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Old 04-22-2005, 09:13 PM   #1
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Anatomy/repair of LeDeux openers for the Hehr roof vent

I had two LeDeux openers that were frozen and wouldn't turn. I soaked them for a week in PB Blaster and WD40 but they were still frozen tight. So I decided to open one up to see what the insides looked like. Turned out to be fairly easy to open them and repair. To do so :

1. lightly tap the end cap off with a screwdriver and hammer , working around the circle... tap and move a little ... tape and move a little. The end cap is just pressed on. Mine had oxidation and rusty crud inside from being wet. The roof vent had holes in it.

2. Now the end of inner cylinder in the outer cylinder is visible. To get the inner cylinder out I used a socket that would fit inside the outer cylinder and a hammer to tap the inner cylinder out after prying the small plug in the side of the cylinder out with a sharp knife. Both cylinders are aluminum ( I think) and are soft so I just held the cylinder in one hand and hit the socket with a hammer. After 10 or so hits the inner cylinder started moving. A few more hits and it popped out.

3. Then I bead blasted the crud away and sand papered to clean the working surfaces. Then a good coating of white lithium grease was applied.

4. Then reassemble the opener and I now have two good as new operating LeDeux openers.

Pic 1 shows the end cap off the opener
Pic 2 shows the way I freed the 2 cylinders
Pic 3 show the disassemled opener
Pic 4 show them reassembled ready for use
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Old 04-22-2005, 10:42 PM   #2
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Good job Herb! Thanks for sharing your experience & pictures. We haven't had to do this one...yet! I'm sure we will someday ~

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Old 04-23-2005, 01:43 PM   #3
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Thanks Herb - thats really great to know - I've always been able to get mine the work then use litheum grease on them.....

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Old 07-12-2009, 03:03 PM   #4
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Thanks for this post, Herb. I used your tutorial to successful un-stick a stuck lifter from my Astrodome. With the dome removed, I took the opportunity to use some Meguire's Plastic cleaner on the fiberglass. It didn't have any effect on the yellow cast in the fiberglass, but having it sparkling clean is a plus.
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Old 07-12-2009, 05:29 PM   #5
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Very Helpful

64Overlander, I hope you saw this too. I guess we both needed to dig a little deeper in the forums for the answer to our lifter questions. I followed this little tutorial today and it worked just as advertised.
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Old 07-30-2009, 09:19 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbond View Post
I had two LeDeux openers that were frozen and wouldn't turn. I soaked them for a week in PB Blaster and WD40 but they were still frozen tight. So I decided to open one up to see what the insides looked like. Turned out to be fairly easy to open them and repair. To do so :

1. lightly tap the end cap off with a screwdriver and hammer , working around the circle... tap and move a little ... tape and move a little. The end cap is just pressed on. Mine had oxidation and rusty crud inside from being wet. The roof vent had holes in it.

2. Now the end of inner cylinder in the outer cylinder is visible. To get the inner cylinder out I used a socket that would fit inside the outer cylinder and a hammer to tap the inner cylinder out after prying the small plug in the side of the cylinder out with a sharp knife. Both cylinders are aluminum ( I think) and are soft so I just held the cylinder in one hand and hit the socket with a hammer. After 10 or so hits the inner cylinder started moving. A few more hits and it popped out.

3. Then I bead blasted the crud away and sand papered to clean the working surfaces. Then a good coating of white lithium grease was applied.

4. Then reassemble the opener and I now have two good as new operating LeDeux openers.

Pic 1 shows the end cap off the opener
Pic 2 shows the way I freed the 2 cylinders
Pic 3 show the disassemled opener
Pic 4 show them reassembled ready for use

Hi--I'm new to this thread, and I thank you so much for the info. My '53 has the same type of lifter, and I have one that is frozen. My knobs say "LADEAU MFG, ACTUATOR BY LOS ANGELES". The knobs are really nice looking.

I'm going to try your process, and hopefully get this one to work.

Thanks!!
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Old 07-30-2009, 09:54 AM   #7
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discovered the problem

I just pulled out the problem vent. It turns out that the cyclinder that wasn't working is just fine, but it is turning at the connection to the hinge, as someone put it on with a nut. I have sprayed the hinges and the nut with wd40, hoping to loosen them. Does anyone know if you can purchase just the hinges from Inland? Mine are so rusty they don't move at all.
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Old 07-30-2009, 10:58 AM   #8
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The lifter is connected to the bracket with a small pinch pin on each side of the lifter. Its sort of like a gimble for a maritime compass. Slip a small screw driver between the lifter and the bracket, twist and pull gently. The lifter should separate from the bracket, Do that on both sides. Then lift the entire vent cover, with lifters attached, up and turn sideways to bring down through the vent opening at a diagonal.

Now you can work at a comfortable height. The hinge should be attached to the vent cover through three holes. Originally they used three rivets. These often break and come loose. If the vent cover is otherwise in good shape I'd recommend reattaching it with #6 x 1/2 SS mach bolts with nyloc nuts. Hit the hinge with a small wire brush and lubricate. With the lifter now reattached at three points it should no longer spin. Reverse the process and reinstall. Sit down with a cold one and contratulate yourself for a job well done.

