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Technical When life gives you hardtops, make sedans...

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by iamflashman, Jan 29, 2017.

  1. iamflashman
    Joined: May 11, 2007
    Posts: 146

    iamflashman
    Member

    There a lot of articles I could find on converting sedan doors to hardtop doors, but I had a slight different need.

    I am building a 1964 Fairlane Thunderbolt clone. This 64 Fairlane I bought (ebay strikes again) ended up having some pretty bad doors. When the door panels started to rot, the previous owner decided the best way to fix this would be to use foil insulation tape over the entire bottom edge of the door. This caused the entire bottom of what would have been perfect doors to rot inside and out.

    Inside:
    [​IMG]Lower doors by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Outside:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    It turns out, finding 2 door sedan doors for a 62-64 Fairlane is not all that easy. But rust-free hardtop doors are practically falling out of trees. I found a rust-free 63 hardtop door for drivers side, and a rust-free 64 hardtop door for the passenger side. The 63 door will require extra work as it has different trim holes and the door lock is in a different spot. But it is otherwise the same door.

    Step 1: Remove the upper door hinge mount from the hardtop door. This is done by drilling out the spot welds that attached this to the door.

    Before:
    [​IMG]Converted hard top door to sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    After:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Here is the hardtop version of the upper hinge mount. Notice it has provisions for the vent window.
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 2: Clearance the rear of the hardtop door for the window frame
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 3: Weld tabs onto the Sedan window frame as jigs for proper window frame orientation on hardtop door

    Front:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Rear:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 5: Cut spot welds and remove the window frame from sedan door

    Front:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Rear:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 6: Remove upper hinge mount from the sedan door

    [​IMG]Converted hard top door to sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Notice the difference between this and the hardtop version. There is no provision for the vent window.
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 7: Install upper hinge mount in the hardtop door. This is made easy by the fact the spot welds are in the exact same spots. I recommend putting in place and then using the hinge bolts to hold in place.

    Step 8: Fill in gap difference between hardtop and sedan for vent window. The hardtop doors had 1/8" cut-away for vent window clearance where the sedan did not. This is a pretty easy fix with 1/8" x 1/2" flat strap. Just cut to correct length, pop a few holes in it to plug weld and then weld the seam across the top.

    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 9: Install the door w/o the window frame and get it in perfect alignment with the vehicle. Worry about the front and rear gaps and how nicely it latches. Get this perfect as you can tweak the window frame to match.

    Step 9: With the door on the vehicle, insert the window frame into the hardtop door and the tabs will get the depth correct. tack the window frame in place for a good starting point. Once you have the window frame aligned to satisfaction ( paying special mind to the gap between the window frame and the post), put a few tack welds in the existing holes in the rear and front of the door to hold window frame in place.

    Step 10: Test fit the window. Do not even think about welding the window frame into place without making sure the vent window fits and the window rolls up and down smoothly. Since tabs were welded in place, there should be no issues here but don't take chances.

    Step 11: Plug weld the window frame in place and do one more test fitting:

    Driver:
    [​IMG]Converted Hardtop Door to Sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Passenger:
    [​IMG]Converted hard top door to sedan by James Fleischman, on Flickr

    Step 12: Remove the door, weld up the extra holes inside that were used for vent window access and call it done.

    Sorry, about the lack of pictures in some steps, this process took me the better part of a weekend to iron out so I forgot to take some pictures as I went. So, for the 2 other people in the world that need to this, good luck!
     
    Squablow likes this.
  2. Squablow
    Joined: Apr 26, 2005
    Posts: 13,775

    Squablow
    Member

    Very nice work! Not sure how many people will ever need this, but if even one sees it and uses this info, it'll save many hours.
     
  3. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 8,959

    Rusty O'Toole
    Member

    I was going to say, you must be from California then saw it was Texas. Here in the northeast we repair doors rusted that bad and worse all the time.
     

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