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Old 11-30-2022, 09:02 PM   #1
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Adding an Access Hatch

I'd like to add an exterior access hatch on the front passenger side of our 21NE. We purchased the optional interior cabinet door to the space and use it but can't reach very far into the storage space, so would like to add an access hatch to match the optional hatch Escape uses. Has anyone added one of these and can share any lessons learned on how to purchase and install? Thank You!
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Old 11-30-2022, 09:26 PM   #2
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Can’t help on a specific install but would advise always wear eye protecting goggles and gloves when you’re working with cutting a hole in fiberglass.
Good luck
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Old 12-01-2022, 05:29 AM   #3
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First, I've never cut gelcoat fiberglass.......

but I would think a rotary tool (aka. Dremel) with a fine cutting blade would be better that a reciprocating type tool. Plus, adding tape to your cut line to prevent chipping like you would when cutting formica.

The corners should have a large enough radius to make cutting them with the rotary tool easy enough.

I've seen your formica cutting skills so I'm confident you will do a great job.
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Old 12-01-2022, 08:34 AM   #4
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I would check with ETI for the source of the exterior hatch cover....
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Old 12-01-2022, 09:34 AM   #5
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I’ve seen a thread on this forum where someone added an access hatch, but I was unable to find it in a few minutes of searching. I know it’s here somewhere.
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Old 12-01-2022, 11:46 AM   #6
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I added 3 marine hatches to our trailer and they really work well for us.

You can see what I did in this link: https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...tml#post276370

If you want to add a lock you can check out post # 208 in the same thread.
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Old 12-01-2022, 12:42 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WillyB View Post
First, I've never cut gelcoat fiberglass.......
Well I have, tons of it, and all I ever use is a fine tooth metal cutting blade in a jigsaw.

Quote:
Originally Posted by splitting_lanes View Post
I’ve seen a thread on this forum where someone added an access hatch, but I was unable to find it in a few minutes of searching. I know it’s here somewhere.
Yes, and in addition to Ed there's been many folks that have done this mod over the years. I find the search function frustrating at times, but they're there.

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Old 12-01-2022, 05:37 PM   #8
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Here's an example of how well a fine tooth jigsaw works on a layup similar to Escapes.

I was doing my favorite thing, taking a brand new expensive kayak, and instantly de-valuing it by hacking it up.

I was making a much larger cockpit so a disabled person could be lowered into it.

You can see how well the jigsaw did especially on the curving cut. First I cut off the existing front of the cockpit coming then used it as a pattern further forward and cut some of the deck off where the coming was moving to. So, 2 long cuts with no damage to the gelcoat.

I then fabricated a new coming to bridge the gap between the existing rear coming and the section moved forward.

For general interest, the last photo shows the addition of a single handed paddling bracket. Disabled folks can be lowered into the kayak and if they only have one working arm use it to swivel the paddle back and forth. Often their no-so-good hand is velcroed to the paddle also. Works quite well.

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Old 12-14-2022, 01:26 PM   #9
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Access hatch/ trunk door

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfschu View Post
I'd like to add an exterior access hatch on the front passenger side of our 21NE. We purchased the optional interior cabinet door to the space and use it but can't reach very far into the storage space, so would like to add an access hatch to match the optional hatch Escape uses. Has anyone added one of these and can share any lessons learned on how to purchase and install? Thank You!
I ordered my trailer without any trunk doors. I had the 10 x 24 door delivered loose. I installed 3 trunk doors in my 21c. I also ordered without the W/H and installed an on demand water heater.

Use a jigsaw with a fine tooth blade. Be sure to wear protective gear. The fiberglass dust is very irritating.

After you get your new door, make a cardboard template. Make sure it fits the door. You do not want to mess this up. Remember measure twice, cut once. Trace the cut line on the trailer. Mask both sides of the line with extra wide blue painters tape to avoid scratching or marring the gel coat.

Use a 3/16 thick butyl tape to seal between the door flange and the trailer sidewall. Be sure to clean both surfaces with denatured alcohol before applying butyl tape.

