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Danger Doors

November 17th, 2009

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Suicide doors have long been a staple of the custom hot rod and truck communities. Crew cab trucks are perfect candidates to receive the suicide rear door treatment.


ST-0908-DOORS-leadOEM-Style Suicide Doors with Ekstensive Metalworks and Grant

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Suicide doors have long been a staple of the custom hot rod and truck communities. Crew cab trucks are perfect candidates to receive the suicide rear door treatment. The usual route customizers take is to weld in a set of 90-degree metal hinges and pockets into the jambs for the suicide doors to use. Depending on the setup, the doors might hit the bedsides if opened too far. Fitment is always tricky, and the strength of the hinges can sometimes be suspect. Since GM introduced the third (and now fourth) extended cab doors, utilizing factory suicide hinges has become a possibility when making suicide doors. This was the idea that Ekstensive Metalworks in Houston and Tim Donelson had for Tim’s ’08 Silverado. They would create a set of OEM-style suicide doors using entirely stock components. The doors would not only open up nearly 180 degrees, but they would also utilize the extended cab latches, which means that the B-pillar could be completely removed. A wrecked extended cab was picked up for donor parts. They flew in Bob Grant from Grant Kustoms to head the project and make use of his sheet metal expertise to chop up the cabs and graft the extended cab pillars, hinges, latches, and jambs onto the crew cab.

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Bob Grant from Grant Kustoms starts by cutting the rear pillar of the crew cab using the rain gutters and seams in the back wall as guides. Putting right angles into the cut and using the lines as guides will help with alignment when welding up the new pillar for the extended cab.

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The extended cab pillar, complete with factory suicide-style double hinges, is cut from the donor junkyard cab and test fit onto the truck. The doorjamb section is cut from the truck, keeping the edge of the inner door panel intact. This will keep the integrity of the door solid until the new jamb is welded on.

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The jamb is cut off of the extended cab donor door, but this time on the inside of the edge, so that the two pieces can be overlapped and then cut for better alignment.

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The new pillar and doorjamb are quickly tested for fitment without installing the hinges. We found out that the curve on the extended cab and the crew cab is slightly different. We’re not sure why the engineers at GM did this, but the difference must be corrected. These are the hurdles one has to overcome when innovative customizing work is done. They solved the problem by trimming the middle of the door skin edge to match the curve, and then reusing the top section of the crew cab to make sure everything lines up and fits properly when finished.

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A piece of conduit is bent to match the contour of the door, and gussets are welded on order to keep the shape of the door before removing it to weld in the other doorjamb.


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The new doorjamb is screwed onto the rear door. The edges are hammered and massaged into place.

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Once fully positioned, a cut-off wheel cuts along the inside edge of the new jamb.

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The jamb is cut off of the extended cab donor door, but this time on the inside of the edge, so that the two pieces can be overlapped and then cut for better alignment.

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The new doorjamb is welded into place. Use a screwdriver and hammer to keep the metal aligned while it is tack welded.

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In order to clean up and strengthen the gap where the edge of the door was cut down to fit the curve of the new pillar, the door skin is cut away in preparation for a replacement piece.

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Bob searched around the Ekstensive shop and came across some scrap sheet metal with the perfect bend he needed for the replacement piece. The metal is pie-cut to match the contour and welded up using a sheet metal vise grip to keep it in place. This piece will not only clean up the door’s edge, it will also strengthen the cut door skin.

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Small gussets are cut and welded inside of the door to the new jamb. Going low off of the brace will keep it out of the way of the window. This doorjamb will be carrying the weight of the door, so making sure it is nice and strong is paramount.

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The door is bolted up with the new hinges. The stock extended cab hinges are dual action and can open the door anywhere up to nearly 180 degrees. Final alignment won’t be done until all of the jambs and latches are installed.

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The latch side jamb of the extended cab is cut out and trimmed up. The crew cab is cross-braced with tubing before the B-pillars are cut out.

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The latch jamb is test fit in the same way as the other jamb. This jamb extends the inside of the door out a little bit and has latches on the top and bottom that allow the B-pillar to be completely removed.

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Because the new jamb extends beyond the existing door, the only areas that will be cut are where it will meet with the outer door skin. This way, the old inside doorjamb can be kept intact for structural purposes.


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Tim Donelson, the owner of this soon-to-be-insane crew cab, cuts off the edge of the door that will be ditched in exchange for the latch jamb.

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The door edge and the donor jamb are tacked into place.

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The overlapping areas of the jamb are hammered into position and tacked up. Here is the stock seatbelt section from the extended cab truck that can most likely be reused in place of the B-pillar seatbelt that has been removed.

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The rest of the jamb is worked into place and tack welded together.

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Filler pieces will be cut and welded up to fill the gap between the crew cab inner door panel and the new latch jamb. The fillers are in the areas near the latches and the handle as these will be the areas seeing the most amount of stress. A paper template is cut out before the sheet metal is cut.

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The top filler piece is ground flush with the doorjamb to ensure plenty of clearance for the latch mechanism.

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Here are both of the filler pieces bent and welded into place. Take care to keep the pieces in line with the layout of the inner door panel so that they won’t interrupt any of the mechanisms.

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The rear door is hung back on the cab in order to line up the striker for the front door. The striker is unbolted from the discarded B-pillars and bolted to the latch jamb. The front doors will now latch to the rear doors in the same way as the stock extended cab doors.

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The lower striker section is cut from the donor extended cab

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The lower area where the new striker will be placed is cut out to make room. The best way to line the latch up is to latch it to the door and close it before marking the position on the cab. It is offset slightly to the rear of the old B-pillar and tack welded in place.


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Drill out the spot welds on the upper striker piece from the roof of the donor cab.

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The metal in the same space on the crew cab that the old B-pillar used to be attached to will also need to be drilled out.

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Some of the metal is trimmed out of the way to make room for the new upper striker.

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The upper striker is latched to the door and the door is shut in order to determine exactly where the piece needs to be mounted.

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The upper striker is spot welded into place on the crew cab.

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Tim and Bob begin to fine tune the alignment of the door by adjusting the hinge bolts at the rear.

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With the door fully latched, a gap is apparent at the top of the door towards the rear. The bolt holes in the hinges are enlarged slightly to make up the difference.

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The door became tweaked a bit toward the center, so a little bit of “caveman” fabrication and elbow grease is used to get it all to line back up.

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Bob Grant stands back, checks the gaps and admires the week’s worth of work. The gaps are nearly perfect and can be fine tuned during bodywork. The rear door functions like an extended cab, and the doors latch easily with a simple click.

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With all of the fitting done, the final step will be to fully weld up all of the doorjambs and trim any leftover metal. In order to brace the cab since the B-pillar has been removed, tubing is welded into the channel on the floor of the cab and kicked up along the back wall.

 

Source Box:
Grant Kustoms
530.532.7832
www.grantkustoms.com (http://www NULL.airaid NULL.com)
Ekstensive Metalworks
Dept. STTR
1804 Sunny Dr.
Houston, TX 77093
281.442.1050
www.ekstensive.com (http://www NULL.ekstensive NULL.com)

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