The original 9gal Bowen was gone and the factory cut “hole” that was left, appeared to have been hawged out with a front-tined rototiller. What a mess.
I made a louvered aluminum waterheater cover for a new six gallon Atwood dual fuel. Reason being, that the stainless steel door that can be purchased doesn't fit any better than than the painted steel door. If you study the fitment of waterheater “doors”, you'll find many cases where it's just plain bad. The Atwood hinge and latch is is less than ideal ( in real words, they're junk), and on many vintage Airstreams, like mine, the waterheater is installed in an area of slope or compound curvature so they cannot fit well. The perimeter flange on the heater casing that fastens to the trailer is thin and flexible enough to follow the contour of the trailer body, but the supplied “door” isn't.
I wanted an aluminum door that somewhat respected the 1968
0riginal door which had poorly designed louvers. You'd think that an internet search of Detroit would reveal a shop that presses louvers, but I had no luck. Certainly they're there, but hunting down “Louver Bob the Biker Guy” wasn't working. Subsequently, at Autorama, in the basement of COBO Hall, where all the rat-rods and unfinished projects are displayed (best part of the show), I met a metal shop vendor that would do it for a few hundred $s, but I had already solved the louver issue.
The first try was as always, “do it yourself”. The Hillbilly Louver Punch made from my scrapmetal pile did satiate my curiosity
, yes indeed, it worked. The problem was indexing the next punch, and the 3/8” x 5” louver, while functional, didn't have the proud aesthetic of a fully bloomed 1/2” hot-rod louver. I again scoured the internet and found an aircraft shop in Wisconsin that understood what I wanted. I UPS'd them the door that I sheared and braked from .040 5052, paypal'd them $110, and had it back within the week. The louvers are beautifully crafted and precisely placed.
Now, it's up to me to find a junked trailer that I can remove the rear service door jambs from, so as to fabricate the bucked rivet 1968
vintage rivet flush access door look. VTS replicates the access door perimeter extrusion but not the mating door jamb extrusion. In the mean time, it attached well using 1/2” angle, and the little twist in the door to snugly fit isn't apparent. It aligns well with the beltline extrusion, but to my eye it's a little TOO NEAT, so I'll reconfigure it someday to better blend with the flush style of the other access doors with a perimeter of buck rivets. The unhinged door attaches with four socket head machine screws, which foil the “curious”. The stainless steel bug screen is fitted to the inside of the door by interference.
When I was weighing water heating options for my camping trailer, five years ago, it seemed that the luxury of a continuous hot water supply did not outweigh the dual fuel 6gal. With the conventional water heater, parts, service, knowledgeable technicians are in immediate supply around most towns, but mine has never failed. I've never hooked up to a campground water supply. The added six gallons augments my smallish fresh water tank. I can heat a little dishwashing water in a few minutes in my teakettle. The extra six gallons of water is another day in the wild for boon-dockers. True, it adds forty pounds to the trailer weight, but it's forty pounds of water, the most vital trailer commodity. If you're doing shell-off work, then perhaps you've designed a modern water tank management system, so less concern. I figured that the on-demand heaters are best suited for large trailers with many people and full hook-ups, or folks that demand the luxury of long hot showers.
Pardon the over-detailed post, I'm suggesting is that you can easily make a door from .040 2024 T3 Alclad, and it'll polish, but 2024 may be too hard to punch without a little edge tear. I honestly don't know, but 5052 is soft enough, and if you keep at it it'll shine almost as much. I was born void of the polishing gene, so I'm no help with shine.
I love the little old trailers….