Door & Boot Latches

Time to tackle the horrible job of the door latches…

Door Latches

The instructions for the door latches aren’t too bad and you’ll be pretty safe if you follow them. The only thing I would say is that on other blogs i’ve seen a captive nut on the metal bracket from AK that i’m assuming used to come as part of the bracket (I could be wrong!). Mine came with no such nut so I opted for the AHP suggestion of using some steel pipe (or washers) instead to form a spacer piece. Thanks Anthony!

Here’s how its done:

  1. Firstly a bit of prep work is required on your doors. I decided to remove the doors and spray the metal hinges with some silver Hammerite paint and a few layers of clear lacquer for a nice finish.
  2. Fit the door seal. For this I used the seal directly from AK, speak to Wendi and she’ll sort you out.
  3. Once dry, re-hang the doors and try to get a nice straight fit.
  4. Disassemble your silent travel door catch (must have a burst latch to comply with SVA), I got mine from S&J Motors and can recommend them. Carefully remove the split pin and catch the spring and cap that will probably fly out of the end.
  5. Offer up the catch to the pre-drilled fixing points in the door. Mine didn’t align properly (a common fault) so I had to put the catch under the pillar drill to open the holes out slightly. I also had to grind (using the tiny dremel stone grinder tip) a little from the edge of the catch to allow the counter-sunk head of the bolt to seat properly in the hole on the catch.
  6. Fit your door cards under the door catch. You might need to cut bolt holes and a space for the striker if you haven’t yet. If they’re not covered yet, put a couple of penny washers between the door card and the catch to simulate the width of the leather and to space it off the wooden card. Tighten up the bolts.
  7. Replace the spring and cap into the latch.
  8. Check your door card is the right size and shape and fits nicely unto the edges of the door. I also sanded a chamfer onto the edges of the door card.
  9. Now start the process of gently sanding the door down until it closes nicely against the door opening without fouling on the body (usually happens at the top-rear of the door as it rests onto the body. If this happens, see if you can hang your door so it sits slightly higher, then start the sanding).
  10. Once you’re happy with the closed door position, move onto the striker bracket. Step one is place the striker through the bracket. You want to select the bracket that puts the offset hole at the position highest on the bracket and closest to the middle of the car (the brackets are specific to each side). Put the striker through the bracket, and tighten up the end nut. It will be jangling around in the mounting plate. Don’t worry.
  11. Now offer it up to the striker position on the body and gently close the door. Pull back the handle so that the striker sits fully into the lock (not just on the burst catch).
  12. Push the metal bracket up against the fibreglass body and make a note of the distance been the base of the striker and the metal bracket because this will need to be filled with either washers or a piece of steel tube cut to size.
  13. I used mirrored stainless tube, but you’ll never actually see it, so just go with anything. Once you’ve cut your tube, disassemble the bracket, put the tube on the striker, then the bracket on, then a load of washers to pack out the back up to the end nut. Finger tighten.
  14. Offer it back to the body and again gently close the door and latch onto it. If the bracket is sitting too far back off the lip of the door, shorten the tube and try again until the bracket has a nice fit against the lip.
  15. Now cut some blocks of wood to act as supports behind the bracket. There’s no clever way of doing this, just cut/sand/shape/trial fit until you get a firm fitting between the bracket, wood and body.
  16. Once you’re happy, double check the position of the door in its latched closed position, check its “closed” enough and not poking out of the side of the body. Have some wide masking tape to hand for the next bit.
  17. Open the door and take the wood and bracket out. Make sure the striker is tightened up properly to the bracket. Peal back the door seal a little from around the bracket area.
  18. Mix up a good batch of P40 fibreglass filler. Apply (I say “apply”, but lets be honest, it’s horrible stuff to work with, so i probably mean “recklessly bung”) some P40 into the gap where the bracket and wood will be positioned. Apply some to the front and back of the bracket. Once you’ve made a massive mess and got loads of the stuff in there, push the bracket into position. Make sure you haven’t got any P40 on the striker. Now close door to the final closed door position (might need a gentle push to compress the door seal) and apply masking tape to the top of the door where it meets the body to hold it nicely in place.
  19. Now put P40 on the sides of the wooden wedges and push them into position behind the bracket. Check it’s all aligned nicely and everything is in position.
  20. Smooth off any excess P40 and try to tidy it up a bit.
  21. LEAVE THE DOOR ALONE FOR 24hours or longer if you can. Do not try and open/close it. Let it harden properly.

