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Hatch alignment


qz16

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Our project has dragged on way longer than I intended.  It is a 1973 240Z that we call "the bucket".  The car was completely stripped and has undergone a color change, and there was a fair amount of rust that had to be dealt with, so it should not come as too big a surprise that I am having trouble aligning the hatch.  I have new hinges.  The 240z had a single (shock absorber) lift support on the left side.  The alignment of hatch at the roof line is very close, but I need more clearance to close the hatch without damaging the paint.  The problem as I see it is that the hinges have a great deal of vertical play.  Because the original design call for a single shock absorber to lift the hatch the left side sits much higher than the right side when the hatch is open.  The result is that the hatch is actually tilted down toward the right (passenger) side.  I do not have any adjustment left on the right side.  Years ago I remember reading that someone added a second shock on the right side to prevent the hatch from twisting.  I have since found out that the 260z and 280z both had two lift supports, one on each side.  This makes perfect sense to me, given the issue that I am having in that the right side shock absorber will raise the hatch using the play inherent in the hinge.  I am hoping that it will give me enough clearance to clear the roof and then the weight of the glass will force the hinge play to be reduced when the hatch is closed.  

So, my plan is to add a second shock absorber to the right side.  In order to do this I need the bracket that attaches to the body that holds the shock absorber.  The original shock has a bracket attached to it with a rivet type pin.  This end attaches to the hatch.

So, If you have experience that indicates that my plan will not work - please share your thoughts, so I can move on to my next plan which I have as yet not thought up.

If you a 260z/280z RIGHT side bracket that you want to sell please contact me.  I only need the right side bracket, but would buy the whole setup if necessary.  The image below is of a left side bracket - I need the mirror image.  Thanks for your help.
 

hatch_bracket.jpg

Edited by qz16
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59 minutes ago, qz16 said:

Thanks for responding. No, I had the piston off, while adjusting.

Have you noticed that one corner of the hatch touches before the other? Possibly a warp in the hatch frame?  I don't have a photo of them but there should be to long thin shims that both hinge bolts go through on each side, are they installed?

Edited by grannyknot
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Thanks to both of you for responding. 

Charles,

The hinges are new, but they have a fair amount of vertical rise.  It may not be excessive and I do believe that the hatch may be warped/twisted, so I do not believe that it is the fault of the hinge.  With the piston install as possible, but in the middle of the hatch it is just too close to clear the roof.

grannyknot,

I do not have the long shims but I have used half shims ranging from 1/32 to 6/32 to no avail.  the issue is always the same, a couple of 32nds to close to the roof line.  When the hatch is closed, with the shims the gap between the top of the hatch and the roof is huge.  I know I could bring it in a bit with a shim behind the phillips head screws that hold the hatch to the hinge, but the issue is that I can not clear the roof to close the hatch without scuffing the roof paint.  I can't even begin to figure out how to delicately take any warpage out of the hatch and who knows what will happen when the glass goes back into the hatch.

 

 

regards,

ron

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Charles,

Good suggestion - thanks for the interest. I took a lot of shots of the hatch, but realized that your starting point and mine may be different.  To clarify I am not really concerned at this point with the gaps when the hatch is closed.  My first concern is to successfully close the hatch without damaging the paint at the roof line.  I did take snaps of the gaps in case I am missing something that they might reveal.  I do not have the latch hardware installed so the hatch is not shown fully closed.

hatch open roof line.jpg

In this image everything looks fairly good, but as the hatch closes the available space between the roof line and the hatch is reduced to the point where it just barely scrapes the roof, this is the area of concern in the photo that follows later on.

hatch open roof line 1.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

roof gap right side.jpg

 

 

 

So, with the hatch shock absorber installed (on the left side (standard for a 240z) the hatch is pushed upward with enough force to raise the hatch within the hinge.  This is actually helpful, I think, on the left side because it creates more clearance to pass over the roof line.  Unfortunately it does not affect the right side and so the clearance is less on the right side.  You can prove this by lifting the right corner up .  It rises approximately 3/16 of an inch, when lifted by hand.

 

roof gap left side.jpgroof left .jpg

 

 

 

roof right.jpg

 

 

roof area of concern.jpg
 

The taped area is the concern.  This is where the roof line is scraped as you close the hatch.

 

 

hatch left hinge.jpg

There are no shims installed on either hinge at this point.

 

hatch right hinge.jpg

 

 

hatch hinge lift.jpg

The image above shows the hatch open all the way.  I marked a line (bottom-short line) to indicate the height of the hatch.  I lifted the hatch and marked a second line (top-longer) to indicate the height of the hatch when lifted.  The difference is about 3/16 of an inch.

