AUSTIN VERT'S CRAZY DOOR HINGE SAGA

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Austin Vert

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Hi to all,

I wanted to follow up on a post that was put up several months ago, by a member that was struggling with trying to get decent upgrade door hinges for his Mustang. I told him that i was experimenting with aftermarket Taiwan hinges, and i would get back to the Forum and tell him how i got on. So here i am, with some interesting results and feedback that i hope will benefit the Forum members as to a heads up on a better way to go with upgrading your '71 to '73 door hinges.

 Going way back years ago, this very topic was raised in the Forum about worn out original hinge pins and bushes on all upper and lower hinges. As i recall a Forum member (Q Code 351) put forward a very good solution to repairing old worn out hinge pins and bushes by buying a kit that once installed, never need to be replaced - just lubed up when servicing the car. (see reference below) The point is, that i should have taken his advice back then. Instead, i took the long way 'round and ended up paying a big price for my troubles.  So here's my sad story.............................................

I bought my '73 Mustang Convertible back in 2011. The car was in very good original condition. The passengers side door hinges were in perfect condition, but the drivers side lower hinge had a degree of play in it, and the roller/torsion bar setup had lost its door  holding strength, or so i thought.  (they never had any decent holding strength in the original factory ones anyway). Back then, i had the option of buying a new hinge pin/ bushing kit to remedy the door play problem, but i chose the path of removing my original hinge, and replacing it with an aftermarket version to also remedy the weak roller closing problem. That's were i made the wrong decision. The first aftermarket lower hinge failed. I spray painted it up, installed it on the car, went to close the door for the first time, and the torsion bar broke clean off straight away. That was that. My next mistake was to experiment with a Dynacorn brand hinge, hoping that the quality would be better, and solve my problems. But no, the hinge failed as well, this time without breaking the torsion bar. But the door did not want to close properly, and if i forced it to close, it would have damaged the hinge badly as well.  What i discovered, was the cut out hole in the hinge body where the torsion bar goes into was round circular shaped, and was too small a diameter. This was the root cause of why the aftermarket hinges were not working or functioning properly. I tried to enlarge the hole in the Dynacorn hinge. That helped, but did not solve the problem as my door made a noisy clunking sound every time you opened or closed it. That's when the Gods smiled down upon me. I got real lucky, and stumbled upon a guy down in Tasmania who was selling a set of genuine original NOS  upper and lower hinges for the drivers side. $300.00 Australian. I also discovered that the original factory lower hinges have a quarter pie shaped cut out hole where the torsion bars go into. This shaped hole allows for the proper and correct movement to the torsion bar when the doors are opened and closed as the roller wheels run across the torsion bar surface. On all aftermarket versions, they only provide a small circular shaped hole that does not allow the torsion bar to move properly in the hole, thus making the door hinge a failure. However, i have noted in the past, some Forum members stating that their aftermarket lower hinges have performed well. How this is so is beyond me. Maybe they got lucky, and the circular hole did not play up for them. I really don't know. I got badly burnt with the Dynacorn and Mr. Quang's Taiwan Saturday night special. How many more purchase tries do i keep on making before maybe coming up with one that actually works properly. Really? I don't think so.

At this stage, i could have chosen to go back to my original factory hinge and get a new bushing kit, but i bit the bullet and bought the NOS  instead. As you would expect, i painted it up, installed it, and the fit was perfect with no open or closing problems. The weak roller resistance issue still remains, but has slightly improved, which gets back to the fact that this roller/ torsion bar design was never much good in the first place. ( In Australia, we have a saying for this - pissweak!)   I also decided not to use the newly purchased upper hinge, as my original one is in perfect condition believe it or not.  OK, so to sum up, i have laid out a list below as a guide to helping members make a better choice. Listed from best option to worst option.

1. Best option. Replace hinges with NOS factory. This is a big problem, as trying to find these NOS hinges is like digging for gold. (very rare, and hard to come by). Good luck to you if you find some.

2. Option 2. If your factory original hinges are in decent shape, but have pin/ bushing issues only, then replace them with the cheap bushing kit. This is the second best cheapest option. (However, look out for hogged out hinge body holes that take the bushings.) If they are hogged out, then the Zert kit should get you out of jail here, as a standard cheap bushing kit won't cut it. The more expensive rebuild kits with the Zerts option would be a better way to go, but more pricey. If you have hogged out holes, and are watching your money, then option 3 could be a better choice.

