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The last two days I decided to replace both of the exterior door handles on my 68 as the original chrome plating had seen it's better days.

I had a set of reproduction handles that I was going to use on a 74 Spirit of America Nova I've been restoring and after looking online, the information stated that the handles are the same between 1968 and 1974 BUT like so many things, after I got into the project, I found out what I had were different than what was on the car.

These are the handles I had bought years ago:



To begin the replacement, I took the driver's door panel off and removed the original handle and then laid the original next to the reproduction and noticed that the plunger rods were different lengths. While I could have just swapped around the old buttons and rods into the new handles, I wanted to see if there was a work around and I wanted to put in as much as I could from the handle kit.

This is the aftermarket one on the left VS an original handle assembly on the right. The different plunger rod lengths are easily seen:



I pulled on the reproductions plunger pin and it easily pulled out of the thumb button and then tried to do the same on the original but it required a lot more force but eventually came out. Basically I had to grab the rod with some small pliers and lever it out using the edge of the thumb button as the pivot point. The replacement plunger rod is a tight fit into the thumb button while the originals has a knurled section on it to keep the plunger rod attached to the button.

These are the plunger rods with the reproduction one on top and the original below it:



This is how the rods are different on the ends where they press into a hole on the thumb button:



After I got the rods removed from the thumb buttons I then tried to put the new thumb button on the original plunger rod but it took a little force with a hammer to tap it into the hole.

While I put in the new thumb buttons onto the old original plunger rods, I also put them together with the old original springs and the retainer as they seemed just fine even after 48+ years.

While I had the original handles off, I cleaned and waxed the area on the body of the car. The car had been repainted at some point in it's life and whomever did the work did remove the handles when they painted the car and then reinstalled them but they did not put on new gaskets. The reproduction handles I used had new gaskets in them and while they seemed a tad oversized, I left them alone and used them as is. A person could trim the excess off but I opted to leave them alone.



The reproduction handles also came with new attachment bolts but when I removed the original handles, the original bolts had a smaller hex head on them so when I went to put the new handles on, I opted to use the original bolts as this gave me more access to them to tighten them. Luckily, the threads were the same size and the original bolts could be reused.



Here are some shots of the originals and then the reproductions:







While the above is mostly about the exterior door handles, to change them I had to take the door panels off of the car as well as the water shield.

While this car has a lot of original parts on it, I looked to see how things were done on things like the door panel and the doors and below is some things most people might never notice like a date of manufacture on each door panel on the inside. The driver's door panel has a date of January 15th while the passenger door panel has a date of May 15th on it. I did wonder what day this was back in 1968 and both were weekdays and the dates are prior to the build date of the car which was in June of 1968.

The inside of the door panels and an ink stamp like what I found on the backside of the original seat covers:









I also noticed when I had the door panels off and then removed the vapor/water shield, the original calk has a string embedded in it just like how it was on a 74 of mine. Since the original calk was dried out and not really doing anything, I pulled off the old material and replaced it with fresh 3M Strip Calk or what I call Dum-Dum:



The original calk with the string in it:



If anyone ever replaces the handles on their car, make sure the plunger rods are the right length. If I would have put what I had into the car, chances are with the new rods being too short, I probably would not have been able to open the doors with the thumb button as it would not be able to be pushed in far enough to trip the latch mechanism. SO, double check things and roll the windows down to where if the handles do not work, you can reach inside and open the door using the inside handle.

Something too when I had to door panels off was to spray on some new lithium grease on the latch, window mechanism, and window track channel and guide wheels.

Changing the exterior door handles are not that hard to do but like anything else, get the proper tools to do the work. I have 3 window crank clip removal tools and could only find the one that I do not like using but I got it to work.

While I did extra work besides changing the handles, it really didn't take that long to do and it's a fairly easy one night project. Looking at the close-up pictures I may trim the gaskets down some but I'll see how I feel after looking at them from a distance for a while first.

Below is the album I put together of the work:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/albums/72157681785641741

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter #3
nice write up. were the original handles suppose to have gaskets?
Thanks. The ones I took off had gaskets on them but they started breaking apart when I tried to remove them. The original gasket seems like a thinner material (and this may be due to being compressed for years) and of a different material but who knows what happens to somethings after 48+ years.

On the right original handle the gasket is still there but a lot closer to fitting the outside edge of the handle and considerably thinner:



Jim
 

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Hey man can you show me your dash bezel, I have a 1968 also but I can't find any originals


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I hate that I can't buy an original version for the 68, because mine is tweaked and cracked, one side is half an inch bigger than the other side on the gauges so it looks uneven.. bothers the heck out of me


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I hate that I can't buy an original version for the 68, because mine is tweaked and cracked, one side is half an inch bigger than the other side on the gauges so it looks uneven.. bothers the heck out of me
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I found out there are a LOT of one year parts on the 68 model and I'm glad I found my car in really good shape and not had to find a lot of things. While some parts are being made for the 68, some might never be made. Just like parts for my 74 Spirit of America Nova. It too has a lot of one year parts but luckily not as bad as the 68 model and I also bought what I could years ago figuring parts would be hard to find and I've found out I'm glad what I bought years ago. In hindsight I should have bought more.

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Is it possible the push button rod is another of those 68 only things? Most repop door handles I have seen for sale seem to have the shorter looking rod. Can anyone confirm if the 69-74 push button rod is shorter than 68? Since the internal locking mechanism of the 68 is also one year only, it might make sense that the rod is different too?
 

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Might be F-body handles that were mis-boxed as Nova. The door handles are supposed to be 1968 - 79, with the buttons all models 1962 - 79 Nova. I am going off wholesale catalogs, which obviously could be wrong, but they jive with each other.
 

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Is it possible the push button rod is another of those 68 only things? Most repop door handles I have seen for sale seem to have the shorter looking rod. Can anyone confirm if the 69-74 push button rod is shorter than 68? Since the internal locking mechanism of the 68 is also one year only, it might make sense that the rod is different too?
Might be F-body handles that were mis-boxed as Nova. The door handles are supposed to be 1968 - 79, with the buttons all models 1962 - 79 Nova. I am going off wholesale catalogs, which obviously could be wrong, but they jive with each other.
The handles with the buttons I put on I bought YEARS ago from who knows where and of course there were no instructions inside nor any part number on the box.
Yep, they could be a misboxed set or maybe the plunger rod is different just on the 68.
All I know is I'm glad I did take both handles off and then put both new ones on with the windows up and then closed the doors as I doubt I would have been able to trip the latch open with the shorter rods on the buttons.
I learned the hard way years ago doing car stereo when I got out of a car with the windows up and closed the door with the keys in the ignition not thinking much about it until a few seconds later I heard the doors lock and stood there going, NOW what do I do ?. The alarm was set to autoarm and lock the doors AND IT DID just like it should have. I've since learned to at least roll the windows down but one of these days I know I'll get caught with a car with automatic window roll up modules. :D

Jim
 

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Should have said this before, agreed, awesome post :yes:

If they were bought years ago they probably are F-body, which would have had the higher demand. Not a lot of "deep" research went into the details of correct fitment by manufacturers years ago (and some now too). Citing a manufacturer's catalog, the F-body & X-body differ by a non-explained addendum character. The button is probably the difference.

I have a big tub of "thought it fit a Nova" parts I have acquired at swap meets through the years.
 
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