Armstrong Siddeley Utility Door Hinge Maintenance
by Brian Watt

Armstrong Siddeley station coupe and utilities were fitted with two self centering exposed hinges per door.

Near the end of Hurricane production it appears the factory used the same hinges on that model in lieu of the concealed, single piece double brass hinge used from the start of production in 1945. I am unaware of the reason for the change but perhaps it was to use up those utility hinges which must have been seen by then to be surplus to requirements.

Owners and restorers of utilities, and late Hurricanes, may be interested to know the hinges are easy to restore.

If you have dismantled your car the first thing to note is that the hinges are handed. They are marked on each hinge wing VR or VL. Hinges marked VR are fitted on the right hand side of the car and hinges marked VL are fitted on the left hand side of the car as viewed from the front of the car. VL hinges, therefore, are fitted to the driver’s side on right hand drive cars.

Both top and bottom door hinges on each side are the same.

The hinges comprise a frame wing and a door wing, an oval head bolt, a cone or olive, a coil spring and lock tab and nut.

The door wing forms the top part of the hinge and is the moving part of the hinge. There is a tapered hole in the pivot on this wing and the oval head bolt is fitted into this

The frame wing supports the olive and through that the weight of the door. The photograph shows a hinge from the right hand side of the car photographed from the rear. You can see how the frame wing, on the right-hand side, supports the weight of the door. In the bottom of the frame wing is a cylindrical hole in which is fitted a small coil spring then a lock tab and a small lock nut. The coil spring allows some movement or self centering of the hinge.

Armstrong Siddeley utility door hinge assembly showing that the hinges are handed and appropriately marked

The olive fits between the two hinge wings and the hinge rotates on it. The olive is made of brass. The olive is tapered to the top and spherical on the bottom. The olive will wear over time on its tapered end and a worn olive will compromise the performance of the hinge. the photograph shows the central bolt, olive, spring, lock tab and nut.

Armstrong Siddeley Utility door hinge brass olive, central bolt and spring

While these hinges give little trouble and, apart from the olive, generally do not wear, there are some points to bear in mind if your car is fitted with them.

The bolt can become rusted and seize. Great care should be taken in removing it as it is small and can snap if the nut is rusted on. The bolts are unusual; oval head, ¼” BSF and are grooved at the end to accommodate the lock tab.  To remove the bolt, carefully bend back the lock tab, clean the bottom of the thread with a wire brush and after spraying it with lubricant carefully undo the nut. All parts should be cleaned on a wire brush on a bench grinder and inspected. If the bolt needs replacing Paul Beck Vintage Spares has a bolt, spring, lock tab and nut which may be suitable.  Their part number is 688A. It is 62mm long, marginally shorter than the original which is 64.5mm long.

There is a problem with these hinges undoing with the opening and closing if the tag isn’t replaced when the bolts are removed.  The tags will often break once they are opened up, so getting new ones would be a good idea.  They are also available from Paul Beck Vintage Spares at only £0.45 each so they are quite cheap. I don’t have a part number for the locking tag, but I guess you just order the tag for part no 688A.

The olive is the wearing part. Armstrong Siddeley Spares Australia has a few of the original brass items in stock which no doubt reflects the fact most of the utilities were exported to Australia.  (The part number is 1650279). Again Paul Beck has an olive which, in their catalogue, looks identical to the AS olive (the spherical bottom half is 19mm diameter whereas the AS one is 18.5mm).  The Paul Beck part number 688B. If parts become unavailable, the olive is fairly simple and a replacement could be turned up in brass by a competent machinist.

In most cases the hinge wings do not wear and replacement of the olive and possibly the central bolt if it is heavily rusted or bent is all that is required. A bent bolt can often be carefully straightened. However the hinge wings can be bent, especially if a door flies open at any stage. The wings of an assembled hinge in good condition and off the car should be almost touching along their full length as shown in the photograph. If the wings are bent they can be straightened carefully in a bench vice or under a press. A bent hinge will affect the door to body gaps and can cause the door to hit the A pillar at its front edge.

 Armstrong Siddeley Utility door hinge technical article showing how the hinge plates must align along their entire length

In assembling the hinges, carefully lubricate the olive with grease and tighten the nut on the bottom so that the hinge is reasonably tight. A loose nut will result in the hinge moving and allow the door to “slop about”. It is unlikely you will be able to salvage the lock tab if reusing an original bolt so lock the nut in place with a thread locking solution.

The factory attached the hinges to the body and the door with a mixture of bolts and wood screws. The weight of the doors suggests a better solution is to use eight long ¼” tapered head bolts, spring washers and nuts on each hinge. This will ensure they remain in place.

There is no provision for lubricating these hinges in service so it is important the olives are greased at any time the hinge is dismantled. During normal services applying some oil directly onto the olive between the hinge wings may help.

One important thing to remember is there is no stop on these hinges. If the door swings open, it will hit the bodywork.  It is very important to ensure the standard check straps are in place, securely fastened to the doors, or to fit new ones to restrain the doors.

Please also refer to technical books available from this web site for further reading.

*You must be a financial member of the Armstrong Siddeley Car Club to purchase spare parts from Armstrong Siddeley Spares Australia