3. Option 3. If your factory original hinges are stuffed all 'round, then West Coast Cougar sell factory original, second hand core hinges in decent condition. You buy the cheap extra pin/ bushing kit as well and you should be out of trouble. You can also go with the Zerts kit in these if you want as well. You may be considering buying second hand factory original used hinges on E bay or the like. Be careful here as the hinge body bushing holes could be worn and hogged out. Cracks in the hinge body could also be present. Rollers and roller bushings could be stuffed. The torsion bar could also be grooved out and damaged.You would want to inspect them in person before you bought them. Another case of buyer beware here. Better to deal with a reputable company like West Coast Cougars for peace of mind and a saving of money.

4. Option 4. Stick to buying the crappy aftermarket hinges. To be fair, i have never purchased an aftermarket upper hinge, left or right, only a lower drivers side. In any case these lower hinges are rubbish in respect to the fact that  the cut out holes were not done and shaped properly, thus causing big problems with the working door action. The hinge body bolt holes are not aligned correctly, thus causing door fit up problems, and the thickness of the steel hinge bodies is inferior to the factory originals, thus making the overall strength of the hinge inferior. These hinges are poor quality rubbish, and a waste of money, and manufacture of them should stop, until a better designed hinge can be made. I discovered that to my trouble and cost, and learnt the hard way.

Footnote:  All the aftermarket hinges i investigated online had circular cut out body holes for the torsion bars. If by chance, you stumble on one that has a genuine quarter shaped pie cut out, then it may be worth considering. Aftermarket single hinges are not cheap to buy. If that hinge still causes problems, then you've done your money. Your risk.

Second footnote: When i think about it, the really sad thing here is that if these hinges had of been made in America instead of Taiwan, then fair bet, they would have been made properly and worked properly. I prey that in time, a shift will occur when America starts manufacturing the aftermarket parts more, and delivers a better quality product, instead of the cheap labor, Asian rubbish, that we have come to enjoy so much. Ha, Ha.

Third Footnote: Handy hint! Simple test for hinge pin/bush wear. Open car door fully on a level surface. Bend over to grab the bottom underside edge of the door lock corner with both hands. Pull or lift upwards. If the door has any up and down play or movement, then you have a wear problem. The bigger the movement,the worse the wear problem is. For top notch condition hinges, there should be no movement up and down at all. (Watch you back with this one. Not recommended for folks with bad backs)

See my references and links below.

1. West Coast Cougars factory cores for sale, plus great instructional video provided as well.

https://secure.cougarpartscatalog.com/71dsl.html

2. Link to the Zert kit for sale. Shopping around could save you money maybe.

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1971-73-Mustang-Cougar-Door-Hinge-Rebuild-Kit-with-Zerks-/121300860821

3. See my photos as a reference. They show you my NOS hinge that i bought with correct quarter pie shaped cutout, and an old used second hand Factory original hinge with the same quarter pie shaped cutout. After  much investigation, i could not find any aftermarket lower hinges with the quarter cut outs. They all have circular cut outs. Big problem! Buy at your own risk. I bought two of them and both failed badly.  See an example of an aftermarket hinge with a circular cut out.

Hope all that helps,

Greg. :classic_smile:

MUSTANG FACTORY USED LOWER DOOR HINGE 1971 TO 1973.jpg

MUSTANG FACTORY LOWER DRIVERS SIDE DOOR HINGE.jpg

2021-10-28 18_07_25-Window.png

 
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Fabrice

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Glad you finally can close your door again.

It's not isolated to door hinges. I find myself checking and modifying new parts for almost anything.
The days you bought a new part and could bolt it on as expected and forget about it are long gone.

It happen so often these days, I came to the conclusion that it's not just the offshore fab/lack of quality control or savings for more profit that is mainly the issue.
I think that in many cases, the knowledge of old tech is simply gone. So a guy/team at some plant gets some CAD instructions, old blueprints, dies, whatever, makes that with economics in mind for the materials and once done, is unable to tell if the part he made is actually gonna cut it. They can't in many cases even test on a real car as they don't have one.
Many modern parts are now so different than for our cars, I believe they simply have no clue that what they make is off. I mean, as a manufacturer, I can't imagine you fab 10k units of a parts knowing they are wrong!

