We've come a long way since the days of shaving our car's door handles off and then having to leave the wing vent windows cracked in order to open the doors. Technology brought us the "keyless remote entry system" a few years back, but it took companies like AutoLoc to make an affordable and easy-to-install system. Besides, if you own a car built after the very late '60s, you most likely don't have wing windows at all.
We all know there have been solenoids cleverly adapted to pop doors open since the '40s, with a foot-operated button under the running boards or in some other brilliant hiding place, but now we can stand up to 300 feet away, push a button on our key ring, and presto, the doors fly open. In addition to that, we can program the trunk, power windows, and ignition to work with the same little remote. Did we mention the car alarm is in there, too? Before too long we will simply have to think the doors open. Anyway, that's another story to do later down the road. So for the here and now let's take a close look at Autoloc's remote entry system.
No matter what you drive, Autoloc has a kit for it. With the vast array of solenoids offered, there isn't a door or latch that can't be remotely operated. It's a simple procedure only requiring a drill and some simple hand tools. Special attention needs to be taken when installing the solenoids, with respect to the window and regulator, speakers, and the interior door latch, handle, and connecting rod. As long as everything clears, and the pull-cable does not rub against anything, there's no need to worry. Don't be too concerned about the wiring, either, as it's less work than installing a car stereo. Besides, think how smooth your ride will look crusin' down the street without those old-fashioned door handles interfering with the lines of the body. In this day and age, why are door handles even engineered onto cars? Well, until they finally do away with them, we're fortunate there are companies making do-it-yourself kits.
There is also the security factor without door handles. Of course, if someone wants the car, they'll get it, but for the average thief looking to open your car door to steal the change in your ashtray or the stack of CDs between the seats, rest easy knowing he'll pass your car up, thinking, damn that car looks cool without door handles. Don't laugh, he might still pass up the opportunity to rip you off because he couldn't figure out how. Well, so much for the security aspect, but take a look at how easy this can be accomplished on our donor '94 Camaro and how cool-looking the results are.
When doing the shaved-door-handles portion of the project, the first step to is to remove the door handles and interior door panels. We don't even need to mention how important it is to remember how everything came apart-that will prevent many headaches when it's time for re-assembly.
Next, you will need to remove the interior handle and rod. The cable from the solenoid will be attached to the handle itself instead of the mechanism. On older cars, the cable would run from the solenoid directly to the mechanism. To save space and because of its design, the inner door handle is the perfect place to attach the cable.
Next, pick a location for the solenoid. It is important to position the solenoid in a place that will not interfere with the other moving parts. Also, the straighter the angle between the latch and solenoid, the better. If you are unable to mount the solenoid with a direct pull, it may be necessary to use the cable housing to redirect the cable to the solenoid.
Locate the lever on the back side of the interior handle and drill a small hole next to the pull rod. That way when the solenoid pulls on the cable, it in turn pulls the lever, opening the door just like the handle does.
Slide the aluminum crimp onto the cable, through the new hole in the handle's lever, and back through the crimp. There should be plenty of length in the cable to reach. Attach the cable to the solenoid in the same fashion leaving a slight amount of slack in the cable.
For the safety release button, find a protected, unseen, yet easy-to-get-to position. This is the emergency button just in case your remote is lost or its battery dies.
The control box and relays should be mounted where they can stay dry and secure. Under the dash is a good spot if there is enough room. As in the case of this Camaro, this spot should do nicely.
Notice how clean the installation is done here. The easier it is to see what's going on with the wiring, the better. Down the road if something needs to be replaced (relays do go bad), everything will be easy to see and get to.
After you have removed the outer handles, use a grinding wheel, or disk with a heavy grit, to deeply scratch the surface. Some newer cars have plastic or fiberglass composite outer skins (like this Fourth-Gen). Grinding deep scratches into the door will make the fiberglass and filler bond properly to the door skin. This is also important to do even when the door is made of sheetmetal.
Carefully cut the fiberglass sheeting to fit the door handle holes. Don't mix the resin up until you are ready to apply as it will harden quickly.
It's a really good idea to wear gloves at this point for obvious reasons. The fiberglass will stay wet just long enough to move into position. Notice the resin will drip all the way down the door unless precautions are taken, like paper and tape. You do not want the resin sticking to anything.
A nice big grinder will take the high spots down quickly. You won't need to sand the fiberglass completely smooth, just enough to knock the rough stuff down.
At this point it is time to smooth out and straighten up. Kitty Hair is perfect for fiberglass work because it's basically plastic filler with fiberglass hairs mixed in. It works great on sheetmetal too.
Always sand on a 45-degree angle. Enough said!
After the rough sanding is complete, feather the edges and knock down the deep sand scratches. A good filler primer will fill the scratches, and when properly blocked, leave you with a perfectly smooth finish ready for paint.
If your door has trim, like this one, it will make a perfect line to mask from, saving you from repainting the entire door. Presto-change-o, it's like they were never there. Not bad for a kid, huh?