Are Your Suicide Door Deadbolts Killing You?
by Dick Zakrzewski
If you have suicide doors, you must use deadbolts to ensure the doors are not accidentally opened and blown off while driving. These deadbolts require a hole be drilled in the door jam for the deadbolt pin. The holes are dressed up a little with an ugly black plastic insert that is provided with the deadbolts. The problem with the plastic insert is that it's not designed to be installed in a fiberglass body. The locking mechanism that would pop out on the inside of the steel door jam is pushed into the bore when installed in a glass body, restricting entry of the deadbolt pin. Removing the locking mechanism won't help, because the inserts are too short for an effective press fit.
You could leave the plastic insert out of the glass body and just use a plain drilled hole, but that creates its own problems. Occasionally you forget to withdraw the deadbolt before attempting to open the door. This places a heavy side load on the pin and one side of the pinhole. Since it's difficult to close the door from this position, most of us force the withdrawal of the deadbolt pin. This practice will inevitably chip the paint around the hole. (See Photo #1.)
Streetrod Stuff has the perfect solution to this problem - polished aluminum grommets. Not only do they prevent the paint chipping situation, they also look better. (See Photo #2.) To install them in a glass body you just increase the size of the pinhole and tap the grommets in with a soft hammer. To install them in a steel body you increase the size of the pinhole, slide the grommets in place and lock them in place with the provided push nuts. The standard deadbolt takes a 5/16 inch grommet.
Note: When installing the aluminum grommets in a fiberglass body, be sure to chamfer the hole a little to relieve stress at the edge of the pinhole. This will prevent stress that could loosen paint at the edge of the hole when the grommet is pressed into place. Also reference my tech article Drilling Fiberglass is Tricky Business before you enlarge the existing pinhole.