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Don’s Restoration Notes #5
Door Safety Latches
By Don S. Harmer
ave you ever had a door on your “T” open
accidentally at 60 mph with the side curtains in place?
Broken hinges, dented fender, demolished side curtain
are among the things that happen in a split second. All
sorts of tricks have been tried, including chaining the
two doors together, to prevent this disaster from
happening. Since I had the above experience in the
‘60’s in my TF, I have been gun-shy ever since and
looking for some safety catch to prevent this disaster.
Blair Engle makes an excellent safety catch of
stainless steel that fits at the lower corner of each door.
A number of T-vintage racers use this excellent catch,
however it is visible when installed. I wanted something
less obtrusive, but would have settled for Blair’s catch
if nothing else turned up.
I discovered at Ace Hardware a 2-in, chrome-plated,
surface bolt made by National Manufacturing Co.,
Stirling, Ill. (#152-249) that looked ideal. The bolt fits
below the regular latch and blends in with it (see
picture). The two mounting screws (under the bolt)
screw through the trim panel and into the wooden door
frame. just drill appropriate holes for the screws. You
may have to drill a clearance hole just barely through
the sheet metal of the door or the anchor plate for the
regular latch. Mount the bolt with about 1/8-in
clearance below the latch and parallel with its’ bottom
Mounting the striker plate is somewhat more
difficult as it has to be positioned to match the bolt
rather closely. Close the door and insert the bolt
through the plate. hold it in the correct place as you
carefully retract the bolt and open the door. (An extra
pair of hands is extremely helpful at this point) mark,
center punch, and drill the holes for the flat-head
screws. You may wish to use #6 flat-head sheet metal
screws so drill the holes accordingly #36 drill). Getting
these holes in the right place is the most difficult part of
the operation. Fasten the plate in place, and try the bolt -
it may fit easily through the hole. If not, try carefully to
file the hole to fit. Do not take off any more metal than
necessary, the friction of the bolt on the striker plate
will keep it from vibrating open. (You may need to use
a tiny bungee to keep in place if too little friction)
I also used a metal cable clamp (c-shaped) behind
the striker plate to keep the bolt from snagging on the
kick-panel. This provided a half inch deep slot for the
bolt under the kick panel. I found that beveling the front
edge of the bolt allowed it to self center in the striker
plate and made the bolt easier to close. The bolt is easy
to file as it is made of brass.
The whole door latching operation is much easier if
the door hinges are not worn and are solidly bolted in
place so the door doesn’t sag. Getting the door latches
to align and catch properly is straight-forward but a lot
of work, more on this operation later. After installing,
the safety catches work smoothly and keep the doors
solidly closed. They provide an additional sense of
security when driving with the “suicide” doors of the
early MG’s.
The Southeastern MG T Register
The Southeastern MG T Register, Ltd.
A Local Chapter of the New England MG T Register, Ltd
An Overseas Centre of the MG Car Club, Ltd.
An Affiliate of the MG Owners Club, Ltd.
Volume 13 Number 10 October 1988


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