Add an auxiliary release latch to camper screen door

Adding screen door latch

    Couple of reasons for this mod, Primary, mostly a pain in the butt having to open/close the sliding cover on door to open screen. Especially if hands full. As often as not the slider is left open, whether hands full or just forget. Simply cant open and close door behind you, have to stop to play with the sliding cover. Its always been annoying, more of a pain with going out where you have to stop/turn on the stairs to close the cover.

    Secondary though important to address on its own, on our camper, when slide-out is in it covers latch. Have to reach between seat back and door.

    Compounded the last couple of years effectively cant close the sliding cover when slid is in (traveling on road). Our portable solar panel is stored in the space between. When the door is closed cant slide cover open as it hits the buckles holding panel. So its left open. Its amazing how quickly bugs find that hole when stopped.

    Just showing when slide in and limited access to latch and cover on road.

    And subsequent storage of portable solar panel blocking use of sliding cover. Though I can unsnap buckle to slide open. Its happened twice, where door was closed from inside and cover was closed, wont open because it hits the buckle, 'Ahh I cant get out!' Not really but a pain. Anyway time to fix

    Many folks have addressed. If you have room, full access to cover, Camco sells a simple lever that goes thru cover to release the screen latch. Looking around everything from toilet flush handles to coat hanger wire bent to fashion release. As we cant access the front of cover when slide is in opted for the bent rod approach. You'll have to look at what others have done, and your latch/cover arrangement to figure what will work for you. The bent rod release pretty simple.

    After I did ours I found an even simpler method that I'll link to. Still a rod, but travels top to bottom of cover with hoop that rides in recess of cover and another hoop that pushes latch handle. It isn't attached to handle, cover can still slide, pretty slick. Had I seen the before starting I might have copied. YouTube user 64osby screen mod. My suggestion, if pursuing is find as many ways others have done to determine how you want to pursue.

    But this is how I did mine. Functions great, pretty happy with appearance, well not sure on knob, but it works. Never have to play with the slider again just going in and out of camper.

    Adapting what others have done is using a rod. It will attach to handle, go up to top of center door section. Simply pushing down will open door. I had to go thru doors plastic handle before going up as not enough material at top for hole to contain rod.

    First I removed the door, simply easier than standing on bumper, kneeling inside trying to figure out what needs to be done and how to.

    Once I determined web to thin on latch side of the plastic handle and guesstimateing where rod would go thru cut slot in doors 'handle'

    I had decided on bending the end of rod where it goes thru handle 45, both to minimize the vertical distance and better 'push' on the latch handle. Because rod goes thru pull handle, bending simple dogleg where it goes thru latch handle would require removing latch to hook. Opted to use some small set screw stops I had.

    Drilling hole thru top of pull handle, insert the rod thru top then insert bottom thru latch handle. Had to replace round head screw with CS as I got a tad to close, remove rod couple of times to tweak the bends till it slid freely. Top , once bent for handle makes it semi permanent.

    Bent top so at full downward travel it hits the plastic acting as a stop, so as not to put unneeded force either on latch handle or the rod itself. 1/16" brass not the best choice but had and lighter than steel. As this uses the spring of latch to return weight a concern. I could and may add small spring at top. Its working but a little lazy to return.

    Cut a piece of acrylic rod, drilled and polished to make a knob.

    Huh 'screwed on small ink pen spring, assumed I would have to add split washer but helped a lot.

    Just an overall of bent rod. Again this was an 1/8" brass rod.

    Short 3 minuet video showing it work...

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Replace white sliding cover with clear

    Couple of upgrades

    We decided since playing with the door to replace its sliding cover with a clear one and add full width handle.

    Camco 42183 Screen Door Cross Bar Black Amazon / Camco 45512 Screen Door Slide 12" x 11.5" Clear Amazon

    The clear cover just nice-more view. The handle though is a bit more practical. Offers easier ability to push & pull the door, nice when door is open to grab handle for pulling closed. Found for $10.59, a bargain for the convenience.

    The new cover is about 3/8" taller than old one so trimming required. I used some tin snips, short half cuts never allowing the tips to close which likely snap plastic. Its pretty soft material, few passes with exacto knife, hack saw would work. I trimmed off the top edge, leaving factory bottom edge thinking it would be smoother than my cut. Installed on the door ...

    Like it.. went to push new release handle...doesn't move? Bottom of rod is sitting against the bump out of the new cover.

    Rod in opening position. Had I trimmed the bottom edge instead of top it may have opened but would have still hit. Comparing covers the new one, bump out is a little shorter. Designed to work with one cover and then change covers...

