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Project Marina, Saggy Door Fix

Oh hello again, it’s been a while. No one likes sagging, so let’s fix it.

No, it’s not work that anyone would have expected as my first update in months, but it’s something I needed to do, especially whilst the car is in this orientation and I have good access (the car will soon be turned around to do the sill).

Since I got the car it has suffered from the very common saggy door issue, where the hinge pins wear out and cause excessive movement. This mainly shows itself as a door that is hard to open or close, and thumps up and down when lifted. This will not pass a WOF.

The easiest way to fix this is to find a good pair of hinges without wear and swap them in, and stick to regularly lubricating them. This will last a good while but it’s getting harder to find good hinges as it was such a common issue.

Fixing the issue in the first place is the better option, and in this instance, I’ve done it to one hinge, out of necessity rather than choice.

There are two ways to fix it. One, is to get a steel tube that has a slightly larger internal diameter than the outside diameter of the pin and weld it between the two ears on the bracket, like so,

I didn’t have a tube handy, so went with the other, easier option; weld two nuts to the ears.

Thanks to the relevant Marina Club members for the above photos, and the inspiration to fix instead of bin.

Before I could get onto the welding bit, I had to get the hinges off the car, which meant removing the door. Thankfully it’s on the side that has no door card, so that was easy. Three nuts to remove on each hinge (as well as a washer on each stud and a spreader plate), and the door shell can be removed. I used a jack to support the back of the door until all the nuts were removed.

Much room for activities. Yes, there is still a hole in the floor; I’ll get to that at some point. Hopefully during the next burst of motivation.

The bottom hinge was easy to remove from the A pillar, as all three nuts are visible, so off that came.

The upper hinge was proving to be a real pain though. I couldn’t see it until I removed it, but the studs were slightly longer which meant my socket was blocked from completely sliding on the nuts, thus they were rounding when I tried to remove them.

In the end, I grabbed a drill and drilled the heads off the studs and used a punch to push them into the car, nuts and all.

Thankfully the forward nut came off easily, so I only had to do the rearward two. To get a clear shot at those I disassembled the hinge on the car, by hammering the pin out

The top hinge was the worst one as this takes most of the weight of the door, and clearly had not been lubricated since it left the factory.

The pin should be a snug fit in the hole

And that’s before you even get to the wear on the actual pin

Thankfully I had sourced a good top hinge, in the correct colour, so all I needed to do, after freeing the seized hinge, was to thoroughly lubricate it and fit it.

The lower hinge wasn’t so lucky. I did get a replacement but for some reason, it’s completely different (two bolts instead of three and a completely different design). This forced my hand into fixing the hinge I had.

I knocked out the pin to separate the halves

There is some wear on the pin, but it’s minor

The holes were slightly slogged out. This was nowhere near as bad as the upper hinge, but still had enough play that I couldn’t just refit it.

I found a couple of nuts that were just slightly too small to fit over the pin and drilled the hole out a little bigger, until they slipped on the pin with minimal play.

I cleaned the surface up with a flap disc on the grinder and then zapped the nuts into place with the welder turned to 11.

It’s not pretty, but it ain’t going anywhere

A quick coat of black zinc should protect it for a while

Once mostly dry, the nuts were packed with grease and reassembled. The pin was rotated backwards to how it was previously fitted, so the wear was on the opposite side of the pin.

The nuts have two functions here. First, they support the pin along a larger surface area, instead of just the small area that wears away, which should hopefully mean the pin lasts longer and the current wear no longer matters. Secondly, it centers the pin again and stops it from moving in the worn-out holes. The tube would do the same thing, just along a longer surface.

This fix works for both hinges as they are of similar construction, the only difference is that the upper hinge has the detent roller and spring to get in the way.

With the hinge reassembled it was time to refit the hinges. They were easy enough to refit, trying to line them up with the existing dirt/witness marks. Interestingly, there are no gaskets to stop water from coming in behind the hinges, just hopes and dreams. If the doors come off again in the future I will make some gaskets, but in the meantime, I used heavy grease behind the hinges as a water repellent (and to reduce the chances of rust buildup behind the hinges; it was clean behind them with minor surface rust, but little to no paint).

Refitting the door was about as hard as removing it, just remembering to support the back end of the door with the jack and wiggling it onto the hinges far enough to get the spreader plates on and start a couple of nuts.

Aligning the door took a few tries, and it’s probably still not perfect, but it is a BL product after all…

The difference with the new hinges was obvious immediately. The door swings so much easier now, and the detent works correctly; it previously sagged so much that the detent roller didn’t touch the spring. The door also opens and closes easier now too. It doesn’t need a slam to close and doesn’t thump into place before catching. There is zero play in the hinges.

It’s not amazing progress; it’s still not finishing the rust work that I keep putting off, but it’s progress nonetheless. Hopefully another burst of motivation will hit me soon and more will happen.

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Anthony Batchelor
Anthony Batchelor
1 year ago

Very good and informative. I’ve started restoring my 1980 Morris Marina which I’ve had from new. I took the RHS doors off in 2008 and I can’t find the hinge nuts. Do you know what size they are please?