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Sure, our current RV – a Winnebago EKKO – is a Class C. But before this, for more than a decade, we were van dwellers. And while there are a lot of changes we like about the move to a Class C, we eventually found ourselves missing our van’s screen door solution more and more. I finally decided to do something about it, and the result is this video:
The screen door in our last camper van was made by Rolef, and we loved it. This style of screen door has just about become the standard for screen doors in vans. And with the large sliding door space in most vans, a solution like the Rolef screen is almost required.
But Class A and C motorhomes, which have “normal” doors, always seem to come with a weird RV screen door. It’s an approximation of a screen door on a house, but – as I point out in the video – it’s far from a perfect solution. So remembering our van days, I set out to create a similar solution for our EKKO.
And I’ll just say right off the bat that while I can actually sew, I’m far from a pro at it. This project was just about the upper limit for my skills, and I learned a lot while making it. But since I’m still not super-confident with my sewing, we decided not to make this a “How To” video.
Benefits of This Door
I won’t repeat the whole video, but here are some of the highlights of this new screen door solution:
- The “frame” of the new screen is insulated (with this stuff) – which makes it a nice way to deal with the too-cold metal door frame that always seemed to frost up in the winter.
- The magnets on the screen are flat bar magnets (these, actually), which would make it difficult for a pet to push past.
- There’s a bar on the bottom of the door that jams against the metal frame of the door. This means you CANNOT open the screen door towards the outside. This also means pets can’t possibly push their way through the door.
- With 3 features designed to keep the cat inside, I’m thinking this may be a cat-proof screen door. (More testing required. Mel considers this a challenge.)
- The screen zips up and rolls completely out of the way if you don’t want it there.
- Rather than straps or buckles at the top of the door, the rolled up screen secures by just dropping it down into some brackets. Easier and faster than Velcro!
- It’s quieter than the traditional RV screen door 100% of the time.
So – what do you think? Is there something I forgot? Is this a great idea? A terrible idea? Would you want one? Never want one? I’m kind of curious.
Like I said in the video, I’ve still got our old screen door (Bangy McRattleton) if we decide this new screen isn’t for us. Or, realistically, not for Mel. Because let’s be serious, if this doesn’t work for the cat, I doubt we’ll be keeping it long term…
We have a 2018 Pleasure Way Plateau XLTD with a screen door like yours. We hate it and would love to replace it. Our old van had a Rolef screen door which we loved. Have you contacted Rolef or other company about producing your idea? Please keep us posted as we would love to change out the metal screen door.
I’m working on something in the background with Organized Obie. We’re trying to come up with something that’s not so EKKO-specific, and could fit multiple RVs, like yours.
We’ll post something here if and when we get that all worked out.
Did this stop the rattling of the door on rough roads? I was under the impression it was more of the outside door that rattles. Putting Electric tape or duct tape on the bolt seemed to help (even though you have to change it out frequently as the door bites through it). Thanks
I wouldn’t expect this mod to have any effect at all on the exterior door. Fortunately, our exterior door doesn’t rattle, and didn’t before this mod either.
We slam the daylights out of our door before driving the EKKO. If you don’t slam it, it only latches loosely, and will rattle. We’ve never had to resort to the tape thing.
please please post again telling us if Mel outsmarted the door. One could see a light gap up the lower right side of your new door that looks inviting. We have a 16lb cat that can slide open the little access hatch in our aluminum screen door (with his nose) and climb out.The other plus of your full screen door is that it lets in a lot more light than the standard rv screen door.
We’ve since taken Mel out with us in the RV, and – even though there were lizards – he hasn’t managed to escape. He got his claw stuck in the screen once, and that was about it.
AFAIK, there is no gap. I think you may have seen the white-ish floor poking through between the pieces of the door.
We do have to get a new entry rug though. The one we have is a bit too tall, and it interferes with the door closing properly. (Too bad, because we really like that rug…)
Had a Travato previously and watched your videos then – did a number of your projects.
