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Old 04-22-2019, 05:05 AM   #1
2 Rivet Member
San Diego , California
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 27
Cast Door Contour Problem

Here's what [had] happened...

The entry door on my '69 was a mess. L-100 was a mess, there was a cabinet drawer lock installed as a "deadbolt". The interior/exterior skins had swiss cheese holes from someone doing god-knows what--a mess.

Removed all the locks. Rebuilt the L-100. Patched the exterior skin. Reinsulated the door.

I used the old interior skin as a template and cut a new, one-piece interior skin. I used a strap duplicator to reuse the existing interior rivet holes in the cast door. Then, I installed the interior skin using clecos and riveted in place. I tried to work my way evenly up/down the door when drilling and cleco-ing the interior skin in place.

Here's the problem. The contour/curvature of the door no longer seems to match the trailer at the top, font corner--it is probably 5/8-3/4" away from the door frame. I never noticed this problem prior so I'm assuming that somehow I managed to ever so slightly pull the door out of alignment during the installation of the interior skin. Since it is a cast aluminum door frame, it didn't occur to me that this could happen.

I'll take the interior skin off this week and see if the door springs back into the correct shape--my guess is that it will. Assuming that's the case, when I reinstall the skin, how do I keep this from happening?

Any other ideas on what I did wrong or how I can correct it?

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Old 04-22-2019, 07:21 AM   #2
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1972 25' Tradewind
1976 31' Excella 500
1974 31' Excella 500
1975 24' Argosy 24
Denver , Colorado
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 1,106
Though reusing previous rivet holes seems like the right idea, it can sometimes lead to problems with curves. Drilling holes with the door in place (and thus following the proper contour) could solve your problem... or not. But it's a possibility!
25' 1972 Airstream Trade Wind Land Yacht (heavily customized)
2006 Jeep Liberty CRD (diesel)
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:50 AM   #3

1968 20' Globetrotter
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 670

1969 has a cast aluminum door frame and a cast door jamb, similar to other late sixties Airstreams. The doorframe and jamb are very frail without their riveted skins.

My 68GT cast door came to me cracked, required de-skinning, tig-welding, re-skinning.

I made a jig/cradle to nest the project in while re-fabricating. The jig's contour was was scribed onto two <7' long x 8”wide, 1/2” plywood strips from alongside the Airstream's doorjambs. I used 1/2” plywood because it was handy, but any 1” or 2” x 8” lumber should suffice. The door was clamped into the cradle while riveting.

I noted that the door was remarkably flimsy with only the outside bucked on. The pop-riveted inside skin locked in the contour and made the door rigid.

I never photo-essayed that project, but here's a sketch...
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:40 AM   #4
2 Rivet Member
San Diego , California
Join Date: Dec 2015
Posts: 27
Thank you for that sketch. I didn’t pay much attention to the flex in the door—it seemed like the outer skin + the rigid cast frame should be sufficient to keep the right shape. I was careful not to force the inner skin, but I guess that’s not enough. I like the clamped jig approach—just more work than I expected... as per tradition with this old trailers.
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Old 10-10-2020, 10:28 AM   #5
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1965 17' Caravel
Olathe , Kansas
Join Date: May 2017
Posts: 36
I have a 65 Caravelle and have a broken frame inside the door. The design of the cradle is great. Thinking of stripping the door to the frame and tigg welding it and would appreciate any suggestions. Little scared to tear into it but feel better knowing Im not the only one that has seen this.
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