I have to blow them apart later.
    Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2013
  3. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    Aligning a door is a one man job. Installing the door is easier with a helper but you can line it up by yourself. Especially if you use a jack. I prefer a floor jack with a 2X4 on it, bearing on the inside edge of the door not the outside.

    Basic technique of aligning doors. This can be applied to most any car but especially American cars late 40s - 80s.

    What you want to do, is first align the door with an even gap all around. Then move it in or out so it fits flush to the body. Finally adjust the latch for perfect closing.

    First make sure your door hinges are good. If you are not sure, close the door almost all the way and try to lift the back of the door up and down. There should be no movement or almost none. If the hinges are worn you need new hinge pins and bushings.

    If the hinges are good,

    Start by removing the latch so the door hangs free.

    Close the door and observe the gap. Does the door need to go up, down, forward, back? Figure out where it needs to go. Loosen the bolts that hold the hinge to the door, enough so the door will move. Keep adjusting till you get an even gap and the door and body line up.

    Remember that the fender can be moved. It may be necessary to align the door to the body, then adjust the fender to fit the door depending how bad the car is and how much work has been done.

    When you get an even gap it is time to move the top or bottom of the door, in or out so the back of the door fits the body evenly. This is the adjustment of the bolts that hold the hinge to the body.

    When you have the door fitting nice, put the latch back on. Peek in at the latch as you shut the door. Adjust the latch up or down until the latch meets up perfect. At this point it is best to have the latch towards the outside.

    Shut the door. It should shut with a perfect click because you lined up the door and latch so nice. But the door will be sticking out from the body a bit. Make note of how much, open the door and move the latch back that amount.

    Now your door should fit perfect. Time to adjust the fender to the door, then the hood to the fenders, and the windows to the body.

    It can be a fiddly time wasting job especially the first time you do it. I did a complete on a Mustang one time where we had the whole car in pieces. To align all the body panels and windows took me two days. But when the car was done you could drive up the road at 80MPH and there wasn't a squeak, a rattle, wind whistle, nothing but silence.

    By the way everyone thinks bending a door with a 2X4 is so cool. I have never had to do this, unless the door was bent in an accident. It is a last resort and should be used only when you see it is impossible to get the door to fit any other way. Also, depending on the latch to pull the door into position when you slam the door is terrible. The door should fit perfect with no latch on the car. When everything is right the door will click shut with a finger touch (before you put on the new door rubbers anyway).
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2013
  4. 63 Avanti 3137
    Joined: Dec 23, 2010
    Posts: 160

    63 Avanti 3137
    Member

    I am in the process of setting the doors on my 58 GMC and use a door cradle with my floor jack. I got the idea from MP&C where he posted the tech over on the stovebolt.
    It's a bit slow positioning and re-positioning it under the door each time you want to check your progress but... I would be waiting for hours or days if I needed someone else to come help out, so the time I spent making it has been worth it and then some cause I get that "I did it" feeling.
    http://www.stovebolt.com/techtips/doors/cradle/index.html
     
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  5. Jalopy Joker
    Joined: Sep 3, 2006
    Posts: 24,797

    Jalopy Joker
    Member

    sometimes no matter how much aligning you do the gaps may not be perfect. then remove/add metal as needed.
     
  6. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    You will never see a stock 54 Chev as well put together as a new Rolls or even a Toyota. But you should be able to get a good fitting door. Unless the body was bent in a bad collision, or the floors and rockers were badly rotted, the body sagged and somebody welded it up without truing the body first.

    In other words before you remove/ add metal check that the body is not wrecked or messed up.

    And, don't forget the front fenders can be moved around.
     
  7. Dreddybear
    Joined: Mar 31, 2007
    Posts: 5,933

    Dreddybear
    Member

    Also, if I can add to this, make sure all the body mounts and pads are new. They compress over time and throw the bodies all out of whack.
     