Have an EKKO since Dec 22 and modifying and ideas from your posts – thank you for what you and Stef do.
The screen door replacement is great – if you can’t get it produced, could you sell the pattern with a list of materials?
Loved the windows on the Travato – the EKKO outer door is made by PTL Engineering. I wanted to install a window in it, wanted to match up windows w the style in he EKKO.
Only one that fits is the size that is in the bathroom, which is too small and would be +$550 w me doing the work.
Prob don’t need an opening style window in a door.
In watching your screen vid – saw where you covered your power switch w a red protector – you buy that or print it?
What make printer do you have or prefer?
Well, I don’t have a pattern or a list of materials for the screen door. I made it up as I went… I don’t have anything I could sell. I’d have to run through it again to make a pattern.
As far as the red cover – that’s covering a switch I installed to kill the step motor. Sometimes we don’t want the steps going out if we’re in a crowded parking lot.
I don’t have a power switch at that location – I removed it because it was redundant, confusing, and incompletely shut off the power.
But I just printed the cover and installed some magnets in it that I had laying around. That way, it sticks to the panel.
My 3D Printer is the Flash Forge Creator Pro. I have no complaints with it!
Thank you for the response – I think the flexible, hanging screen door checks all the boxes. I’d take your lead, and comments, to sew one up, but…..
I would like to share two two things I “had” to do to our EKKO.
1.Not due to any abuse, mis-use, I had to replace a broken screw in one of the window regulators at the frame end. They are thin, weak and it “appears to me”, they were overtightened at install. After seeing that potential future problem, replaced the 4 screws in every window with slightly larger stainless screws.
2. The very rear cargo door cylinder, frame mount was bending w regular use.(we are road cyclists and find that door to be the easiest one to place in, and remove our bikes from). The frames were bending “and” when I noticed it, I also saw that the cylinder base/frame utilized rivets which were also stretching.
Installed longer reinforcement plate between the cylinder base and frame to spread load and stiffen. Used round-head, slotted head (heads are in the frame on the door side in the recess) and the nuts to the exposed interior; which, I ground/files smooth, to eliminate snagging clothes or cutting the back of my arms.
Both repairs took about an hour each and cost about $5.
I can send some brief pictures. You have a remarkable forum to share if you chose to do so.
Very Cool! And quite a lot of hard work! but I vote for Team Mel. Our cat would at some point stand at the door and reach up and hook his claws in the screen to stretch. Then in the process of getting his claws unhooked, pulling really hard as he started panicking, he or the 2nd cat would discover the door was open and they were free!!!!
Mel never really tried to scratch our previous van screen, so we’re hoping that doesn’t happen. But the scenario you describe is certainly a possibility.
How about a hinged bar across the top to make ducking unnecessary?
I am thinking a flat bar through the top of the screen part with a hinge on the same side of the door hinge, adding magnets along the top. When you pull the screen open, the hinge will pivot open also giving you a clear doorway. Then when you are outside, the power from the magnets on the hinge will pull it back to the closed position. And if they are not powerful enough, maybe a spring in the hinge to give it a little nudge in the right direction.
Addressed this in a response to a comment from Stew.
By the time you have hinges, a solid top, a solid bottom, and a semi-rigid side… why not just install a traditional screen door (that opens inwards).
The ducking is slight, and momentary. We aren’t finding it to be a problem.
Like the idea. Just wondering if might make sense to put more of a handle instead of a loop on the inside. Also might be nice to make that part a little wider on the material to frame the handle area to re-enforce with material instead of screen material. Lastly, how about attaching the top to a pole with a hedge on one side to allow the screen door to open fully, but use magnets on the wall to allow it to close. Think this might make it easier when going in and out, but you could still roll it up to get it out of the way and the material around the bar would keep the bar from rattling as well.
The loop is working just fine for us. A “handle” to me implies something rigid, and that’s not someplace I wanted to go.