That's sad, tho we have to be happy we can still find/buy "almost ok" new parts for our cars, 50 years after they left the plant!
Checking and eventually fixing them is unfortunately a must on our todo! :D

I went for option #2 on my hinges years ago. The cheapo kit with bronze cups. No issues since then. I think the key for longevity is to make sure both up and down pins are aligned on the same axis of rotation and that the door fits/rests nicely on the latch pilar anchor. But these doors are heavy, at some point after many open/close cycles, I know the soft cups will eventually loose their round shape.

 
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I got new aftermarket door hinges and the driver side is fine but the passenger side is horrible. My door isn’t closing or opening all the way. I have tried to adjust the striker and the hinge, but I need help. Can’t get it adjusted by myself. The rear of the door needs to come up a bit, but I don’t think I can do this adjustment alone. I will have to get a friend to give me a hand. 
I wish I would’ve kept the originals that were on my car and just rebuilt them. I had a shop do this when I was having other stuff done and they talked me into replacing them instead of rebuilding them.

 

Austin Vert

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Thanks guys.

Fabrice - I would agree with the points you have put forward that supports my case. Smart move going for option 2 as you did. Yes, the bushings are soft metal and so, have a limited life depending on how many times a door gets used. Here's where the Zerts come in with a super long serviceable life.Not cheap though. The cheap bush/pin kits should get most people out of trouble for a decent time.Cheers!

jpaz - your feedback is interesting.How in Gods name your drivers side door functions properly is amazing. Not surprised your passengers side has let you down. As i said, the crappy aftermarket hinges are not accurate enough with the line up positioning of the bolt holes plus the shaping of the hinge bodies. This makes trying to line up the door for a good fit with gaping etc very hard if not impossible. My advice would be to go with option 3 and grab a set of Cougar hinges, put the cheap bushings kit in them, paint them up, and do the install. Getting a friend to help with the install is a must with this job.

Greg. :classic_smile:

 
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Thanks again for the info regarding the hinges. I am getting the ones from WCC for sure and I will rebuild them with the cheaper rebuild pins and bushings.

 I just ordered them and I am looking forward to fixing this problem. My not be able to change them out till spring though. I get really busy this time of the year. My garage is not very wide, so I may have to do this outside when the weather gets warm again. Thanks again Greg for the excellent write up.

 
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Just to add a comment on these hinges. Earlier this year, the torsion bar on the drivers side broke. I considered an aftermarket replacement hinge, but as this has been commented on before, crappy part, I decided to post an ad on a Canada wide buy/sell site called Kijiji. I was able to find a guy not too far away, with what he called a "good used part". As all I needed was a replacement torsion bar, I bought it. It was far from being a "good used part", but like I said the torsion bar was usable albeit rust pitted. Then the fun began. First I tried to install it with the door on the car. That was a no-go, no room to get the correct twist on the bar. So off came the door. I found I had to take the hinge to the vise to install the bar, still not easy to do, but I figured it out. Fortunately the pins and bushings were still good. I did take the precaution of drilling location holes through hinge before removal and by doing that, the reinstall was easier. All in all, it took way too long to do the job. 

As these hinges are rebuildable, pins and bushings, wouldn't it be better if good replacement torsion bars were available separately?

 

Fabrice

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While at it, may you have the original ones with some tired thin cylinders, I'd replace the anchors/door latch

https://www.npdlink.com/product/striker-plate-door-latch/103872?backurl=search%2Fproducts%3Fpage%3D5%26search_terms%3Dlatch%2Bdoor%2Bmounting%2Bkit%26top_parent%3D200001%26year%3D 

Inexpensive, these babies are great helpers to actually align your doors and ensure our heavy doors are well kept in place when closed. So to stay on topic, check they are tightened at the right position, ( often moved during re-pain)t, as your pins durability is also directly affected by these. 
They are often ignored and I rarely see picts of cars with new ones. Oh and the plate behind, often a rust nest... easy removed by just lifting it.

