Sunday, September 7, 2008

Tech Tip: No More "Slamming" Doors

Our cars are often one of our most prized possessions. As a proud Thunderbird owner, you probably enjoy "cruising" around in your car or displaying it at local shows. The pride of ownership is evident whenever and however we "show off' our cars. Many of you, however, are guilty of hiding a very annoying, and dangerous condition. Are you one of these individuals? Do you have to wait until no one is looking to get in and out of your car? Heaven forbid that someone should see you "slam" your car doors. Yes, I said "slam!" How could any owner slam the doors on their Classic Thunderbird? They do so out of necessity. Over the years, many cars have worn down their striker plates. These plates are responsible for holding the door in a closed position. Many owners have broken the window glass in their doors because they had to close them so hard. The solution is very simple and an easy "fix it" for most back yard mechanics. 1956-57 owners have it the easiest. You can replace your striker plate and not even have to realign your door, if you do it correctly. 1955 owners may have to realign their doors.

The door striker plates are located on the door opening and not on the door itself. The plate is attached to the body by three large Phillips head screws. The screws pass through the body of the car and screw into a metal plate which is hidden from view inside your car. This interior plate allows for the adjustment to the striker plate which is necessary to align your doors. For purposes of this "tech tip", NEVER REMOVE ALL THREE SCREWS AT 0NE TIME!!! These screws are usually the only thing that keeps the interior metal plate from falling down into the body of your car. When your car was built, the plate rested on metal clips. These clips kept the plate from falling out of position behind the body panel. Over the years, these clips have rusted away. The result is that once you drop the interior plate into your car's body, you cannot retrieve it without cutting into your door jamb. To avoid this risk, please, DO NOT REMOVE ALL THREE SCREWS AT ONE TIME!!!

The accompanying diagram shows the anatomy of a striker plate. It has a single top screw and two bottom screws. On 1955 cars, you will need to remove the striker plate completely. Remove the top screw and one of the bottom screws. The third screw will need to be loosened, but not removed. Use the third screw as a "pivot point" for the old striker plate. Pivot the striker plate so that the top screw opening is uncovered and clear of the old striker plate. Replace the screw into the hole and loosely attach it to the metal plate inside the door jamb. Make sure the screw is threaded into the inside metal plate. This screw will be the only thing that keeps your plate in place. Once you have attached your top screw, remove the lower screw you used as a "pivot point". Your old striker plate should now be resting in your hands. Install your new striker plate starting with the "pivot point" screw. Make sure your screw is threaded into the inside metal plate. Tighten the screw enough to make sure you have screwed it into the inside metal plate, but leave the screw loose enough to allow you to "pivot" up the striker plate. Once the "pivot" screw is attached, remove the top screw which has been keeping your metal plate in place. Align the two holes of your new striker plate with those in the car's body. Attach your screws and tighten all three sufficient to hold the striker plate in place. Close your door and check its alignment. You will probably have to "play" with the position of the striker plate to get your door to align correctly.

For 1956 and 1957 Thunderbird owners, Ford came up with a "better idea." On 1956 and 1957 Thunderbird striker plates, there is an insert which rests behind a thin metal plate. This plate can be removed by unscrewing only the two lower screws of the striker plate. In fact, you probably can remove the outer screw and loosen the inner screw enough to allow you to pull out the insert. This insert is all that needs to be replaced on the striker plate for 1956-7 Thunderbirds. Once replaced, your door should close perfectly. You will not even have to adjust your door's alignment as long as you did not loosen the top screw. Just think, all those years of door slamming and all you needed was a Phillips screw driver and a new striker plate. You now can take pride in your doors as well as your car. Once again, I thank Ken Smizinski for providing me with this month's "tech tip." Keep them coming!!!

Source: CTCC Tech-Tip Manual 1993-1997

1 comment:

cpruett said...

Can anyone tell me how to lift the body off of a 1957 T-Bird.