Door Hinge Pin & Bushing Replacement
By Stephen Kassis
Worn out door hinge pins & bushings will cause misalignment of doors. This, in turn, will cause other door parts to wear out, like the strikers & dovetail wedges. It can even cause damage to paint and body parts if ignored too long. Good door hinge pins & bushings are vital to making proper door adjustments. This is especially important prior to doing paint & body work in the restoration of any vehicle.
GM cars & trucks started using bushings with door hinge pins in different years. In Chevrolets, the first time hinge bushings were used was in the 1932 model passenger cars. Chevrolet & GMC trucks did not use bushings until 1955 (Second Series) trucks. Prior to those production years, hinge pins were used without bushings.
The introduction of hinge bushings was a great improvement over the earlier standard of hinge pins by themselves. With this new design, the bronze bushing would take most of the wear and were easy to replace. This saved damage to the hinge itself and made rebuilding the hinges a much simpler process.
Check for worn or broken hinge pins & bushings by opening the door. Lift up at the end opposite the hinges and look for movement between the male & female pieces of the hinges. Any movement here will indicate worn or broken hinge pins or worn bushings. At the same time, be looking for loose hinge screws. This can also cause the door to sag and be misaligned. Tighten loose hinge screws and re-check the hinges. On wood bodied cars & trucks, sagging doors can be a sign of rotted wood.
Once it has been determined that the hinge pins & bushings must be replaced, mark the location of the hinges on the door post with a scratch awl or masking tape. This will aid in getting proper alignment when re-mounting the doors. Remove the hinge screws from the door post and remove the door from the vehicle. An impact screwdriver will be a great help in removal of slotted hinge screws used in early cars & trucks.
Remove the screws holding the hinges to the door and set the door aside in a safe place until ready for reassembly. Move the hinges to the workbench. Find a deep socket or section of small pipe that is large enough to accommodate the head of the hinge pin. If these hinges are the early style, without bushings, it may require heating the hinge to free the pin.
Open the jaws of a large vise wide enough to accommodate the hinge with the socket over the head of the pin. Snug the assembly in the vise. Heat the hinge with an acetylene torch until hot. Gradually put pressure on the pin with the vise until the pin breaks free. If the pin resists, do not continue until applying more heat. It is important that the pin is not “mushroomed” or it will not push through the hinge. Finish removal with a punch and hammer.
An alternative method would be to clamp the hinge in the vise and hammer the pin out with a brass drift and steel punch. Use caution not to damage the pin. In extreme cases, the pin may need to be drilled out.
With the pin removed, separate the two halves of the hinge. This will expose the bushings on the male or female half of the hinge. Tap the old bushings out with a punch. Each hinge will have two bushings – upper and lower. Tap in new bushings and assemble the two halves of the hinges.
New hinge pins may be longer than required. If this is the case, cut to the length required and grind a bevel on the end of the pin prior to installation. Lubricate with grease or oil and install the pin. Be sure to tap the pin down far enough to lock the knurled shoulder into place. This will keep the pin from rotating in the hinge.
With the hinge assembly completed, paint the hinge before installing back on the body.