Putting a hinge on the top of the door would change the installation from a simple peel-and-stick affair to measuring, drilling, etc. Not only that, allowing the top to move would change how it drapes. Basically, at that point, I’d need to construct an entire rigid frame with auto-closing mechanism to ensure it closed.
For the simplicity it provides, we’re OK with the minimal amount of ducking required as it is.
Love your videos, and never ceased to be amazed by your creativity! Have ordered an EKKO and would definitely be interested in making this modification. It does strike me that 7″ solid piece at the bottom should be raised. We humans can make do with the top 60 – 70% being screen to get plenty of fresh air, while if the lower 30 – 40% were solid canvas, Mel wouldn’t even be able to see what’s outside, even if he were to stretch up on his back paws. If there’s nothing to see, I doubt he would even show much interest in the door.
I don’t doubt that you’re right.
But Mel loves “Cat TV” so much! I didn’t want to take that away from him completely.
I like the idea but ducking each time to go in or out might get bothersome to some people.
Question for Steph: Do you great tried of James modifying the RV? Lol
That’s the one negative. But the door was only 70 inches tall to begin with, so anyone near 6 foot or over was going to be ducking anyway.
If Stef does git tired of me modifying the RV, she keeps quiet about it, because she knows how much fun it is for me!
Very clever, I hate my screen door (Winnebago Class A) it never stays closed among other things…. Have you thought about putting a full sheet of clear plastic on the outside (maybe velcro) to have a true screen door when it’s cold? You’re definitely on to something here. 🙂
Hmmm. Maybe clear plastic that zips out in place of the screen for the winter?
Hadn’t thought of that, but not a bad idea.
Brilliant! Keeping the pups in is a consideration for us…this addresses every concern I have in a screen door. I love it! We have a Class C Winnebago as well (an Ekko is my dream), but I would love to have a screen like this. I hope you are planning on marketing these. Thanks for sharing!
There seems to be enough interest, so we’re looking into it.
No promises yet though!
Surprised you didn’t go similar in method to a Camco 43953 (but definitely not as cheesy.) Print a better interior lever (similar to what a normal screen door would have) that attaches with screws to door frame and probably another support for the rod end that works a finger against the existing lever to eliminate having to use the sliding panel (which could be totally eliminated.) Rattles can be eliminated, my door is ten years old and has no rattles at all. I’m 6’4″ and have tried magnetic screens at home and found them to be a pain, especially when hands are full. USing an elbow against a button or lever is much easier.
Lol! We have a Camco 43953! You can see it on the removed door in the beginning of the video.
It was an improvement, but we still hated the door.
Glad your door doesn’t rattle, but there was no helping Bangy McRattleton. Believe me, I tried.
Love it! Want it! Please!
Absolutely love it. I have a class B plus and I hate the screen door. Would love to have what you designed and built. Just do t have the talent to build it myself. You could market that door and I think it would be a big hit. I would buy it. Thanks for sharing.
You are brilliant! Beautiful work.
My cat goes under the Rolef screen.
He hasn’t yet. But clearly, more testing is required…
Love idea. Would the magnet strips roll up or are they too stiff?
The magnet strips are too stiff to roll up. They stay stuck to the door frame when you unzip.
I played around with the idea of rolling the whole thing up, but to do that, I had to put magnets only in spots, and that left room (I thought) for bugs to get in.
Yeah.. almost every ‘maker’ creation I’ve built for my van gets a v2. Just like the stock parts made for the van, there’s always ways to improve. I’d probably struggle with the screen only going in one direction. Seems like I’m often carrying something out and want to just push through it. I’ve thought about just stitching on some quick ties on my Rolef that would allow me to tie it off and prevent my dogs from pushing through. Newer Rolef screens have a velcro flip tab that inhibits the easy push, but still not going to stop my prey driven dogs. If I had a door like that I might be tempted to 3d print some kind of lightly spring loaded pivoting bar at the top that’d allow the screen to fully swing open like a door. Not sure if you could have stronger ‘locking magnets’ that would make it too hard to push through when in position.
