Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

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Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby Dave Nathanson » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:08 pm

The problem is, after 13 years of camping the vertical piano hinge for the trailer doors is wearing. I noticed it because the door didn't want to shut, it was dragging at the bottom. And very difficult to close.

After first checking for obstructions, and screws that may have worked themselves out and become obstacles. I continued looking and discovered that the aluminum piano hinge now has a lot of slop in it such that I can lift the trailer door up about an eighth of an inch or so because the hinges have worn, sort of like the way that a chain wears. So there are gaps in between each segment of piano hinge now.

I came up with an interesting fix, very very simple but it's working. What I did is insert a piece of wire through the hinge and bring it back so that it is a spacer and will not allow the door to drop down anymore. The wire I used was some kind of loop hook, I don't know what it was for maybe a very small curtain or something.

Anyway you can see in the picture what I'm talking about; that wire sticking out used to be a loop hook and now it is a hinge shim. I just bent it down and left it long in case I need to modify it in the very near future.

I'm quite pleased that the door closes easily now. :-)

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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby S. Heisley » Thu Feb 09, 2017 8:58 pm

Even though you have added the wire, the screws may continue to work loose. Therefore, you may want to remove the screws, fix the holes and then replace the screws. This is what I would do: I would take some toothpicks, smashing them somewhat with a hammer so that the fibers spread; then, glue the toothpick fibers in the holes with some Titebond II or III. (III dries faster) Once dry, cut the toothpicks off and sand so that they are flush with their surroundings. Test that the screws will screw easily back into the holes; and, if they don't, drill the holes a little to accommodate them. If you can, use new screws. Dip them in some RV sealant before screwing them in, even if there was already RV sealant there.

(You may already know to do all of the above; but, others may not.)
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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby Dave Nathanson » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:16 pm

That's the interesting thing! The problem with the door not closing easily had nothing to do with loose screws and everything to do with a worn piano hinge.

The way this aluminum piano hinge is wearing out is where each segment of hinge rubs against the next segment of hinge. After enough of that wear happens then the door is slightly lower than it used to be. When the hinge was new there was very little gap between each segment or finger of the hinge. (What is the correct term for this part I wonder? )
But as it wears there becomes a larger gap between each finger of the hinge and once there is enough gap so that the door rides so low that it hits the door jam or threshold. Then that is the problem.
Anyway the goal of the fix is to raise the door back to the original height and adding that little piece of wire inside the hinge has done that. And the door is closing well so far, today anyway. :-)
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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby Dave Nathanson » Thu Feb 09, 2017 9:17 pm

I will, eventually replace the hinge that is the correct thing to do. But this little piece of wire is solving a problem for the time being.


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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby Tomterrific » Fri Feb 10, 2017 9:43 am

I think you have a clever fix there Dave. Yes, it is temporary but it works until you can get enough time and energy to replace the old hinge.

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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby Nobody » Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:50 pm

Ingenious fix Dave. I too used aluminum piano type hinges on the doors of my TD. It's only 10 yrs old with approx 30K miles & so far hasn't shown any extra wear on either the leaf or knuckles (think those may be the terms you were looking for??). For the first 8 years we spent approx 30-50 nights per year (at least) in the TD so the doors may not have been opened all that much. I ordered my hinges online & got the larger 'leafed' model with 1/8" stainless pin & approx 3/8" knuckles. They've worked well up to now...
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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby DezPrado » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:26 pm

I've had a similar problem in the past and repaired the hinge without replacement successfully.
Where the hinge is badly worn like yours, I filed the wear gap slightly larger & evenly, and then inserted a brass collar/washer in the gap.
It was quick and surprisingly, easy and has lasted eight years so far. Saved me from buying and expensive (for what they are) replacement.
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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby KCStudly » Mon Feb 13, 2017 8:10 am

This is a good example for why someone might select a SS hinge instead of lighter weight aluminum.

Dave, your avatar pic shows you wheeling in sandy desert conditions. Do you think that may have been a factor in the accelerated wear of you aluminum hinge? (I'm thinking probably.)
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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby Dave Nathanson » Mon Feb 13, 2017 1:47 pm

I can only guess as to why my aluminum piano hinge is so very worn after 12 years of frequent off-roading, usually desert. Sometimes over trails where even Jeeps probably don't belong. Hundreds of miles of brutal washboard trails of Saline Valley, CA or Baja Mexico combined with unforgiving stiff leaf springs may have bounced the trailer much harder than most. Or maybe the desert sand storms chiseled away at the hinge. I really don't know. But I'm glad to have figured out the reason why (and the fix for) the door which had become so hard to close that I had to pound the bottom corner with my hand to get it shut. BTW this was on my side of the trailer, her side still closes ok. Maybe I open & close my door far more than she does the door on her side? My side rattles more? I've been on a number of trips without her? The mysteries abound.
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Re: Repairing Piano hinge (vertical)

Postby KCStudly » Mon Feb 13, 2017 4:10 pm

That was what I was thinking; fine sand gets in the hinge and acts like an abrasive grinding down where the knuckles rub on one another. Stainless steel would last longer, but would not be immune.
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