Refurbishing an E-Type Door Hinge
How are your door hinges holding up? When your door hinges become worn, getting your door to shut properly may become difficult. Try this. Open your door and pull upward on the end where the door handle is. If you can move the door up and down by a 1/8″ or more, your hinges are probably worn. They can be refurbished without too much drama. Read on to see how.
Here are the tools you’ll need.
- Sockets and wrenches
- Metal grinder (die grinder, cutting disk, or Dremel tool)
- A drill motor and a ½” drill bit
- Hammer and punch
- Mig welder or epoxy glue
- 7/16″ and ½” adjustable hand reamers
The only new material you’ll need is a piece of ½” diameter steel rod.
The first step is to remove your door hinge from the car. It would be wise to trace around the hinge with a marker to document its position. The hex screws that fasten into the body forward of the door are readily visible when you open the door. The hex screws that attach the hinge to the door are only visible after you remove the trim panel. Be careful. The door is quite a handful and some assistance from a friend would be a good idea.
At this point, you should have the hinge apart from the car. A good cleaning with Dawn detergent might be a good idea. Then set it up on your workbench and give it a look. The center section of the hinge attaches to the door and is made of aluminum. The outer part attaches to the car body and is made of steel. The pin is steel and the aluminum, being the softer material, gives up the ghost first. So what we are going to do is extract the pin, enlarge the hole in the aluminum piece to ½”, fit a new pin, and put it back together.
Observe the ends of the pin carefully and you’ll see a bit of weld at each end. Your going to use your grinder to remove the weld. You’ll remove the end of the pin at the same time but that’s OK because the old pin is going into the trash anyway. The main thing is to not cut into the hinge plate too much. Little nicks and gouges are OK. When you’re done you should be able to drive the old pin out with a hammer and punch. The existing pin is about 7/16″ in diameter so your punch should be a little smaller than that. Carefully note the position of any brass washers that may reside between the inner and outer hinge parts. Save the washers.
When you get the pin out, you’ll will be able to work on the inner aluminum piece. But first let’s make your new pin. Take a piece of ½” mild steel rod (mild steel is what they will sell in that rack of steel parts at Home Depot). You can also you a ½” bolt but it will have to be long enough that you can cut off the head and the threads. Don’t think you need to get a Grade 5 or Grade 8. That will just make your job harder and the bolt is not the weak link here, so get the garden variety kind. Cut your new pin about a 1/4″ longer then the one you punched out. Test fit it next to the steel hinge just to be sure it will extend a small amount beyond each end of the hinge. Now, chuck the pin up in a drill and polish it up nicely by spinning it against some sandpaper.
Here is the only slightly tricky part. You need to enlarge the existing 7/16″ hole in the aluminum inner hinge to about ½”. But I don’t recommend using a drill bit as you will wind up with a sloppy fit. What we want to do is to carefully enlarge the hole so it’s a lovely glove tight fit to your new pin. And the tool for that job is an adjustable hand reamer. A reamer is an elegant little tool that gradually enlarges a hole. They have a set of cutting blades arranged around a central shaft. There are various types but they all have the feature that they can be gradually brought to a larger diameter. They come in diameter ranges. You’ll need 2. One will straddle a range of diameters about 7/16″ and the next larger one will pick up where the last one left off and get you to ½”. I buy mine at http://www.use-enco.com. You should be able to get both for less than $20.