Casita entry assist handle! - Fiberglass RV

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Old 05-16-2011, 08:06 AM   #1
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Kip in Ga.'s Avatar
Name: Kip
Trailer: 2003 Casita 17' SD Deluxe, Towed by '09 Honda Ridgeline.
Posts: 562
Casita entry assist handle!

This is a "FWIW" thing. How it was done and what was found. Kind of long but might help anyone trying to replace one of those handles.

Entry assist handle on the exterior, at the left side of the door has gotten chalky beyond hope and has a split below the bottom anchor hole. The exterior of the handle easily scrapes off with a finger nail, as deep as I care to dig. Also the screw heads are rusty. Time for replacement!

The screws would loosen and move out a 1/4" inch, or so, and then get hard to turn. Applying more pressure loosened them but they would then just spin and not screw out any farther. It was as though they were stripped and not engaging the threads of whatever they were screwed into. There was just enough room to get a "wonder bar" between the handle, at the screws, and the camper wall.

This resulted in them being hard to turn again but still not extracting. The screws would push in and pull out to a point, but not come completely out.

I did get them to eventually come out by applying a lot of pressure with the pry bar and using an electric drill with a bit attached. But they fought me all the way. The screw threads were covered with adhesive. Got new stainless screws with the same thread and length. Put them in the holes and very gently attempted to thread them into whatever! There were no threads for them to screw into. There was just a spongy feel when pushing on them.

Turns out that the anchor for the screws is behind the built in microwave. So it had to be removed. Pushed the screws back in the holes from the outside and saw the wall covering, that is glued to the inside of the wall, moving.

The handle was attached with the 1/4" screws and nuts on the bare fiberglass. Some type of adhesive was used to keep things from coming loose and the screws from backing out. Then the wall covering was installed. I believe the nut was glued to the wall, but as I attemped to loosen it the threads of the screw didn't want to freely turn and broke the nuts loose from their anchor.

Inside I cut away the covering and found one of the nuts but not the other.
Obviously neither of the nuts were sitting in front of the holes.

I will be going back with locking nuts and washers that can be gotten to with a socket from behind the microwave. Hopefully the handle won't need replacing again as the camper resides under shelter when not in use.

I'm thinking the method of attaching the nuts would have worked just fine, but the person doing it got the glue on the screw threads, which caused the problem.

Actually a better way to have done that would have been glueing a piece of wood to the wall, drilling a hole through it, and then using a "T" nut. Maybe the factory feels the handles should last a life time!

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Old 05-19-2011, 10:51 PM   #2
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Herb Sutton's Avatar
Name: El Viejo
Trailer: 2002 Casita 17 ft Spirit Deluxe
Posts: 231
The '99 that we used to have didn't have a handle. I installed one using bolts, fender washers (big washer,small hole)lock washers and nuts. I held the nut and tightened the bolt from the outside.

The adhesive you encountered was probably there to seal against water leaks.
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