The doors on any aircraft are a critical part of the design. I decided early on that we were going to upgrade the stock Vans door latches with some of the premium door handles currently available. We have spent a lot of time on fit & finish of the doors as we want then to function without any issues.
This is a photo of the upgraded door handle and lock I have chosen. There are several 3rd party manufacturers of these handles, I selected Hendricks Mfg based mostly on price (~$430.00). They require a bit more door modifications than the imported units but for the difference it was worth it. As you can see they are so SO better looking and functioning than the standard assemblies offered by Vans. We added a magnetic tip to each end, this tip triggers a sensor to turn off a Door Open light on the instrument panel. We will also be wiring the baggage door to indicate when left open.
This photo shows the considerable cut away required for clearance of the door mechanism. The mechanism will be covered by a fiberglass shield (See Below).
Nice clean aerodynamic installation.
We decided to swap door handles so the occupant is less likely to hook part of the handle and open the door inadvertently. I don’t know about RV-10 doors but I have been in two planes where the door opened in flight (both on take off) and they are extremely hard to impossible to close once airborne. Also pictured is the fiberglass mechanism cover.
Here is the door installed & closed with the weather trim. We used trim that mounted to the canopy instead of the door.
Because of the design of the gull wings near the hinge assembly the weather strip will not make full contact all the way around the door. We chose a unique mod to bridge the door hinge gap with fiberglass so the weather strip will now seal the entire door. This should make for a quiet & dryer interior.
After looking at all the door seals while visiting OSH 2007 we decided to take a different path and place the door seal on the door frame not the door. The seal we used was sourced from McMaster Carr (p/n 1120A311, Cat. pg. 3428, $1.35/ft.). We ordered 25 feet and used all but two feet. The one downside is the effort to get a complete seal around the door you have to fill in the around the Nylon door pin blocks and glass over the hinge gaps (detailed below) to give a solid surface all the way around the perimeter of the door. However then end results make for an excellent, draft free closure.
Because of the design of the gull wings near the hinge assembly the weather strip will not make full contact all the way around the door. We chose a unique mod to bridge the door hinge gap with fiberglass so the weather strip will now seal the entire door. This should make for a quiet & dryer interior.
I wish Vans would supply or offer precision machined hinges instead of these average cast hinges. This is a small but important part of the assembly. The exposed portion of the hinges are designed to show if the -10 is built to plans. We did not like viewing these hinges and decided to make hinge covers.
To install the hinge covers the scribes and routed out a channel for the hinge covers.
Below are two photos of the canopy top. One side has the hinge covers and the other side is the standard configuration. I will either paint the metal covers with the plane or I will powder coat the covers to match the smoke chrome of my steps and other items on the plane.
Because we could not leave good enough alone we decided to try and improve the door latch system. I have always been uncomfortable with the thought of catching something (anything) on the door handle and accidently opening the door in flight. I think it’s a real possibility and once open I expect the door would hit the rudder or horizontal stabilizer on its way back to earth. And that would be just the beginning of the excitement.

A simple but incomplete solution was to swap handles (as detailed above) making it much less likely to catch on an article of clothing or the like. I wanted an additional physical barrier much like on my 6A. We thought about using the actual lock already installed but the door latch mechanics made that problematic. We then designed a grip latch that grabbed the leading edge of the handle. The initial thought was to spring load or pendulum weight the latch but that resulted in locking us out of the cabin once you exited the plane. Duhhhhh. Once the spring was removed the safety latch system worked really well and is now part of my door latch system.

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