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66Overlander 11-15-2008 01:45 PM

1963 Door-Within-A-Door
1 Attachment(s)
I just made an observation and wonder is anyone else has noticed it as well. 1963 Airstreams of all lengths and suicide door or not seem to have different hinges for the Door-Within-A-Door than 1947 thru 1962 Airstreams. Also, it appears that 1964 Airstreams returned to the original Door-Within-A Door hinge setup as well, making 1963 a one of a kind year.

Here is what the typical 1947 thru 1962 & 1964 hinges look like, with double hinges to the main door and Door-Within-A-Door::

Here is what most 1963 Airstream have instead, two hinges for the main door and two separate hinges for the Door-Within-A-Door:
But there are a small number of 1963 Airstreams that instead have a single "piano hinge" for the Door-Within-A-Door:
If you study the photo's in the Vintage Airstream Photo Archives, you will see that the choice of hinge for 1963 Airstream was not dependent upon trailer length, model, or door style (suicide or not). The rare "piano" hinges came in all combinations.

What this meant for 1963 Airstreams was that if the Door-Within-A-Door was latched open, it had to move whenever the main door was opened and closed. This took some sort of mobile hold open mechanism that could allow this motion, rather than the static hold open mechanism that 1947 thru 1962 and 1964 doors used. I only have one good photo of a 1963 hold open mechanism (not latched) (photo attached below), but think from the various photo's that different types of hold opem mechanisms may have been tried during 1963.

I can see why Airstream reverted back ot the old design for 1964 (the last year for Door-Within-A-Door), but I can't see why they ever tried this design for 1963.

Anyone else notice this? Anyone else wonder why?

3Ms75Argosy 11-15-2008 05:27 PM

hmmm... yes, I have a '63 door in a door.. and does have the piano hinge. It does have a latch that slides on the external rail when the big door opens.. it's actually quite simple in design.. I can post a pic later if needed. My guess is it's harder to line up a long piano hinge than a couple of smaller hinges? My trailer is also Ohio built.

Maybe it's a CA vs. OH thing?

goransons 08-22-2009 09:59 PM

Alright that photo Joe is of my trailer, but between the time of your pic and the time it was in our posession that simple method is missing. Marc can you post me a photo, maybe make me some measurements so I can recreate it?

66Overlander 08-23-2009 06:12 AM

Since this thread was started months ago, I have seen a mention from Airstream that "new for 1963 was a flush mount door within a door" (or something worded similar). I can't find it at the moment, but it has to come from one of the 1963 documents posted here:
Airstream, Inc :: Specs - 1960

I now wonder if that design change may have caused a need to convert from the hinges shared with the main door to separate dedicated door-within-a-door hinges, maybe to guarantee a better fit? I wonder if the "flush mount" feature was retained in 1964 when they went back to the original door hinge design that shared the hinge pivot with the main door hinge?

And regarding the 1963 door hold open mechanism, Scott's 1963 Ohio built 22' Safari uses a hinged rod on the trailer skin that must hook into a loop on the door-within-a-door when latching it open. Other 1963 Airstreams, including my recently purchased Ohio built 1963 28' Ambassador instead uses a more typical spring loaded catch on the door-within-a-door that has a small nylon(?) wheel on it that rides in a small J-channel track attached to the trailer skin. I have no close up photo of this feature, but you can see the track in the photo I provided above of the trailer with old WBCCI number 8905 on it. It's the dark horizontal line just below the fridge vent and above the black box on the side of the trailer behind the door. Unfortunately you almost have to know what you are looking for to see it. Since Ohio used both methods I wonder if this was an early vs. late design change? And what did California use?

And since we are talking, Scott's Ohio built '63 Safari uses a long piano hinge for the door within a door, yet my Ohio built '63 Ambassador uses two separate smaller hinges. Again, could this be an early vs. late design change?

utee94 08-23-2009 06:43 AM

Mine has the piano hinge as well. #164 off the line in Ohio for 1963.

I, too, would love to see the mechanism that the d-ina-d slides along when open. That is missing from my trailer as well.