Good luck.
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Old 12-14-2022, 06:35 PM   #10
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I found mine here. I want to get a little more height. Looks like you can get the extra 2" in. Flat enough. Was going to move the old one to the front. Haven't put it in yet. A bunch of different sizes.
RecPro RV Baggage Door 18.5" Wide x 10" High

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H3C3GZT...NsaWNrPXRydWU=
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Old 12-14-2022, 06:54 PM   #11
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A tidbit

It wouldn't hurt, as suggested, to tape the exterior perimeter of your cut-out area. One suggestion is to mark your cut lines with a pencil or Magic marker and cover that area with a thick, clear, packing tape. This will reduce any chip out of the hard, brittle gel coat. Interior? Why bother, as it is an aesthetic issue only, and there is no gel coat on the interior. Any exterior chip out you may incur will be hidden by the flange of the door.

Marine access hatches are well made, used widely, and could possibly match your needs and application better than an Escape hatch in size and details. Check them out.

Go slow with the process, have faith in your careful measurements, and "let 'er rip".

And give us an update debriefing with a photo on your projects progress .

HOLD FAST!
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Old 12-14-2022, 08:17 PM   #12
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Thanks all for the advice! It's installed! The cardboard template idea worked well. I drilled a 1/8" hole in the center of the template and taped the template on the trailer. Then I drilled through this centerhole through the fiberglass. I then removed the cardboard template and went inside the trailer and installed the cardboard template on the drillbit in the 1/8" centerhole. This showed me the location of the cutout on the inside before I cut it. I made sure I wasn't too high or too low where it would interfere with something. If I needed to adjust up or down I could at this point, but all was good with the location so I proceeded to cut the hole with the jig saw. I purchased the door from Recpro. It's almost an identical match to the door Escape uses. They are both made by Lippert. It would have been more than twice the price and a few weeks longer delivery from Lippert because they are made to order. The RecPro Lippert unit"s hinge is a tad bit larger than the Escape Lippert unit. It comes without any holes in the flange so I drilled 4 holes, rather than Escape drills 10. I didn't see the need for more screws and figured I can always add more if I want to. The Butyl tape worked well. You can see a tiny bit ouzzing in a few places. I'll clean that off. I was planning on putting ProFlex along the top flange but think I'll water test it for leaks first and if it's dry I skip the ProFlex since it's hard to not make a mess with that stuff. Glad the new hatch is in. In hindsight I'd recommend ordering on your build and having Escape install them. We got the cabinet door option to reach that area but you can't reach all the way to the front of the 21NE from the cabinet door, it's a 5' dinnette, that we usually keep made up as our bed. Thanks again all for your help!
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Old 12-14-2022, 11:58 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfschu View Post
.... It's installed! .... I purchased the door from Recpro. ...
And it looks great, kudos!

Would you mind posting
  • the link to the item you ordered
  • the W x H of the shell-opening you cut for that item
  • the W x H of the clear-opening inside that item
Thank you in advance
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Old 12-16-2022, 04:37 PM   #14
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https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H3C3GZT...NsaWNrPXRydWU=

Cut out is 9 3/4" x 18 1/4"

Opening at smallest dimension is 8 1/4" x 16 3/4"
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Old 12-16-2022, 04:45 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfschu View Post
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H3C3GZT...NsaWNrPXRydWU=

Cut out is 9 3/4" x 18 1/4"

Opening at smallest dimension is 8 1/4" x 16 3/4"
The amazon link doesn’t work. I thought you said you purchased from RecPro.
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Old 12-16-2022, 05:00 PM   #16
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I did buy it from Recpro directly for $103.95. I posted the Amazon link to try to save you a few bucks, the Amazon link in Chasing Trails post above had the same hatch listed from RecPro for eighty dollars and change a few days ago, but now it shows it's unavailable.

