Monday, March 17, 2008

Under lock and key.

Evidently, Willie got locked out of his Amazon at 2am after what sounded like a memorable party one evening in 1982. Rather than hire a locksmith, he and his buddies forced their way in, and the driver's side doors were never the same again.

Since I've been unable to undo so much of the other damage done during the Regan era, I thought I'd at least try to repair the locks in our 122.

I had a frustrating time trying to remove the window crank and door latch handle. Turns out they are secured using "omega" shaped circlips. Here's the technique I discovered (which does not require a special tool): while pressing the door panel inward, locate the free end of the circlip between the plastic spacer and handle with a dental probe or other thin, rigid instrument, and pop out the clip. The crank/handle can be replaced by putting the circlip back in the handle first, and then pressing the handle- together with the plastic spacer- back on the shaft. More info here and here.

The door handle assembly can be removed without removing the door glass. Lower the window, remove the glass guide channels, carefully push the glass clear of the stop, and then roll down another 1/2 inch. Carefully! This will permit access to the screws securing the door handle.

With everything apart, I found that the die cast "pot metal" lock cylinder had broken in half. (update: I purchased a replacement lock, only to find that the cylinder had broken in exactly the same manner, so I'm guessing this is a common mode of failure.)

I tried JB Welding the pieces together, but the strain of locking/unlocking was too great for JB Weld alone, so I reinforced the repair by cutting a slot with a Dremel tool, inserting some scraps of brass, and JB Welding the whole thing together. I also used a wire brush on the Dremel to clean the surfaces before JB Welding (since pot metal is porous and absorbs oils, making for a weak bond).

slot cut in both parts with a Dremel cut off wheel, and a reinforcing "key" made out of brass

attack of the JB Weld

rough filing

finish filing and sanding - needle files came in handy for this

So far, so good!

While I was at it, I tried renewing one of the lower window guide channels. First, I scraped out what was left of the rubber and felt. Then I used contact cement to glue in a new strip of weatherstripping felt sourced from my local hardware store. It seemed to work well, so I'll probably be renewing all of the window channels at some point.

Locking/unlocking the door now brings me great joy.


Trevor said...

My door handle screws were rusted rather than take the whole window out I managed to work them loose with vise grips. When I replaced them I used allen screws and now I can get them out with a right angle allen key and the window wound all the way up.

J. Jai said...

Wow! Brilliant, Trevor! I had to take my window apart again this afternoon just to get to the door handle. Your Allen screw trick might just save me from the same frustration again in the future!