Thanks for all the info, this is a great thread! I had no idea that some 63s were unique in this way.


goransons 08-23-2009 10:18 AM

closer up photo
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this photo is from Rob's collection he sent me of 8671's time in California. That bar was present during that time, something easily fabricated out of some round stock I'd believe. The remains of the loop on the body is there, but there are two other rivets, I'd presume for some type of spring catch that holds the bar closed against the skin while not in use. That too is missing. I just got to this detail because I wanted to rivet in the pieces before the inside skin goes in, and not use olympics, but it may be that those will be the only option later on. Not sure where to find a small spring clip like that, any suggestions?

3Ms75Argosy 08-23-2009 10:44 AM

Scott, I THINK this is the clip mine uses.. but again, I'll have to wait til next week to show some pics.
Door Latch

The clip opens and slides on a rail on the curb side.


blacksheep 08-23-2009 12:28 PM

3 Attachment(s)
'63 Trade Wind, piano hinge, flush mount.

Attachment 85925

Attachment 85926

Attachment 85927

Sixty3TW4US 08-23-2009 01:30 PM

That's the same mech. as my 63 TW. Works fine most of the time!! It does bind up now and then, a little dab of lube works like a champ!

goransons 08-23-2009 06:13 PM

Mine' definately original with that little C shaped bar, no signs of the track and wheel setup on mine. Anyone else seen this style catch?

66Overlander 08-23-2009 10:28 PM

5 Attachment(s)
Darn it. I took close ups of the door latch system on my '63 Ambassador today just so I could post them to this thread, but now see someone has beaten me to posting them (well similar ones). I'll attach mine here anyway. I've got a door hinge/latch overview photo, plus two shots of just the door-in-a-door latched and a shot of the full door latched to show how the little wheel needs to move in the channel. Finally there is a close up just showing the latch attached to the door-within-a-door.

If just the door-within-a-door is latched open, the wheeled latch moves back and forth on the track each time the main door swings. By the way, I was in Lowes this evening and they sell a similar aluminum C-Channel, so this system should be easy to duplicate. And the latch is really very similar to a reproduction latch you can by many places these days just with a little nylon spacer screwed to the end.

A also need to acknowledge that I called the track a "J-channel" from memory in an earlier post, but it is actually a "C-channel". Mine is buck riveted on, which must have taken a special bucking bar since there would have been no way to attach it straight on because the other side of the C-channel would have been in the way.

And Yes Scott, I have seen the door latch system on your '63 Safari before, so it's not unique. I'll bet if you search the Vintage Airstream Photo Archives you may find photos of another '63 with the same setup as yours.

In your case the door-within-a-door latch arm follows and arc similar to that of the main door when the main door is opened. That would keep the door-within-a-door parallel to the side of the trailer as the main door swings thru its arc. With the channel system on my trailer the latch edge of the door-within-a-door hugs the trailer as the hinge edge move away and back as the main door swings thru its arc, meaning at times the door-within-a-door is angled relative to the side of the trailer. In some ways I like your system better, but it appears to be the rarer of the two. Mine may be easier to latch and unlatch and maybe that is why it seems to have become the preferred design.

goransons 08-23-2009 10:52 PM

It looks like the standard latch mechanism used for years on airstream, just mounted vertically, tab bent and a roller bolted on. I'm hoping I can figure out and make some prototypes to figure out how long that arm should be, then find pieces to make it. Checked all the 63 models on vintage airstream and couldn't find a clear picture with that style latch.

Grand Master 08-23-2009 11:49 PM

I made a new latch by buying the standard latch from Vintage, and bending the tab up. Then drill a hole and make a wheel out of nylon stock. Bolt on with a stainless bolt and acorn nut.

If a picture would help, I can take tomorrow and post. However, I modeled after the original one shown in an above post.

Mike Brumback

Rodmaker 09-09-2017 05:03 PM

Old post but I have 63 Safari similar but the piece attached to the trailer is cast aluminum with two rails the slide piece lock s into a much more elegant and stronger design.

garciacag 12-07-2019 09:42 PM

63 Safari
1 Attachment(s)
Hello Robert Cross, just wanted to say that i have a 63 Safari and it was build probably around the same time as yours. Mine is 223T377, 33 trailers after yours.

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