So, here is my thinking.

1. The shims behind the hinge single bolt head either side of each hinge move the hatch toward the rear of the car and away from the roof line.

2. Shims placed between the phillips head screws and the hatch move the hatch toward the front of the car.

3. The two larger head bolts on either side of each hinge adjust the resting position of the hatch, mostly up and down, and only slightly left or right if at all.

4. Raising the hatch (vertically) when it is in the open position is helpful because it creates clearance to avoid interference with the roof as it is closed.

5. the shock absorber(lift support piston) is stronger enough to lift the hatch vertically.  With only one piston on the left side only one side is lifted and the right side is driven downward.  The right side can't really move downward because it is at the bottom of the vertical travel of the hinge.  Obviously I have no facts to offer as the reason for Nissan adding a 2nd piston to lift the hatch on the 260z and beyond, but since the body of the 260z and the 240z are very similar in this area it seems worthwhile to try adding a 2nd piston to raise the open resting position of the hatch.

6. I was lucky enough to find a pair of 260z hatch lift support brackets and they should be delivered in the near future.

7. While waiting for the 260z brackets I will attempt to align the hatch in minimize the gaps in the closed position

 

Please do not worry about offending me.  If you have a better or more elegant solution, or experience that indicates the above thoughts are foolish please advise as soon as possible.  I am getting older by the minute and need to get the bucket on the road.

 

Thanks again, to all for your help.

regards,

ron

 

Edited by qz16
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If you can get the hatch closed without paint damage, post a picture of how the lower edge lines up with the rear of the car

 Also inspect the hinge tabs that are welded to the hatch. The welds can fail and the tabs can move, making adjustment more difficult

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hatch closed roof gap right side.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

hatch closed roof gap left base.jpg

 

 

hatch closed base.jpg

 

 

I am going to have to move the hatch toward the front of the car.  More on the right then the left, this i fear will only make the clearance issue worse.  I also hope that adding the weight of the glass will not impact the lift of the piston.

By inspecting the tabs I gather you mean remove the hatch completely or can i just take the screws out and get one hinge out of the way?  I guess I really need to look at both sides of the hatch tab.  Thats going to take a bit of time as I will probably need a second set of hands to remove and install the hatch.  I will post images of the tabs when I have them.

Thanks again.

 

edit:

Okay so I just took a look at the tabs and they are painted, which means they got a good look over when I sanded them before I primed and and sprayed color.  I am fairly certain that they are in good shape. I probably would not have noticed if they were slightly bent, but a bad weld would not have escaped me.

 

hatch closed roof gap left side.jpg

hatch closed roof gap right side.jpg

Edited by qz16
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So in this pic, is the tape you have on the rear roof edge getting marred or scuffed up by the hatch as it passes over it?  It is one of the tightest clearances on the body and as much as we all like to have perfect gaps on every panel the guys on the Datsun assembly line weren't so particular.

Great looking paint, did you do that yourself?

 

229291436_roofareaofconcern.thumb.jpg.bdd34ff03b682a37c835e835798d4d5e.jpg

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Yes, the hatch just nicks the roof where the tape is.  I don't need a lot of clearance at this point but you can see from the other pics of the closed hatch that I need to bring the hatch more toward the front of the car which will likely cause more of a clearance issue.  I would like to get the gaps to look good but I am not a perfectionist.  

And Yes I plead guilty on the paint.  It still needs a final buffing.  Thanks for the compliment.  I love to paint.  This is the 2nd car that I have done.  My first was a 1974 MGB, that I still have.  

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One thing is, the hatch may need to sit slightly higher then it does now. It will be close to the line it should be on but not perfect. The hatch could go forward a little more to line up better, but I have found it very difficult to get it right all the way around. 

Like grannyknot said, the cars weren't perfect right off the line. I am sure well restored cars are much smoother, straighter and better gapped than factory cars were.

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the problem is that there is no more vertical adjustment, using the bolts that hold the hinge to the body.  I suppose I could make the adjustment hole larger.  do you have a good way to do that or should I just use a drill or a round file?

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Just saw this and read through it.

The first question that comes to mind is, why didn’t you check and adjust the panels, doors and hatch before you painted the car? Panel and door fitment should be done during the bodywork phase of a restoration.

Now you have what looks like some serious mismatches. The hatch looks longer than the opening, hanging off the back of the car by a considerable margin.

Did the quarter panels get replaced?

