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Old 12-09-2003, 04:13 PM   #1
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Entry Door Questions

Hi,

I have a 1978 31 Land Yacht. The entry door was sprung on the unit when we bought it. My wife and I were able to get the door it back into better shape, but it is still unsatisfactory. It appears that the previous owner put an aftermarket door latch on the unit and carved the door up a bit attempting to do so. Would it be advisable to replace the shell on the doorframe and add a stock replacement handle or just attempt to find a new door for the unit? If so, where might I obtain the skin? If door replacement is elected, is it even possible to procure a replacement door for this unit? What model years and unit sizes would have the same doorframe as a 78 31 International Land Yacht? Also, Where might I find a replacement door seal? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Slade Weaver, Phoenix, AZ
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Old 12-09-2003, 04:30 PM   #2
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Skin is easy, either an Airstream donor, or do a search on skin replacement to find where members have sourced new aluminum. Since it is primarily flat all you need is the right type and thickness.

A door from 70-82 will work, but the locks may be different. If you can find a complete door in a bone yard then you are in heaven. You might even find one with a window in the door if that is your cup of tea. It does not matter the model in the date range, the door is the same unless it was a custom order coach thru the commercial division. Check with www.Colawrvsalvage.com for a door. You may have to call a few times, but it is an 800 #.

Door seal is not a problem. Either Ace Fogdall or Inland RV will have it. You need to plan on spending some time cleaning off the old glue, or use a dremel with a flapper wheel. it will give you a nice clean grippy surface to place the glue on. It may take 2 wheels to do the whole door.
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Old 12-09-2003, 06:21 PM   #3
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Colaws had a '79 (I think) a month or two ago. It had a good door, if I recall.

Mark
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Old 12-10-2003, 02:20 PM   #4
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Folks,

Thanks for the prompt responses. I called Colaw's and they do have a door that will fit. Thanks Again...

sw
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Old 12-10-2003, 07:25 PM   #5
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Question more door questions

To the "new Kid 64":
Your info is great news. But how did you come by it?
I can see a whale of a shipping and buying expense if you are wrong.
Which years had door window?

To "Sladew":
What BTW is the going price for a used door?


What are you planning to do with your damaged door? Do not discard it! Please.

thanks,
S&V
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Old 12-10-2003, 07:43 PM   #6
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Sue and Von,

The shell change in 69 was the last change up until 83 when the wrap around windows came out. Since 69 was a change over year I would not be sure on the door. The front windows in 69 were different too. The only difference in the doors through the period mentioned is the hinge style. by 76 the hinge was a 2 piece affair that stayed unchanged for many years.

I would verify with colaw's before shipping, just in case I am wrong, but if you are within a year or 2 and not 69-73 you should have a 2 hinge door.

The window in the door was an option starting in 78. Usually on an Excella model.

As to the depth of my knowledge, I am a junkie when it comes to this era of Airstreams. I have now owned 4 units made in the 70's and have loved everyone of them. I spend way too much time on the web, study pictures of different models and am always trying to identify year/model as I drive. I am really really sick
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Old 12-10-2003, 07:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
I am really really sick
As his "Airstream Widow" I can attest that this is VERY true.
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Old 12-10-2003, 07:49 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally posted by Edie G


As his "Airstream Widow" I can attest that this is VERY true.
He isn't the only one I get hollered at at least once a night

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Old 12-10-2003, 07:52 PM   #9
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Really Off Topic

I told Brett that I feel like a roman woman of old. It seems like every night he's busy heading off to the forum.
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Old 12-10-2003, 08:13 PM   #10
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Old 12-11-2003, 08:12 AM   #11
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Thumbs up

Thanks "NewKid64" aka Brett, I have added you to my asset list of folks I have confidence in regarding various Airstream subject fields of expertise.
I put you down under exterior body styles, entry doors, front windows, & 1970 era.
Would you add or delete any fields?


Now about the hinge placement on entry doors.
Is there no deviation on the double hinge doors at all?

S&V
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Old 12-11-2003, 08:27 AM   #12
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Expert, what flattery!

The hinges in the 2 hinge configuration are cast pieces that are designed to fit at a specific point in the curvature of the shell. Unless there was a change in the design of the hinges they should all be the same. Even the Classic Motor Homes use the same hinges, we just have to use the trailer bottom as the top and top as the bottom since our doors swing toward the front.

Knowing this I would say that the chance of deviation would be small. If you can get the door with the hinges then you can decide what you want to do if there is a difference. New holes in the hood frame, or door jamb.

One other thing to mention is that the door may still have to be formed (read as bent) to fit. All doors may not have exactly the same curvature and this curve may need to be adjusted to match the trailer you install it on. This may be as simple as flexing the door, or it may require the removal of interior skins on the door and re-riveting them once you get it to the "right" curve.
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Old 12-11-2003, 08:51 AM   #13
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by thenewkid64


One other thing to mention is that the door may still have to be formed (read as bent) to fit. All doors may not have exactly the same curvature and this curve may need to be adjusted to match the trailer you install it on. This may be as simple as flexing the door, or it may require the removal of interior skins on the door and re-riveting them once you get it to the "right" curve.
Brett it's that "one other thing" that worries me.
Are you stating that the curvature of Airstreams changed from year to year or model to model within the '69/'70 to '83 inclusive era?
Surely the factory did not order different jamb frame and inner door frames during a model year do you think?
Nor would common manufacturing sense have had the assemblers custom bending door shapes to various trailers coming down the line????
i.e. it would seem a foolish step to customize each door to some non-controllable body curvature. Should just standardize the shell dont you think.

