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Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later
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Bills85Westy
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 18, 2016 5:37 pm    Post subject: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

This is the process used to extend the sliding door rear hinge to clear larger/wider tires on later vans. I thought I would share it for the benefit of others who would also like to make this modification.

Some Vanagon vendors used to sell the modified hinge. Even with the hinge, the track on the van will still need to be modified for this to work.

Some other threads on the Vanagon forum mentioned a guideline on the Brick Yard website, but the link is bad. Using internet archive, I was able to see this guideline and get a better understanding of the process, but the photos were small and difficult to really get a clear picture (no pun intended) of the various steps.

On my van, the tire barely rubbed the bottom lip of the door panel, but it was enough that I had to close the door if I wanted to move the van or drive with the door open.

This mod is for the late hinge. The late hinge is from chassis number WVWZZZ25ZFH000000 1985 model year onward. I've never personally inspected an early van so don't know quite how that compares.

There is a stop at the front of the sliding door track that causes the hinge to turn 90 degrees and bring the rear of the door into the van. The basic principal is that whatever dimension you want to extend your hinge, you need to move the stop towards the rear of the van that same distance. Searching threads, I read that people were extending hinges from between 1 1/2" to 2 1/2". I chose 2" because it would give me ample clearance for what I wanted. So, I needed to lengthen my hinge exactly 2" and I needed to move the stop backward exactly 2".

To do this, you'll need a spare hinge to cut apart and use. There are usually some for sale on the Samba Classifieds. I have a couple of parts vans so I pulled one from an 87. The are supposed to be the same, but I did find a difference......more on that later.

You'll need general hand tools, a grinder with cut off wheel, a blunt nose punch and hammer, a welder, & paint. I used a 4 1/2" Makita with thin kerf cut off wheel and second with a flap disc to clean things up. I also used a Dremel with small Forney cut off wheel to get in for the tight areas.

General steps were as follows.......
1. Remove the sliding door hinge cover. There are two phillips screws: one at the front and one at the rear accessible from underneath. Mine was really caked on with dirt. I wiggled the bottom in and out until it started to work it's way loose. I was able to use the heel of my hand to "hammer" upward on the bottom edge until it came loose. Set it aside.

2. Remove the interior door panel. There are two Phillips head screws at the rear of the panel and you need to remove the interior slider handle (also a Phillips head screw). I use a Restorer's Prybar because it has a thin edge to slip between the door and door panel to pry out. I place the prybar right next to the fastener and pry out till it pops. I also have a door panel removal tool, but like using the prybar better. Set it aside.

3. Remove the rear hinge. I used a 5 gallon bucket with various pieces of scrap lumber on top to support the rear of the door. There are two 13mm bolts accessible from outside the van at the rear of the door and one accessible from inside the door. Make sure the door is supported because it will come down in a hurry when you loosen those bolts! I also had to climb in and out from the front passenger door once I had the door loose. I had it open about 6" inches so the hinge would be perpendicular to the van and I would still be able to move the door to get access to the front bolt.

4. Protect your van! I used cardboard and red tape (I'm in the construction business and we use red tape a lot to protect because it holds well and doesn't leave a lot of residue behind). In this photo, you can see that I've protected all around the front of the track to be modified. You can also see where I've marked where I'm going to move the hinge stop back 2".
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

A general overview of the work area:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


5. Carefully remove the hinge stop and the rail.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

You will ONLY want to remove the part of the rail that it in the way to move the stop rearward. You WILL WANT to leave the bottom rail in place along with the attachment for the hinge cover. You will see in this photo that I cut the back wall of the rail down, but needed to come back later and trim it down further to accommodate the 2 guide roller chassis when it turns.

6. Once you get the rail out of the way and are ready to move the hinge stop backward, you'll realize that you've got some body work in the way. You'll need to "massage" the body where the stop needs to mount inward to accommodate the stop. For this, I used a alb hammer and a large non-hardened punch that I shaped into a blunt rounded shape. I was able to get the general shape I wanted in just a few minutes. The rail is welded to the van right at the this location and I created a small tear along the sheetmetail right at the rail. I used 3M seam sealer purchased from the local automotive paint supply house to seal along this tear.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

You will want to seal and paint this area before you weld the stop back into place. because this won't be accessible later.
If I was fully painting this van & had it stripped, I would probably have cut this section out of the donor an and reinstalled it here. There was no need for me to go that deep here....

7. You'll need to clean up the hinge stop to fit on your new modified rail. This is what the sandwich looks like welded together.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

and cut apart.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

I used a flap wheel to grind away the weld until I could see the joint between the two pieces and split the two pieces apart. I then cleaned it up so I just had the stop. I dry fit this onto the rail and made sure my clearances were still correct.