 

 

 

Edited by Racer X
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I see the same thing as RacerX about the length of the hatch, or length of the car itself.  Just doesn't look possible to get the front gap right and have the back edge match the back of the body.  It is not possible.  Looks like the back end of the car has been worked on and it's not right now.  And it's not just the center of the hatch lid, the sides look right at the front corners, but the length of the side rails is too long for the car.  The car is too short.

Sorry to be so brutal.

These two things cannot coexist.

image.png

image.png

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I just saw this thread, and will be anxiously watching it.  I'm just slightly behind you with my 280z.  I had to fab a lot of patches on the liftgate itself, and to the rear of the right quarter, and to the lip across the top and right side.  I'm just now carefully attaching the new weatherstrip (which caused much of the rusting in the first place).  I'll try to help as soon as I get the last of the weatherstrip on and try to mount the liftgate.

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Pictures can be deceiving.  It's helpful to know how they were taken, and what the corresponding adjustments were when they were taken.  For example it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the hatch extends far beyond the fender.  In one of my posts I said: “I do not have the latch hardware installed so the hatch is not shown fully closed.” Because the hatch is not fully closed and because of the angle that the picture was taken the rear edge of the hatch  looks far worse than it is in reality.  Will it be perfect when I am done – I doubt it.  But the hatch rear edge will be close enough to matching the rear fender edge to satisfy most folks, at least in my house.



zedhead - Don’t worry about being brutal.  I will take positive advice from anyone whenever it is offered.  I am just trying to give the “bucket” my best effort, sometimes it is an iterative process.  

 This forum has been a tremendous help to me.  I have tried to post items that might help the next guy avoid a few problems or solve a problem faster than he/she might otherwise. For example I was unaware that the hatch lift strut actually raises the hatch vertically, when in the open position.  I think this might help the next guy.
 

Anyway, I have the parts coming that I need for a right side hatch strut.  This will allow me to prove/disprove that my issue can be resolved with a very slight vertical movement in the hatch open position.  Once I can close the hatch without worrying about the paint I can do the trial and error adjustments for the gaps.  I will post pictures, bad or good.  Some can trash the effort, and I am sure that some will help me figure out how to improve it.  Once I get the hatch right with the additional strut I can decide whether I want to get the vertical movement with the strut or by opening up the adjustment holes for the hinge.  I put this off because I dread making those holes larger, and because I still think introducing the 2nd strut with the 260z was an upgrade, certainly not just for aesthetics. On the other hand, part of me thinks that the 240z had one strut and the bucket is a 240z so it should have one strut.

 

Roberts280z – You have a little more extensive work on your project than was needed on mine.  The bottom of my hatch had the typical rust issues and I had some welding, patching and metal filling to do on it.  The left side of the bucket was fairly clean, the right side had a lot of work in the dogleg area and some in the lower quarter.  I could not find much help via the forums to align the hatch, but I am hopeful that this thread will ultimately turn into a procedure/process that helps others do it faster and better.  I look forward to your comments – thanks.  Let me know if you need a measurement.

 

Patcon & Grannyknot– As always, I appreciate your assistance – thanks.

 

Thanks to all for your help.

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2 hours ago, qz16 said:

 

Pictures can be deceiving.  It's helpful to know how they were taken, and what the corresponding adjustments were when they were taken.  For example it is easy to jump to the conclusion that the hatch extends far beyond the fender.  In one of my posts I said: “I do not have the latch hardware installed so the hatch is not shown fully closed.” Because the hatch is not fully closed and because of the angle that the picture was taken the rear edge of the hatch  looks far worse than it is in reality.  Will it be perfect when I am done – I doubt it.  But the hatch rear edge will be close enough to matching the rear fender edge to satisfy most folks, at least in my house.



zedhead - Don’t worry about being brutal.  I will take positive advice from anyone whenever it is offered.  I am just trying to give the “bucket” my best effort, sometimes it is an iterative process.  

 This forum has been a tremendous help to me.  I have tried to post items that might help the next guy avoid a few problems or solve a problem faster than he/she might otherwise. For example I was unaware that the hatch lift strut actually raises the hatch vertically, when in the open position.  I think this might help the next guy.
 

Anyway, I have the parts coming that I need for a right side hatch strut.  This will allow me to prove/disprove that my issue can be resolved with a very slight vertical movement in the hatch open position.  Once I can close the hatch without worrying about the paint I can do the trial and error adjustments for the gaps.  I will post pictures, bad or good.  Some can trash the effort, and I am sure that some will help me figure out how to improve it.  Once I get the hatch right with the additional strut I can decide whether I want to get the vertical movement with the strut or by opening up the adjustment holes for the hinge.  I put this off because I dread making those holes larger, and because I still think introducing the 2nd strut with the 260z was an upgrade, certainly not just for aesthetics. On the other hand, part of me thinks that the 240z had one strut and the bucket is a 240z so it should have one strut.