Boot Latch

For the boot I didn’t fancy having the issues fitting the boot handle in with the number plate so I opted for a solenoid actuated boot latch instead. Just to be on the safe side I also fitted a back-up manual key concealed under back of the car in case of a flat battery (seeing as the battery is in the boot…).

I used the small bear-claw latch from CBS that also comes with a striker, a 12V solenoid from eBay and an RF relay from RightClick to allow me to open it from a key fob (well… why not!?).

Here’s how I did it:

  1. Get a bracket from B&Q, a mini in-line bear claw latch and striker from CBS, a 10mm thick 100x100mm steel plate from eBay, a solenoid actuator from Amazon/eBay, some steel tubing approx 5mm ID from B&Q, P40 and P38 filler, a cam key, some steel wire and wire crimps.
  2. Using a multi-tool, cut out a slot in the bottom of the moulded section in the boot lid that takes the lock in a conventional setup so that it’s flush with the inner face. This will allow you to slot in the metal plate and some wood packing later.
  3. Take the metal plate and cut it to give roughly 40x100mm piece. Drill and tap (5/16 UNC) a hole at the bottom and in the middle of the plate.
  4. With an angle grinder, cut down the plate to leave the section for the striker sitting out the bottom of the slot in the boot.
  5. Climb into the boot with a torch (yes, really), and close the boot lid. You might need to get someone to lean gently on it to compress the seal and make sure it’s closed properly. Move the plate so that the striker sits just above the seal. Tape the plate into place and carefully open the boot.
  6. Drill two evenly space holes through the fibreglass into the plate (just enough to make the plate).
  7. Remove the plate, drill and tap for an M4 bolt. Drill out the holes in the fibreglass to allow an M4 bolt to pass through.
  8. Install the plate fixing it with two M4 bolts through the holes you’ve just drilled and tapped.
  9. Cutting and fixing the bracket takes a bit of trial and error. You can see the basic shape from the pics below, but as with most things its a case of measure, align, check, measure again, then cut. Then bin it and start again…
  10. Basically you need to cut it to allow the striker to drop into the latch.
  11. Then drill the bracket to hold the latch (this is the bit that takes a bit of time getting the holes at the right height to ensure the boot is fully closed when the striker is in the latch. The bear claw latch needs 1/4″ UNC imperial bolts.
  12. The next tricky bit is working out how far back from the boot lip the bracket needs to be fixed. Again, I climbed back in the boot, closed the lid and checked that everything was aligned then marked out the position of the bracket. Then drill through the bracket and into the chassis rail (make sure it’s the chassis and not the fuel tank you’re drilling into!! you can draw a straight line between the two chassis bolts in the boot to get a feel for where the chassis rail is).
  13. Now the catch and striker are installed, DONT CLOSE THE BOOT! If you’re concerned you can just manually close the latch so even if you close the boot it won’t latch.
  14. Position the solenoid into the rear wing in the boot, try to keep the cable straight.
  15. Measure the length of tube required between the solenoid and the latch with an almost 90degree bend up to the latch pull. cut and bend.
  16. Put a bit of grease on the solenoid cable and feed through the tube.
  17. Bolt the solenoid down the boot floor.
  18. Run the positive and negative feeds from the solenoid through the cable loom to the battery bay. Connect the positive to the battery terminal via a 15A fuse.
  19. Continue the negative cable to run through the wheel arch and up to the cockpit. I’m concealing a button up under the dash in the drivers foot well. Connect the switch between the earth cable from the solenoid and an earth connection at the dash.
  20. Next take the cam key and position it so it doesn’t clash with the solenoid or cable.
  21. Make up another steel tube to run in parallel with the solenoid one and feed steel wire through.
  22. Connect either end of the wire to the end of the cam (you may need to drill a hole in it) and the latch, crimping both ends ensure the came is in the closed position and the wire is reasonably tight so when you turn the key, the latch releases.
  23. Now fibreglass in the steel tubes to hold them in position.
  24. Take the boot off, pack the gap behind the steel plate with wood and fill/fix with plenty of P40. Once dry, sand down and then have another go with P38 until you get a nice finish.

More updates to come with the courtesy switch and boot lighting….

Bonnet Latches

Gas struts installed, read about it here.

Update soon.

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