December 13th, 2003 : Door Latches & Strikers
A couple of months back, I had my doors adjusted by Jim Naugle of Jim's Classic Restorations in Monroe, New Jersey. This guy not only has years of experience, but he loves what he does and does real quality work for very low prices. He's got 3 or 4 lifts at his shop and it's pretty typical to see $200,000.00 show cars sitting up on them, too!
I tried getting my doors to close right myself, but it wasn't working to my satisfaction, so I decided to put some money in Jim's pocket and let him do his thing ... and after getting my truck back, I was very glad I did -- the doors closed beautifully.
My first problem was due to LMC Truck selling me the wrong door weatherstrip set. Bad, BAD, LMC Truck. I should have made my purchase from Classic Parts! My second problem was bad hinges -- the driver side had a badly cracked hinge and was missing bolts, too (due to cage-nuts that fell out of place - a common problem). So, Jim put the proper weatherstripping on, welded up my hinge, put new bolts in (welding nuts in place) and adjusted my doors perfectly.
Everything was fine, until the cold Winter weather set in. All of a sudden, my doors started rattling and I had to slam them to get them closed - which makes me insane; I can't live that way. I tried adjusting them but was getting nowhere, so I called Jim and talked to him. After our conversation, I decided the truck deserved new latches and strikers ... Jim wisely points out, "If you're gonna buy new latches, go ahead and order new strikers -- they're only $10 apiece, and that way everything matches up correctly." Good advice.
So, I called Classic Parts and ordered sets for both doors and installed them myself. The rattling stopped, but I was still having trouble closing the doors without slamming them! However, another phone call to Jim, and I got it right -- there's a whole lot more to adjusting the strikers than first meets the eye!
If you're thinking of doing this job yourself, here's the deal:
Installing the Door Latch (the easy part)
1 - Remove the two screws that hold the window-guide in place -- see B above.
2 - Remove the old door latch (three bolts) and install the new one.
3 - Replace the window-guide screws.
Installing & Adjusting the Striker (the tricky part)
1 - Remove the old striker - don't install the new one just yet.
2 - With no striker, close your door and be sure it lines up properly with the body of your truck -- look at the body-lines that go around the cab and judge by that. If your door is not lining up properly, make adjustments by loosening hinge bolts and re-setting the door position.
3 - Install the new striker, leaving the bolts loose enough to move the striker around.
4 - The first adjustment on the striker is to set the height properly. Note point A in both pictures above -- by closing the door far enough to just peek in at the latch/striker position, you want to move the striker up or down so that the "seat" for the latch ("A" in the striker photo) is just under the latch-bottom without it touching -- the seat on my striker is about an eighth-inch below the bottom of the latch.
5 - Next, set the depth of the striker by moving it in (towards the cab) -- set it and tighten the bolts -- until the door is tight (no play) against the cab-body. You may have to slam the door hard to get this, but that's okay -- the next step will correct that.
6 - Now, without moving the top of the striker in any further (note it's location carefully), move the bottom of the striker in closer to the cab by about an eighth-inch ... tighten the bolts again and see if you've got a good close on the door.
7 - At this point, it becomes a matter of playing around with the position of the striker until you find out where it "wants" to sit. Maybe your door works better with the bottom of the striker further out and the top further in ... maybe the opposite ... you just have to keep trying different angles until you get it right.
NOTE!: When you move the striker each time, trying to find the best spot, make sure you only move it a fraction at a time -- don't be making large movements each time, or you'll get lost deep in the woods!
When I first setup my strikers, all I did was adjust the depth of the strikers (Step #5) and I was having to slam the doors like crazy! Next, I realized I needed to adjust the height of the strikers (Step #4) and after doing so, I saw a definite improvement ... but it wasn't until I adjusted the angle of the striker (Step#6) that I finally got my doors to close with just a good, firm toss.
This is no easy task, and requires some serious patience and attention to detail, but it sure is worth taking the time to do it right -- like I said, that striker looks simple ... but it isn't!
UPDATE: July 4th, 2005On the spur of the moment yesterday, I did an insprational tweek on my driver-side door striker and really (unexpectedly) hit pay dirt!
After a half-dozen "tweeking sessions" done periodically over quite a number of months, my passenger-side door was closing perfectly. But my driver-side was like "90% there" -- ocassionally needing TWO slams to shut. ARGHH! It seemed that, if I lifted the door slightly while clossing it, it would shut better ... so I had been thinking that I should lower the striker.
If I got out and watched the alignment as I slowly closed the door, the latch appeared to be an eighth-inch above the striker, which is where you want it. But the striker actually rises on an angle and this time, as I was getting out of the truck, I heard the latch dragging on the striker just as I was (slowly) opening the door. "Ah-haa!" I thought, "The striker is still too high!" So I decided to loosen the bolts on the striker, tap it down slightly and back, (on the top side) towards the interior, just a bit.
I tightened it back up, and wow! Perfecto!
I finally have both doors closing the same!
Adjusting these strikers involves a long meditative period of trial and error ... always feeling how your doors close ... and always listening to what's happening. I installed new strikers and latches in December of 2003 ... got my passenger side right around August of 2004 (8 months later) and my driver side in July of 2005 (a year and a half later).
LOL! What a trip, eh?
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