If there is one thing I have learned when it comes to classic cars, it would be that you should always use the word “finished” loosely. For me there is always another improvement or upgrade that I want/need to add to the car. While recently showing my 1962 Galaxie 500, I discovered yet another upgrade that I “needed”. At the shows I was constantly getting in and out of the trunk, and even though I was able to easily unlock the trunk with a key, it became a pain to have to use the key every time.
In an effort to make trunk access easier I decided to try and locate a trunk release cable and pull lever that could be mounted inside the cab so that all I would have to do any time I wanted in to open the trunk was pull a lever. I started my search for an aftermarket trunk release lever on-line, at speedway motors, because I have found they tend to have the types of universal accessories needed for non-stock projects like this. They did not have the cable lever system I wanted, but what they did have was even better, a power trunk kit (Item # 91069220) and at a price of only $14.99 I decided to order one.
When the kit came I was very impressed with the vast assortment of hardware that came with it, making it a universal kit for most any application. Before I began the installation process I was faced with a choice, either do the install with the trunk lid still on the car or remove the trunk lid for easier access. It has taken me many years of projects like this to realize that easy access to what ever you are working on is almost always more than worth the extra time it takes to remove either the parts that are in the way or the parts you are working on to achieve easy access and with that in mind I chose to remove the trunk lid.
Anytime you are removing a body panel that has already been properly aligned it is a good idea to make some sort of reference mark to aid in reinstalling said part. To do this on the trunk lid, I took a silver sharpie and made several marks along the trunk hinges where they attach to the trunk lid
From there the four trunk lid retaining bolts were removed allowing me to take the trunk lid off of the car and place it upside down on two sawhorses that I had covered with towels to prevent scratching the trunk lid’s paint
With easy access to the underside of the trunk lid I removed the latch.
Inside the latch mechanism there is a lever that releases the catch. This lever is actuated when the key is turned in the lock and the lever needs to be pulled by the trunk solenoid cable to release the trunk catch. The direction this lever moves to release the catch determines which side of the latch the solenoid must be installed on.
Once I new which side of the latch to mount my solenoid on, I turned my attestation to attaching said solenoid to the lever. This was the only part about the kit and its instructions that I thought was lacking. The instructions said to simply wrap the cable around the lever and use the supplied connector to secure the loop. Seams simple enough, but the problem is the instructions made no reference to the length of the solenoid’s pull or to a specific mounting location on the lever.
This information is important because the cable must be attached to the lever close enough to the lever pivot that that the amount of travel provided by the solenoid would be sufficient enough to actuate the latch. By measuring the total pull distance on the solenoid, (3/8”) and then actuating the lever with my hand and taking measurements I was able to determine where the cable needed to be attached on the lever to achieve the correct lever travel.
I was hoping to drill a hole in the lever and simply run the cable through it, unfortunately that was not an option as the lever is made of hardened steel. With out a hole to run the cable through I needed a way to attach the cable and insure it would stay properly located in relation to the lever pivot. To achieve this I took a small piece of 1/8” plate steel, drilled a hole in it, clamped it to the lever and welded it on.
This provided me with a place to attach the solenoid cable.
With the cable attached to the latch, I secured both the latch and the solenoid to a scrap piece of wood so that I could use a 12V battery to test the system and confirm that the solenoid would in fact actuate the latch. I could have skipped this step and installed the solenoid and latch in to the car and then tested it, but I wanted to make sure the system was going to work well before I made any modifications to the trunk lid.
Once I new the system was working I disconnected the solenoid from the latch to get the parts prepped for installation. If I had wanted an easy install I could have simply drilled a hole in to the hollow compartment of the trunk lid, run the solenoid cable through the hole, attached it to the latch lever, mounted the solenoid on the outside of the hollow compartment and been done with the main part of the install. Although much simpler that kind of an install would have left the solenoid exposed in the trunk which in my opinion would have been ugly.
For a much cleaner install I chose to cut an access hole in the hallow compartment of the trunk lid that would allow me to mount the solenoid inside said compartment. I have found that any time you are cutting in to a “finished” panel, covering the area with masking tape is a really good idea. The tape provides a slight barrier should the cut off tool slip and it also provides a surface that can clearly be marked for cutting.
My cut off wheel made short work of the thin sheet metal on the underside of the trunk lid and gave me a nice clean opening that I could install the solenoid through.
A piece of 16-gage aluminum was cut and drilled to serve as both the access hole cover and solenoid mounting location.
When I installed the solenoid in to its mounting bracket on the access cover I made sure the solenoid was forward in the bracket. This was done so that after the cable was run inside the trunk lid and reattached to the latch, I would have the ability to adjust the solenoid position in the bracket to tighten up the cable if needed.
I then laid the solenoid panel next to the access hole, threaded the solenoid cable in to the tab I had welded on the latch lever and laid the latch in front of its mounting location.
This was done so that I could mark the cable at the approximately correct length.
The cable was then threaded through the access opening, out the latch opening and attached to the latch lever. For the sake of testing I simply ran the cable through the tab I had welded on to the lever and than secured the cable end back on it self to form a loop, but when I did the final install I ran the cable through the hole in the welded on piece, around the lever, and then secured the cable end back on it self to form a loop. The reason for doing this is that the welded on piece will act as a locating guide but the majority of the pressure from the solenoid will be applied directly to the arm prolonging the life of the tab.
With the cable attached to the latch I mounted the latch back on to the trunk lid, and then secured the solenoid access panel over the access hole. A quick test revealed that there was a little bit of slack in the cable so I removed the access panel and adjusted the position of the solenoid in its mounting bracket. If you compare the picture below to the earlier picture where I first mounted the solenoid to the panel you can see I had to move the solenoid back about 1/8”
With the proper adjustment to remove the slack from the cable I reinstalled the access panel.
Another quick test confirmed that the solenoid would indeed release the trunk latch. I also tested the key in the trunk lock to make sure nothing in the latch mechanism had gotten damaged during the install. With everything working as designed a quick coating of truck bead liner over the access panel, to match the underside of the trunk lid, blended the panel in to the trunk lid.
Finishing up the install was very easy and straightforward. I reinstalled the trunk lid on to the car, ran the solenoid power lead down the trunk, along the hinge and in to the cab where it was attached to a switch that was mounted on the under side of the dash. This mounting location was chosen because it was out of site, but still easily accessible. From the switch the power lead went through the fuse holder supplied with the kit and was connected to a constant 12V power source.
The trunk on my 62 Galaxie can now be opened by the touch of a button. Best part is I am getting ready to install 4-door power locks with keyless entry and the system remote and receiver is already setup to trigger a power trunk latch so I will easily be able to connect the two systems together to gain remote access to the trunk. Over all I am extremely pleased with the install and quality of the kit especially at such a reasonable price.