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Hot Rods suicide door safety question

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by racer-x, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. i was involved in a crash recently with my car. the car has suicide doors. the safety pins were in use. the rescue crew could not get the doors open from the outside and for some time i could not open them from the inside. if there was a fire or life threatening injury the results due to a delay in access to me could have been tragic. i have a thread going on called rebuilding after the crash pertaining to my car. i thought a separate thread dedicated to this single problem would be helpful to us all. i was using the rockys brand safety pins. its a commonly used part on a lot of suicide door cars. after installation they can be activated electrically through the ignition key or manually. mine were manual. the first thing the safety crew does is cut the power rendering the switch useless. in my crash my arms were not working for a while so i could not operate the pins manually. if i had electric powered ones that would not have helped either because i couldn't reach a switch to activate them. there has to be some way to operate the safety pins manually from the outside. any ideas out there short of having knobs on the outside of the car? there are a lot of cars out there running suicide doors that could benefit from a solution.
    Fast Bill likes this.
  2. 3wLarry
    Joined: Mar 11, 2005
    Posts: 12,804

    Member Emeritus
    from Owasso, Ok

    Aircraft PIP pins instead of door hinge pins...pull the pins and the door falls off...get em from Aircraft Spruce

    Last edited: Oct 15, 2015
  3. George G
    Joined: Jun 28, 2005
    Posts: 1,274

    George G

    Crap you okay? I was t boned oct 5 thank god for airbags in my case. I walked away with bruises and stitches
  4. unkledaddy
    Joined: Jul 21, 2006
    Posts: 2,864


    Hidden hinges?
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  5. wicarnut
    Joined: Oct 29, 2009
    Posts: 3,624


    Recently sold my 32 3 window that I had installed Autoloc manual safety pins mounted about 6" from bottom of door. Did use them, BUT the thought had crossed my mind on the issues you mention, a rescue person would not know they were there. The gentleman that purchased my car had an accident w/ car, not using pins or safety belts and he was pitched from car, fortunatley, he was not hurt badly. Sooooo. Solution ?, Your car is a race car, as fast as you are, funny car style cage ?, would it be unreasonable to redesign door to opening like a 5 window ?, put a roof access panel ?, lift up body like a funny car ?, removable top parting at bottom of windshield, side and rear window ?, thinking any design you come up with you will have to label clearly, which I gather you do not want. 3 window Larry's idea, sounds plausible, again being a race car, do the rules call this out in detail.? Just a fellow cheesehead/Packer fan rambling on this PM.
  6. David Gersic
    Joined: Feb 15, 2015
    Posts: 2,164

    David Gersic
    from DeKalb, IL

    Do you even need the safety pins?

    They're used to keep the door closed if the latch fails, right? So, you're building a full cage. I'm assuming at least a 5 point harness, too. Even if the door does open, it's not like you're going to fall out. Use a modern latch, and the door should stay shut.

    If you have to have them, a bellcrank on the door handle that retracts the pin might work.

    Electric activated latched with a spring to unlatch when the power is cut.
    Toymont and leadfootloon like this.
  7. 55willys
    Joined: Dec 7, 2012
    Posts: 1,604


    It was not on a suicide door but on a 47 Ford convertible. I built a bell crank mechanism that operated off of the door latch rod (or flat bar in this case). It moved a 3/8" pin an inch into the door post at the bottom of the door. I drilled the hole in the door post oversize so that the rod never touches it and it won't bind as easily.

