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Trying to Align Doors in 1928 Pontiac


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I am putting the doors back on my 1928 Pontiac Landau.  The wood in the car was quite good except for a couple of hinge holes, which i have repaired.  I replaced or repaired all the hinges. The back doors both fit fine, both front doors sag, i would say 1 about 1/4 inch, the other about 1/8th inch. One of the doors had about 1/16th wooden shim in back of the bottom two hinges.

 

I read (But didn't comprehend well) the "tips on auto body wood work" and "fisher body service manual), so that didn't help me much.

 

The two things I have thought of so far are:

1. Put shims, but made of metal or plastic in back of the two bottom hinges.  thickness to start with 1/16th

2. Put shims under the car frame near the center pillar.  The issue I see with this is it might affect the back door alignment, which is fine now

 

I'm not used to working on cars with wood, more the 60s cars.

Any ideas or suggestions ?

thanks

Bruce

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 Tinindian, there is a visible drop [sag] in the doors toward the latch side.  On the side with the least drop, if I force the door up, it will fit quite well in the opening.  On both sides, the gap is quite good on the a-pillar side. Maybe the A-pillars are bent toward the rear of the car ?   

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If the whole door and the "A" pillar both move when you lift the door probably the top of the pillar is loose where it connects to the side roof rail and the front roof rail.  Easy to check out, not easy to fix.  Shimming the hinges is only a band aid fix.  That top joint is only going to get weaker.

Do you have a Fisher Body Service Manual?

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On 9/27/2018 at 4:58 PM, Tinindian said:

If the whole door and the "A" pillar both move when you lift the door probably the top of the pillar is loose where it connects to the side roof rail and the front roof rail.  Easy to check out, not easy to fix.  Shimming the hinges is only a band aid fix.  That top joint is only going to get weaker. 

 

Check that first.

 

On 9/27/2018 at 6:15 AM, Bruce_C said:

The two things I have thought of so far are:

1. Put shims, but made of metal or plastic in back of the two bottom hinges.  thickness to start with 1/16th

2. Put shims under the car frame near the center pillar.  The issue I see with this is it might affect the back door alignment, which is fine now

 

Shims at various spots under the body itself to correct height issues of the hinges, latches, or body lines.

 

Shims under the hinge tilt the door if it sags (close to the ground) or is too high (from the ground) at it's outer edge. Whether you shim or unshim underneath the hinge mounting depends on the body gap at the hinges versus at the latch.

 

If the gap at the hinges is too wide at the top, so that you would be pushing the door "out" too far by shimming the lower hinge (front to rear on the car), then you have to take some out at the top instead. If there are no shims to take out, a tapered shim (wider at the end toward the middle of the car) will tilt the hinge "back" (hinge pin toward the back/front of the car a little, away from the door), and close the gap at the upper hinge a little. Make absolutely sure you have replaced any worn hinge pins.

 

If the outer corner of the door hangs out away from the body centerline, you may find a diagonal brace (steel rod) inside the door that either needs to be adjusted or shimmed with washers (or something) to pull the bottom of the outer corner of the door in toward the body.

 

Back doors usually didnt have this rod, and if the outer corner of the door hangs out (too far from the centerline of the car) you can add a flat steel strap diagonally underneath the door card.  Hold the door slightly "sprung" in the opposite direction while you screw the strap down (to put the strap under tension).

 

Anyway, thats the short version. It's all in the FIsher body manual. Thats where I learned how to do it.

 

Several editions are posted here, but the 1926-31 is the most useful no matter what year of wood bodied fisher you are working on.   http://chevy.oldcarmanualproject.com/

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Bloo,

 

There is no play in the a-piller, I just checked. I also replaced or repaired all the hinges.

