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Some folks think the pull down front door handle and the rear door handle are the same for their Advance Design panel trucks. Well, they're not!! (Figgers) However, that doesn't mean you can't modify it to make it work! As these barn door handles become harder to find, Alvin has a proven tip for converting the front handle to work at the barn door.

Modifying a 1947-1951 (Advance Design) front door handle for use as a rear barn door handle
By Alvin"Achimpmunk" Parris
1952 Panel
More discussion about this topic
in the Panels and Burbs Forum
March 1. 2012


Before we get started: the rear door handles for Advance Design Panel trucks are not being repoduced and are more rare than the proverbial hens teeth. Often they are rusted with pits and blistering chrome. Because the handles are made of pot metal, they are difficult and expensive to re-chrome.


There is a workaround!

Some folks think the pull-down style front door handles will work as a rear pull-down handle for the rear doors on their panels. This is not the case, as the front door handles have longer shafts and a "tapered" bezel between the handle and the door. Note: the 1952 front door handles became push buttons. It's a shame they didn't do the same thing on the rear. See comparison in picture to the left.

However, with a little patience, these front door handles can be modified to work as a rear barn door handle without any problems.

First, take a good look at the handle your modifying and note how the little spring and spring "seat" are on the shaft.

Using a 3/32 inch pin punch, remove the little pin that is keeping the spring assembly and bezel on the shaft. The pin may be difficult to remove and it is very possible you may damage it and it will need to replaced. A roll pin can be substituted for later re-assembly.

You will not need the front bezel, but you will need the little spring assembly. (The rear bezel will be "square" and not have a taper top to bottom.) See photo to the right.

You will notice the end of the shaft has four flat sides on it that fit into the door latch. These four flat sides will need to be ground back 3/8" more .... a little more will not hurt.

I found that by making a mark on the shaft with a hacksaw worked well as a guide. At first I tried a big bastard hand file, but it just doesn't cut it. So I used a bench grinder. I suggest you do, too. I used the existing flat sides as a guide to keep them flat. See the photo below.

NOTE: if the square hole in your latch is worn or wallered out some, now is a good time to tighten things up by leaving the flat sides your grinding a little bigger/fatter than normal to help take up some of the looseness. Grind, test fit, grind, test fit.

Once you have the four flat sides ground, it's time to cut off the end of the shaft.

First, measure back 3/8" from the tip of the shaft and mark the place you are going to cut. Because the shaft is hardened, a hack saw will take forever, if it will cut at all. So to do this, I used a die grinder with a cut off wheel on it. Make sure the grinder is level and make a good straight cut.

Once it cools off, you will need to drill the hole for the roll pin to hold the bezel and little spring assembly on.

To do this simply measure back 1 1/4" from the end of the shaft you just cut off. Center punch it, or mark on a piece of tape and drill a 3/32" hole in the shaft. I strongly recommend you center punch it, as it will stop your drill from wandering as you start -- and drill slowly so it will drill straight through the shaft.

Note: See if you can use your old rear handle as a reference. I've modified several and all of the ones I modified, and all of the old ones I've measured, were the same. Still, we know how things were "back in the day" so just double check. In the end, a 1/16" is not going to make a difference!


Almost Done!

Now install the correct bezel, the one that's NOT tapered. Then the little spring with its two "seat" washers on each side. Drive in a 3/32" dia X 5/8" long roll pin, available at Ace Hardware. You are now ready to install it on your rear door.

Now, go get yourself a hot dog and cold Pepsi while patting yourself on the back for a good job.

Alvin "Achipmunk" Parris



We will either find a way or make one.



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