 
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I went the expensive route with the Mustang Steve's greaseable door hinges: https://mustangsteve.com/product/do-it-yourself-rebuild-kit-71-73/

Yes it is more expensive but hopefully I don't need to remove those heavy beasts again. When aligning the doors I used a garage jack as a helper and I was able to do it myself but not fun.

The torsion bars, well, that's another story.

 

Austin Vert

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Hi Geoff,

Interesting feedback. Yes, regards torsion bar issues on their own, it's a shame you can't buy this part separately. In your case, i'm not surprised you were let down with your second hand hinge approach. There are a lot of people out there happy to sell on rubbishy used parts to turn a dollar. The buyer ends up sadly being the victim.This senario has happened to me a few times as well. You took an interesting approach by refitting the torsion bar as you did. Probably  going with my option 3 from the start would have saved you a fair deal of drama. In any case, you ended up with a decent result it seems. Way to go!

Hi Tony M,

Thanks for the heads up with Mustang Steve.You are on a big win with your decision to go with the Zerts. Should provide a long term trouble free experience for you. With my experience of having to replace my lower drivers side hing three separate times, believe me, i know the hardship involved with this procedure. The first two times i did it myself. Like yourself, i used a trolley jack to support the opened door. I found i did not have the tools to line up and access the bolt heads on the A pillar, so my approach was to remove the plastic inner fender splash guard and access the hinge bolts through the bottom of the fender. It worked, but it made the job hard. In my first remove and refit, i accidentally dislodged the backing plate that rests behind the A pillar wall. No joke, it took me 3 to 4 hours to locate it and set it up for the hinge bolts to take up. I got around that problem by machining up a spare hinge bolt, and removing the bolt head down to the thread size diameter. I then filed a groove or slot into the top of the shaft so it would accept a straight blade screwdriver. This was then used as a dummy bolt, so you could remove and refit the hinge over the installed dummy bolt, and the dummy bolt would ensure you did not loose the backing plate behind. That worked like a dream.

Thanks guys,

Greg. :classic_smile:

 
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Hi Geoff,

Interesting feedback. Yes, regards torsion bar issues on their own, it's a shame you can't buy this part separately. In your case, i'm not surprised you were let down with your second hand hinge approach. There are a lot of people out there happy to sell on rubbishy used parts to turn a dollar. The buyer ends up sadly being the victim.This senario has happened to me a few times as well. You took an interesting approach by refitting the torsion bar as you did. Probably  going with my option 3 from the start would have saved you a fair deal of drama. In any case, you ended up with a decent result it seems. Way to go!

Hi Tony M,

Thanks for the heads up with Mustang Steve.You are on a big win with your decision to go with the Zerts. Should provide a long term trouble free experience for you. With my experience of having to replace my lower drivers side hing three separate times, believe me, i know the hardship involved with this procedure. The first two times i did it myself. Like yourself, i used a trolley jack to support the opened door. I found i did not have the tools to line up and access the bolt heads on the A pillar, so my approach was to remove the plastic inner fender splash guard and access the hinge bolts through the bottom of the fender. It worked, but it made the job hard. In my first remove and refit, i accidentally dislodged the backing plate that rests behind the A pillar wall. No joke, it took me 3 to 4 hours to locate it and set it up for the hinge bolts to take up. I got around that problem by machining up a spare hinge bolt, and removing the bolt head down to the thread size diameter. I then filed a groove or slot into the top of the shaft so it would accept a straight blade screwdriver. This was then used as a dummy bolt, so you could remove and refit the hinge over the installed dummy bolt, and the dummy bolt would ensure you did not loose the backing plate behind. That worked like a dream.

Thanks guys,

Greg. :classic_smile:
Greg, thanks for your comments. On getting access to the bolts to retighten them, it is for sure a pain in the ass, but I was able to do it with a long extension and U joint. I did however chip the paint on the fender's edge. As I still had some of the original paint and hardener, I was able to touch it up.

Nice to hear from you again by the way.

Geoff.

 

JimB73

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Wow, sorry for your ordeal but great info on the hinges and options for replacement. Thanks for taking the time to pass it on!

 
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