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Gene Lewis
August 7, 2022
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Building A One-Piece Door For My Eagle Bus Conversion

The way I see it, you have two choices for your bus conversion door. 1. Use the 2-piece door and make it into a one-piece door, or 2. Use 1½” square tubing and make your own.  I’ll try and give you a step-by-step procedure to accomplish either method you choose.  Here goes.

Option #1:

Existing Doors stripped to 1½” framework.  Replace any rotten frame with 1½” square tubing.  Wire brush well removing all surface rust.  Spray or paint with a rust killer and then use a good primer on all surfaces.  Figure 1 should represent your present 2-piece door, assuming there is no rust. LOL.

Figure 1

Note: Overlook the rough sketches; hopefully they will get the point across.

In this sketch (Figure 2) you will find the 3” Stainless Steel Hinge.

Figure 2
Figure 3

1. Mount the hinge on the doorframe and then on the coach.  This is for alignment so use only two or three rivets (or self-taping screws) on either surface (you will be putting this off and on more than twice).

2. Next determine the length of spacers you will need and cut from 1½” square tubing (Shown in red – Figure 3).  Weld these spacers in place, grind down smooth and prime.

3. When the framework is welded and is now one piece, cut the two supports out that supported the two windows allowing you to have one large window.  IMO a more professional look.

4. Mount the Door latch (Mine came from a big truck junk yard – from a wrecked Freightliner - $10.00) and Dead Bolt (found a stainless steel one at Big Lots for less than $6.00 bucks).

5. Once all of the welding is completed I chose to fill all of my door tubing with Great Stuff (expandable foam in aerosol cans available at Lowe’s or Home Depot) to eliminate the gathering of condensation and rust.

6. Paint all surfaces with a good metal paint.

7. When the door is installed, you can begin to put your Eagle aluminum siding on using the existing pieces on the body to align all joints.  

So much for using the existing door frames.

The reason I did not use my old doors was quite simple – when I stripped them down I found the bottom half being held together literally by the Eagle siding.  Because of the severe condition I decided to make the door from scratch.  I had to find a metal fabrication shop that could bend 1½” square tubing.  Here is the procedure I followed;

1. Using the cardboard from a mattress or refrigerator (most any furniture store will gladly supply you with the cardboard).  Hold this up to the opening and make yourself a pattern.  Be sure you mark all sides, top and bottom.

2. Take the pattern to the fabricator and tell them to copy the pattern and make it 1” narrower on the sides and top.  This is an important step and you will need a MINIMUM of 1” – this can vary up to 1½”.  This will allow for weather stripping.

3. Leave the sides about 6” longer than the opening.  This will be cut to fit the opening when you start fitting the door to the opening. It will be necessary to cut the outer edges of the doorframe in order for the door to close. See sketch – Figure 4.

Figure 4

4. Mount the hinge on the doorframe and then on the coach.  This is for alignment so use only 2 or 3 rivets (or self-taping screws) on either surface (you will be taking this off and on more than twice).

5. Bottom horizontal on the door should be about ¼ to ½ inch above the “finished” level of the first step.  This allows for bubble insulation (Figure 5) that will eliminate moisture and air.

Figure 5

6. Mount the Door latch (Mine came from a big truck junk yard – from a wrecked Freightliner - $10.00) and Dead Bolt (found a stainless steel one at Big Lots for less than $6.00 bucks). See Figure below.

Mount the Door latch
Mount the Door latch

7. With the door latch and dead bolt installed on the door it is time to install the latch bolt on the doorframe.  Make it adjustable. You will appreciate this later.

8. Once all welding is completed I chose to fill all my door tubing with Great Stuff (expandable foam in aerosol cans available at Lowe’s or Home Depot) to eliminate the gathering of condensation and rust.

9. Paint all surfaces with a good metal paint.

10. When door is installed, you can begin to put your Eagle aluminum siding on using the existing pieces on the body to align all joints.  You can now install your insulation at this point.  I chose to use two layers of ½” blue sheet insulation found at Lowe’s or Home Depot.  Liquid nails hold it in place nicely. 

11. If you want to look around a little you might find a builder who has some scrap that they have left over from pouring a slab floor.  The price is right going this way.  Contractors have to pay to have their scrap hauled off so you are saving them money.

12. I was fortunate enough to find an aluminum sign that a friend of mine had in his scrap pile. I cut out a piece that could be glued and riveted in 4 places to the window frame area.  I cut this large enough to cover a couple of mistakes, Opps those were errors in judgments.  Here are a couple of pictures of what I am talking about.  Look close and you can see the orange side of the aluminum sign.

Orange side of the aluminum sign Pic 1
Orange side of the aluminum sign Pic 1
Orange side of the aluminum sign Pic 2
Orange side of the aluminum sign Pic 2

13. The next step is to have the window installed.  Again you have two choices:

A) Have a frame made up and then install the frame in the window opening.  This can be a solid window or it can have a slider in it.  This will no doubt be quite pricey IMHO.

 B) Have a Glass Shop cut the safety glass to fit the frame.  They will use a special paint around the edge about 1½” wide. They will then apply a heavy bead of black windshields adhesive and when it sets you are set.  I was surprised, at the look and the final out come.  See Figure 6.

Figure 6
Figure 6

14. Here are a couple of pitures of the door that may be helpful.

Door Picture form Outside
Door Picture form Outside

17. You will need some type of door stop or restraint.  Here is a door stop that I made from scrap stuff.  Don’t look at the dirt – the coach needs washing – on the list to do – one day.    See Figure 7 for another method.

Figure 7
Figure 7
Figure 7 pic 2
Figure 7 pic 2
Figure 7 Pic 3
Figure 7 Pic 3

Two brackets – one fastened to coach frame about midway down door opening and the other at a corresponding point on the hinged frame of the door.  The green is either webbing (preferably nylon) or a piece of an old leather belt.

16. Skin the inside of the door to match your interior.

17. If you have to bend the tubing yourself it can be done by making a lot of saw kerfs through three sides of the tubing in the area you want to bend.  It is better to have too many than not enough, the bend will be smother with more saw kerfs.  Once the desired bend matches the pattern then its time to weld the kerfs up and grind down smooth and paint.  This is also the labor-intensive way to do the job.  Here are a couple of rough sketches.  Figure 8.

Article written by Gene Lewis

Gene Lewis received a B.S. Degree in Industrial Arts from East Carolina University in 1963. He spent seven years in the classroom as an Industrial Arts Teacher and then ventured into business for himself. During the past 40 plus years, he has continued his interest in different businesses as well as the industrial trades.

In 1965 he built a fold-up camper trailer complete with a bed slide-out. Then, in 1967, he built a 10’-6” slide in truck camper in which he and his wife made an eight week trip to Alaska in June of 1968. Some four years later he moved up to the Motor Homes class (stick and staples) with 24’ and 27’ Winnebagos.  It was during this time he was introduced to converted buses and was bitten with the “BusNut Bug”. Over the years he has remained active in designing and repairing different types of RV’s and accessories. 

With the demands of a growing business and family, the idea of converting a bus had to remain only a dream. In the late 1990’s, the dream became a reality.  Out of the blue, a deal was struck for a 1968 Model 05 Silver Eagle. I was in great shape and came complete with all the records and paperwork from the day it was built in Belgium. Whoopi! The decision was made to convert the bus to a custom coach done by Gene, for Gene – converted his way.

Gene and his amazing wife Frances have enjoyed the world of camping/RVing since they began their endless adventure, called marriage, some 55 years 

ago. The Lewises now include two married children and two grandsons, who they love spending time with. They presently make their home in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

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