Scene 3: After lowering the shell and bolting it to the frame, Steph attempts to close the door.
Steph: The door won’t close now? You have to lift up on it?
Dan: Inspecting the door, opening, closing, lifting. Hmmm... that’s a problem. Looks like the hinge is worn.
Steph: Oh…..okay….Want me to google it?
And so it begins. I google, Dan goes to the Air Forums and YouTube, and we read everything we can find on replacing the hinge pin. We found this article first and that gave us some direction. Good information, but we should have known better to pay too much attention to the part that says, “the hinge pin will come out in a matter of only a few minutes.”
Our trailer has a repair panel from the door opening back to just in front of the wheel well. We are assuming that the door blew open and damaged the skin requiring a repair panel to be overlayed. It is a good repair, and we didn’t even notice it until after we bought the trailer, but this meant the hinge had been removed once before. Maybe that’s why the keeper pin was missing? Or is a piece of it in there? So many questions! Call Paul!
Paul and Graham at A & P Vintage Trailer Works gave us some great tips but the first one was the most important…… DON’T BREAK THE HINGE! They don’t make them and we don’t have any! Ok…so don’t break the hinge…got it. No pressure there! The next important thing is to support the trailer at the hinge rib so that it doesn’t bounce as you use your rivet gun to push the pin out. Be patient, take your time, and DON’T BREAK THE HINGE!
The first thing we did was start spraying the hinge with PB Blaster. Every time we walked past it, for several days, we sprayed it. After several tries, over several days, with no results, something did finally happen. The entire hinge started coming loose from the trailer. Next step, drill out the rivets and take the door off. With the door off the trailer, we drilled the rivets holding the hinge to the door and mounted the hinge to a 2 X 6 with screws. We noticed the hinge didn’t swing freely on the board, it was binding. There is a slight curve in the hinge that we had to compensate for by shimming it away from the board with pieces of aluminum. We then stood the board on end and attached it securely to a shelf. There should be no chance of it bouncing now. With the hinge secure, Dan started impacting. First from the top down, then the bottom up. Over and over. Nothing. Spray, blow out the rusty oil, spray, impact, spray, blow, impact, spray, impact…wait…did it move? Finally! Maybe a centimeter back and forth but….it moved! With every up and down motion, it started coming out a little further until half of the pin came out. Yes, half. It was broken in the center. We did our best to keep the hinge lined up and kept gently impacting until the other half came out. WooHoo! It was nerve-wracking as hell! All we kept thinking was...DON’T BREAK THE HINGE!
Dan was so relieved and excited to have the hinge pin out and the hinge apart he had the holes drilled and the new bushings installed before I could take any pictures. He ran a long 5/16″ drill bit through the door side of the hinge. That’s the side that wears and gets enlarged. Next, he installed bronze bushings into the holes and used a small “C” clamp to press them in place. We bought the drill bit at Home Depot and found the bushings on Amazon. The bushings are 1/4″ Bore, 5/16″ OD X 1/2″ long. He used two in each hole and used a file to smooth the ends. He then cleaned out the holes with a QTip. We bought the new pin at Vintage Trailer Supply . The following pictures show the drill bit, the bushing size we used and the original broken hinge pin.
We riveted half the hinge back on the trailer and the other half back to the door. We referred back to photos to determine the original spacer replacement. Dan put the new hinge pin in a cordless drill and slowly inserted the new pin from the bottom up. Our door now opens and closes perfectly!
This is one of those projects that takes time and patience. The worst part was the fear of DON’T BREAK THE HINGE! We are very happy to have that project behind us. On to the belly pan!