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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Easy open screen door latch makes RVing easier

RVers frequently ask me how to make a screen door opener. I direct them to this previous article found in the archives section located at the side bar on the right, but sometimes they have difficulty locating it, so I decided to reprint it once again for your convenience. Jim Twamley, Professor of RVingWhat do you do with an old bicycle wheel? Make an easy-open RV screen door latch that’s what! You need the spokes to be 10 ½ inches long. In fact, take out all the spokes and save them because you can easily install these in your neighbors units and they will think you're a genius! The spokes are easy to remove, just get a screwdriver and loosen the retaining nut then thread the spoke out of the spindle hole. You can also purchase them at bicycle shops. Once you get the spokes off you need to get out your drill and a bit that is slightly larger than the diameter of your spoke. Drill one hole in the latch handle being careful to allow room for the retaining latch to be able to grab the release handle, then drill another hole at the top of the plastic door slide stop/handle. (Note: do not drill a hole in the sliding cover, but the cover stop/handle as pictured below).Choose where you will drill the holes before you do it. There are two considerations here. First you must make sure the spoke will not interfere with the retaining latch on the main door. My first hole on the latch caused the spoke to interfere with the retaining latch, so I had to drill another hole. Aren’t you glad I make all the mistakes for you? Second, drill a hole in the top of the plastic door slide stop/handle at the same angel that your spoke will travel. I put my spoke at about a 3 ½ degree angle (just kidding I really didn’t measure it).

Insert the spoke so the button will be facing the outside of the coach. You will have to flex the spoke a little in order to feed the threaded end up through the hole in the plastic door slide stop/handle. The better way to do it is to remove the stop/handle (only three retaining screws) and feed the spoke up through the hole and then replace the handle. This way you don't permanently bend the spoke out of shape.Screw the retaining nut back on the spoke and now you can open your screen door without having to slide the plastic door back. Just push down on the retaining nut and the door opens. The spring action of the latch keeps the spoke in place. Since the spokes are stainless steel, they resist rust and look good. No more sliding that plastic door out of the way just so you can reach the latch - one finger is all you need.

Note: The above application was done on a thin latch handle. For thicker latch handles, you can either bend the spoke to fit or you can countersink the drill hole, either way you achieve the same effect. I made a countersink by wrapping a piece of duct tape around a drill bit. Some of these thicker latches may require a firmer spoke to work properly. A thinner spoke may bend too easily. I suggest you test the firmness of the spoke before you start drilling holes. Just put the spoke on top of where you would drill your hole and push it down while holding it in place. If it bends too easily, get a firmer spoke.

Like many ideas, I borrowed this one from a fellow camper who had used a metal rod and a bolt in the latch to do the same thing. He used a stronger material than a spoke, but I prefer the spoke (my idea) over this type of application just because it's cleaner and less intrusive.

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  • Great idea, but 1 Question. How do you open and close your main door with the "slider" screwed shut???

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 9, 2008 7:31:00 AM PDT  

  • I had the same complaint from the wfe about the door. So I just took the latch plate off and installed one mag latch on the bottom and a mag strip in the center of the door where the foam seal is and now just a bump with her toe opens the door when her hands are full. works great and still latches to the main door. bob

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 9, 2008 10:15:00 AM PDT  

  • Sorry, not worth the effort.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 9, 2008 1:50:00 PM PDT  

  • 1 answer, don't drill thru the sliding cover, but follow the directions and drill thru the slide stop handle! and we wonder what's wrong with the country today...FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at August 13, 2008 12:45:00 PM PDT  

  • Another easier solution - I merely installed two cabinet door closers (the kind with a roller)...one above the handle and one below the handle. Like Bob's idea, a simple push on the handle and the door's open. I put mine at the handle so there wouldn't be any twist to the door when being pushed open.

    By Blogger Penny, at August 30, 2008 6:41:00 AM PDT  

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