RV.Net Open Roads Forum: Lexan Screen Door Panel Mod 101 (Lots of pics and long)

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Open Roads Forum  >  Do It Yourself Modifications and Upgrades (DIY)

 > Lexan Screen Door Panel Mod 101 (Lots of pics and long)

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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 08/21/10 08:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Post moved to DIY Forum


Hi Fellow Campers

I know many here on the forum have done this mod before and in fact I learned of it from a fellow forum member. However I did this today and thought I would picture document the process to help add to the collection we have and for others to use or spin off ideas on how they can do it.

In case some of you may be contemplating doing this screen door mod, here is one approach on “How To”. This is my second one of these and naturally the 2nd time around goes a lot easier then the first…. [emoticon]

I did this on our last camper and we really liked it. It lets a lot of light in and you can leave the main door open on those cooler days. And you can easily take a panel out to let air back in. On our last campout DW reminded me how much we miss this mod as the time of year was perfect to use it. So that re-put the bug in my ear….

Oddly enough when we bought this Sunline T310SR we knew we wanted this mod as we missed it real quick. So about a month after we bought it I acquired the materials. Well that was October 2007…[emoticon] This has been sitting in the shed ever since. There always seemed to be more higher priority mod’s or repairs needed. However today we hit critical mass and it is now all done ready to test out camping next weekend. [emoticon]

I’ll do this in pics to make it less wordy. So here goes.

The first thing is the material itself. Last time I used Plexiglas and it is good however Lexan polycarbonate sheet is better. I remember well when I was fitting one panel I flexed it and Poof! [emoticon] The Plexiglas cracked right in half.[emoticon] I must say after doing this this time with Lexan is by far better to work with and does not crack like Plexiglas. Lexan does cost a little more but is worth it.

I used 0.093” thick. Bought it at Home Depot. Lowes in our area at the time did not carry the polycarbonate. They may now.
[image]

Here is the camper before the mod so you can see the door layout. All camper doors are not alike and yours may be slightly different on how the panels will layout. For mine I sunk the panels in the frame and on the outside to keep the dirt off the screen.
[image]

First is to measure the door opening on how you are going to place the Lexan. NOTE: measure each shape on both top and bottom and left to right on all sides. The door is not always exactly the same or square so you may have to cut the panels on a taper or use the smallest dimension. Once you have your numbers, next is cutting the sheet.

You can saw Lexan with any blades that cut wood but used fine teeth. A circular saw with a clamped on guide can work or even a saber saw. Here I used my radial arm saw. The deck is larger then my bench saw and even still you have to add on more deck on the infeed and discharge to hold the sheet while cutting it is so flimsy. Here is one approach. You need at least this much or it can kick on you. And this type of saw will really kick when ripping a sheet or board. I have enough lost barn windows to prove it… [emoticon] And always wear safety glasses.

The setup
[image]

After setting the saw do a test cut only about 1/8” long and check the setup. In this case measure 4 times and cut once.
[image]

Once the setup is right and to give you the clearance, I shoot for 1/32” max. I can always make it shorter… Then push easy and use a hold down board as you push to help stop it from jumping/vibrating even if the guard is set and the anti kick back wheel. I used a short 2 x 4.
[image]

[image]

Now you have the width correct and can start the cross cuts. Again measure 5 times and cut once. Draw a line square the full width. You leave the paper on both side when you work with the material
[image]

Then again just kiss the sheet and recheck the width is right.
[image]

You need a fine tooth blade. Carbide is better but a plain blade will work.
[image]

My saw will not do a full width cross cut so I need to make 2 passes.
[image]

And here it completes. You need to follow the line and make sure the saw is set up to cut square on cross cuts this wide. Again use a 2 x 4 to hold the sheet down while cutting. You can teak a 1/64” in the play of the traverse to make the 2 cuts match dead on.
[image]
Do a quick test fit. Yup it fits good. Cool!!
[image]

Then measure the next piece. As the sheet gets smaller it is easier to work with. Again check 6 times cut once….
[image]

Cut and test
[image]

Cool, 2 that fit!
[image]

On the top piece I use an erasable marker to trace the round corner. Keep the line to the part you are going to cut off so no marker is on the sheet you save. You will have to peel back a small part of the corner and you can see thru the panel to the door curve.
[image]

Now the last small piece. Check 7 times cut once…. Cool this one fits too.
[image]

Now the corner. I taped the paper down across the corner and used a saber saw with a fine metal cutting blade. This fine blade does not rip like a course wood blade.
[image]

[image]

[image]

You need to notch the panel for the door hinge if you are setting the panel inside the door frame.
[image]

Cut each end then go about ½ way and blend into the cut out and go straight to the end cut.
[image]

Then put the blade in the already cut area and cut towards the other end.
[image]

I was rained out of my outside shop today so I had to take the door off and move inside for the fitting. Check the fit
[image]

If the corner needs a trim, mark it can go cut again.
[image]

