As the years go by the wear and tear of the Land Cruiser continue. A while back driving off roads became less pleasant because my door increasingly rattled. First I thought it was the placement of the door striker, which is an easy fix:
- I get a screwdriver.
- I loosen the screws.
- I adjust the striker so that the latch will align properly.
- Now I tighten the screws again, very tight, and test if the door closes the way I want it to.
Most of the time this suffices and we have a rattle-free drive again. But this time it was a bit more complicated. After we had repaired the crack in the frame [read about it here], I had to realign the door again but I couldn’t get it to close as tight as I wanted it to. It kept having some play no matter how I moved the striker around. After inspecting the latch I noticed a significant play on the pivoting axle.
We had seen this before, which was in Bolivia. There had been two solutions: Getting a good mechanic to make a new brass bushing for that little axle, or buying a new lock latch assembly. We opted for the latter. The one on the driver’s side is four years old now, which is the Taiwanese aftermarket piece we bought in Bolivia. We had come across cheaper Chinese copies as well, but I think they are truly rubbish. On the passenger side sits an aftermarket piece we had bought from Cruiser Corps two years ago, and which I installed in Suriname.
In Search of a New Solution
It seems I had to find myself a good aftermarket piece. The question was where to find one? My best bet was to get it from the U.S. but the problem is getting it shipped to Peru for a reasonable price and, moreover, with minimal customs hassle. The last time I dealt with the customs guys it had taken me over two weeks to get two Imperial Black shirts out of bondage, and that was while dealing with a broker.
In the meantime our annual trip to the Netherlands came up so I decided to try my luck there. I contacted all my resources via email and came up with either OEM parts [incredibly expensive, but hey, they are original], secondhand parts [I didn’t want to go there] or aftermarket pieces that were half the original price.
Meet Rocco, the Land Cruiser Encyclopedia
I called Rocco. Who is Rocco, you might ask. Well, Rocco is a living encyclopedia of Land Cruisers, models, engines and parts. Before our departure in 2003 I worked on our Land Cruiser in his workshop, which meanwhile has substantially grown he told me on the phone, and I fully trust his opinion and mechanical knowledge. I don’t call him often, but when I do I will be sure to hang up with a solution. This time it was no different, although the solution is a temporary one but it will help me for a couple of months while I can see if it’s easier to source a new piece in Colombia or Venezuela.
The Solution for the Rattling Door!
Rocco told me to find a washer with exactly the inner size as the diameter of the pivoting axle of the latch lock. Then place the washer over the axle and weld it to the latch lock housing. Voilà, the rattling will stop as the movement of the axle is restrained by the washer which is holding it in place.
Thank you, Rocco, for that quick and simple trick! You can learn more about his workshop here.