Having our Corvette fully disassembled and stripped we are ready for fiberglass repair and body work. One thing that will have to be done before any of this though is rebuilding door hinges. Rebuilding the door hinges is essential before any body work and fiberglass repair because the hinges will set the final location of the door when reassembling the car after restoration. Thus, you will want the door hinges to be in their final condition when fitting and body working the doors. One thing to note on this rebuilding door hinges post – this method is somewhat specific to a Corvette restoration that will be judged in a performance verification or PV, but more on that later. First things first, you need to have the doors pulled off the car and the hinges removed.
Once the hinges are in hand, you will likely want to blast them to remove all paint. Next comes disassembly. Before removing the hinge pin take note on how the hinge is assembled so you can reassembly it the same way it came apart. Now the pin needs to come out. These pins can be rather difficult to remove after years of being installed. The easiest way to remove the pin is to use a vice. The hinge pin looks like a large nail. Find a socket that will fit around the head of the nail/pin. Set the hinge in the vice as shown in the picture with the socket on the head of the pin. Crank down on the vice making sure that the jaws of the vice are pushing only on the socket and the end of the pin and not crushing the hinge itself. As you crank on the vice the pin should give way and pop free. Remove the hinge from the vice and pull the pin out. You may need a punch to drive the pin out depending on the condition of the hinge. Once the pin is removed the hinge can be separated. Bronze bushings will be located in the hinge pivot point, they will either fall out if the hinge is really worn or they will need to be tapped out with a flat bladed screw driver. Now the hinge is ready for reassembly, but a little trick first.
For Corvette judging, a Performance Verification is one of the test. During this test the judge will rock the doors up and down and feel for any play whatsoever in the door hinges. To ensure there is no play at all we modify are bushings a little. Using some solder we put melt multiple beads onto the bronze bushings. Note** These bronze bushings are made through a special powdered metal process in oil is impregnated into them, making them self lubricating. When heating these bushings with the torch some of this oil will weep out, but not all of it unless you overheat the bushing and it changes color from the bright copper to a darker purplish color. Only heat the bushing enough for the solder bead to flow out and stick then let it cool.
Here you can see the beads of solder on the bushing.
The beads of solder are going to be too big to put the bushing back into the hinge, so they will have to be filed down a little to allow them to fit.
Here are the bushings filed down and ready to go into the hinge.
Using the vice, squeeze the bushing back into the door hinge. Given the softness of solder, the solder beads will deform and give a tight press fit into the hinge taking up any slack from years of ware.
Reassemble the hinge and line up the holes for the pin to be inserted. Before inserting the hinge pin, put a thin coat of anti-seize on the pin to help make up for the slight loss of lubrication in the bushings. The pin has a knurl finish just below the head, make sure you reinstall the pins such that the knurls end up in the same location as they were originally. Usually the pin can be tapped back into place with a hammer.
As a final note – bushings are easy to find for rebuilding door hinges, the pins can be a little more difficult to find, at least that was the case for our Corvette. After measuring and specking out the pin and bushings, we sourced our own kit for rebuilding door hinges which can be purchased from our store front. Additionally this pin comes with an e-clip of which the groove is at the perfect location to lock the pin into the hinge and prevent it from backing out.
This is our method for rebuilding door hinges that will successfully pass a NCRS Performance Verification.