If the cover is not in good shape replacements are available.
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Old 07-30-2009, 09:15 PM   #9
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Ready to attach the new gasket

Alot of wd40 later.....all hinges work, and all lifters are clean and working properly! I just have to polish the inside, touch up the outside, and figure out how to install the new gaskets that I just received from VTS.

I did have a cold one, and it was great, as today was really hot!!
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Old 07-31-2009, 06:05 AM   #10
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Congratulations. These small victories give us the inspiration needed to move on the next item on the endless list of ought-to-do's.
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Old 08-02-2009, 01:54 PM   #11
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When I first got the Flying Cloud I cleaned the lifters and then greased them as recommended with white lithium grease. In no time, the grease turned black, acting like flypaper for any lint or dust passing through the vent. My question is, should we NOT grease them, or use something dry, like graphite for lock cylinders.
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Old 08-02-2009, 02:56 PM   #12
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I had never heard of LeDeux hardware. It took a while but from your profile and the other posts would I be right to assume the brand was a 50's & 60's only thing in Airstreams?

Any chance the VAC archivist/historian Fred can specify the years that LeDeux was on board? Hope so.
Also any documentation of what became of the LeDeux company? Quit or absorbed, or other?
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Old 08-02-2009, 05:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Distantdrummer View Post
I had never heard of LeDeux hardware. It took a while but from your profile and the other posts would I be right to assume the brand was a 50's & 60's only thing in Airstreams? Any chance the VAC archivist/historian Fred can specify the years that LeDeux was on board? Hope so. Also any documentation of what became of the LeDeux company? Quit or absorbed, or other?
Hi ddr . . .

LeDeux and LaDeau are the same Los Angeles company and are pronounced the same, just spelled differently depending on regional accents. Their lifters might have been used in a few other brand travel trailers are well.

They are great, ingenious work-forever products if given periodic maintenance, a mostly forgotten concept today. These are all characteristics of the time when the U.S.A. manufactured thoughtful products that cound be rebuilt and/or repaired as opposed to discarded, the fate of too much stuff today.

LaDeau lifters were used in Airstreams from about 1948 to at least 1964 and perhaps a few years later. The pop-on operator knobs changed from the cool round knurled ones to the more familiar plain "T" style ones in early fifties. I like the knurled round knobs because LaDeau was so proud of its product that it cast its name into these round knobs.
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Old 08-12-2009, 11:55 PM   #14
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I know we had these lifters on our '66 Overlander, so they were used at least that long. I suspect, but can't prove, that they were used until the roof vents switched from square corners to rounded corners. What year was that change made? 67? 68? 69?

I think (also can't prove) that the rounded knurled knobs were still used in '53 (some parts I have from a '53 Flying Cloud included the rounded knobs) and that the more familar "T" knobs were in use by '55 (at least my '55 Safari has the T's). There may have been a time where usage of both overlapped as they used up stock.
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Old 08-13-2009, 06:35 AM   #15
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More Info: Vintage Trailer Supply seems to suggest that the square and radiused corner roof vents (at least the the Astradomes) were both used in 1966, 1967, & 1968: Airstream Astradome

If true, could the difference have been Ohio vs. California? Or perhaps Landyacht vs. International? I am guessing it might be the latter.

For the purposes of discussion, our 1966 Overlander with the square roof vents and the LeDeau lifters was an Ohio built Land Yacht. It had no Astradome (an option?), but instead only had three square 14"x14" Hehr vents.
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Old 05-07-2010, 08:52 PM   #16
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la deau vent lifters

Thanks very much to JBOND for this thread. I fixed my frozen lifter this week. It all came apart just like described and now it's back working like new.

I wouldn't have even tried to repair the lifter without this info. A non-working lifter is better than a mangled and missing lifter after all. I had an additional problem. I forced my stuck lifter and now the handle was turning loose. Great, I thought. Now thr darn thing is surely broken beyond repair.

But when I got the lifter apart, I saw that the drive square was simply peened on to the base. A few blows with a hammer and drift peened things securely together again. Both lifters now work great!

One other thing I can pass on: my vent sometimes levitates itself open when I am towing. To stop this I simply stretched a large rubber band between the two lifter handles and everything stays put.
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Old 07-29-2013, 01:08 PM   #17
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I followed your advice and the frozen lifter works great. I came upon another problem, however. While cleaning up the lifter, the top hinged part that attaches to the vent cover came loose. It seem to have been connected with a odd poece of hardware that I am unable to loosen enough to reattach the flange that holds the hinge. Any help?

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Old 08-04-2013, 08:56 AM   #18
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what is done for the lifters that spin but do not raise the vent?
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Old 08-05-2013, 06:53 AM   #19
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I had the lifter spinning problem (see above). You will have to remove the lifter and take it apart. In my case there was a peened together portion that needed to be peened again.

Bill aka Cosmos.
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Old 09-01-2013, 07:21 PM   #20
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T shaped lifter removal

Funny how we all end up fighting the same battles on these things. One thing I didn't pick up in this thread was how to get the actual T-shaped spinner off so that I can removal my Astrodome screen. I see the pin hole in the side, but couldn't tell what it was for. Any ideas?
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