Open Says Me!

AutoLoc's Remote Entry

What would our world be like without remotes? Can you imagine having to actually get up from your comfortable position on the couch or recliner to manually change the channel on TV? That's barbaric! That said, what's the last thing you think about after shaving the door handles on your car? Remotes! Granted, a wing window left ajar will allow access to those not willing to step up to the next level, but that leaves little to be said about the security of said car when left unattended. If you're looking for a "remote" entry system for your car, AutoLoc has the answer.

Being that my '53 had no side glass in it, entry was never a concern--driving in foul weather, however, was! As side glass will be one of the next items on the Chevy's to-do list, I figured that I'd better get some sort of entry system installed, so I began shopping around. Though I couldn't find a bad apple in the bunch, I was lured to the AutoLoc kit for its wide array of future options, like trunk, window, and even engine start activation. Though most likely designed for modern-vehicle use, the kit is very well suited for minimal function situations like ours, as the control module is very compact, and excess wiring can easily be disconnected (and just as easily reconnected later if need be).

With remotes come solenoids, obviously, and AutoLoc's provide enough pull to open the heaviest of doors. Without the side glass in, it was a breeze installing the solenoids; hooking them up with the existing door latch mechanism was a whole 'nuther story. While in many applications you can simply route the solenoid "pull" cable directly to a portion of the door latch, on these types of Chevys, the direction of the pull is rotated, which would mean the solenoid would have to be mounted pretty much where the vent support is. The solution is fairly straightforward--devise a pulley system that allows you to mount the solenoid in the lower rear door pocket (where it should be) and still have the cable pull from a horizontal angle. That aside, the remainder of the installation was an enjoyable experience.

We spent the better part of a day with Jimmy White at Circle City Hot Rods in Orange, California, to perform the install. Coincidentally, Dennis McPhail just happened to be in town with his friend, Jeff Myers, in tow. While Dennis was busy selling his soul in tattoo work, Jeff was just a casual observer, so we put him to work too! Our collaborative effort worked, resulting in a fine-tuned remote entry system (once we got a few bugs worked out, but you'll read about that in a bit).

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Though we would end up not using certain portions, we ordered the "deluxe" shaved handle/keyless entry kit, which included solenoids, remotes, door poppers, and bear-claw latches.

Early '50s Chevys have unique door latch mechanisms. In good working order and adjusted properly (like these), they operate just fine;

unfortunately, replacing them with bear claw latches is a time-consuming, tedious job, so we opted to keep the stock ones.

Keeping the stock latches also meant being able to retain the inside door handles, as well. Jimmy and Jeff devised a pulley system for the solenoid cables that would allow the solenoids to be mounted in the rear door pockets, yet have the cable pull from the front (and piggyback with the stock latch rod).

Kept well lubed (with aerosol white lithium), the stock latches work fine; it's the mating with the solenoid cable that can get a little tricky.

The solenoid itself was used as a template to drill the mounting holes.

When doing this, keep in mind that your outer doorskin is only inches from the inner--don't get carried away with the drill!

Once mounted, the solenoid will pull the cable perpendicular to the inside door handle rod. Now all we have to do is devise and incorporate a pulley system and modify the latch!

Theoretically, you could operate the stock latch with the solenoid without major modification, but as you will see, our plan made things work much easier in the end.

The existing pull lever was kept intact; it just received a small extension for which to attach the solenoid cable onto.

This modification did not affect normal operation at all.

At the local hardware supply, we picked up a pair of sealed-bearing aluminum rollers (screen door type) that were mounted to the inner doorskin right below the door pull rod (so as not to interfere with a door panel later). Directly below, a hole was drilled for routing of the cable and supplied cable housing.

Before the cable was secured with the crimp-clamps, we test-fired the solenoids with a spare battery to ensure everything worked properly (cable routing wouldn't bind, solenoids didn't blow pulley wheels off, etc.).

When crimping the cables, make sure you've got just enough slack so that the solenoids pull appropriately; in other words, don't tighten like guitar strings!

But be absolutely sure that the crimp-clamps are tight so your cable doesn't slip out after you've got everything all put back together!

Okay, now onto the wiring, which, depending on your personal standpoint, can be the easy or the hard part...for us, it was pretty easy. The bundle of wiring that Jeff is holding is what we "didn't" use (additional options), and they were completely removed from the module and stored for later use if ever needed. That single wire straggling off to the left is the remote sensor, which we recommend routing up along the A-pillar for best reception.

Once the "main brain" was weeded down to the necessary wires, strong dual-sided tape was used on the back...

...to mount it above the fuse panel under the dash (upper portion of the driver's side kick panel area).

For the relays (one per side), Jeff made up a compact aluminum mounting plate that allowed the relays to protrude into the kick panel rather than outward; this caused the upholstery panel to fit flush and not bulge. AutoLoc provides a variety of different wiring diagrams in the kit--just choose the one that best fits all the features you will be using.

When it comes to routing the wiring for the solenoids out to the doors, don't just use the old electrical tape and zip tie method--use a good-quality loom. We chose AutoLoc's "French Tickler"-style universal wire routers.

Also, when grounding the solenoids, for best operation, wire the ground directly to the battery ground terminal using a heavy-gauge wire!

Finally, go back through and double-check all your wiring connections, make sure everything is mounted securely, and ensure the solenoid cables are not binding and the crimps are holding tight. With all a go, you've now got a state-of-the-art keyless entry! You'll notice we didn't include the door poppers--for one, the doors opened sufficiently with the solenoids alone, but mainly because there wasn't room in the rear doorjamb. If you wanted, they could be better utilized in the forward doorjamb.

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