  8. 63 Avanti 3137
    Joined: Dec 23, 2010
    Posts: 160

    63 Avanti 3137
    Member

    Good thread, or maybe it just resonates with me cause I'm redoing my hinges because I couldn't get that last 3/32" and finally saw I was never going to adjust it out. Anyway for those that come looking later heres a link to the shop manual from Old On Chevy Manuals (What a site!)
    http://chevy.oldcarmanualproject.com/shop/1955/55csm0124.html
     
  9. Wowcars
    Joined: May 10, 2001
    Posts: 1,023

    Wowcars
    Member

    Get it all fitting nicely, then install weatherstripping and do it all over again!!!!:D:D
     
  10. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    Thanks for all the great info. About how much of an inch would have been stock from Chevrolet? Quarter inch? Eighth inch?
    The Volo auto museum is open tomorrow. I know they have 2 54 belairs on display. I might just go tomorrow and take a quick measurement.
     
  11. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    You mean how wide of a door gap? It is not an exact thing but I would think it would be closer to 1/4" than 1/8". Say 3/16".

    You have to take whatever gap is there and try to make it even all around the door. Even more important is to have the body lines line up.

    Get the car out in the open if possible so you can stand back and eyeball it from a distance. It is not something you measure with a micrometer or even a yardstick. It is a matter of what looks right. On an old car it is a matter of getting it as good as you can. Sometimes you have to "fudge" a little. Rather than having it fit perfect everywhere except one spot where it sticks out like a sore thumb. It is better to have it a little off all the way around. I have seen old cars where I had all kinds of trouble getting a half way decent panel fit, later I had a chance to examine a super perfect, untouched low mile version of the same car, guess what, the factory version was as far out of whack as my old beat up car, if not farther.

    In other words it is more of an art than anything. Get it as nice as you can and let it go at that, if the overall appearance is good it will look good. No one will notice the details like you do.
     
  12. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    Lining up this door has been a sonovabitch! I get the body lines to look good then the upper door. Piller is off. I get the top lined up andthe body lines are out alignment. I'm glad u said that door came from the factory outta wack. It allows me to believe that I'm not going insane. Lol:confused:
     
  13. I've done it...and I wouldn't want to do it myself again!
     
  14. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    [​IMG]

    I made my wife get her hands dirty. The body lines line up but the gap at the top of the door pillar in much bigger than by the rocker. But I'm happy. So far.
     
  15. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    Sorry the photos not the greatest. Low light and its at night. Ill take a fresh one in the morning
     
  16. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    The bottom of the door the gap is about a quarter inch wide. Its slowly gets wider by the time its at the door pillar. Its at a half inch at the pillar. I think a little more fanageling an it should line up nice.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     

  17. I always get the body lines first.
    And some times this requires that the body mount bushings be shimmed or reinforced. Up or down at the mounts under the fire wall and up or down at radiator core support.

    If the door was perfect aligned before you took it off, it shouldn't be hard to get it back. But if you are working with a car that was completely apart it will be a dance.

    Some times no mater what you do, you need to weld a rod on the edge of the door and grind it back to make the gap even.

    It's a dance, but try to correct the problem not chase the symptom
     
  18. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    It shouldn't be that far off. What is happening at the front of the door? Does it fit the body nice? What about the fender? Don't forget you can move the front fender. You may have to hang the door then redo the whole front end. Fun, fun, fun.
     
  19. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    Took the fenders off. I'm putting the door on because I'm repairing the roof section over the door. It was rotted. So I cut it away. I'm rebuilding the roof section and I want to make sure my curve follows the door line.

    I been dancing for the last couple days on and off. This is my first time aligning a door on a older car.
     
  20. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    Something is way off. Hard to tell what by incomplete pictures but it appears the front of the body has sagged down. If the body is not true the door will never fit. If the body was rotted or smashed then welded together in that position you have a problem.
     
