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Relaxing your Elite Doors

Al Gietzen wrote:

>Now on to the doors and then the strakes.

Congrats, Al.  Now you're entitled to sit in the left seat and make
airplane noises.

Don't read this if your Elite doors already fit perfectly.

Malcolm Collier (Hangar 18) gave me some excellent tips on persuading the
doors to fit much closer to the fuselage contours.

1.Use halogen lamps (I used twin 500 watts) on one door at a time to relax
them into place.  Lamps go INSIDE, YES INSIDE the cockpit.  Do this at
least over night.  Be sure to lock the door handles tight.  Next, use 2 X
4s to force the bulges in the right direction.  Both my doors bulged
outward.  (Many doors are opposite).  So, I put several 2 X 4s against the
garage wall to force the door inward in three spots.

2. If your door is an "outy" (bulges outward), another trick really helped
me.  I carved a dozen small (1" long X 3/8" wide) pieces from a paint
stick.  I then used duct tape to secure these little pieces inside the door
lip (the lip on the fuselage).  I taped these pieces all around the door
lip to help force the door to bend properly with the fuselage contours.

3. I also hot-glued some 1" pine boards on some of the bulges before I
installed the 2 X 4s.  This helps spread out the pressure of the 2 X 4s.
Use any small pieces of 1" board to do this.  This serves two purposes: 1)
If your door is an "outy", align the 1" piece so it overlaps the door edge
slightly. It stops the door from going too far inside the fuselage.  2) It
also keeps the 2 X 4 from gouging the door as you make adjustments to slide
it into place.

4. Halogen lamps are clamped VERY SECURELY inside the plane, and focused
directly on the inside of the stubborn, sinner door.  (Be sure you don't
secure the lamps with duct tape.  It won't take the heat).  Also be sure to
shut both doors and cover the front hatch if it's open.  I placed a candy
thermometer at the hottest point on the door, and checked it once or twice
during the night.  Lamps were kept about a foot away from the door surface.

5. My highest temp was about 140 degrees F on a hot August day.  Doors and
windows will take a lot higher temps than that.  (I've forgotten the
limits, but I think Malcolm said it's mucho higher than 140 F).  The next
morning the unruly door was repentant.   I re-adjusted the 2 X 4s, and
heated it another 24 hrs.  It got much better.  I think I even did it a 3rd
time, and each time it came much closer to the fuselage contours.

6. Remember that the door surfaces should not be faired if at all possible.
Wherever perfect fit is impossible, adjust door so fairing will be done on
the fuselage, not the door.

7) Put the pilot side on first; it's a slightly better fit.  (Worked for me)

8) I used Aeropoxy ES 6279 A & B kit (Structual Epoxy Jim Agnew
recommended) to achieve the flat surface when doing the final hinge
installation.  I used it on  both the door tabs and the top of cabin.  Mix
it with micro glass to add strength, and it drys in one hr.  This way I
installed a door in one day without having to wait for regular Alphapoxy to
dry.  I waxed some clecos, drilled a couple holes in each hinge, duct taped
the hinges, and the clecos held my hinges in place while drying.

Good luck.  Let me know if you have any questions.  Be sure to check your
Halogen lights often, and secure them well.  I'd hate it if someone melts
or burns a plane down because a lamp wasn't secured well.