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Fabricating a Deck Lid Release Cable


Fabricating a Deck Lid Release Cable.

By Jim Clark (The Hot Rod MD)


In recent Hot Rod MD articles I fabricated a bracket to mount a deck lid latch (Installing a Trunk Latch) and showed how to make a low-buck prop rod (Fabricating a Deck Lid Prop Rod) to hold the deck lid open.  Mechanisms to operate the latch were covered briefly in the deck lid latch article but it didn’t show how to install a release.  Installation of a solenoid to unlatch it is covered well in the instructions that come with most solenoid kits.  However, if you opt for a simpler release like a pull-cable you will have to fabricate much of it yourself.


In my roadster the only secure area in the vehicle is the trunk.  It’s nice to have it lock so that you can leave some of your things there with a little protection from theft, but when you have a car like this thieves are more apt to try stealing it than its contents.  So I chose to use a simple pull cable to actuate the deck lid latch.

I considered using a number of different cables from seat applications but most of them were too short to reach all the way back to the latch.  I finally chose to use a release cable offered by Watson’s Streetworks.  It is long enough for the biggest of vehicles (120-inches long) and has a pretty rigid housing that doesn’t sag a lot and resists kinking while making some pretty sharp turns.

First I fabricated a bracket for the end that goes in the cockpit.  Attached it to a sturdy upright.  Then routed the cable housing back to the trunk area.  Sturdy clamps and a grommet where a hole was drilled in the deck lid channel hold the housing in place.

Things went smoothly until I tried to drill a hole in the latch for the cable.  Didn’t count on the latch being hardened so I had to use a 1/16-inch carbide drill at slow speed (about 900 rpm) to drill the hole.  Slick cable clamp that surrounds the cable made for a clean installation, unlike the usual U-clamp style I have used on other projects.  Latch works very well with this set-up but the return spring on the latch assembly is a little weak so I may add another small spring to assist it in returning to latched position.  This may not be as slick as a deck lid operated by actuators or solenoid release but it’s pretty foolproof and definitely fits into the low-buck project category.



A simple solution to use for releasing the deck lid latch is a kit such as this  offered at many Hot Rod Retailers . This one  features a machined billet knob with a 120-inch cable that you can cut it to length for opening your hood or deck lid. It consists of top quality aircraft cable and a durable housing. Includes housing end cap, “no-fray” cable stop and three cable clamps.  you can find these kits and similar ones at places like   and other rodding retailers.


If you are in need of security in a cable release a locking t-handle style release like this one offered as an option on Ford vans could be used.  This one is on my 1983 Ford van.




No mounting bracket is supplied with the cable.  One needs to be fabricated for each application.  Heavy, 90° angle iron, cut to shape and drilled to accept the cable and holes for mounting offered the support needed for my roadster.  Tail end is left long so that additional mounting holes can be drilled if the location of the cable needs to be adjusted when the upholstery panels are installed.




Bracket is used as a guide for drilling the mounting holes in the upright support at the rear of the cockpit in the roadster.




Blind threaded inserts make mounting easier, especially in places where access to installing nuts is limited.  They are available at any good parts house and require no special tools to install them.




Bracket was then bolted in place with the appropriate hardware; 1/4-20 bolts, and lock washers in this case.




Cable is installed in the bracket via the 3/8-inch diameter mounting hole.  Two nuts and an internal star-washer allow for some movement of the cable location in and out of the bracket due to the long threaded housing.




Hole big enough to allow the cable housing to pass through was drilled in the support panel below the deck lid surround.  This allows the cable to line up with the latch assembly that is located behind the upholstery panels when they are installed




Cover on the cable housing is very durable but I chose to install a rubber grommet to protect it from any chafing created by movement of the vehicle.  Grommets are available at the parts store in various sizes and for varying thicknesses of sheetmetal.




Clamps are supplied with the cable but I chose to use these metal insulated clamps to hold the cable housing in place.  Self-tapping screws made mounting the clamp to this other support upright simple.




Cable was routed behind side panel for trunk upholstery and through the grommet in the support panel.  This keeps it hidden and cable housing is rigid enough to span the gap without binding or kinking where it makes the gentle turn at the rear.




Clamp at the point the cable housing routes along the rear panel has to hold the housing securely so that the inner cable can move freely without movement of the housing.





Housing is cut to length just short of the deck lid latch release.  Inner cable is then pushed through until the knob seats back at the other end of the housing.




Housing end cap is placed over the end of the housing while threading the cable through the small hole.  Then crimped in place with pliers.  Hole in end cap acts as guide for cable.




Latch from the Datsun 510 that I used had a hardened latch that made it difficult to drill for the insertion of the cable.  I had to use a 1/16-inch carbide drill at slow speed (about 900 rpm) to drill the hole.





Cable passes through the supplied “no-fray” cable stop and is secured by tightening the two hex nuts.  Collet style threads tighten around cable as the cable stop is tightened.






This shows the finished cable stop on the latch assembly.  Clamp holds the housing in place so the internal cable can actuate the deck lid latch.




Release cable is routed alongside the left side of the car and across the lower deck lid panel so that it will be completely hidden after the upholstery is installed.





Rear upholstery panel in the roadster cockpit will hide all but the billet knob on the cable release.  The seat back will have to be tilted forward for access to the release knob offering a small amount of security from would-be thieves.






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