    Only option is redrilling hole thru handel over 1/2" and all the way to top, rebend rod to reach, dump the spacers. Worked, it opens and doesn't hit but don't have as much downward travel. The further toward end of handle from the pivot point the more rod has to travel. Details, bit of rebending. Works.

    Got that fixed- went to close the door-good grief. The raised section that acts as handle on cover is wider, protrudes further and over toward center- it hits buckle on solar panel storage strap.

    New covers handle is further away from edge...right where buckle is.
    This is getting annoying. Ready to give up realized simple matter of raising the buckle strap up an inch.

    Simple- new & improved...

    Then I also realized, storing the portable panel behind dinette, though has worked well, has since been a constant source of required modifications. 2 years later still biting me. First it led to adding the small handle because we couldn't reach the old cover handle, then having to leave cover open when on the road, say when having lunch because couldn't slide it open to reach latch, which led to finally adding the secondary release- replacing cover now requires relocating the hold down strap. hmmm
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Add new full width push bar

    With that done now to install new bar handle. What could go wrong?

    Well simple 5 minute install actually went without a hitch. Though gun shy at this point, I spent quite a bit of time eyeballin possible gotchas before drilling.

    Foreseeing no issues removed door, marked screen so handle is parallel to nearest cross bar of screen. Mounting is a visual thing-if you mount level it may end up looking crooked. Handle fits and adjusts to 21-5/8" - 28-5/8" wide screen door. Ours is 20 1/2" mounted to screen and to fit inside of door frame. Minor, cut off an inch from the bar.Insert into plastic ends and screwed to door. Its mounter higher than wanted, but again its the solar panel dictating above its stored height...added release knob adds more clearance need.

    Removal not needed to add the bar handle but had removed to play with the release rod. Move the solar panel strap up, Reinstall the door done

    This is so nice- don't know why didn't do before. The bar is really nice for swinging the door in or out but accessing when the slide is in well pretty cool. Not having to slide the cover over just going in and out is awesome. Standing there playing with the screen, grab the bar and swing out to 'catch' main door, pull them both in, nice. Course have to slide the cover open to open main door latch. Cant just close, have to open the handle. Sure would be nice, with the new grab bar just pull in and close both doors. From inside it takes two hands to close main door, one to open latch and the other to pull door closed then release the latch. Never looked at it...addressed below


    Add a knob to slide the cover over when slide-out is in. When slide-out is in, if screen cover closed (2pics above) and the door is closed cant get to latch...have to reach behind seat and try to work the cover over. Usually its me walking in and out but a pain trying to grab cover to slide over to access the door latch.
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Rework main door latch and striker

    Then it occurred to me why? ANY other door you can close without opening handle.This one no matter how hard you slam (we don't) its not even thinking about pushing the latch in. Looking at the latch there's is a line in it from hitting striker over the years.

    Looking at striker its lead face is folded over but sharp edge of the striker is what contacts latch. Though many RV doors you can just 'close' without opening handle, this one has gotten to point if door latch contacting striker and try to open latch it catches.

    Took the striker off and rounded over its edge. Then removed the door lock assembly thinking I was just going to emery out the groove wore into latch. But then I'm looking at the latch, its is odd, the angle of latch is very shallow, but mostly it is dead flat. No wonder it cant close without opening handle. Went and looked at several doors in the house to verify what I recall, the latch angled faces aren't flat, they are round. Without any further thought took to grinder. Lightly removed material till groove gone, but then rounded over to point.

    Length wise I probably shortened 1/16" but latch face is round. Polished with some emery. Standing on bumper, holding camera and paper card trying to get a picture of new profile, but angles are wrong. Again I only removed at most 1/16" to get it round-should a taken picture of latch before grinding

    Reinstalled latch on door. From about half open swung door over, it latched! Normally it would just bang like hitting with hammer. Then I pushed door close with 2 fingers, it just sucked closed. With door touching striker gently push, door slides in, click. Just amazed.

    I didn't check after rounding the strikers edge so unsure which did what. Though pretty sure the round latch when hits offers less resistance, I'm really inclined to think it was rounding the sharp edge of striker. When latch engages striker now it is hitting the full taper of bent nose instead of contacting the corner of material.

    I made a couple of videos to watch and after studying that's my conclusion.

    On the last video you can see where latch is hitting striker and leaving marks on latch, so engagement once closed is about the same. Not only can close the door now without opening latch but means new screen bar when hooked to door will pull it closed from inside! No more 2 hands.
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