If you are right then it would be just random blind luck to buy a new or used door and it fit without the major skin removal and inner frame bending proceedure. I hope I am missing something here. Help!

Von
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Old 12-11-2003, 09:24 AM   #14
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All I am saying is that the door "May Not" be an exact fit. All of the years of opening and closing as well as traveling down the road make the trailer and door flex. When you bolt the new to you door in place I would bet there is a 25% chance it will need to be adjusted or formed.

The frame shape and curve "should" be the same in the year range I mentioned based on shell design. I just want to make you aware that adjustment may be required.
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Old 12-11-2003, 09:42 AM   #15
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Von,
Don't forget too that the AS are handbuilt, if something didn't fit quite right at the factory it would be shimmed or adjusted to fit. Also like Brett says, "All of the years of opening and closing as well as traveling down the road make the trailer and door flex." Kind of like an old pair of shoes, if you were to put a pair of mine on that I had worn for a couple of years, they wouldn't fit you quite right because they are worn to fit my feet and not yours. Am I making sense or just muddying the waters

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Old 12-11-2003, 10:38 AM   #16
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Sue & Von,

Colaws has a door for $650.00. I live in AZ. Shipping to my area is an additional $150.00. Does $800.00 for a crated door in good shape sound fair? Would I be better of attempting to fix mine? I opened another "want ad" thread to see if there are any other member willing to part with a door to see if I may have any addtional options. My wife and I are wrestling with the idea of paying $800.00 for a door. If we decide to purchase the door from Colaws (provided that someone else does not purchase it befor us) my door will be available. The problem with my door is that someone put an aftermarket handle on it. It looks like the standard handle you would find on 90% of the tts out there. It also does not have the shade. The coating on the inside of the outer glass pane is starting to cloud and separate from the glass. It also has the coating stripped off of the interor of the door. The door interior is bare aluminum.

Thanks,

Slade Weaver
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Old 12-11-2003, 04:02 PM   #17
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Sladew only you can decide.
It depends on how quick you absolutely have to have a better door I suppose.

I would arrive at an educated guess of the condition of your present door. In percentage of acceptable (to you) figures. If it is say 65% or better ok then I personally would probably explore fixing it.


Will it lock securely?
Is it reasonably water tight?
Will it travel and stay closed?
Does it allow too much air in/out?
How much will it lower resale value ?but only matters if you plan on selling soon.

In a large city like Phoenix there are surely some who could make it look like new.
Perhaps a body shop but more likely a specialty place that does some totally non RV thing. Maybe a blacksmith or a airplsne repair shop.Or some specialty welding shop or even a dune buggy or hot rod shop. If you have the time start calling and asking questions.

Problem will be showing it to the potential handymen. It is more complicated to remove and replace than it looks according to posts elsewhere written.

Be real careful with body shop and welder promises. Many claim to be able to fix the crack of dawn but this may be foreign to even them.
I would be very skeptical of just any old RV place. Ask for similar silver bullet repairs and references and call the reference.

An RV man told us that the doors are around 2200 dollars new. Not in my lifetime.

Was your door sprung by coming open at speed or by forced entry?

S&V
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Old 12-11-2003, 04:45 PM   #18
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Price of repair?

You might check out repair shops at small airports, those where you see the really small planes parked around.

Most small aircraft mechanics are well versed in working aluminum, and should be much better qualified than your average repair shop.

If you bring the door in, most will probably give you a quote for free.
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Old 12-11-2003, 05:26 PM   #19
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Re: Price of repair?

Quote:
Originally posted by 87MH
Most small aircraft mechanics are well versed in working aluminum, and should be much better qualified than your average repair shop.
What does the inner door structure look like, anyway? Is it extruded aluminum or just tubular steel?

My Argosy's door was somewhat "reformed" by a previous owner's snafu, but WOW! I think I can do a lot of disassembly and adjustment for way less than the price of a replacement. The door needs a partial reskin, anyway. I'd be tempted to weld up some sort of frame with a hydraulic jack attached to tweak the curvature.

Also, just how hard is it to remove the door if that becomes necessary? Seems I've heard that you first have to take off the inside skin to access the hinges.

Bob McKeown
Nashville
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Old 12-11-2003, 05:40 PM   #20
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Bob,

The inner door is like the rest of coach. A formed outer rim with a cross piece or two that run side to side. The whole thing is built in a jig and the shape is normally pressed on a mold, or a bender like they use for muffler tubing that is designed for the shape.

The cross ties may be welded, I know the bottom of the door frame is welded onto the side risers. The cavity is isolated and the inner skin is riveted in place.

The interesting thing is the door is incredibly strong. The inner and outer skins make it that way. If you are going to do any extreme bending you will want to remove the inner skins depending on if it is the whole door or the bottom you may only need to remove half. This will make the door much more flexible. Once you get the shape you like then you can re-drill the rivet holes and reattach the inner skins. You want to drill new holes so that you have a good grip and the door holds it shape. If you reuse the old holes in the skin and the frame you will get the same shape back! Once the inner skin is refastened and the door is once again strong you can drill the holes for the rivets to fill in the old holes and pop in fillers so it looks good.
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