Saturday, October 27, 2012

Coach Door

Solving Problems with the Door

Problem: The plastic latches that hold the door open break down over time or break if slightly mis-aligned.
Solution 1: Replace with metal latches. Check the alignment of the two parts and adjust as necessary.
I went to <http://www.soderbloom.com/>, clicked on "RV Catalog", searched for 'C-Clip' and found the part # to be "17620576" for a package of two metal C-Clips @ $2.94 per. Of course I paid $7 in shipping but I got what I wanted.
The 1st (of 2) has been installed and I suspect I'll never use the spare. One small problem, the screw holes are about 1/8th inch further apart than the plastic (OEM) part and so you have to ream them out to fit the holes already in the door.
In replacing the latch, you may find that the existing screws will not tighten in the door. Steve Newton says that these screws are just held by the 1/8" luan & fiberglass in the door. He suggested using larger screws. Replace with 3/4" x #10 screws as opposed to the existing #8 screws that come with the coach. .
Solution 2: Replace with different type latch.
You could try the plunger/socket type made of metal with a rubber insert on the socket side. These things last for years and are widely used on commercial trucks because they last. One of my parents travel trailers had this type door catch. The other type very common on trucks and RVs are the T-Holder type, one the other trailers my parents owned had the T-Holder type but I couldn't find an online picture of it. That type has a "T" shaped wire in a base that swings flush when not in use and the matching catch has a raised "T" shaped slot the "T" fits into to hold the door. The following links will give you a picture of them. They sell a few different brands though and others are less expensive (see link# 3) and a variation that folds back for travel (See link# 4) . These come in a couple sizes and either straight or angled. Vegas Trailer Supply is a Coast Distribution Systems dealer and there are several other Coast dealers on the go-rv.com website that are as well. If you get their catalog it will be a Coast Distribution System catalog and have most RV parts in it you'd ever need. All of these dealers also carry the "bumper" catch that looks like the LD storage compartment catches but have a rubber "bumper" on the top top that catches the door.
http://www.go-rv.com/online/1060/showproductdetails?catid=799

Problem: Locks have gotten "stiff". 
Solution: "Lubricate" the lock.
The LD manual recommends the use of powdered graphite or a lubricant such as Tri-Flow, which contains Teflon. Some locksmiths say to NEVER use graphite powder in your locks. It ends up sticking together and forming a hard substance like the "lead" in pencils, which is actually graphite. This is made worse in humid areas where it happens quicker. They all recommend using WD-40 or a similar product because it both cleans and lubricates them.
Problem: Lazy Daze uses a high quality aluminum-framed door (wood framed doors are no longer available). Nonetheless, it is easily bent. If the wind catches the door, the door stop near the handle stops that part of the door, but the top and bottom keep going. Since the top of the door is weakened by the window, it's the most likely to bend. Once this happens, the top portion of the door no longer closes all the way.
Solution: Being aluminum, it's also easy to bend back.
According to Steve at Lazy Daze, the technique requires two people.
1. Close the screen door.
2. Place a short length of 2 by 2 against the door frame by the striker plate.
3. Close the door gently against the 2 x 2, such that the wood holds the door out by the 1 1/2-inch thickness of the 2 x 2.
4. One person firmly holds the bottom of the door in place -- no pushing involved, this person is simply holding the bottom of the door stationary.
5. The other person pushes gently on the top of the door until it is straight again. Be careful not to bend too far, otherwise the top and bottm will close, but the lock will no longer latch properly!.
The problem can be avoided by adding another door stop at the top of the door. It wouldn't need to be a latching type, just something to keep the door from bending again if the wind catches it.

Problem: Door latch squeaks
Solution: Lubricate the latch plate and opening.
Use some white lithium grease on the entry door security latch plate opening and on the door latch plate. The excess that one could brush against can be wiped off without causing the squeak to return. Repeat once every year or two, If you don't have access to the white lithium grease, a bit of Vaseline will work to quiet the squeak temporarily.

Problem: Can't lock lower latch.
Solution: Check springs in lock.
If you have the LD door lock below the deadbolt made by Bargman, remove the inside panel ( 2 screws ), and see if the 2 springs which preload the sliding striker plate are broken. RV dealers seem to only stock the complete lock for $130+. Ace Hardware has the springs for 40 cents each.

Problem: Door frame has loosened
Solution: Repair hinges
Actually there are two solutions - the first involves replacing the door, at a cost of $1200, not including paint and labor. This solution is MUCH cheaper and just as effective: 
I discovered that the entry door frame had pulled loose from the inside edge of the door at the hinge plates on our 1999 26.5' MB. When I was at the Mothership in March I asked Vince about what it would take to replace the door. He replied that the doors are manufactured elsewhere and run about $1200 without paint and labor. Ouch! But then he told me that if I was handy I could repair it myself, and showed me how. I just finished the repair, so I thought I'd share the procedure with all of you in case any other doors out there are getting tired and need a frame repair at the hinge plates. If you'd like to read this along with pictures of the repair you can find it here.
The entry door Lazy Daze uses is a sandwich design with thin plywood on the outer walls, and a foam core in the middle. The repair consists of a threaded rod with furniture connectors on each end that run from the hinge plate through the foam interior, and terminates on the outside edge of the door. I did the middle and bottom hinge repairs with 1/4 20 threaded rod and nickel-plated furniture connector nuts.
The trick is to drill the holes for the furniture connector nuts, then heat the end of the threaded rod with a propane torch to get it nice and hot, insert it through the hole and just push it right through the foam to the other end of the door. (Thanks Vince, for that very helpful bit of advice!) The door frame at the bottom hinge was the most compromised, and was bent out pretty significantly. On this repair I started by attaching a furniture clamp and cranking it down until the door frame was straight. Then I drilled my holes and installed the treaded rod before removing the clamp.
On the top hinge the window blocks the path from the hinge plate to the far side of the door, so the rod for the top repair is only about 3" long. I didn't bother to remove the window because there is nothing underneath to anchor to but foam. Instead, I drilled a hole on the inside of the window frame opposite the hinge plate, which required a smaller nut than the 1/4 20 furniture connector nuts I used on the lower two hinges. I found some 10 24 screw posts at Parkrose Hardware, Portland's "real" hardware store, and used the female threaded ends to attach to the threaded rod, and ground off the edge of one of them to make it fit into the restricted space inside the window frame. Attaching one connector to each end with a short threaded rod in the middle did the trick.
The repair worked beautifully. The door is solid as a rock now and should last the life of the motorhome. Vince pointed out to me that the manufacturer of the door is now using this same threaded rod arrangement straight from the factory on their new doors. Apparently our situation was not an isolated one.


Contributors: Steve, Mike Richmond, Noel, Mike S, WxToad, Charlie Sattgast

Updated: 8 May 2013

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