 

Roberts280z – You have a little more extensive work on your project than was needed on mine.  The bottom of my hatch had the typical rust issues and I had some welding, patching and metal filling to do on it.  The left side of the bucket was fairly clean, the right side had a lot of work in the dogleg area and some in the lower quarter.  I could not find much help via the forums to align the hatch, but I am hopeful that this thread will ultimately turn into a procedure/process that helps others do it faster and better.  I look forward to your comments – thanks.  Let me know if you need a measurement.

 

Patcon & Grannyknot– As always, I appreciate your assistance – thanks.

 

Thanks to all for your help.

I feel that adding a strut to the right side will not correct the problem.

This is because the problem isn’t where the hatch is while open, the problem is where it is when closed (or in the closed position since you don’t have the latch hardware installed yet).

You didn’t answer my question about the quarter panels. 
 

I also would be interested to know, is this hatch original to the car?

Did you replace or repair any of the structure around the hatch opening ?

How about the panel that the latch attaches to above the taillight support structure?

If this is the original hatch, and the opening hasn’t been changed in any way, then the only change has been the replacement of the hinges.

So, if that is the case, swap the new hinges out for the original ones, including any shims that may have been in the stack up (you did document what was there when you took it apart, right?). Then see if you still have a fitment issue.

 

 

Edited by Racer X
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Q,

Take that hatch off and don't put it back in until you have the glass and trim installed. Seriously. You may think it's better to fit and adjust with the glass removed, it's not.

Adding right side struts are a very good idea for a 240Z, but I'll be very surprised if that's the answer to your issue.

I'd look at the hinges again, angle of the hinge mount to the body, or angle of the flanges on the hatch itself. Have the welds broken on the hatch flanges on either side - or have they been re-welded at some point? (That issue came up not long ago at the shop...)

I would want the actual hinge (the point that rotates) to come up in the cavity - which would mean rolling the top of the bracket rearward and the bottom of the bracket close to the body (shimming the top, keeping the bottom flush against the body)).

My hinges have never been off the body - the "pin" is so far up in the cavity such that I can't reach it with my finger. The front arch of my hatch is like yours, it's "more flat" than the roof arch so when it's coming up  the center of the hatch is closer to the body line than the corners... I have a pretty consistent ~6mm gap at the top of the hatch, 5mm gap on each side (slightly wider at the bottom on the right side), and mine juts past the quarter sheet metal about a millimeter on the left and maybe 1.5-2mm on the right. (I could probably remove shims and get a tighter match at the rear and still clear the body but that's just too damn much work for a 70 year old...). I'll see if I can get an angle measurement on the hatch flanges when I get to the shop tomorrow.

Keep a couple layers of tape on the body and the struts off or completely out of the way until you have the hatch aligned - it's a two man job. (we use microfiber towels draped over any crucial body area until we're sure there isn't any contact point whenever we do hatches or hoods and/or keep all the edges covered with 3M Blue Masking Tape. Two men - watching each side, corner, and top gap as we move it up and down.

Edited by cgsheen1
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10 minutes ago, cgsheen1 said:

Take that hatch off and don't put it back in until you have the glass and trim installed. Seriously. You may think it's better to fit and adjust with the glass removed, it's not.

That's a good point.  Glass adds stiffness.  The hatch might be warping as he moves it up and down.

I'd also take some measurements just to see if those sides will ever fit in to the body correctly.  And, see if the top rail can be moved, squeezed downward.  Back to glass adding stiffness, and shape.  You might be trying to fix a problem that won't exist.

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CS,

I Think you have a great point about the glass.  I have been concerned about the effect of its weight, and form.  Also, the hatch frame may benefit (not very likely I suppose) from being locked in place against the weatherstrip.  Because the hatch is so much easier to handle without the glass and because the glass is 40+ years old and therefore fragile I wanted to at least get to the point where the hatch would open and close before installing it.  I’ve already got the second strut parts ordered.  They will be here in a few days.  You have helped me a lot in the years that I have been working on the bucket and I respect your experience,  but I have come this far and would like to see the impact of the second strut.  I don’t need a great deal of vertical help to clear the roof line, and the weight of the glass may negate the vertical lift gained by the strut.  You know as well as I that the 2nd strut is not the final solution even if it works.  If it works I am going to have to get the hinge higher in its mounting.  I don’t want to risk damage to the roof line or even the paint if the strut gets old and fails.  Once the hatch can open and close freely I will install the glass before going any further.

As always, thanks for your advice and experience.

Regards,

q

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