8. Clean the rail where your new welds are going to be. I spot welded the stop in place, checked my alignment and then came back and welded in between the spot welds. Not too pretty, but I got good penetration and it's strong.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


9. Extend the hinge. I used the front of my hinge and rear of the donor hinge. I suppose you could cut a hinge and add a section, but this was a lot easier and only required one weld instead of two. I use a Hobart 140 Mig solid wire with gas. Here is the hinge extended and welded together.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

I took my time grinding the weld and I use a flat file to do the final dressing so that the finish would be smooth. This is the one critical area where your poor (or good) welding skills will really show!

After I cleaned up my welds, I wire brushed, sanded and painted it.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Here is a view from the side showing how I trimmed back the rear rail wall to make more room for guide roller chassis.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


10. Clean up and paint your hinge. I used a regular satin anti-rust slow dry paint over autobody primer. I also took the opportunity to really clean up the rollers and other parts of the hinge. Luckily, all my rollers were in really good shape.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


11. Reassemble the hinge. Here is the hinge all back together and ready to reinstall....
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


12. Now it's time to put it all back together! Here is a photo fitting the modified hinge:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


You will want to make sure your have the back of the door exactly where you want it positioned as you tighten down those bolts. Mine went back in exactly the same spot. There were witness marks from the washers. I installed it right back into the same place.

I did run into an issue with the rear lock strike. The door opened and closed perfectly, but if I closed it fast, the rear of the door wouldn't seem to come in fast enough and I would get a rub on the strike bar bolted to the rear door jamb. It only occurred when closing the door fast. Some head scratching and looking at the 87 donor van showed me that VW apparently lengthened the strike at some point in production.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

The top (shorter strike) is the 85.
The bottom (longer strike) is the 87
After installing the longer strike, I haven't had any more issues.

My van was missing the flexible bumper in the stop, but the parts van had a serviceable one.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

Make sure you have all the proper bushings, washers and parts!

Here is a photo of the new clearance to the rear tire....
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


And a photo of the installed hinge with the cover reinstalled....
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


And overall.....
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I hope this is helpful to others in the future. I didn't find the work difficult, but there were a few times where I had to take some time to think through the steps to make sure everything was considered.

Also, remember to disconnect your battery when welding on your van!
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Eric_Taylor
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 2:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

Looking at options to fix the tire rub and came across this thread. Looks like a well done idea, but way above my abilities. Any adjustments folks recommend or is this the best option?
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Bills85Westy
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:45 pm    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

For options, you could look into wheel offsets, but with the tire size i'm running 225/75 R16 you are constrained between the flange on the rear control arm and the door. If you aren't running as wide a tire, a tire with a different offset can push the wheel & tire inboard & avoiding the rub.

I found Christopher with T3 Technique to be a wealth of knowledge and always willing to make recommendations.

Good luck!
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kuecker2
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:12 am    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

I am going to a 15" tire. And have an 84? It seems like the 84 does not need modification. Does anyone know if this is correct? EDIT: I added a photo. Does it look like this is sufficient clearance?
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Last edited by kuecker2 on Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:37 pm; edited 1 time in total
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ALIKA T3
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 10:32 am    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

kuecker2 wrote:
I am going to a 15" tire. And have an 84? It seems like the 84 does not need modification. Does anyone know if this is correct?


Correct, just extending the arm.
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Christopher Schimke
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:33 pm    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

ALIKA T3 wrote:
kuecker2 wrote:
I am going to a 15" tire. And have an 84? It seems like the 84 does not need modification. Does anyone know if this is correct?


Correct, just extending the arm.


And extending the strike point for the hinge pivot by a like amount. A long bolt with two nuts is all that's needed to do that.
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:35 pm    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

I need to do this modification as well.

Something to keep in mind when you make your measurements: the needed clearance will grow as you move the door farther aft (open). This would be for an extreme case.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Thanks for posting this thread!
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kuecker2
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:38 pm    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

Christopher Schimke wrote:
ALIKA T3 wrote:
kuecker2 wrote:
I am going to a 15" tire. And have an 84? It seems like the 84 does not need modification. Does anyone know if this is correct?


Correct, just extending the arm.


And extending the strike point for the hinge pivot by a like amount. A long bolt with two nuts is all that's needed to do that.


So the added photo is enough clearance do we think?
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xclemjustinx
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:53 pm    Post subject: Re: Sliding Door Hinge Modification For Tire Clearance 1985 & Later Reply with quote

Christopher Schimke wrote:
ALIKA T3 wrote:
kuecker2 wrote:
I am going to a 15" tire. And have an 84? It seems like the 84 does not need modification. Does anyone know if this is correct?


Correct, just extending the arm.


And extending the strike point for the hinge pivot by a like amount. A long bolt with two nuts is all that's needed to do that.


Do you have pics about this? I would love to get about half an inch for better tire clearance. Thanks.
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