 

I did try to read the PDF you mentioned, but your shorted version is much easier to understand.  I'll now try to apply it

thanks alot,

Bruce

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Bruce,

Any way you can post side view photos of your car?  If the gaps are not obvious also give some dimensions.  I just went though this fun process with my ‘32 Sport Coupe.  One point that is sometimes neglected is the front bolts where the cowl bolts to he body.  That and the A pillar can rotate the door to align gaps at the B pillar.  It is a frustrating process and unless you have a car with PERFECT wood, getting the doors PERFECT might be impossible.  Some photos and dimensions might help in providing some suggestions.

Rob

 

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Here are some pictures.  the one labeled pict3 shows the hinge side. Pict 1 shows the amount of sag at the door side as does pict2. There is no play in the hinges or the wood (I really have to pull upwards hard to have it go up at all

pict3.jpg

pict 1.jpg

pict2.jpg

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you do realize how heavy the doors are plus the weight of the pillar and the end of the side roof rail and the front roof rail.  When you are trying to lift the door and everything you are looking at maybe 250 or 300 pounds.

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Unfortunately the numbers you give don’t show up on your post.  Some observations (for what they are worth):

1)  The top picture is interesting.  It looks line we are looking at the A pillar and passenger door.  From the photo the A pillar almost looks like it has a curve in it.  If you run a straight edge against it does show it is flat?  

2) Is the top part of the A pillar original or has it been replaced?

3) Have you checked to see that the door is square?

4) I am not sure what I am looking at in the middle picture.  However, there seems to be some suspect wood on the right side of the photo.

5) There is clearly adjustment needed from the last photo.  One thing I did when I fit mine was to stand back and get a shot that showed both top and bottom of the door and look at gaps on all 4 corners as you stand back.  That helps to visualize how things need to move and rotate to get them square (or as close as you can get it).

6) My one concern is that there is some bad structural wood on the car.  Without a good foundation the doors will pull and rack because of their weight (as Tinindian says) and that would be the first thing I would check if in your garage.  You need a strong main sill and all the pillars as well as the door frame wood  strong enough to take the weight of the wood.  Additionally, the wood needs to take all the impact loads from potholes and road hazards. 

My 2 cents worth.

 

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Picture one looks as if the top of the door is back from the edge of the "A" pillar.  As Rob asked is the pillar straight.

 

Looking at the second picture.  When properly adjusted the dovetail should be exactly in the middle of the wedge.  That way the rubber and spring action steadies the vertical movement as you drive over an undulating surface.  I hope you have the parts to rebuild your dovetails.

 

If you look at the bottom of the firewall where it joins the cowl on the engine side.  Is it cracked, has it been reinforced.  The early Pontiacs were notorious for breaking at this spot.  It was caused by the frame flexing ahead of the motor mount.  The weakest spot broke, usually the sheet metal or sometimes one or all of the three joints in the wood of the "A" pillar.  The fix that was implemented sometime in Series 6-28 production was to use a longer bolt on the front body mount position.  This allowed for a heavy washer and a very heavy spring to be placed below the frame thus allowing the front of the body to separate from the frame about 1/4 inch when the frame was racked by a pothole, curb or whatever.

 

Just shimming the hinges and/or forcing the door to fit the opening will not fix your problem.

With lots of patience you will have good luck.

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32pontiac, and tinindian, good ideas that i will try.  I can say that the wood in the firewall and hinge pillar is very solid with no apparent repairs.

 

I also realize the door dovetails are critical. I'm going to the hershey car show, and hope i can find some parts to rebuild them. I have enough parts now for two doors.

 

Before i read these posts, I adjusted the top hinge attachments on the doors, it was clear they were not straight before.  I also added about 1/8 shim to the bottom hinge of both doors.  the end result was great, but not complete improvement, especially on one side.  I'll look at the suggestions above now

Bruce

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Bob's Automobilia  has the dovetail and wedge parts for Buicks.  I believe they may work for you.  Not a straight year for year but some Buick body pieces and weatherstrips from a year or two earlier were the same as my Pontiac.

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