Curved hatches - Fiberglass RV


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Old 05-25-2011, 08:12 AM   #1
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Curved hatches

My research on boat and rv hatch covers reveals all have straight sides. Our campers have a slight curve on certain parts. Has anyone found a supplier/manufacturer of exterior hatch covers that will follow the contours of the exterior, similar to the windows? I'm afraid that mounting a plastic cover on a curve side will crack/break it and it would not fit tight. Thanks for any leads.....
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Old 05-25-2011, 10:06 AM   #2
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A previous owner on my boler American addressed this by fabricating shims curved on the body side and flat on the hatch side. I believe I posted pictures of this in my fridge vent mod.
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Old 05-25-2011, 10:14 AM   #3
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My dad and I have been mulling over this issue, because this winter I want to add an under-the-rear-dinette access hatch, and there are no flat places on the back end of the Burro.

I think what we're going to do is cut out a piece of the shell, and use that cut-out piece to make the hatch door. I believe there will be attention to reinforcing the edges of the hole on the body, as well as on the cut-out piece, all of which will need to become sturdy enough to support a latch and hinges and stuff. We're not clear yet on the details of therein and of what sort of waterproof gasketing we'll use, but between my dad and my uncle who builds hotrods, I'll have enough can-do handiness on hand to figure it out.
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Old 05-25-2011, 01:26 PM   #4
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What about the hinge? Typically a piano hinge is used. How are you going to curve that... or are you thinking of using something different... that would be much shorter?
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Old 05-25-2011, 03:03 PM   #5
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The hinge can be at the top or bottom and would not need to be curved, the sides and door would need to have about an 1" bend in the middle to fit the curvature.
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Old 05-25-2011, 03:07 PM   #6
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I found no problem when adding hatches to the Boler. After making the cut-out there was enough flex in the remaining body to make things fit OK. I did double up the sealant strips and add some extra bolts though.
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Old 05-25-2011, 04:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by james kent View Post
I found no problem when adding hatches to the Boler. After making the cut-out there was enough flex in the remaining body to make things fit OK. I did double up the sealant strips and add some extra bolts though.
I agree. I also had no problem adding exterior hatches to either my Boler or Trillium. The Boler side wall was somewhat more curved and needed more bolts to hold it to the frame, but the curve was not so severe as to make it difficult to close the hatch and it did not leak. The Trillium was beautifully flat in just the right place and only needed a bolt at each corner to hold it flat against the trailer wall. I did not need extra sealer (I used butyl tape) in either case and there was no discernible gap after installation.

Depending on what kind of trailer you have, there should be a flat enough area for you to work with in the right spot.


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Old 05-25-2011, 07:00 PM   #8
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My problem is that I want to install a hatch cover over my existing air conditioning vent on my Egg Camper- it would make it a lot warmer in the winter and I can leave it open for summer use. The current vent cover has a 1" curvature top to bottom and I'm afraid that much will crack plastic. I'm thinking of aluminum cover that I can bend the 1".
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:24 PM   #9
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The interesting thing about most plastics is that they are "plastic". Heat them up enough and you should be able to reshape them.

Consider making a jig and slowly cranking up your oven to find the sweet spot of thermoplasticity before you melt or burn your hatch.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:26 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Roy in TO View Post
The interesting thing about most plastics is that they are "plastic". Heat them up enough and you should be able to reshape them.

Consider making a jig and slowly cranking up your oven to find the sweet spot of thermoplasticity before you melt or burn your hatch.
Good idea, I guess I should allow for that in ordering so that it is not too small.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:36 PM   #11
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See if you can find out what kind of plastic the hatch is made out of. Some are thermoset and some are thermoplastic. If it is thermoplastic, you should be able to find a target temperature range on the web.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:07 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by jen b View Post
My dad and I have been mulling over this issue, because this winter I want to add an under-the-rear-dinette access hatch, and there are no flat places on the back end of the Burro.

I think what we're going to do is cut out a piece of the shell, and use that cut-out piece to make the hatch door. I believe there will be attention to reinforcing the edges of the hole on the body, as well as on the cut-out piece, all of which will need to become sturdy enough to support a latch and hinges and stuff. We're not clear yet on the details of therein and of what sort of waterproof gasketing we'll use, but between my dad and my uncle who builds hotrods, I'll have enough can-do handiness on hand to figure it out.
Wow, I've been wanting to so the same thing, but don't know how. Please keep us posted. I love pictures when you get some. I have a 13ft. Scamp. Thanks!
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:54 PM   #13
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I changed the water fill on my Scamp which is on the curbside rear corner. I used a standard locking water fill door. I had the new door for several years before I finally decided to put in on my Scamp. I had been reluctant because of it being straight anfd the Scamp not.

I finally decided to go ahead and make the mod. As after I used a piece of plywood at a template all I'd have to do is add a little filler. I used plumbers putty which I then covered with caulk when I caulked all the way around the new door frame. The fill is only maybe a 1/4" max. Oh, the blue tape in the picture is the size of the LED tail lights like Casita puts on their trailers. I'm contemplating the change.

You can't get much more curved on my Scamp than the corner I put the new door on.

I also changed the little round electric port to a locking electric door.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:35 PM   #14
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This works Joy because you're hinging from the side, which is flat. I still can't fathom a hinge on the top or bottom when the hatch is curved.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:41 PM   #15
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here is one that may work with the opening in the center
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Old 05-27-2011, 09:51 AM   #16
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Here's an access hatch I've put into my '71 Boler restoration. The opening is about 6 x 12." When installed correctly, the size allows for very little distortion to the curve of the shell.
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Old 05-27-2011, 10:14 AM   #17
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Hi, Jim

I'd suggest that you "build out" to a flat plane- build an aluminum frame 2" or so deep and set it into the cutout so that it protrudes where the body curves away. It could be "trimmed" for looks with something flexible,and would give you a flat plane for the door.

Kind of like Trillium's body shape change at the fridge access door (below)

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Old 05-28-2011, 06:40 PM   #18
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This works Joy because you're hinging from the side, which is flat. I still can't fathom a hinge on the top or bottom when the hatch is curved.
But Donna, the whole thing is flat.

So it doesn't make a difference where the hinge is, top, bottom or sides. There is no curve to my hatch. It's only the trailer that is curved so the hatch stuck out a little on th curve and I filled the gap with plumbers putty. I'm just saying it is possible to put a flat hatch on the curve no matter where the hinge is.

And, I agree if the hatch is actually curved then that would be different. I've never seen a curved hatch.
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Old 05-29-2011, 05:11 AM   #19
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Joy I guess you missed the discussion where it was talked about cutting out a curved area and using that or heating up a plastic vent and bending it to the same curved area as the trailer....
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