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We decided to replace the dash mounted crank that opens and closes the door on our MC-8. With the existing system, it required putting a padlock on the push to release button on the front of the bus to lock it. This was a real hassle when returning to the bus during a rain. Removal of the dash crank will also allow a larger instrument panel to be installed.
Our first and most important requirement for a different door latch was that it meets FMVSS (Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards) 206 for a passenger compartment. We also wanted a latch that had locking capability from both the inside and outside. Our last requirement was that the exterior handle assembly fit between the ridges in the stainless steel siding.
Here are a couple of important notes if your bus is a MC-8 or MC-9. and still has the original interior panel. Removing this panel requires the upper hinge to be unbolted. This door is very heavy. I opened the door and placed a floor jack under the outer bottom corner to support it. Before removing the hinge bolts, I removed the trim strips and drilled out all of the rivets. I made sure the panel was loose except where the upper hinge attached. I then unbolted the upper hinge and removed the panel. After removing the panel, I reattached the hinge. When I tried to shut the door it would not close. Without the thickness of this panel, the upper hinge is now out of alignment. I installed two 3/8” flat washers between hinge and door on each of the 6 bolts. This solved the problem. When we install our new interior door covering, it will not be under the hinge. This will allow us to remove the panel, if the need should arise without removing the hinge.
Before installing the new latch and handles, I installed a grab bar below the door window to allow us to pull the door shut. We used a brass handle to match our interior.
The first step was to install the rotary latch assembly in the door frame. The entire assembly installs inside the door frame with only a notch required to allow the door to close over the latch pin that is installed in the bus frame member. This notch was made by drilling a 1/2" hole at rear of the notch and cutting the notch with a 4” grinder using a cutting wheel. After cutting the notch, the assembly was held in place and three 1/4” holes were drilled for mounting bolts. Assembly was then installed using grade 8 bolts. Per catalog description, grade 8 bolts are required to meet FMVSS 208.
Next step was to install the exterior handle assemble. Because user is standing on the ground when opening door, this handle was installed lower on the door, just above the standard handhold that is on the bus. The area was covered with masking tape. This tape was left on until all cutting and fitting was completed. After measuring and rechecking all measurements, I drilled a 3/8” hole in each corner. A 4” grinder with cutting wheel was then used to connect the 4 corner holes. I prefer to use this method because a radius corner is less likely than a square corner to crack. This handle is held in place by a bracket that attached from the inside of the door.
The interior handle was installed immediately below the window because the user is usually standing on one of the steps when using the handle or lock. The interior handle has to be mounted on a piece of metal and this piece of metal then installed in the door. I used a small scrap piece of 4”X1/8” stainless steel flat stock that I had on hand. The handle and lock slide are attached to this piece of metal using the layout dimensions shown in the catalog. I attached the components to the stainless steel plate using 3/16” buck rivets in the existing component mounting holes. When installing this plate in the door, spacers may be needed, depending on the thickness of the door interior covering. Interior trim cover is not installed until interior door covering in installed.
The next step is to connect these components. Components are connected using rods and clips purchased with the other components. The rods are .219 “ diameter and come in 3’ lengths. They require a 90degree bend at the end to hook into the latch and handle assemblies. These are easily made by clamping the rod in a vise and bending the rod using a 3# hammer. After making the bend in 1 end, install and mark distance required to component. After making second bend on the rod, cut off excess using the 4” grinder with cutoff wheel. The rods are then installed using the clips. These clips are either left or right. Because I was not sure how many of each I would need when I placed my order, I ordered 10 of each. There are 2 rods from latch assembly to each handle assembly. One is for unlatching and the other is for locking/unlocking.
The last step is to install the striker stud (“Nader Pin”) in the bus frame. This requires a nut on the backside of the framing member. On the MC-8, this framing member has holes drilled on the inside for a bucking bar to set the rivets. These holes are about 2” apart. I used the grinder to cut the piece of metal between 2 of these holes. This gave me access to install the nut.
I removed the original outside aluminum weather strip retainer. We are going to install new weather stripping. I was very careful in measuring and re-measuring before drilling this hole. I was lucky, the pin was exactly where it needed to be. The pin was attached using a large washer and self-locking nut on the backside. If necessary, there is a “captive bolt” bracket that can be installed inside the framing member that will allow you to drill an oversize hole and then move pin to get final adjustment.
Last step was to remove the bar that connects the dash crank to the hinge. There is also a “Stop” rod that limits how far the door will open. This was left in place and readjusted to allow a wider door opening, yet prevent to door from opening to far and possibly damaging a hinge.
While we had the original interior door panel off we installed 2 layers of foam sheeting and used a can of spray foam to finish the insulation job. The entire door interior was insulated except where the assemblies and inter-connecting rods were located.
We now have a door latch that can be locked/unlocked from inside or outside, meets FMVSS 206 and fit between the ridges in the stainless steel siding.
CAUTION: if the inside lock is pushed before shutting the door, the door will be locked. Without a key, you will not be able to open the door. We plan to hide a key on the outside of our bus as a “just in case”.