| Hello !
|May 25, 2013, 06:30:25 AM
If you're wanting to build your own set of tube doors but don't have (or want to buy) a tube bender, Jeeptubes.com has the kit thats right for you! Their kit is nice because it gives you the versatility and money saving capabilities to make your own without having to buy super expensive equipment. This kit can be done with as little as a grinder and welder. All you need to do is make your own hinges and latch system.
What comes in the DIY Tube Door Kit
All you get in the kit is the pre-bent tubing. There is two strait pieces, two 90* bent pieces, and two 45* bent pieces. Since you don't get the hinges and latches it keeps the cost down to $75. Sure you can go out and buy the door latches, but then you're spending more money that isn't necessary. If you follow along I will give you a cheap way to make your own latches.
Other materials you need to have/buy
All you get in the kit is the tubing, you need to supply the hinges and latch system. But this is nice because this is where you can save money.
As for the hinges, we used (4) 7/16"X4" bolts and cut off the threaded part. You can leave this part and use a nut to secure them on but we didn't think it was necessary so we just used the smooth shank part of the bolt for it to pivot on. You will also need some 3/16" or 1/4" flat bar to weld to the tubes and bolt heads.
You can buy a set of your own latches, but after doing a bunch of research we combined a few different ideas of home made latches and came up with our own. To make these you will need about 18" of 1/8"X2" flat bar, (2) 1/4"X3/4" bolts washers and nuts, (2) 3/16"X1" bolt and nut, and we used a couple springs that were from some drum brakes laying around the shop.
Building the tube doors:
These doors are pretty straight forward so if you have some general fabrication skills you will know how to cut and fit them so you can just skip to the pictures. All thats really needed to put them together is a flat surface (a table is preferred but a flat driveway you can make some chalk marks on is okay as well), a welder, and a grinder. Tools that aren't necessary but will make life a lot easier include a chop saw and a tubing notcher. You can use the chop saw to notch the tubing but an actual tubing notcher makes a cleaner and more accurate cut to weld.
First you're going to lay out the doors and see how you like them. The top bar is going to be the same size no matter what, but the front bottom bar you can bring forward a few inches if you like, and the rear bottom bar you can bring up a few inches. They are a general fitment and can be altered slightly for size. Just make sure you have a way to latch the door closed. Once you have them laid out to the size you want you can start marking for cutting.
Lets start with the straight piece... Making sure the weld seam on the tubing will be on the inside, make a 45* cut on one end. (This is going to be for the rear portion of the door where the 90* bend piece meets up with it).
Moving onto the 45* bend piece... We measured the door hinges and ours came out to 12 1/4" from the top of the bottom hinge, to the top of the top hinge. On our table (If you are using the driveway, find a 90* angle in the concrete or make a 90* mark on the concrete) go to one of the corners and measure down 12 1/4" (or whatever yours comes out to be) and lay the short side of the tubing down on the edge parallel to it. Where the long side crosses the edge of the table (or other mark you made on the driveway) is where you need to make your short side of the notch. See first picture below for details. (If you are using a cutoff saw to make your notch, you need to go about 3/8-1/2" past the mark and make two cuts (see red lines on the second picture below for cut marks)). After making your notch tach weld these two pieces together making sure that you have your 12 1/4" from the bottom side of the bottom tube to the bottom side of the top tube (refer to picture above).
The 90* bend piece... Start by cutting a 45* angle on the short side to match up with the 45* cut we made on the strait piece. Match the two 45*'s and lay this piece on top of the 45* bend piece to mark your size for your next notch. Mark where the two tubes intersect and make your notch. After notching you will tach weld these pieces together and you have the door ready to go!
Here is the door all tach welded and ready for hinges
Making the hinges
The hinges are probably the easiest part of this whole process. Tach welding them on the doors is a bit tricky though.
After we cut the threaded part off the bolts off we put them in the vice and welded one corner of a 2"X2" square piece of the 3/16" or 1/4" flat bar (whatever size you got) to the top of the bolt head. After cooling them we slid them into the wholes of the existing hinges on the Jeep. The flat area is where we are going to weld the tubing to to make the hinge. We cut our door ends at a 15* angle to make enough room to let the door close without hitting the existing hinges. (see pictures)
This is where a couple extra hands comes in handy. Holding the door up in position, tach weld the top and bottom tubes to the flat parts of the hinges. You are going to want to put at least two or three tacks on each tube to keep them lined up properly when you take them off for final welding.
After making sure the doors are strait and you have a few tach welds on them to keep it secured you are able to swing the door open and closed. Now you can pull off the doors and finish welding the plates to the tubes and clean them all up. And thats it for the hinges!
What to use for the latch system
The latch is probably the hardest part of the whole thing. Yeah you can buy latches from Bestop but thats going to cost you upwards of $60. Or you can go REALLY cheap and get 2 gate latches, but these look as good as they cost, and they dont make for a nice tight fit and will rattle so much you will go nuts. Or you can make your own. I cant even count the amount of hours my brain has been brewing up ideas about how to make them work, and look clean but this is what I came up with:
To make ONE latch you will need: (3) 2"X1/8" flat bar at 3" long, (1) 1/4"X3/4" bolt/nut/washers, (1) 3/16"X1" bolt with a nut.
Parts in the second picture: 1) Sliding latch mechanism. 2) This is where the latch grabs the striker on the Jeep body. 3) Retaining bolt that keeps the latch mechanism from sliding out. 4) Nut welded to the slide to secure the spring. 5) Drum brake spring that pushes the slide upward to keep the door shut. 6) This bolt holds the spring on and also acts as the opening button.
On our doors we put a 1 1/2" flat plate on the end of the door for the latch mechanism to mount on. When you are building your latch you want to close the door and measure the distance BETWEEN the flat plate and the striker. Ours was 1" so when we drill our whole and cut the slot out for the striker we want it to be about 1 1/16"-1 1/8" away from the flat plate so that the tubing doesn't slam into the Jeep body every time you close the door.
Start by cutting off about 1/4" off of the long end of one of the 3" flat bar pieces (leaving 1/8" scrap). Sandwich the cut pieces in between the two full pieces and weld the 1/8" scrap in the middle of the two larger pieces on one end. This will give you the spacing you need and a smooth surface on the inside for the latch mechanism to slide on. After welding these pieces together you will want to grind them smooth with a flapper wheel. With the loose piece slid inside the parts you just welded together you are going to drill a 5/16" whole 1 3/16"-1 3/8" away from the back side of the fixed part of the latch. This will give us the 1 1/16" away for the perfect spacing for the latch.
After that it just a matter of cutting out the slide to a similar shape that is shown in the pictures above and assembling it all together. When you weld the latch onto the doors you are going to want to click the latch over the striker and bring the door into it to tach it. Making sure everything is strait, this will align the latch to the right hight so the striker will hit in the right spot when closing the door.
Now its time for paint and ABUSE!!!
Check back soon for action shots on the trail!!!
I really like the idea of these tube doors. They give the beginner fabricator a chance to hone their skill and add a project to the list. If you were to buy some doors prebuilt they will cost you anywhere from $200 for cheap ones to upwards of $400! I think the finished quality of these doors would be in the price range of about $250-300 if you were to buy them made. But with these you get to save a ton of money and be able to tell people you made them yourself!
For more information about Jeeptubes.com products check out there website or give them a call.
P.O Box 12526
Mill Creek, Washington 98082
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