March 2006 – Door handle details

Winter has been mild in North Carolina, though cold enough in the deep winter months to keep me out of the garage. March usually is the transition month — a month of teasing warmth and, when cold, a month of yearning for spring. This March has been warm. So warm, in fact, that this weekend I opened the front door of the garage to let air and sun in. This is what the car looked like on 11 March, just before the left door handle was put into place.

Please excuse the mess. Winter blows leaves through the cracks beneath a side door, but the rest of the disarray is my fault. I am always amazed to see pictures of other fellows’ neat and tidy workspaces. I’ve never been that organized, and I have kids who use the garage and the tools as well.

This entry might be a little too detailed for most folks, but I found that I spent an inordinate amount of time just figuring out how the door lock/latch mechanism works. I initially thought that some parts had been pilfered, since there seemed to be too much “air” in the middle of the section covered by the can-like “retaining case.” There is a plunger-like piece that slides freely in the rear section of thetumbler piece, and it slides freely when the car is locked, and is held in place when unlocked, so that the plunger is forced out the back end of the retaining case to activate the latch mechanism in the door.

I got a new retaining case from XKs Unlimited. The cases are sided, and so this one fits only the left side. (A tab is labeled “LH” for “left hand.”) The retaining case frequently will fail at the rear end, as mine had. The part was virtually identical to the original, except for the fact that excess metal from the casting had not been trimmed off. This mainly was an issue for the hole at the rear (pictured). Ten minutes of sanding with some 220-grit sandpaper made everything clean and correct. Fit was not good on a small tab that slides into a slot on the door handle, but this was a matter of a little more sanding to bring the tab down to size.

Neither of these were big issues. It is, of course, much better to have too much metal than too little.

This lock and the one on the right side door had apparently been lubricated with oils and perhaps a little grease. They were both caked with grime. I took everything apart and soaked everything in kerosene (aka “paraffin”) and scrubbed with an old toothbrush. This is the usual drill I go through with parts, as I don’t have a fancy parts washer. I’ve decided to use a dry graphite lubricant on the locks.

For the most part, the pictures to the right and their “tooltip” captions, which you get when you mouse-over the pictures, tell the story in excruciating detail. The pictures themselves are probably the most useful of the explanations. Nothing in the disassembly or reassembly requires any special tools, just a needlenose pliers, a couple of screw drivers, and a fairly strong couple of fingers. The springs are not tremendously hard to compress, so you can easily squeeze the parts with one hand.

How the mechanism works perhaps becomes apparent from the pictures. The important piece that manages the locking is the small linkage piece that slips into the slot at the rear of the retaining clip. When the door is locked, this part offsets the plunger inside the tumbler and allows the plunger to slip between the fork-like sides of that section of the lock tumbler. The seventh picture from the top shows this linkage piece in place; the ninth and tenth pictures show the plunger functioning in unlocked and locked settings.

One thing I did that might be an addition, though a small one, was to place rubber seals between the door handle and the two points it touches the body. I don’t have any record of a seal in that position when we disassembled the car, but that doesn’t mean that the original cars wouldn’t have had seals. I cut mine out of rubber from a car inner tube. Worked nicely.

I’ve finished installing the chrome I got back from Ricardo.

More than you ever wanted to know about locking mechanisms

New “retaining case.” I bought a new retaining case from XKs Unlimited, pictured on the left (of course). On the right is the torn off rear section of the original case, with the inside portion of the case visible. See the excess metal on the new casting. I had some sanding to do.

Exploded lock/latch mechanism. This is what the parts look like, more or less as they fit together. Above the central line-up is a small brass pin to set the lock tumbler in place. Below the line-up are a small compressed spring (for key lock rotation) and a washer that sits between the small spring and the large extended spring (for the latch push button). The right-most item below the line-up is the linkage setup for the lock. This slips into the retaining case.

Lock tumbler and the latch plunger. Vocabulary fails me, but I think I got the tumbler named right. The “plunger” slips into the slotted rear section of the tumbler. This part confused me, since I didn’t see how the plunger would be fixed in place to push the latching mechanism inside the door. It works, trust me.

Lock tumbler and the latch plunger. Vocabulary fails me, but I think I got the tumbler named right. The “plunger” slips into the slotted rear section of the tumbler. This part confused me, since I didn’t see how the plunger would be fixed in place to push the latching mechanism inside the door. It works, trust me.

Brass pin lock the tumbler in place
The picture is a bit out-of-focus, but the brass pin is shown extending from the hole into which it slides. When you take your lock apart, this hole will likely be obscured by the general gunk of the part. After cleaning, the purpose of the hole is clear. This was an easy slide into place, just a couple of taps did it.

Washer and spring inserted. A special washer fits onto the chromed cylinder and then the spring that provides the resistance for the push button on the handle fits over the cylinder end. Pretty straight-forward.

Lock linkage in place. In order to get the spring-tumbler-cylinder assembly into place, you have to stick the lock linkage into place. It fits in the slot at the read of the retaining case, and you sinply position it so that the hole into which the plunger fits is 100 percent clear. That is the unlocked position. The picture is shows the correct position. By the way, the tab with the two holes shows the “LH” meaning left hand, and the tab opposite that was the one I had to sand to fit the slot on the handle.

The keylock assembly reassembled. Compress the spring into the retaining case with the plunger extended, so that it fits through the hole at the rear of the case. Then take the bolt/nut and screw it into the end of the plunger, until the nut on the bolt fits against the rear of the retaining case. The nut can be adjusted so that the bolt end of the plunger hits the paddle-like part of the door latch. This is a minor adjustment that you do after the door handle is in place.

The push pressed in UNLOCKED position.Notice that the plunger is extending from the end of the retaining case. Also notice the position of the lever at the side of the case — part of the lock linkage.

The push pressed in LOCKED position. Contrast this picture with the one above. Note that the plunger remains in its “unpushed” position. This is because the plunger slips between the forks of the lock tumbler casing. When the push is pressed, the plunger will not activate the latch mechanism.

Lock fitted into door handle. This picture shows the latch tab in unlocked position. Really the only two things holding the retaining case in place are the two small machine screws.

Original door hardware. The original hardware for the lock-latch mechanism and for affixing the door handle. The small screws are 4-40’s, probably 1/4-inch. They attach the retaining case to the door handle. I replaced them with 3/8-inch lengths. The door studs are 10-32s, with a black anodize washer (I originally thought it might be rubber). These were rust-bound. On the original, the threaded stud would be screwed into the door handle and then fitted to the door panel. I just used a number 10 machine screw with a nut screwed on to tighten everything up. It worked nicely.

Door hole clean-up. I cleaned up the holes for the door fitting with a drill bit.

Rubber seals. Rubber from an old tire tube served as raw material for the rubber seals the fit between the door panel and the door handle. I do not know if there was such a seal on the original, but it seems like a good idea to put them in place. There should be less chance of leakage and the paintwork is protected. You can see my paper templates in the baggie, too. I cut the rubber a generously, since I wanted to trim it to fit exactly.

Trimming the rubber seal. This was easy. Just press the handle against the seal, and outline it with a ballpoint pen. Remove. Trim to the line. Done.

External view of the installed handle. Nice to see it in place!

Inside view of the installed handle and lock. The (rusty) clip hold the linkage in unlocked position, and you can see the 10-32 screw with nut that hold the door handle in place. This is a good clean installation. The clip, despite its rust, is sound. Besides, I coated it with grease to inhibit further corrosion.