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Old 09-10-2009, 03:02 PM   #29
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1964 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
enosburg , Vermont
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 293
Woodywhite, you can get good clean bends in your alum plates by sandwiching them between 2 pieces of hardwood boards in a vice, then tap them over 90 degrees [slowly] with a rubber or wood mallet. Or steel hammer w/another wooden block. If your door panel won't straighten useing the common methods find someone with an English Wheel. However this means disassembling the door. They can re-arch, compound curve, remove dents, smooth, even remove a crease. About the only problem a "wheel" can't fix is streched metal, that takes a planish disk.

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Old 09-13-2009, 09:23 PM   #30
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1960 18' Traveler
1975 27' Overlander
La Honda , California
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 59
OK, I've started the process of removing structures to repair the door and tear in the sidewall. Since I don't have a press I'll use Putbacks idea for hardwood sandwiches for the bending process. I've taken photos of everything so I can get it all back in place. It looks like I'll have to remove the heater, fridge, and cabinets in order to access the inner panel. I won't have enough room to work without doing so.

Thanks for all your help. I'll send in another note when I get in trouble in the next 3-4 weeks. Assuming everything goes well, I'll send a rehab note documenting the job so hopefully it'll make life easier for someone else.

Thanks again,

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Old 10-28-2009, 09:00 PM   #31
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1960 18' Traveler
1975 27' Overlander
La Honda , California
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 59
Time for an update on my suicide door repair.

To date I have:

1. Removed door via hinge pins. Turned out that the hinges were tweaked so I realigned them.
2. Upper hinge plate held when door flew open but it had pulled out some and created stress cracks visible in the body aluminum. Removed the hinge plate, flattened the body panel and drilled small hole at the end of each crack to avoid further extension of the cracks.
3. Opened wall inside. Used heat gun and scraper to remove the black gummy sealant inside the wall to allow good interface with new brackets.
4. Fabricated upper and lower brackets of .050 aluminum. Of course they were slightly different sizes. I made them in the shape of a box for increased strength.
5. Lower bracket required a couple of stepped shims of .030 aluminum in the aft aspect of the bracket due to the shape of the exterior wall.
6. Both brackets and shims were held in place with sem-kit industrial adhesive (to wall and frame) and rivets (to frame). Sem-Kit is used by the airlines and I'm told it will hold two pieces of aluminum together even if they become airborne. If that happens to my Airstream, the glue holding will be the last of my concerns.
7. Hinges put back on with rivets. Internal wall was open so I used regular rivets for maximum strength. Back of hinges primed before installing them.
8. I was still concerned about extension of the cracks at both hinges so I fabricated an external faceplate to go around each hinge. These were held in place with sem-kit adhesive and regular rivets.
9. All plates and rivets to the outside wall had adhesive spread across all surfaces and surrounding all holes and inside the rivet holes to prevent leaks. Additionally, I put caulking on the inner wall over each rivet and at each joint. I canít get much more waterproof than that.

I am now comfortable the wall will hold and the door will NOT come open again because Iím using a doohickey and I WILL check the door personally before I drive away. Famous last words?

Next step:
1. Re-arch the door. Advice?
2. Repair/replace the handle and door. The existing handleís not the original, so it already had an odd fit with lots of caulking when I got it. It got pushed inside the door and the surrounding area is bent in. It will close and latch but it currently has some wide open areas around the knob and faceplate. Anyone got a source for a 1960 doorknob? I found some listed for as old as 1965. Will these work on a 1960?
3. Replace the floor tiles Ė When I pulled the cabinet, I found a number of tiles that were lifting at the edges and needed replacement (same thing at the doorway). Only a little bad wood underneath but manageable without replacing the large sections of the floor. I actually found a bunch of old asphalt tiles in my basement of the same era. Different colors, sort of like bowling ball variegation but itíll look funky cool. Anyway, my wife likes the new color scheme at the entryway.
4. Put cabinets, fridge and heater back in.

And then I'll start to work on .....

Thanks again for your advice.

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Old 10-28-2009, 11:13 PM   #32
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1955 22' Flying Cloud
Boulder Creek , California
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 1,177
Woodywhite, It's looking good again. nice work. that top hinge really tore the heck out of the skin, didn't it. From your description of the repair I don't think you'll be having any further problems with it. Very thorough work.
It appears that you have a bad case of filiform corrosion on your rig. Have you thought about doing the polish job on it? I have a Dewalt heavy-duty polisher I've been using on my Safari when I feel the urge. I don't have filiform to speak of but I hear it's difficult to get out.
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Old 10-29-2009, 12:17 AM   #33
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tallahassee , Florida
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Nice job!
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Old 10-29-2009, 10:24 PM   #34
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1960 18' Traveler
1975 27' Overlander
La Honda , California
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 59
Thanks. I have to admit, it looks a bit like an antique fridge door now but the general aesthetics work. I would like to polish it in the future, but I have to get through the getting it livable again first. That means that I won't have a chance to consider polishing it before next summer or spring.

Is there some compound that can remove the filiform? I assume it's the clearcoat that is spidering and needs to be removed.

I'll be sure to call you when I'm ready to polish.


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