A few weeks ago over 50,000 of you read my story about How are car doors made and why the driver side door of my 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee refused to lock. Multiple tack welds had broken, and a huge hem flange had failed, resulting in a crack and screwed up my door so much that the latch no longer aligns with the striker. Now my Jeep is fixed thanks to a professional welder; Here’s what he did.
I consider myself a frontier welder. I am very good at welding structural part like Frames, since they don’t have to look pretty and I don’t have to worry about piercing through thick metal. But when it comes to sheetmetal that makes mine Rare 1993 Jeep Grand Cherokee Five-Speed doors – you can forget about it; I am out of my depth.
Luckily, a Jalopnik reader named Dan is a welding genius. He and I met at an unapproved Jalopnik meetup of mine at a Troy, MI Walmart parking lot (there’s another one coming this Friday — Detroiters, join facebook page), and after reading my story, he offered to take a look at my bad door.
Here are some pictures of the failure, for reference:
The hem flange was split almost all the way to the front edge of the door:
So, I unwrapped the electrical connector for the speaker (not the locks and windows, because remember, this magic machine has Crank window and manual lock), and removed the four small bolts that held the A-pillar door in place. That was all it took to close the ridiculously-heavy door.
I locked in my Jeep J10 pickup, and, during the meetup, slammed the door into Dan’s awesome Mercedes diesel wagon. A few days later, Dan called me and said he was done. He had done a great job.
What he did was actually quite simple. My plan, if I had done it myself, would have been to raise the door while still on the vehicle, and then try to shove some small nail welds into place, however things would have been really tight. My biggest concern was heating the paint on the outside of the door; That was the main reason why I decided to complete this project.
Dan took care of him by holding the wet towel Outside the door while tackling the inside. First, though, she had to make sure everything was organized, so she “friction jack“
Also called a “monkey-on-a-stick”, it is basically just a large rod with a jack mechanism running along it. Various attachments allow the tool to be used for pulling and pushing, with the tool’s primary use being to align the body and frame parts of the vehicle.
With the monkey-on-a-stick pushed into the speaker hole so that one end was pushed onto the door’s sheetmetal near the jamb, and the other end was against the speaker hole, Dan lined up the red like this That all the gray unpainted metal was hidden, meaning that the part was now perfectly aligned.
Then Dan poked the door with some small welds that had penetrated deep enough but not far enough to ruin the exterior paint, which was again being protected with a damp cloth.
The results may not be pretty (the welds are tiny spots), but they are effective.
I hit the door with some touch-up paint (Dan had primer applied) From the local parts store, and things were looking good:
Here’s what the door jamb area looks like today:
My friend Brandon generously took care of door alignment when I was on a conference call; He moved the striker around and removed the shims found between the door and the hinges on the A-pillar – shims That he thinks may have been made up for by the previous owner for procrastination. Without shims, the door’s pin-striping lines match perfectly with the back door:
There was little damage (a crack in the metal) in the latch area when the peg door was continuously hit by the striker on the B-pillar. I modified it with a reinforcement plate, which is held in place by the stock by three latch screws and three rivets:
The top of the door doesn’t kiss the outer weather bar quite like I’d like, but it’s close. Maybe I should just close the door and try to turn it in a little bit:
The door opens and closes beautifully, and just feels Solid. Dan did an extraordinary job.
On the phone he told what he did. “[I] pushed [the door to] Where all the paint lines lined up, and took the paint off the ground so I could weld it, and tackled it, and then weld that big hole,” he told me. “You could see where the pop rivet came out, so it was like a hole.” (I think he is referring to the nail weld that broke).
The way he described it, it was clear it was a small task for Dan, though it would have made me sweat. This should come as no surprise, as Dan has been welding and wrenching for several decades. He told me he started out with a bicycle pick up trash, then a lawn mower, and then studied auto body repair after high school. After serving in the military for four years, he began doing prototype work for a supplier, and then became involved in “welding stuff on cars”.
“I’ve made some really cool cars by hand,” he said. he has done some welding work a ’39 Cadillac La Salle Sea-Hawk’, they “basically welded” [rusty] frame back together on a 1964 Corvette”, and he tells me he’s currently working on a 1966 Chevy Nova and a 1926 Ford Model T. “I’ve done countless Mustangs… Used to make roll cages. ,” He told me.
The guy knows what he’s doing, and – when it comes to welding sheetmetal – I sure as hell don’t. These were the best $100 I’ve ever spent (note they only asked for 50). Dan is a man.