Tuesday, July 9, 2024

The Doors

Yeah.. not the band, but I really like Ray Manzarak's keyboard. It has been a very busy year, and I have not been playing with cars much until very recently. Zed, the 1979 Datsun 280ZX remains covered and completely unchanged since we moved into the farmhouse. Oliver, the 1978 MGB, on the other hand, has received some of my focus. I'll start there, and then get after the original topic. 

MGB Carb Dis-Assembled
carb tear down
I arrived at the conclusion that a participating reason for Oliver running so badly (and getting worse) could be that the carb was a little gunky when I bought him, and he has gotten little use, making it worse. So, I removed the carb, took it apart and ran it thru a sonic dip / cleaner. I ordered a comprehensive rebuilding kit from Japan, and will re-assemble the carb with those bits and gaskets. I hope this will resolve his issues so we can drive him around this summer.

Over the course of the last few years, all 3 of the regularly used doors (driver, passenger and slider) on Hapy, the 1972 VW Bus, have become harder to open and/or close. Each had their own unique issues. Starting with the slider, it suddenly refused to close outside a venue after unloading gear for a show. It would slide as far as about an inch from being actually closed and then bang on something. I couldn't tell if it was the front edge or the trailing edge, but did not have time to really resolve. I forced it closed by pushing with steady pressure against it straight towards the bus (not pushing towards the front). Fortunately, it opened and shut with similar assistance until I fixed it.

foaming doors
The driver-side door would not close consistently. I would have to bang-bang-bang it shut until it finally latched. The lock was another issue; once locked, it would not easily become unlocked, especially if anyone touched the door handle when the door was locked. This condition only worsened to the point where the lock started to fail entirely and banging the door was not holding the door shut well enough. I had the door fly open while taking a right turn and the swinging door almost hit another car.

Of the 3 doors, the passenger door was the easiest to solve, but it was the last. That door would not shut easily because the seal in the front lower corner was tweaked. This put pressure on the door handle, which also was hard to depress, so opening the door took a firm grip. The inner door cards were not holding in-place as well as they had when I installed them, so I decided to tackle the door operation and the cards as one effort.

Slider Door Adjustment
None of these issues were stuck-on-the-side-of-the-road level, but they were all annoying and reducing the joy. I started with the slider since I had to have that door open consistently for gigs. I first considered the leading edge latch mechanism. I shot Kroil into the latch, but discovered very quickly that the leading edge latch was not the issue. After shooting Kroil into and around the trailing latch, I concluded that this also was not the issue. Still, this lubrication was long overdue. I could tell that the upper hard-bar, that applies the trailing latch was misaligned (too loose). I tightened it and that seemed to resolve the closing issue, allowing the door to close consistently. Opening the door was still inconsistent. I started looking at the lower sheathed-wire that opens the trailing latch. That sheathed-wire is similar to a bike handbrake cable with an adjustment collar near the leading edge latch. This wire was dangly-loose so I tightened it until it was taught and adjusted from there until the door would easily open from working the handle.

Driver Door Fix
'74-'79 left front door latch
Repairing the driver door operation was next most important. Once the door lock was un-unlockable from the outside, the only way into the bus was through the rear hatch. So, if the bus was loaded with gear, it was an army crawl over stuff and under the headbanger to get to the front door or even the slider. Following the instructions in the Bentley manual to remove the door latch mechanism (remove outer handle, disconnect activation bar, remove inner handle, remove lower bolt in window guide, remove bolts holding latch, wiggle free), I spent a few minutes orienting to it and figuring out how it works. Since it was not working correctly, it was not easy to determine neither what was preventing it from working correctly nor how it was supposed to work. The image to the right, here, is for a later bay bus (the early bay latch does look a little different, especially in the area of greatest interest), but it should work well enough to illustrate. For orientation purposes, the side facing away in the image faces rearward when installed in the door so what we can see are the inner guts usually hidden inside the door. Consider the part furthest to the left; that is the lock/latch mechanism which connects to the activation bar. There are 2 circled springs: one larger spiral facing up (marked 1) and a smaller one partially hidden by a tab (marked 2). On the early Bay, spring #1 is not a spiral, it looks more like a "C", but on Hapy that spring was missing. Spring #2, however, was there, and it was kinda mangled.

I attempted to un-mangle spring #2, and instead it launched from the latch into my yard. Distressed, I cleaned the latch with brake cleaner while trying to arrive at a solution. Once clean, I shot the moving parts with Kroil and worked the latch. I started to come to the conclusion that without those 2 springs, the latch and lock actually worked much better. In fact, they worked great. Curious, I re-installed the latch by literally reversing the steps. I found positioning the latch inside the door and then getting the window guide in place were the challenges. I lowered the window and started testing the latch: open, close, open close, lock, try the latch, unlock, etc. It worked like any other car door latch. I can close the door with very little effort, and it stays latched. I can lock it, it stays locked and will unlock by pulling the lock tab inside the or from the key on the outside. Attempting to open the door when locked no longer fouls the lock. I mean, I can try the handle and then immediately unlock it. Even unlocking it no longer requires moving the key like I was locking it first (which I had to do even if no one tried the handle).

Passenger Door Fix
This was the easiest fix of the 3. The Passenger door resisted closing and the handle needed Herculean grip. I repeated what I did on the driver side first: remove the latch, clean and Kroil it. Then, I re-installed. This resolved the Herculean grip issue. The door resistance stemmed from the door seal not being correctly place in the forward lower corner of the door. It was hanging on the inside edge of the door. I still intend to paint Hapy this summer, so I applied a little carpenter glue on the seal rather than the super-strong black seal adhesive. I held it in place by hand until it seemed to hold and then shut the door to really hold it in place while the glue dried. This totally fixed the close resistance.

I started on the door cards, but didn't complete that. I will post about the door card improvement once they are back in Hapy.


That's it for today. There have been many adventures and experiments over the last few months. I'll get to posting them as time makes itself available. Thanks, as always, for following along-

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