Sliding Door Repair For Exterior Door

The repair of the side entrance door has finally come to the top of the to-do list. It has been something that has needed to be done since we bought the boat and every time we come and go it reminds us that we need to get it done. I can't take credit for the idea, it was suggested to me by another member of the Marine Trawler Owners Association. I had ask the members for a source to find the rollers on the bottom of the doors that had worn out some time ago. This made sliding the door difficult and it was noisy when it rattled around when opening and closing it, plus the latches to lock the door open and shut would not line up and was a pain to lock. Another MTOA member suggested that the track and rollers be replaced with UHMW plastic instead of trying to replace or rebuild the rollers. This type of plastic is very durable, easy to cut to shape and most importantly will slide very easily against itself with very little friction. We found the plastic here, and ordered it on line. The product was very inexpensive and arrived only a few days after we ordered it.




The original track is a brass strip screwed into the frame at the bottom of the door and there are two recess holes cut into the groove in the bottom of the door itself with brass rollers screwed in place. The brass strip was fine but the rollers were not .









 Once the door was removed I used some blue masking tape to mark the edges of the brass track to act as a guide for the new plastic strips which are not as rigid. Using the brass track as a pattern, the new plastic track was cut and fashioned on a table saw. Once it was cut to size the original brass track was taped on top of the plastic track and the holes were drilled into the plastic using the brass as a guide. With the holes drilled the two tracks are separated and the plastic track needs to have all of the screw holes countersunk so the screw heads won't hit and chip the new inserts in the bottom of the door. Once it is fashioned a dry fit will confirm that it works and fits the same as the original brass.
 

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Next the damaged rollers need to be removed from the slots in the bottom of the door. These slots were pretty much hand cut by the manufacturer so the depth of each slot is not the same. Two small blocks are cut from the plastic and each must be cut to size the slot it will go in. This is important since it determines if the door will ride level on the new track so careful measurements are important. Once the blocks are cut and placed in the slots, they should be secured so they don't move around or fall out. This also helps to make a final adjustment to the height and serves to keep everything level. For our purposes we chose to drill two screws from the inside of the bottom of the door, through the new blocks, to hold them in place. The placement of the screws put them low enough on the door so that they won't be seen once the door is installed since the frame around the inside of the door opening is high enough to cover the screws. If they had been exposed we would have countersunk them and inserted teak bungs to finish them.



With these two steps completed the actual fitting and re-installation was next. Using the blue masking tape we left down alongside the position of the old track, the new plastic was screwed in place. Once it was down we found the flexibility of the plastic compared to the brass required twice the number of screws to keep everything aligned. With the door in place and the new track screwed down we are delighted as to how well the door now slides and we really have to be careful not to push as hard or as fast as we did with the old worn set up. The entire process only took a few hours and works better than our expectations. Only time will tell how well and for how long the new system will hold up but we have faith it will last quite a while. This is not the only repair process for these sliding doors but it is one that is working well for us now and can be used to make repairs to interior or exterior doors.



The teak, as usual is still ongoing and this week we spent a good deal of time rebuilding and repairing the hatch at the exterior entrance to the aft cabin. we are confident that it will no longer leak and a couple of rain storms the last few days have given us hope that this project too is completed. But then there is all of the other projects on the list. Now a new one comes to the top.

15 comments:

  1. Hi
    My door is missing the roller all together - did you find a source of the rollers?
    Thanks

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    1. No we didn't Gordon. That's why we took them out and replaced them with the small blocks of plastic. See the last photo in the post. They have been working just fine that way for a couple of years now, so we don't miss the rollers. Chuck

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  2. This site http://www.swisco.com/cl/Patio-Sliding-Screen-Door-Replacement-Rollers has a lot of rollers. I have the same problem on my boat. I found a replacement that I can make work but I think I am going to go with the poly instead.
    Dave

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  3. Did you order the 1/2" plank or the bar stock? I have 4 door tracks to do on my '84 Europa sedan MT and each has a 3/8" track, so I am thinking a 10' length of 1/2" plank will cover it all with plenty left over for my usual learning curve. Thank you for the excellent description and clear pictures. Hoover

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    1. Guy, I ordered the bar stock in two thicknesses but if you have a good table saw, no reason not to order a plank. You'll find other uses for it. After 3 years it's still working just fine. Chuck

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    2. Replaced the rollers with the small pieces of 1/2" plastic riding on the brass tracks due to time restraints. Works like a champ! Will see how long they last. One must... Seat all of the track screws! Hoover

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    3. I doubt you'll have any problems. We're at 3+ years and counting. Chuck

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  4. been having the same problem and spent mucho time hunting for solution. found it here..yeehaw. I will keep you updated on the progress. only question I have; did you do anything for the top of the door? oh yeah, if you are ever in marathon Florida email me and we shall have cocktails. masonhendricks@att.net
    thanks,
    tom and laurel
    4.25.13

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    1. Thanks Tom and Laurel. Glad to be of service. We didn't need to do anything to the top of the door. It just fits in a slot cut in the teak. Still working great after about 4 years. If we get back to Marathon we'll look you up. Chuck and Susan

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  5. Well..... I was going to go the poly route but I found stainless wheels and bearings online. She is as smooth a silk now.
    http://home.comcast.net/~davebetsy/site/?/page/Sliding_door_wheels
    Fryedaze

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    1. Glad that worked out for you. We did try to find wheels that would not require re-inventing the "wheel". The poly worked out to be simple and has been working for years, so either repair will solve the problem. I would have preferred to replace the wheels. Chuck

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  6. Whenever I have problems with my doors I just call and have them fix the problem for me. The odds are good I would probably make the problem worse by fixing it myself, so I just save myself the headache.

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    1. Some folks are just more do-it-yourself than others. We know many boaters that pay others to do all of the work on board. Others prefer the satisfaction of doing a repair and seeing the results. It's a matter of choice, and finances. Chuck

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  7. Its been a couple of years since I replaced my wheels with stainless wheels. Well, I finally got tired of rough operations and wheel jumping the track. I went the poly route. Looking forward to smooth sliding. http://mvfryedaze.blogspot.com/2015/01/sliding-door-refurbishment.html

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    Replies
    1. Thanks. Another good option to the type of repair we did. Chuck

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