Unhinged - RV Enthusiast Magazine


by | Feb 10, 2023 | Pro Tip, RVEXPERT

Photos by the author
When the hinges on an RV screen door fail, the typical solution is to buy a new door assembly — which is pricey. Here’s how to make new brackets out of angle aluminum — an inexpensive repair that restores full use of the screen door.
When the hinges on the screen door break, it’s one of those “oh, no!” moments. While the screen door can be replaced by removing the screws in the hinges, it’s not possible to replace the hinges themselves when they break. Years of opening and closing can lead to broken hinges, a common situation, which rendered the screen door unusable on this older fifth wheel, and the cost — not to mention the labor — to replace the entire screen/entry door assembly can be astronomical.

Fortunately, there is a rather simple solution: build new brackets to restore the function of the original hinges.

The process is not complicated if you’re the least bit handy — and it only takes about an hour to complete the job. You’ll need to purchase a short length of 1 ½-inch angle aluminum (although 1 ¼-inch stock may work, depending on the hinge size) at a local hardware store, which can be cut into brackets and mounted over the existing hinges. It may be hard to find a short length of angle aluminum, and since you’ll probably only need 9-12 inches worth, plan on having some leftovers.

For this project, the existing hinges were measured and marked accordingly on the angle aluminum stock; each hinge was 3 inches long and there were three of them. The aluminum was cut with a power angle grinder (although it can be easily cut with a hack saw) and the rough edges filed smooth. There’s a backing plate behind each existing hinge, which was used as a template to drill holes in brackets made from the angle aluminum. Once the holes were drilled, a new bracket was attached to the upper hinge position first on the screen door using the existing screws.

close view of an RV screen door hinge broken in two pieces
After years of service, the hinges on the screen door snapped in two, which made it impossible to replace the screen door without purchasing and installing a new entry door assembly. Not only is this job labor intensive, but the cost of the new door assembly would have been expensive.
a tape measure is used to measure an existing hinge
An inexpensive alternative was to attach a bracket to the remaining section of each hinge made from 1 ½-inch aluminum angle stock, commonly found in hardware and home improvement stores. The first step was to measure the existing hinges.
a sharpie is used to mark the trim area on the stock aluminum part
an angle grinder is used to cut the aluminum angle stock into three brackets
This project required that the new brackets be 3 inches long, so appropriate markings were drawn as a cutting guide. An angle grinder was used to cut the aluminum angle stock into three brackets. Aluminum is soft, so cutting is not that difficult if only a hack saw is available.

A locking pliers was used to hold the newly attached bracket to the existing hinge that was permanently attached to the entry door. Three new holes were drilled through the new bracket and entry door hinge and screwed in place. From here the process was repeated two more times.

the broken section of the existing bracket is removed from the screen door
the old broken backing plate is used as a template for drilling the new bracket holes
Once the new brackets were cut, the broken section of each existing bracket was removed and the backing plate pulled out. The backing plate was used as a template for drilling the three holes that would line up with those in the screen door frame.
a new bracket is installed on the upper position of the screen door frame
After the holes were drilled, a new bracket was first installed on the upper position of the screen door frame. The original backing plate was repositioned behind the new bracket and the existing screws were installed and tightened.
the newly attached bracket is positioned against the leftover entry door hinge and held in placed tightly with a locking pliers
rivets are applied to the new bracket piece to prevent movement
The newly attached bracket was positioned against the leftover entry door hinge and held in placed tightly with a locking pliers. Three holes were then drilled through the new bracket and hinge to accommodate rivets that were used to fasten the two pieces, preventing any movement between the two pieces of metal. This process was repeated two more times.

For this project, the owner of the fifth wheel elected not to trim the aluminum brackets, which extended into a portion of the screen material in the three hinge locations — he was just happy to get his screen back. In retrospect, trimming the brackets would have looked better, as would be painting them to match the screen door frame.

The newly installed brackets brought new life to the existing hinges with the same level of strength — and opening and closing the screen door was once again restored to a smooth operation.

the RV technician opens and surveys the screen door movement with the newly attached brackets
A job well done. The screen door now moves freely and since the original hinge points were used, there was no dragging — and the latch lined up perfectly.
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