Friday: gateway to tinkering with stuff

It’s Friday! And it was payday at Nameless Employer, which means a small group of us go for Thai food at lunch.

Which has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with what I did when I got home after work.

Despite the heat (upper 90s here in Houston today), I was determined to get to confirm the cause of a rattle in the right front door speaker of my truck. Which meant I needed to pull the door panel.

Sounds intimidating, doesn’t it? I was actually taking apart (some of) my truck right there in the fading light of Friday night, out in my driveway (Leviathan the truck won’t fit in the garage: he’s too big).

Well, it so happens this isn’t the first time I’ve had the door apart, so I knew all I needed to do was pull off the cover over the mirror mount (spring clips), the switch panel for the window/power lock (spring clip, two wiring connectors), the lens over the courtesy light (small tab), the courtesy light bulb (ouch, hot), then the door panel itself (two screws with an 8mm hex head and a number of drop-in clips, undo the socket for the courtesy light with a 1/4 turn), and the panel is off.

Not so bad, see? Took less than 5 minutes.

Yep, the speaker is blown. After 11+ years and 260,000 miles, the foam between the cone and the frame is separated.

I’ve picked out a speaker I want to put in there, but A Long-Established And Trusted Source For Stereo Bits says it won’t fit in the door, but will fit in the same size opening in the C-pillars behind the back seat. The speaker said Trusted Source says will fit in the front is somewhat less deep than the one I want. The difference in depth? All of 1/16 of an inch. 0.0625 inches. Kinda silly to cut it that finely, I thought. So I measured. It’s 2-1/2 inches (2.5″)to the window guide rail (the nearest obstruction). The chosen speaker is 2-3/8 inches (2.375″) deep. The recommended speaker is 2-5/16 inches (2.3125″) deep. Which means either one will fit.

Gonna have to call those guys tomorrow, I guess.

But… while I was inside the door…

I have a piece of door glass from a later model year of my truck, given to me by a friend and fellow engineer who also is one heck of a tinkerer — but more to the point, he was also the engineer on the window and door mechanisms on the truck. The later model year glass is slightly thicker than the glass that came in my truck. Which means it’s slightly quieter inside the truck. I’d done the driver’s side a while back when I had a reason to get into it, but hadn’t done this door yet.

This was considerably more fiddly, mostly because I couldn’t remember what I’d done on the other door more than 2 years ago — and I didn’t want to remove the window regulator (the bit that raises and lowers the glass), unlike the other door, where replacing the dead window regulator was why I’d gotten in to the door in the first place!

I did eventually get the old glass loose from the regulator with the aid of a 10mm socket on an extension and a small hammer. No, not to break the glass, but to knock the brackets loose from the regulator, where 11 years and 260K miles of togetherness had made them loathe to part.

Putting it all back together was simply the reverse of taking it apart.

You’ll note that nowhere in this process did I consult a shop manual. This is partly because I don’t actually own a shop manual, or even the electronic version of same, for this truck, but mostly because I really didn’t need it. There are a limited number of ways one of these things can be put together, and the first time, I just used a bit of logic and a bit more trial and error to figure it out. Hint: both of the little screws that hold the door panel on are hidden when the assembly is complete. One’s visible when after you pull the window/lock switch panel, the other is hiding way down low behind the courtesy light lens. Took me a while to find that one the first time.

And all this ties into one of my favorite of the 50 Dangerous Things: disassembling appliances. Okay, a truck’s door isn’t exactly an appliance, but it is a piece of machinery. And it can be taken apart, without damaging it, to examine its innards and explore, for example, how the window lift works, or how the door handles connect to the latch.

For the adventuresome who want to try this, but don’t want to work on their own car’s door, pick up a door from a similar model car at a salvage yard. You can sometimes find them for under $100 if they have outer sheetmetal damage. Bring it home, take it apart — without destroying it. And there you go: you learned something, and now have some spare parts for your car (if you got a door from the same make/model as your own car) if there’s a problem down the road. Haul the remains to your friendly neighborhood scrap metal dealer (we have one here in Houston that pays out in $2 bills), where it goes into the recycling stream, and Bob’s your uncle.

It’s only a mystery if you keep it that way yourself.

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