    The rod only protrudes from the door when the stock inside door handle is engaged in the lock position. That way when you go to open the door from the inside it automatically disengages. That way emergency personnel would only have to break a window to get to it. If the car is so mangled as to not let it operate then the Jaws of Life are in order. I think the key to having it operate easily is to not make it tight in the receiving hole so it doesn't bind. That was my solution.
  8. BrandonB
    Joined: Feb 24, 2006
    Posts: 3,102

    from nor cal

  9. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,135


    Never trust your safety or life with a Autoloc product.
    oj likes this.
  10. I think there is a similar problem for all the cars with electric releases. When confronted with a dead car and no door handles, what is an emergency person supposed to do?
    I have factory suicide doors on the Autocar I'm building and have thought about this also. I think it is important that the outside handles unlock/retract the safety pins. No emergency personnel is going to be able to figure out something unique to a particular car quickly. In the OPs case I'm surprised they didn't just dismantle the car with a jaws-of-life.
    I plan to use a double set of bear claws on each door that are both tripped by the outside handle, but require either a two handed release from the inside, or at least two separate actions. I'm not sure how to do this, but I'll figure something out.
    gimpyshotrods likes this.
  11. gimpyshotrods
    Joined: May 20, 2009
    Posts: 17,135


    Real door handles on the outside. Flush aircraft exterior door handles on the inside. Bear claw latches.

    Just a thought.
    Lone Star Mopar and clem like this.
  12. gnichols
    Joined: Mar 6, 2008
    Posts: 10,718

    from Tampa, FL

    IMHO, your door pins are just to keep you in the car and the doors securely locked while on the road. Once you have crashed, in a rod or any other kind of vehicle, all bets are off. There is a good chance some of the doors won't work and you will still be trapped in the car should a fire happen. In that case, you'll have to climb out a window. If they aren't already broken, or won't roll down, you'll have to push or break one out. Assuming of course, your injuries are minor and you are still capable of that.

    Otherwise, just wait for the rescue team and they'll use the jaws of life to cut the roof off like they do for all kinds of vehicles. Hopefully, they won't have to roll the car over, too, to get you out. Other precautions might include a fuel cut-off switch that is G sensitive that will cut power to your fuel pump if you can't get to the ignition switch. They are inexpensive insurance on any custom car. Gary
  13. The pins in the hinges was a great idea. Unfortunatley i have rockys hidden hinges. I think that idea would work on a stock set of hinges. There are no rules that im aware of from nhra. The latches are also from rockys. They are bear claws. The gas tank vents i use have tip valves built in. I was also thinking about a simple hook and loop. Something similiar to whats on a screen door on the house.Ugly but simple. Mounted up higher. Right now the pins are near the floor.
  14. 24riverview
    Joined: Jan 13, 2008
    Posts: 845


    My first thought was a morse style cable with a T handle attached to the latch that would release the lock when pulled. Cable could be mounted in the firewall or down through the floor and come up near the framerail/firewall if you wanted it slightly less conspicuous (but obviously well labeled).
  15. Along those same lines of thought,If I remember correctly there is normally a kill switch on the back of some off the Gassers I have seen,why not incorporate another cable out back clearly labeled EMERGENCY DOOR RELEASE. HRP
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2015
  16. luckythirteenagogo
    Joined: Dec 28, 2012
    Posts: 1,255


    If nothing else, borrow a bit of rat rod tech and use a bungie cord. ....No, I'm not serious.....
  17. Phil1934
    Joined: Jun 24, 2001
    Posts: 2,703


    One of the magazines did a 4 cylinder powered Topolino for B'ville and had a slot in the cowl and an exterior handle attached to the suicide lock.
  18. How about what some use for hood hold downs? with the pin and clip on a thin cable?
  19. The reason that safety latches became the standard on Henry bodies with suicide door is that the body flex and Henry latches do not mix well. Even a bear claw won't hold up to the flex that the average Henry body has.

    I have some safety latches that were produced by Vintique. They use a lever that can be activated by a pull cable if one is so inclined to make set them up that way. A simple choke cable sticking out of the firewall and you're in business. Of course you would maybe have to school the safety crew at the track.
  20. jjjmm56
    Joined: Feb 7, 2009
    Posts: 458

    from FL.