Here's the Recpro link. https://www.recpro.com/rv-baggage-do...e-18-5w-x-10h/

Also, you can call RecPro and speak to someone if you have questions which is nice.
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Old 12-16-2022, 05:04 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by mfschu View Post
I did buy it from Recpro directly for $103.95. I posted the Amazon link to try to save you a few bucks, the Amazon link in Chasing Trails post above had the same hatch listed from RecPro for eighty dollars and change a few days ago, but now it shows it's unavailable.

Here's the Recpro link. https://www.recpro.com/rv-baggage-do...e-18-5w-x-10h/

Also, you can call RecPro and speak to someone if you have questions which is nice.
Thanks!
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Old 12-16-2022, 05:18 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfschu View Post
I did buy it from Recpro directly for $103.95. I posted the Amazon link to try to save you a few bucks, the Amazon link in Chasing Trails post above had the same hatch listed from RecPro for eighty dollars and change a few days ago, but now it shows it's unavailable.

Here's the Recpro link. https://www.recpro.com/rv-baggage-do...e-18-5w-x-10h/

Also, you can call RecPro and speak to someone if you have questions which is nice.
Thank you for that direct link to the RecPro product page and for the measurements.

My interest is ordering a hatch with a specific minimum smallest opening clearance and that's very difficult to confidently relate to the 'nominal advertised size' on RecPro's website. E.g. I want to be certain that I can fit a 24" x 24" folded table 'flat' through the non-refundable hatch I order.

I have spoken with RecPro 'tech reps' on the phone, IME they are no help when it comes to providing a specific smallest clear opening dimension for a given nominal advertised hatch dimension (and were not forthcoming when I asked for a dimensioned drawing).

The product looks good, IMO the prices are reasonable, but ensuring one gets what one actually wants / needs can be difficult.

In your case, the advertised 18.5" translates to ~16-3/4" 'clear' and the advertised 10" across the hinge-side dimension translates to ~8-1/4" 'clear' (so ~1-3/4" less in each case).

That info helps a lot, so thank you
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Old 12-16-2022, 06:54 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Centex View Post
Thank you for that direct link to the RecPro product page and for the measurements.

My interest is ordering a hatch with a specific minimum smallest opening clearance and that's very difficult to confidently relate to the 'nominal advertised size' on RecPro's website. E.g. I want to be certain that I can fit a 24" x 24" folded table 'flat' through the non-refundable hatch I order.

I have spoken with RecPro 'tech reps' on the phone, IME they are no help when it comes to providing a specific smallest clear opening dimension for a given nominal advertised hatch dimension (and were not forthcoming when I asked for a dimensioned drawing).

The product looks good, IMO the prices are reasonable, but ensuring one gets what one actually wants / needs can be difficult.

In your case, the advertised 18.5" translates to ~16-3/4" 'clear' and the advertised 10" across the hinge-side dimension translates to ~8-1/4" 'clear' (so ~1-3/4" less in each case).

That info helps a lot, so thank you
I know you still will want exact measurements but if you have trouble finding a stock size that works keep in mind that you can always go custom if needed. They make them in 1/2” increments.
https://www.recpro.com/custom-rounded-rv-baggage-door/
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Old 12-16-2022, 07:36 PM   #20
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Quote:
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I know you still will want exact measurements but if you have trouble finding a stock size that works keep in mind that you can always go custom if needed. They make them in 1/2” increments.
https://www.recpro.com/custom-rounded-rv-baggage-door/
Yes, it's foregone that mine will be a custom order, the 1/2" increment is no problem.

One thing I did get from discussion with telephone reps is that the 'nominal advertised size' used for both stock and custom sizes is the same basis; at least they assured me that a 'custom ordered' door specified as 12"W x 24"H would be exactly the same dimensions as a 'stock' door advertised as 12"W x 24"H with a different door surface finish.

Based on that and the info provided by member mfschu I have greater confidence that a custom door with the long nominal / advertised dimension of 26.5-27" will accommodate my need to pass a 24" table with reasonable clearance but not too excessive overall size. I am assuming (perhaps at my peril) that the perimeter frame extrusion is the same for all sizes.
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