  21. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    What I am saying is the front of the door is way low. Like a couple of inches low. The door gap is tight at the bottom and wide at the top. That means the front of the door has to come up. If there is no room for the front of the door to come up you are screwed. If the body is rotted out and flopping around you can lift the front door post with jacks and come alongs until the door fits then weld in some temporary braces and replace the rotted out floors and rockers. If this has already been done you are double screwed.
     
  22. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    Are you leaving the striker plate off till your done lining up, that will make it easier.
     
  23. customcory
    Joined: Apr 25, 2007
    Posts: 1,832

    customcory
    Member

    Also, just snug up the bolts on the door and hinges , close the door, and move it around with whatever you have to do, shim the gaps with wooden paint sticks, crawl in the other side , tighten as many bolts that you can get to, after its lined up. All with the stiker off of course. Them last 1/16ths of inch can be a bitch.
     
  24. RDAH
    Joined: Mar 23, 2007
    Posts: 465

    RDAH
    Member
    from NL, WI

    wowcars is right. Had my doors & latches closing perfect, then put the
    rubber on & start all over.
     
  25. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    [​IMG]

    Got it lined up pretty good. I think the hinges need to be taken apart and rebuilt with new hardware if thats possible.
     
  26. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    The tape was to keep the door closed
     
  27. 54rat210
    Joined: Jun 5, 2012
    Posts: 390

    54rat210
    Member

    I removed the striker a long time ago.
     
  28. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,719

    chopolds
    Member
    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Yeah, don't even THINK aobut trying to align doors without checking/rebuilding the hinges first!
    They should be so tight they are hard to work, when they are off the car.
     
  29. theHIGHLANDER
    Joined: Jun 3, 2005
    Posts: 7,999

    theHIGHLANDER
    Member

    No, no, no, this is NOT right. I've seen some pretty bad damage done trying to fight with rubbers and seals. The simplest things get missed. Ever notice the "metallic" look to OEM rubber seals? Ever notice it's usually NOT there on new seals and rubber bumpers? 2 words, DRY LUBRICANT. I've seen many try to use silicone spray to make the rubber slide easier on the new finish, but what it does is give it even more "traction" and makes matters worse. My solution has always been good ol Johnson's Baby Powder, or some generic equivalent. It makes the rubber seals and bumpers nice and slippery, allows them to crush into shape like they did when they were new, and then allows the new stuff to compliment the efforts of door/deck lid alignment rather than torment it.

    When aligning doors solo it's best to use an empty door as in no windows or other excess wt. I start out with a stack of paint sticks taped to the rocker panel and trial fit before the hinges get attached, again, easier with a gutted door. Once it sits where I like it it's time to get the hinges close. There's another factor to consider here too. The weight of the door on the hinges, and then the weight of the door once the windows and vents go back in. When hanging a gutted door I shoot for just under 1/8 high in the rear where it meets the 1/4 panel to compensate for weight. You can check it by weighing down the door just a bit, like pushing down in the center with enough pressure to mimic glass and hardware. Why all this fuss? Because for the last 15+ years I took up painting more modern cars as an assembly. For restoration it makes it look OEM as in where they missed things so do you. It also tends to make all the panels have the same look and texture to the finish vs painting things separate. Mopars are good for "stripes" of base primer around the hinges and under the fenders. My motto had become "Good enough for (Chrysler/GM/Ford/Packard, et al), good enough for me."

    Back to the example in the topic, the window frame area would be my prime concern to be certain that water and wind noise got sealed out. In the 1st pic shown it needed to be rotated counter-clockwise, and it looks as though you were able to get that. Had a less than stellar customer tell me he could hang and align his 57 Chevy doors in 5min. I had him help me when he brought them over. After 45min of alignment and finessing he suddenly "remembered" he had to be somewhere and left it to me. Go figure...
     
  30. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,106

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    54rat can you step back and get a pic of the whole door showing the gap all around?
     

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