You can use a fine mill file and file it to fit too. This is a key advantage of polycarbonate (Lexan) you can even use the saber saw and trim off only a blade thickness with out concerns of cracking.
[image]

Now that all the panels fit comes how to hold it in. I went the screen door clips route. It takes a little more work but the end results are very good. I have heard some have use stick on Velcro and on real hot days the panel sometimes drops off. And I have had buddies use the Velcro and no problems. Do not know if it is a brand related thing or not. I bought these at Home Depot or Lowe’s can’t remember which.
[image]

Then you lay out the clips in a pattern and mark the holes.
[image]

[image]

I have a spring loaded center punch to mark the drill point.
[image]

Now you have to deal with the screw lengths. I wanted to use the white headed screws that came with the clips but they are 1” long and too long. So I had to cut them. To create threads in the aluminum, use a pilot drill the root diameter of the screws you are using. I had no 8 screws and used an 1/8” bit. Drill only into the hollow cavity, not all the way thru. Caution, do not push hard. Let the bit cut. [image]

Then use a short sheet metal screw to act like a tap and cut the threads. You can see here the tap screw might just break thru. So I added a flat washer on top when tapping so it would not go too deep.
[image]

[image]

[image]

When your done tapping use a hand countersink to just break the burr on the edge of the hole. Do not use one on a drill as it can go way too deep too fast and the metal is really thin.
[image]

After all the holes are tapped then you need to cut the white heads screws to length. Not very long as they are about 3/8” to 7/16” long to not come out the other side. Some by the slide panel are even shorter. I created a cutting jig to make cutting go quicker, easier and safer. Find an old thin washer, drill it, tap it and then screw the screw in the length to cut off. I used a air cut off wheel but a hack saw will work too. Then you back out the screw and the threads will start in the screen door where you tapped threads in them.
[image]

[image]

Now your ready to put the clips on. And take the protective paper off. Static has every piece of saw dust stuck to the sheet. Here are the cleaning instructions.
[image]

You may find you need a small thin washer under some of the screen tabs like around the slider panel as the frame is sunk in deeper then the side. On the sides I could screw in directly.

And the assembled door ready to go on the camper.
[image]

And here it is on the camper.
[image]

[image]

[image]

And that’s it. Hope this helps someone in the future.

John

* This post was last edited 08/24/10 07:22pm by JBarca *   View edit history


John & Cindy

2005 Ford F350 Super Duty, 4x4; 6.8L V10 with 4.10
CC, SB, Lariat & FX4 package
21,000 GCWR, 11,000 GVWR
Ford Tow Command
1,700# Reese HP hitch & HP Dual Cam
2 1/2" Towbeast Receiver

2004 Sunline Solaris T310SR
(I wish we were camping!)


southernkilowatt

North Carolina

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Posted: 08/21/10 08:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Mod this is great information. Can you make a sticky out of it? John thats great work!

Dave

SidKaye

Mt Dora Florida, Montreal QC for the Summer

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Posted: 08/21/10 08:59pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great Post.....Thanks John!

Sidney


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SooperDaddy

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Posted: 08/21/10 10:36pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thank you! I subscribed to your post so I can keep it! Great work! Sunlight and a view in the colder months....I really like that!


My posts shouldn't be taken for factual data, and are purely fictional, for entertainment purposes, should not be constituted as related to scientific, technical, engineering, legal, religious, spiritual, or practical advice. After all it's FREE! Amen. ">


mking

Indianland,South Carolina

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Posted: 08/22/10 07:44am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Nice work John.What did the Lexan cost for a sheet?Thanks


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JBarca

Radnor, Ohio, USA

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Posted: 08/22/10 08:05am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks Folks for all the kind comments. Greatly appreciated.

Cost: Well back in 2007 when I bought it… it was around $68 to $75 for that 36 x 72” piece 3/32” thick

LAdams

Northern Illinois

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Posted: 08/21/10 09:14pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

John, I'm going to move this to the new DIY forum if you don't mind???

Les

BTW - your usual excellent treatise on this topic [emoticon]

Bulletinmi

S E Michigan

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Posted: 08/21/10 09:16pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

thats some good work


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Wrace

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Posted: 08/21/10 10:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Outstanding write-up, I can't tell you how much the detailed instructions and the pictures help for those who do this mod as well. Your efforts are much appreciated.

I did have a question about the latch lever on your screen door. It seems much more user friendly then the old style levers and I wonder if they can be purchased aftermarket?

Thanks

tbrowne

Springfield, OH

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Posted: 08/22/10 08:38am Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Great mod - thanks for the tip! I noticed that you have a Craftsman radial arm saw that does not have the newer, safer blade guard on it. There was a recall on these saws some years ago, but it's still available at the following site. If your saw qualifies, and I think it will, you can order the new parts online and they will be shipped to you free of charge. Makes the saw much safer.

http://www.radialarmsawrecall.com/


Terry Browne


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 > Lexan Screen Door Panel Mod 101 (Lots of pics and long)
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