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Old 07-10-2014, 12:13 PM   #1
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1998 30' Excella 1000
Livingston , Texas
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 546
Loose Door Hinge

There have been a few previous posts on fixing a loose door hinge. Here is my experience, for what its worth.

My 1998 Classic 30' had a loose lower hinge that would not tighten. The outside phillips head bolt would just spin free. My rig has a 1 1/4" wide interior metal trim piece that surrounds the doorframe, held on by screws. Once removed, I used a 7/8" hole saw to cut access holes to reach the bolts/nuts. I cut through a vinyl covered 1/8" luan, the interior skin, and 1/2" semicircle of the aluminum doorframe. This concerned me, and was the cause for a rectangular cutout in the luan. More about that later. With the holes exactly centered over the bolts, I probably could have gotten by with a 3/4" hole, but I was glad to have the extra room, as I encountered an inch deep glob of gray (vulkem?) caulk on each bolt/nut. After 16 years, it was still quite tenacious. With a highly sharpened screwdriver tip, a heat gun and needle-nose pliers, I was able to only pull off small bits at a time. It took me almost an hour per bolt to get them clean enough to fit my 7/16" deep socket over the nut.

The nuts they used, I believe are called "k-lock", with external teeth that bite into the bearing surface. Unfortunately, they were not stainless. Of the four nuts on the two hinges, two upper ones were slightly rusted, and the two lower ones were mostly to completly rusted out. The caulk apparently stopped an interior leak, but trapped the water around the fastener. I replaced all with stainless, including a nylock nut. But I learned the hard way that the torque rating on a 1/4-20 stainless bolt is only 6 ft-lbs. I twisted off two of them with my 8" handled ratchet without much effort. Another trip to the hardware store.

Regarding the rectangular cutout in the luan, because I had cut through part of the door frame, I added a steel mending plate across the holes. I epoxied the nuts behind the frame so I could easily remove the plate in the future and gave it multiple coats of clear acrylic to prevent galvanic corrosion with the aluminum frame. The cutout in the 1/8" thick luan provide a recess for the mending plate.

Although not shown, the interior trim piece covers all the work.
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Old 07-10-2014, 12:35 PM   #2
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1998 25' Safari
Mascouche , Quebec
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Nice job!

I have the same problem on my 1998 safari, the PO did the lower one, but now the upper one is now loose...


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Old 07-10-2014, 03:10 PM   #3
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1998 30' Excella 1000
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Oh, I forgot to mention. The outside of the hinge had no caulk or sealant. That joint is now sealed with parbond.
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Old 07-28-2014, 05:09 PM   #4
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Hunt , Texas
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loose nut on door hinge

2001 Bambi 19ft.
I have a loose nut on the bottom door hinge. The top machine screw holding the hinge to the Bambi Door Frame will not engage the nut. I used all manner of wires, probes etc to try to locate the loose nut residing in the nether-region of insulation inside the door frame. NO go! It is somewhere. So, Plan A is foiled and I am looking to Plan B. I will remove the door trim inside, peel back the interior fabric, drill the rivet and peel back the aluminum(?) under the interior fabric to find, retrieve, clean and reinstall the nut. It sounds easy enough to say, although Murphy follows me constantly. Any sage advice would be appreciated.

Also, the hinge/doorframe interface had some small metal guide pins or stabilization pins to orient and hold the hinge in the correct location. These are gone/broken. How do I find a replacement for these and is there a right or wrong way to fix these guide pins? I was thinking of drilling a hole large enough for a small finishing nail, epoxying in place on the frame side of the door and reducing the height to allow proper fit inside the corresponding hole in the body of the door hinge.
Any Ideas on this? Better solutions? Better materials?

Thanks,
Driver of the Airmadillo....
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Old 07-28-2014, 09:23 PM   #5
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1998 30' Excella 1000
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I don't think you'll find the nut, it probably fell to the base of the wall. Just buy a replacement at any hardware store. If it's like mine, it should be 1/4-20.

Can't help you with the "guide pin" issue. I never lifted my hinges away from the exterior skin, so I don't know what it looks like under there.
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Old 07-29-2014, 09:08 AM   #6
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thank you, I will take photos and post results.
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:45 PM   #7
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Hunt , Texas
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repaired loose door hinge bolt

thanks to the 7.10.2014 post by Seigmann and many others, I fixed the loose screw on my Bambi door hinge. I removed interior metal trim from the inside of the door frame and peeled the carpet back just enough to gain access to the inside metal skin. After removing the loose screw from the lower door hinge, I placed a long nail through the hole where I removed the hinge screw. I pushed the screw to the inside metal skin and tapped the nail to mark the position on the inside metal skin. I then drilled a small pilot hole in the inside metal skin and door frame. (note: the hole should be through both the metal skin and the edge of the door frame much like the photos in Seigmann's photos). After removing the Grey sealant (UGH!!), I prepared the surface for the new nut and proceeded exactly as in the ever so complete directions. I covered the single hole with a small piece of aluminum and carpet and replaced the trim. Cannot tell I was ever there. thanks for the guidance,
AirVet. 2002 Bambi 19'
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Old 06-01-2015, 07:55 PM   #8
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Sweet!
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Old 06-01-2015, 08:16 PM   #9
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1998 30' Excella 1000
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AirVet, I spent a considerable amount of time making measurements to figure out where to drill my hole on the inside... and worried all along that I might miss my target. Your marking of the location with a nail through the hinge from the outside was brilliant! A great improvement in the process for the next guy who has to fix a loose hinge. Good thinking!
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:22 AM   #10
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Seigmann,
Without your prior work, I would have no idea how to even start the project. Just a step in the gradual refinement of the technique. Thank you for your fine work and documentation.
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:29 AM   #11
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Why did you need to cut out the square hole where the steel bar is now? I just put two holes in the wall and covered them with pop in sheet metal plugs.

Perry
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Old 06-04-2015, 10:40 PM   #12
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1998 30' Excella 1000
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Perry, if you look at the picture in my original post, with the pieces that I removed all lined up, the last piece is about a 1/2" semicircle of the +/- 1/8" thick structural frame for the door. Probably not enough material was removed to worry about, but I still thought it best to reinforce the frame with the mending plate. On my model you can not get to the nut/bolt without cutting through some of the frame or removing a large area of the interior skin. I chose the former.
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Old 06-04-2015, 11:46 PM   #13
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1974 31' Sovereign
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Had to do similar on mine, replaced all the screws with stainless, sealed behind the head where it recesses on the exterior, and sealant inside on bolts as well. Doubled nuts so I had a backing nut to prevent loosening.
PO had done them at one point, cut the sheet metal poorly, mangled and bent up, horrible patch job too. Had lots of those.
While cutting all new interior skins, I notched the panels where they go over the bolts. Then the notches will get covered with some nice clean riveted access covers so if I ever need to get back there it won't be difficult.
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Old 07-31-2017, 10:20 AM   #14
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I want to thanks everybody for their post. We recently bought a 1997 25' Safari with twins. After we got it home I noticed the lower door hinge was somewhat loose. Both screws were free spinning. After reading the tread I cut two holes as recommended and spent an hour removing the gray sealer. Don't make me cuss. Well one screw came out without issue and the other one even after spraying with rust buster didn't free up to remove. I ended up hack sawing the bolt, then it was a speedy trip to Lowes for some Stainless bolts and nylon nuts with 10 minutes to spare before they closed. Thanks for posting the size. I want to thank Airstream for engineering this headache. Just kidding. It comes with owning a Airstream. Thanks everybody. Now it is off to the mountains and some cool weather and tubing down the river..................................
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