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Rework screen door & main door latches

Couple of roundtoits,
  • Add a latch release that doesn't require opening the sliding cover on screen door.
  • Replace cover with a clear one since I'm here.
  • Add full width screen push bar
  • Look at main door latch to see if closing could be made easier
Add screen latch release handle

Our screen door, when slide is in, access to cover and latch difficult.

We now store portable solar panel behind dinette which made limited access impossible. On the road, having lunch etc,
we had to leave the cover partially open. Swear, middle of nowhere, that 8" hole must be visible for miles to bugs...

As inconvenient it was, it was the daily in and out, and having to open/close the sliding cover that really motivated
me to look at it, especially with hands full-hated it. Nothing new here, stumbled on some older threads of this mod, Hey..
Folks have been bending up coat hangers forever...

Some use a lever, like toilet lever, Camco sells a flip lever if you have access to front of cover, though it flips up to
open door. I used brass (brazing) rod, heavy coat hanger would work (better) and many use in different configurations.
Many ways this can be done. Simplest if your slide cover is like our old one is rod straight thru top and bottom of cover
in front of recess ridge, one loop bent to push lever, one loop bent to slid in recess of cover so it doesn't rotate. But
changing cover...
I took the screen off -easier to imagineer and work on door out in the shop than balancing on the bumper.
Cut a slot so rod will be on outside of handle/cover end piece, act as guide, helps twist, less visible.
Bent lower end of rod @ 45°, gives more direct push on handle, minimize vertical length that wants to flex (where coat
hanger would be better). Drilled hole in handle, I had a stop so used but simple dogleg bend will work thru handle.
Inside spacers I ended up taking off later-not needed.
Bend top to match travel so acts as stop, bent out at angle then up. Drilled piece of acrylic for knob.
Worked pretty slick, played with it for while,
Short video of new latch in shop then camper
wonder why we cant embed videos?

..then I decided to change the cover to clear one...

  • Change cover to clear, full width push bar

New bar just easier to use. Cover, no real reason, old one worked fine-cheap enough to open up view.

Slight trim to fit, trimming for door opening height expected,
Trimming the out of square lead edge wasn't. It was factory trimmed almost 1/4" off top to bottom so when closing there
was 1/4" gap. Maybe why so cheap...Minor, though kinda gripped me, trimmed & installed on door.

Push new release knob, wont move. errr
New covers bump out is shorter, rod hits. Designed for old cover then changed it...gosh it doesnt work:h
Redrill handle 1/2" over and all the way to top, rebend rod, remove unneeded spacers- works.
Reinstall screen door on camper.

Slide cover close and push the door closed- um, it wont.
Shown already addressed, Extruded portion that acts as handle on new cover protrudes further out, hit buckle of
panel storage strap. Almost reinstalled the old cover then realized simple to move the strap up.

Moved strap up 2", door closes. Go inside, pull door behind and played with new release. Too simple-
I had seen this mod before but just didn't register how easy simply going in and out would be.
Plus for us on the road now can keep cover closed, still being able to open. Never have to play with the cover again.

  • Installed the push bar.
A little gun shy at this point, spent more time trying to eyeball possible gotchas. 5 minute job....what could go wrong
Went without hitch and works.
I had previously added small handle to pull closed when slide is in but this full bar is really nice.
Especially if door is open you can bring in without stepping outside.

It would really be nice to use screen to pull it and main door when hooked together. But our main door has never
slam-shut, meaning to close you had to hold latch in open position and close, then let go of latch.
When inside the camper this was a 2 handed process....
No amount of slamming or force would cause door to latch. Why? Most doors you can shut without releasing latch...

  • Rework main door latch
Studying the main door latch, first obvious issue is striker has wore groove in door latch from hitting over the years.
That explains recent development of if slightly pulling on door before opening handle it would catch.
But looking at the striker determined why its never closed without opening latch.
The door latches angled face is supposed to contact the folded over edge of striker, it doesn't.
It contacts on the very edge of striker. Mostly because the latch angle is very shallow.
Removed striker, filed and rounded off edge so it wont dig into latch.
Then I removed the main door latch. I was going to just clean up the groove wore into latch but looking at it,
it just struck me as odd. The latch other than very shallow angle is dead flat. Went to the house and looked at several
doors verifying what I thought, all of the latch faces are round, not flat.
On bench grinder ground out the groove wore on latch then rounded over to point. De-burr & finished with small file.
I only removed maybe a 1/16" from length (insertion into striker depth). Balancing on bumper to take pic, its skewed,
looks like more. Worse case though, striker could be shimmed out if too much material removed. Took opportunity to
clean/re-grease internals of door latch with synthetic waterproof lube before reinstalling.

Reinstall latch on door. With honestly little hope of latching, lightly swung door in from about 1/2 open - IT LATCHED!

In disbelief I repeated. In 17 years this is first time door has self latched. From a few inches lightly swing in it, 2 finger close.
Camper on jacks, 4" nose high so door wants to swing open. I imagine once level will close even easier.
Hmm even if latch is key locked...keep spare keys in truck but think I need to hide a door key on camper somewhere.
Accidentally closing door if handle locked, locking myself out, was never possible before.

Short video of main door closing, self latching

17 years..never looked at it, never assumed it could or would self latch.
Now going into camper pulling on new screen bar when snapped to door that can be easily reached,
pull in both to close- one hand. Just like a real door...
Went from reworking screen door as matter of convenience to open without playing with the sliding cover, then
adding an easy to grab bar and clear full view cover to inadvertently leading to a functioning easy to close main door.
01 Ford F250 4x4 DRW Diesel, 01 Elkhorn 9U
Our camper projects page

Lwiddis wrote:
"We now store portable solar panel behind dinette which made limited access impossible. On the road, having lunch etc,"

Another reason to mount solar panels on the roof. And while I'm having panels are they were moving down the road.

Odd-right after I posted thread count showed a reply but not untill today did your reply show?
Our primary solar is roof mounted-24/7, the portable 100watt is to supplement or many times provide most of the 12v if in the shade or low sun.
01 Ford F250 4x4 DRW Diesel, 01 Elkhorn 9U
Our camper projects page

We haven't been out yet, but in the driveway screen latch pretty slick. I'm sure it will be nice in actual use. Such a simple project, kinda fun to address it & the sliding cover. Old cover was right in line-of sight looking out from dinette. The main door latch though... it will be really nice to just pull and click/snap shut main door. However that it actually could have worked all these years had I looked at it before
just astounds me, that I hadn't.
01 Ford F250 4x4 DRW Diesel, 01 Elkhorn 9U
Our camper projects page

Explorer III
Explorer III
Looks like good work. How are you liking the changes?

'10 Ford F-450, 6.4, 4.30, 4x4, 14,500 GVWR, '06 Host Rainer 950 DS, Torklift Talon tiedowns, Glow Steps, and Fastguns. Bilstein 4600s, Firestone Bags, Toyo M655 Gs, Curt front hitch, Energy Suspension bump stops.

NRA Life Member, CCA Life Member

Explorer II
Explorer II
"We now store portable solar panel behind dinette which made limited access impossible. On the road, having lunch etc,"

Another reason to mount solar panels on the roof. And while I'm having panels are they were moving down the road.
Winnebago 2101DS TT & 2022 Chevy Silverado 1500 LTZ Z71, WindyNation 300 watt solar-Lossigy 200 AH Lithium battery. Prefer boondocking, USFS, COE, BLM, NPS, TVA, state camps. Bicyclist. 14 yr. Army -11B40 then 11A - (MOS 1542 & 1560) IOBC & IOAC grad