Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer

 
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Old 09-16-2006, 08:38 AM   #1
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Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


Ok, I work for a general contractor who mostly does roofing but we do some framing too from time to time so I have limited framing experience. A friend asked me if I would help frame a door in his semi trailer. It's not prehung or anything and it doesn't have to be pretty, just functional.

I have an idea of what I want to do but I would like some imput. I'm going to make a standard door frame with a header but I'm wondering how I should tie it into the trailer. The trailer has aluminum studs spaced 2 ft apart at the most. Should I bolt the outside of the door frame to the studs? This is new to me any input would be appreciated.

Thanks.
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Old 09-16-2006, 08:55 AM   #2
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


Are you putting it on the side of the trailer? Like an entry door? Is the trailer stationary or transported alot?

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Old 09-16-2006, 08:58 AM   #3
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


yes it'll be on the side, somewhere near the front. and it won't be moved often. he's going to load it with water tanks and use it for bathroom/sewer for oilrig sites
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:13 AM   #4
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


I'd suggest using a door suited for RV's.

Look through here for ideas-

RV doors
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Old 09-16-2006, 09:44 AM   #5
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


If it is a semi trailer and will be moved DO NOT cut an opening into the side of it without using steel reinforcements welded in before you cut. The area you will cut needs to be supported from the underside on the frame rail to prevent buckeling in case of a mistake or accident. Wood is not sufficant enough to make the framing with.

You have to weld in a steel plate header above the door way - Weld in 1 1/2 x 2 steel stock around the frame and then you can install a door. And dont forget to put a small 1" rain gutter above it. Normally those trailers are a 100" wide and legally can be no wider than 102".

Also, DO NOT cut into the aluminum rail along the bottom of the trailer. This will require you to reinforce the rail using huck pins and the gun to install those bad boys is about 1200 bucks. Good luck.
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Old 09-16-2006, 11:21 AM   #6
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


I would seriously consider a commercial type lightweight door, since it will get a lot of use if I understand what he is going to be doing with it. As stated above, van trailers are built to be light, and the framing you will be cutting out may cause the side to loose some strength...use a lot of caution in planning this out. Also, I would try to find an aluminum frame or fabricate one and then rivet the skin back to the frame.

If you have access to the back side of the skin and frame, you can get some standard rivets and buy a rivet set that will work in an air hammer...its ok for a one shot deal...or you could use heavy duty blind rivets that a truck parts house will have. If you run steel to aluminum, you will have a corrosion problem show up later...so if you do, paint and protect well to prevent direct metal contact.
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Old 09-16-2006, 04:48 PM   #7
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


Kessler - if you need any additional help, just shout. My husband is a trailer and reefer mechanic.
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Old 09-16-2006, 07:15 PM   #8
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


Just a question. If this trailer is going to move, doesn't it fall under DOT compliance? This may be the wrong board to be asking.
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Old 09-16-2006, 10:35 PM   #9
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


I would suggest putting in a normal trailer door (hire an expert) as I said before, putting this kind of door in requires you to cut into the bottom frame rail. Then frame inset an entrance about 12" deep. Heres an example, sorry if the pic is fuzzy, im goin racing tomorrow morning and need to go to bed, dont have much time to play with it.
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Old 09-17-2006, 12:02 AM   #10
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


My husband had to jump on this one..... You will support the bottom of the trailer - get a 10' piece of splice plate, drill out the rivets from the rail about a 6-8' span, you will put packing tape over the splice plate that is going to touch the bottom rail, put the splice plate between the bottom rail and the cross members. Go to your local truck/trailer repair place and get cross member bolts (they are 3/8"). Drill your holes where you took the rivets out, and use the cross member bolts to bolt bottom rail to cross members back together. Then you will be able to cut your bottom rail (you can use a skil saw) flush with your floor. Get a whiting door blank (from truck/trailer supplier, they are 48" x 102") , a door lock hardware kit, hinges and hinge butts (3). You can use channel or 4-5" tubing if you want rounded edges to make it easier for the door seals, to frame it out floor to ceiling,(suggestion is 5") when you put the channel in (you can take out the posts where the door will be, you won't need them anymore) When you drill out the rivets to attach the channel to the panel and bottom raill, those are buck rivets, and you need to use buck rivets to attach channel to panel and bottom rail. DO NOT USE POP RIVETS - they will break! You can use a skil saw to cut the panel for how big you need for the door, you have to weld in the header peice. Then you cut your door blank 1" smaller than the opening, and install door molding. Use a sealer between the molding and the door - you can staple, screw, the molding on. You can use a piece of splice plate for the threshold and use floorscrews to screw to the cross members and weld on the side where the threshold touches the channel. If done this way - this is about a 24hr job alone. He said to expect it to take you longer. He said to be very careful, because if the bottom of the trailer is NOT supported properly it will buckle. Make sure you don't cut any holes until the splice plate is in place. If you just start removing panels, she will sag. Recommended suppliers : Fruuhoff (SP?), Fleetpride. Trailers are either 96" or 102" side to side. This is NOT a cheap job. If you decide to 1/2 ass and use wood, he says to take out a BIG insurance policy if you transport it on the road, the trailer could split in 1/2 , collapse, if not done properly
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Old 09-17-2006, 08:39 PM   #11
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Re: Framing A Door For A Semi Trailer


Quote:
Originally Posted by Debookkeeper View Post
My husband had to jump on this one..... You will support the bottom of the trailer - get a 10' piece of splice plate, drill out the rivets from the rail about a 6-8' span, you will put packing tape over the splice plate that is going to touch the bottom rail, put the splice plate between the bottom rail and the cross members. Go to your local truck/trailer repair place and get cross member bolts (they are 3/8"). Drill your holes where you took the rivets out, and use the cross member bolts to bolt bottom rail to cross members back together. Then you will be able to cut your bottom rail (you can use a skil saw) flush with your floor. Get a whiting door blank (from truck/trailer supplier, they are 48" x 102") , a door lock hardware kit, hinges and hinge butts (3). You can use channel or 4-5" tubing if you want rounded edges to make it easier for the door seals, to frame it out floor to ceiling,(suggestion is 5") when you put the channel in (you can take out the posts where the door will be, you won't need them anymore) When you drill out the rivets to attach the channel to the panel and bottom raill, those are buck rivets, and you need to use buck rivets to attach channel to panel and bottom rail. DO NOT USE POP RIVETS - they will break! You can use a skil saw to cut the panel for how big you need for the door, you have to weld in the header peice. Then you cut your door blank 1" smaller than the opening, and install door molding. Use a sealer between the molding and the door - you can staple, screw, the molding on. You can use a piece of splice plate for the threshold and use floorscrews to screw to the cross members and weld on the side where the threshold touches the channel. If done this way - this is about a 24hr job alone. He said to expect it to take you longer. He said to be very careful, because if the bottom of the trailer is NOT supported properly it will buckle. Make sure you don't cut any holes until the splice plate is in place. If you just start removing panels, she will sag. Recommended suppliers : Fruuhoff (SP?), Fleetpride. Trailers are either 96" or 102" side to side. This is NOT a cheap job. If you decide to 1/2 ass and use wood, he says to take out a BIG insurance policy if you transport it on the road, the trailer could split in 1/2 , collapse, if not done properly
Nice description!

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