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Repairing Van Doors

Are the best RVs the most boring RVs?  I tend to think so.  It is advantageous to own a rather ordinary machine that everybody knows how to work on and needs replacement parts that are easy to get. 

But not all repairs are standard, bolt-on parts like radiators, spark plugs, or alternators.  Just think of how many times the automobile's door is opened and closed!, and how high the stress is on metal parts. You have to struggle harder to get independent repair shops to work on door problems since they are considered "body parts."  

They might send you to the auto dealership or to a body shop, where prices are astronomical.  I wish I knew more about getting body parts from one of the online salvage parts distributors.

Anyway, after the last post's problem was solved, I got involved with the next problem: poor door-closing of the cargo ("barn doors") on the starboard side of the van.  I had ignored the problem too long.  It wasn't going to go away, by itself.

Why had I not noticed the top of the front cargo door bumping into the top of the rear door? This showed that something was wrong with the top hinge.  In fact, the problem was easy to see: the top hinge (0.25" thick) was separating from the sheet metal of the door.  Apparently, a weld failed.

It is quite something the way a person can panic when they discover something like this.  Would the top hinge weld fail completely when driving down the road?  Would that cause the front cargo door to literally fly off the van when driving at high speed?  Would I have to go to a dealership that has a body department?!  (They would probably want me to get a whole new cargo door.)

It was easier than expected to remove the black plastic appearance panel on the inside of the door, just by prying it off with a putty knife.  Once it was out of the way, you can see what is going on.  

Why not just drill screws through the hinge and sink them into a block of wood that then supports the door against the hinge?  It was pretty easy to drill holes through that thick hinge and then sink screws into a wooden block that is put inside the door. 

Camera is inside the door, and pointing back towards the hinge.

Things tightened up nicely!  And you can see it.  The cargo door now closes perfectly. 

The reader is unlikely to be interested in any of these details unless they have the same symptoms.  But the same principles might apply to the reader on different problems.  The 'moral of the story' is that a non-mechanical person can still do themselves a lot of good by inspecting their car problems.   Patience, non-panic, a good flashlight, and a telescoping inspection mirror can go a long way! 



Seldom do Hinge Welds fail, but as you discovered, fasteners loosen due to road vibration.
Stay Safe and Enjoy your newfound hobby.

It's about time.
Rick, I am not sure that the weld itself failed, but when I look from the inside of the door I can see a crack in the sheet metal of the door. How could that happen?

Yes I will have to keep my eye on the tightness of the two wood screws, which will be easy to do. I could replace them with a 1/4-20 through-bolt and (nylon locking) nut.

Actually I have been amazed at how wood screws stay tight despite all the vibration that my rig sees. Similarly with nylon lock nuts.
Mark in Kansas said…
I don’t quite get what is going on here but I commend your resourcefulness.
Sorry, Mark. I should have included more photographs and fewer words.