I’d love to know where you get your materials — the screening, the heavy fabric, the zippers ….. And I’m so jealous of your industrial sewing machine. Well done! It looks very professional.
The machine is a Sailrite Ultrafeed LSZ-1. Most of the materials come from Sailrite also.
You might consider a trough style holder (think rain gutter shape) at the top instead of brackets. This would allow the fabric to be contained but look tidy even if the user wasn’t patient with the rolling process. It would also minimize the number of sharp corners rubbing on the screen.
I actually thought about a trough! And for the exact reason that it would look tidier.
It was just quicker for me to print a couple brackets instead of build a trough. Ultimately, I’ll probably wind up with a trough.
It could even be made of scraps the screen fabric and either hang from thin brackets at each end, or have a solid piece (dowel perhaps) sewn in each end to form the top of the “U”.
Again, impressive solution all-around!
Absolutely brilliant and such a simple design. No fuss just common sense. However, I can see a very smart kitty getting his naughty paw around the bottom and pulling it open! We’ll see.
That’s the only concern I have is him tunneling under. If that gets to be an issue, I thought about somehow magnetizing the bottom of that door sweep so it’s more difficult.
But I can’t make it too difficult, because then it’s no fun for the humans!
I want this! I already bought your Americanizer. And now I want this too. Thank you for your great video!
Awesome. Maybe we’ll figure out a way to make them available.
(Me sewing them one at a time, at my snail’s pace, isn’t going to cut it.)
You hit a home run James!
How many of the bar magnets did you use on each side?
About 70 inches worth!
Ridiculously cool! You are truly a master of invention. I have watched many of your videos and you are always looking to improve things. Very good job Sir!
It all usually starts with me being annoyed at something…. And it snowballs from there!
Very nice James. You might be interested in the screen door I built 10 years ago. It just works.
This is brilliant! It seems like a very clever way to keep the screen door from opening when pushed on from inside – we’ll just have to see if Mel is motivated enough to defeat that! That issue aside, it seems much more convenient and rattle-free than the original. Also, we mostly go to places where we don’t have to worry much about bugs and screens, so I really like the way this can roll up, and the brackets you made are very slick.
I think I can make those brackets a bit better if I do a version 2.
I like it, it’s brilliant. I have 2 doors I need to use this for. First, in my home’s back door. The door opens out, not in and the cheap velcro screen door kit is in sad and sorry shape, so I need one there, and then my motor home. No pets anymore to keep in, I lot both my dogs to old age within the past year, but I hate the rattle and all the other things you described, my motor home is over 30 years old and the screen door has seen better days. I’m a DIYer, so yeah, I guess I need to get busy! Thank you so very much for sharing this.
I think this is awesome! The only issue I see is the ducking in and out, but the pros outweigh the cons. If I had a Class C I’d be in line to get one for sure (I own a class B van with the same one you had on Lance. Thanks for posting – have used some of your ideas on my van and your ideas/execution has been generous and educational.
Glad you like it, Julie!
Like it… Let us know when you make it into a product!!
If it happens, you’ll see it here first.
I think Mel will do one or both of these:
1. Stand on the kitchen counter and reach down for the loop and pull the door open.
2. Go under the screen door. That bar might help him shove his nose under it to push it up and wriggle under the door.
I think James is underestimating Mel’s ability to outsmart him, especially when squirrels are involved. The gauntlet has been thrown down, may the best cat or man win!
More votes for team Mel!
(I really think we should do an online poll or something. This could be fun!)
How about a test! Mel inside the RV and you outside with his favorite treats or a fake squirrel.
That could be a pretty funny video!
James, for the first try at a replacement to our Ekko screen doors I’ll give it a 90. It’s much better than what we had in our travato, and definitely eliminates the present screen door rattles. Might I suggest a solid top edge that is hinged so that it could be opened (swinging in) but still closing with the magnets. Maybe version 2. All else staying as this version.
