Everybody loves ‘em shaved. Yeah, I’m talking about door handles. Nothing sticks out like a sore thumb on a sweet Kustom than some big fat handles. Anybody can weld up the door, but it’s getting it back open that can be tricky. Back in the day the trick was using a wire cable and running out the bottom of the door, then came electric solenoids and hidden buttons. But in today’s world of high-tech electronics, the best solution is using a car alarm to trigger the solenoid from the remote control. As an added benefit, your ride will be protected against thieves who attempt to steal your pride and joy.
When choosing what system you want to use, you want to remember a few key elements: Are you looking for simple open-the-doors convenience or vehicle theft protection? Do you want to open only one door by remote or each door? How heavy are the doors; larger doors need bigger solenoids.
To answer the first question, there are 2 types of systems, keyless entry and full-blown alarms. Keyless entry systems are cheaper but lack the security features and usually only have 1 extra channel besides lock and unlock, which limits the number of doors that can be opened remotely. Full-blown alarms have all the convenience of keyless, plus all the security features such as shock sensors, motion sensors and sirens to protect your vehicle. In addition, top-quality alarms have lots of extra channels, meaning you can control many different features on your ride by remote, power windows, run your airbags, and pop the doors. The second is easy, Autoloc offers solenoids with up to 75 lbs of pull to open even the most stubborn of doors.
To demonstrate how this works, we installed a Viper 5000 security system in a 1949 Chevy Deluxe and shaved the handles. This alarm has all the bells and whistles and features an LCD 2-way remote control so the car can tell you if it is being stolen- from up to ½ mile away. The solenoids are of the 75-lbs variety from Autoloc. Follow along and you to can be shaved.
1. The process begins by first removing the door panels. The window cranks and handles are held on with small U-clips. This special window crank tool makes it easier to pull these clips. A simple hook & pick set will get the job done, but it’s easier this way.
2. Once the panel is pulled, the handles need to come off. On the ’49, there is a small clip holding the handle on. The weather stripping needs to be pulled back slightly to gain access to this part.
3. Using a flat-blade screwdriver, slide the clip back until the handle comes out. Slide the clip back in place once the handle is out. Be careful not to damage the stripping during this process. A little 3M weatherstripping adhesive can be added to keep the stripping from hanging loose.
4. Locate the solenoid so that it will operate free and clear of all the window and door mechanisms. The cable should run as straight as possible to the latch and not rub against anything. Use a small plastic tube to protect the cable in the event it must rub.
5. Mark the holes in the supplied bracket and drill the holes. The doors on the ’49 are heavy so 75-lb solenoids from Auto-Loc fit the bill. Small doors can be popped with simple power door lock actuators.
6. Mount the bracket inside the door using the supplied bolts. Use lock washers or a little dab of threadlocker to make sure the bolts don’t come loose, reducing the solenoids ability to pop the latch.
7. Drill matching holes in the door jamb and door frame for the wires to come out. The solenoid can be grounded at the door, so only a small hole is needed for the (+) trigger wire.
8. Anytime you are running a wire through a metal hole, installing a grommet protects the wire from chaffing and eventually shorting out, causing a fire.
9. The solenoid kit comes with a length of cable and ferrules to secure it. Loop one end to the solenoid and slide the ferrule down and use a set of crimpers to secure the cable. Make sure this crimp is tight, or the cable will slip. You can add a second ferrule as a back up if you are unsure.
10. Once the solenoid is mounted in place, run the cable to the latch. Loop the cable and crimp the ferrule as before. Make sure the cable has a little slack to allow for flex while driven so the door doesn’t open. Also be careful that the cable doesn’t interfere with the latch and cause a bind.
11. We cut some small discs from some scrap 16 ga sheet metal and held them in place with a small magnet. Note the orientation marks, these help keep the disc in the correct position while setting up the weld.
12. Using the flux-core mig, we tacked the discs in place. A few tack welds will do the trick; a big bead will just warp the door.
13. Once all the welding is done, a grinder with a 36-grit roloc pad takes the welds down so the door can be smoothed. Again, be careful not to heat it up too much or the metal will warp.
14. The welds are ground smooth and ready for body filler. The patch panel will sit just below the surface of the door, so a coat of body filler will be needed.
15. The body filler is spread on top to bottom and side to side, pressing in making sure the small gaps left by the welds are filled.
16. Using a DA sander and some 120 grit, the body filler is smoothed out to the door. It may require a couple of applications of body filler to get a smooth finish.
17. After the DA is done, finish the repair with some 120 grit and water. This helps get a smooth finish and will show the waves and dips that need to be reworked.
18. Once the repair is smooth, tape off the door and spray on some self-etching primer. A rattle-can high-zinc primer will do the trick and keep the rust away.
19. All done, isn’t she clean all shaved and smooth?
20. We wired the solenoids to an alarm system on an auxiliary channel. Using the Viper alarm, the doors pop open effortlessly. This can also be done with a basic keyless entry system or even a hidden button (which is not very secure, however).
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).