    How about a pin that's spring loaded. With Ign on sol locks pin in position. Ign off pin retracts by spring

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    volvobrynk likes this.
  21. jjjmm56
    Joined: Feb 7, 2009
    Posts: 458

    from FL.

    Another thought newer machine tools use a safety door switch that when in operation door remains locked, until either a switch is made on the panel or power is shut off.

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  22. Engine man
    Joined: Jan 30, 2011
    Posts: 3,476

    Engine man
    from Wisconsin

    Almost anything you do can get jammed in a crash.
  23. 117harv
    Joined: Nov 12, 2009
    Posts: 6,590


    The pin that Larry posted has a drawback imo. in the case of an accident it could get bent and it doesn't provide much leverage to remove it. Here is a much better design that I like, and I'm sure Larry likes as well. 0808rc_04_z+1932_ford_coupe+[1].jpg 0808rc_05_z+1932_ford_coupe+[1].jpg
  24. Here is a pic of the one that I was talking about.

  25. Dave Mc
    Joined: Mar 8, 2011
    Posts: 1,981

    Dave Mc

    Here is mine on my 33 Fordor Vicky. they won't solve your problem , but are easier to reach, in My own car they are manual butI have built them electrically operated in a customers 34
    IMG_0212.JPG IMG_0213.JPG IMG_0214.JPG IMG_0216.JPG
    48-760, lil32b, loudbang and 3 others like this.
  26. czuch
    Joined: Sep 23, 2008
    Posts: 2,756

    from vail az

    I donated one of my 61 Galaxies to the local fire department.
    I had stripped it good, and it had been mashed, so it was not really a loss.
    They were all exited about cutting it up as practice at a Fireman's chili cook off Saturday.
    The jaws of life they had broke on the 61 metal. I was astonished, they were pissed.
    They also didn't like when I asked if those were harbor freight jaws of life.
    Good chili though.
  27. Dan Timberlake
    Joined: Apr 28, 2010
    Posts: 1,263

    Dan Timberlake


    Great story czuch!

    Got some pictures of what they were trying to Jaw open, and with what?
    I was thinking George Hurst designed and developed the jaws of life, and George don't make any junk.
    czuch likes this.
  28. stimpy
    Joined: Apr 16, 2006
    Posts: 3,547


    NHRA requires you to be able to open the door from the outside of the car , the fibreglass door cars we either put portholes in the side windows with the latch mechanism at the top of the door edge (sorry for the O/t car image [​IMG]

    or use a cable with a loop in it at the window welt line thats marked with a decal and loop painted red .
    most tracks will not let you race without a way to open the doors from the outside ( shaved or lexan windows ) and the door opener has to be on the door not under the hood or in the trunk area .
    ( I would talk to the regional tech guy from Div 5 or call Pomona or SFI on the matter )
    loudbang and racer-x like this.
  29. there are some great ideas here. i really like stimpys. most of the posts dont have a way for rescue crews to get the door open if you are knocked out or cant release them yourself. sure there is the jaws of life option but how many tracks have them on site. my rockys safety pins work great from the inside. its about how to adapt something that works from the outside without looking too ugly
  30. Bruce Lancaster
    Joined: Oct 9, 2001
    Posts: 21,682

    Bruce Lancaster
    Member Emeritus

    There's no way you can expect safety crew to decode something they cannot see, and anything automatic can jam or fail in a hard sacrifice a few seconds of your time whenever you get into car and put in a safety belt strap the hooks or click-buckles to the inner cowl. Design this with some slack so door opens, say, three or four inches with it engaged...the system uses seat belt strap and hardware, so strong enough that door opening cannot allow wind to tear your door back and wreck body.
    Now, if rescue guy can open the door, he will see the strap and just slice it with is knife.
    If door is immovable from cash, all this becomes irrelevant and they will just open the can with jaws of life (Hurst!) and power saws anyway.
    kiwijeff, czuch, loudbang and 3 others like this.

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