I’ve actually thought about trying to open the top up a bit to allow for more opening of the door. The main problem I see with that, is that I’d have to figure a way to keep the top corner rigid, so that it would fall back onto proper placement when the door is just “let go”.
If the top comes away, and the corner is not held rigidly in place, the corner would droop, and the whole screen door thing goes out the window.
(Plus, it would be harder to sew. That would be pretty difficult for my beginner-level skills.)
Still, maybe I’m imagining it wrong. If I do a V2, I might try it, just to see what happens.
Absolutely love it. We hate the screen door. Not just awful sound when closing but not having access to our Window Door Shade when it’s closed. In order to adjust the shade we have to open the TT door, then step on the stairs and close the screen door behind us and do a balancing act on the stairs to adjust the window shade. Then open the screen door and smash it together with the TT door lol “DID YOU GET ALL THAT LOL ”
We need it so it can open high enough from the inside with the TT door closed to adjust our door window shade and this screen also allows our dogs to come in but not back out only if we open it. Our small dogs have a corral fence outside. You have a good product here! It will fly off the shelf. Needs to be marketed correctly and trust a company that could move you forward.
Sounds like you get us!
It would certainly need folks who can sew faster than me to turn this into a viable commercial product. But you’ve got me thinking….
Having RV’d with cats for 40 years ……the term “Cat Proof” is a fantasy.
The best you can ever hope for is that Mel will ALLOW it to function as intended!!!!
Andy & Kim
Mimi & Jojo our camping cats
Yeah, I probably doomed us to failure when I said “cat proof”.
Maybe “cat resistant” would have been more accurate… lol!
Hi, When Mel sits erect, he’s not 7″ tall? How about when he jumps on screen? He’ll be able to see prey & will try everything to get at it.
Watching a cat or dog getting into/ out of somewhere they move the item front to back, back to front, side to side. Mel will work on this screen for awhile.
My money is on Mel to get out eventually unless 1. he’s not prey drivin or 2. too old & not strong enough. In conclusion: Mel will get OUT!!!
Best of luck with screen 2.0.
Apologies for spelling/grammatical errors.
Love, Charlotte Schomer
Someone betting on Team Mel!
We should start a pool!!!
Haha, thanks for taking us on that engineering journey, that went from “Yeah, great, having to walk through one of those hippie bead doors from the ’60’s to, “Yeah, that looks pretty good, to be able to get the screen completely out of the picture until it’s needed.”
Here’s where I’m coming from… We had a 2007 Winnebago View that had a perfectly functional screen door, except it was a pain to use. Just as you describe, it got in the way when we wanted to use the coach door as a coach door.
Now we have a 2021 View that has a roll-out door. It’s perfect in most ways. It is out of the way when we don’t need it, provides a screen when we do need it, is easy to open and close, and doesn’t sacrifice any space around the door frame.
But, it’s not durable at all. One quick glance by the dogs, and it’s destroyed. Someone leans on it, and it’s destroyed. And, it doesn’t seal tightly at the top and bottom, so biting insects aren’t really kept out.
Your screen door is bomb-proof. Our screen door is convenient to use. We need to find something in between!
I think this design is pretty convenient. But I’m waiting until we camp with it a few times before I render a final opinion.
I agree. This might be 12 lb cat-proof, but definitely not 40+ lb dog-going-after-a-squirrel-proof. It wouldn’t be a graceful exit, but I can pretty much guarantee a medium sized dog would get through the magnets.
That said, it looks like a great solution to those of us unlikely to travel with pets.
Well, my design criteria was exactly 12 lb cat. lol!
I’m sure there’s a practical limit where this idea loses steam. Those traveling with rambunctious labs may be better off sticking with the stock door, for sure.
Looks great! I look forward to seeing how Mel-proof it turns out to be.
Of course, now we know why you needed that industrial sewing machine…
Mel is sharpening his claws in anticipation of our next outing…
I like it!