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Old 09-12-2020, 08:44 AM   #1
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2015 19' International
Driggs , Idaho
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Front Door Latch

Hi - I have the following problem with our front door latch for our 2015 Airstream International. While driving, the nut that attaches the front door latch to the door frame vibrated off and the nut fell into the space between the interior and exterior walls. Not sure if anyone has ever had this issue before but it seems very difficult to retrieve the nut or to slip a new nut into this space. Any thoughts or advice would be welcome. I have attached a photo showing the latch and opening. The photo is rotated 90 degrees. The nut fits behind the opening.

Thanks
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Old 09-12-2020, 09:00 AM   #2
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That's a toughie for sure.

I don't have my AS here, but I can offer some thoughts:
  1. Drill into the bottom of the door from the inside to get the missing nut.
  2. Cut a slot below the original hole and put the nut in sideways, then up to the door latch bolt and put the latch back on the nut.
  3. Weld the slot shut.
  1. Cut a slot below the original hole
  2. Strong magnet (rare earth) on a string to get the missing nut out.
  3. Put the nut in sideways, then up to the door latch bolt and put the latch back on the nut.
  4. Weld the slot shut.
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Old 09-12-2020, 10:48 AM   #3
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Hopefully Terry overlander63 might have a been there done that answer. He is an Airstream tech at OODM.
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Old 09-12-2020, 12:55 PM   #4
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I just went and looked at mine, on each side of the door jamb on the inside there is a removable trim piece. A similar problem several have experienced is the hinge nuts falling off just like your latch did. The best fix for that is apparently removing the trim and drilling a hole large enough to slip the nut into the hole and hold it while you thread the bolt into the nut with blue Loctite. Then replace the trim to cover the hole.

I would just go and buy a new nut, but if you want to attempt to retrieve the original, the dead bolt striker plate is just below where your latch fell off. You could drill out the four rivets to remove it and work through that hole.
Good luck....
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Old 09-12-2020, 01:10 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richw46 View Post
[*]Strong magnet (rare earth) on a string to get the missing nut out.
Yes!
There's still the problem reattaching the nut inside the jamb, but magnets work wonders, especially in aluminum vehicles.
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Old 09-12-2020, 01:29 PM   #6
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On second thought, you probably could glue the nut onto a slim piece of metal with JB Weld and work it up through the dead bolt slot. It should hold just enough to snug up the latch bolt.
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Old 09-12-2020, 03:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NO NOIZE View Post
On second thought, you probably could glue the nut onto a slim piece of metal with JB Weld and work it up through the dead bolt slot. It should hold just enough to snug up the latch bolt.
I once had a hitch installed. The vehicle frame had holes but no access to put the nuts on except where there was an opening. The nuts came with a 2' piece of wire (like coat hanger size) soldered on. You'd fish the nut into the frame holding the wire, and once the nut started, the wire just remained inside the frame! It worked brilliantly! Took a little "English" as you were trying to get the bolt started, but every one went on tightly.
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Old 09-12-2020, 04:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
I once had a hitch installed. The vehicle frame had holes but no access to put the nuts on except where there was an opening. The nuts came with a 2' piece of wire (like coat hanger size) soldered on. You'd fish the nut into the frame holding the wire, and once the nut started, the wire just remained inside the frame! It worked brilliantly! Took a little "English" as you were trying to get the bolt started, but every one went on tightly.
I had one of those once too, I think the nuts had star type lock washers incorporated into the design so they snugged up without a wrench inside. It was at least a three beer job
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Old 09-12-2020, 04:51 PM   #9
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Re: Front Door Latch

Thanks to everyone for all the advice . I like the idea of trying to retrieve the nut with a magnet and drilling a hole behind the piece of aluminum molding and/or removing the striker plate and seeing if I can work from there. I actually had the nut for a while but was not able to line the nut up with the hole to reinsert the latch but now the nut has slipped further down into the insulation between the outer and inner walls. I will keep everyone apprised of my progress.
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Old 09-12-2020, 05:04 PM   #10
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Good Luck!
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Old 09-13-2020, 09:51 AM   #11
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Important tip: when you put the nut back on, use "thread locker" to prevent it from vibrating loose again. You can get thread locker at any big box store. It comes in a little tube like Neosporin. It's good to put on everything threaded in our Airstreams to prevent vibration from rattling them loose. Just be sure to get blue, NOT red (different strengths- red is virtually permanent, which may sound good, but trust me, use blue!).
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Old 09-14-2020, 03:06 PM   #12
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Front Door Latch

Hi all - I was able to repair the front door latch thanks to all the advice I received. The first step was to pry off the dead bolt striker plate to allow access to the nut plate as suggested by NO NOIZE. I attached a magnet to a length of stiff wire and was able to retrieve the nut plate in short order after removing some of the insulation between the walls. I was then able to use a short piece of the same wire to feed the nut plate up to the opening where the door latch bolt attached. The hardest part was lining the nut up with the opening and pulling it snug so that I could thread the latch bolt into the nut plate. I used some blue locktite as was suggested by kidjedi. It appears that the latch vibrated off because the rivet just below the door latch bolt had failed. Once everything was attached, I used a hand held rivet gun to reattach the striker plate and resecure the nut plate. Overall, the repair did not take more than a couple hours once I had the necessary tools (magnet, rivet gun, wire, etc.).

We should be back on the road in short order!
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Old 09-14-2020, 03:18 PM   #13
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Awesome job!
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Old 09-14-2020, 03:23 PM   #14
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Congrats.
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Old 09-14-2020, 06:01 PM   #15
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Just did the same job today on my 25' FC. Only I removed the striker to adjust the door latch. Apparently Airstream doesn't use some sort of nut plate retention like the automakers do. I was able to remove the trim behind the door jamb and pull up on the aluminum panel to access the nut. Stuffed a bunch of insulation in the jamb to keep the nut plate from dropping in any future adjustments.
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Old 09-16-2020, 04:32 PM   #16
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Great Job!
Thank you for the detailed pictures. I did not know it was not just a nut, but a "nut plate"
I just looked at mine again and now I see the nut plate retaining rivet on the door frame, I didn't notice it before.
Thanks again for the follow-up post.
I am raising a glass to your honor right now!
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Old 10-25-2020, 10:06 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mollysdad View Post
I once had a hitch installed. The vehicle frame had holes but no access to put the nuts on except where there was an opening. The nuts came with a 2' piece of wire (like coat hanger size) soldered on. You'd fish the nut into the frame holding the wire, and once the nut started, the wire just remained inside the frame! It worked brilliantly! Took a little "English" as you were trying to get the bolt started, but every one went on tightly.
You can also wrap a thin wire into the threads of a bolt creating something that looks like a spring when removed. Thread the straight end of wire through to the desired bolt hole. You then pull the bolt through the interior and out the desired bolt hole.
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