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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Interior Doors: The Plan

So, this boat interior will NOT have traditional hinged "swinging" doors separating the major compartments. Instead there will be pocket doors. I feel hinged doors take up too much room (due to the swing) and in fact limit the size of the doorway to what you could otherwise get with a pocket door. Maximizing the size of the doorways is nice for those of us who are at least six feet tall. Also, unlike hinged doors, pocket doors cannot become unlatched and swing about, knocking into things, making racket, as the boat is bouncing about (pocket doors, however, do have the risk of  "rattling" in their pockets, but I have a cunning plan to prevent that).

There will be pocket doors between...
  • forward v-berth and forward head
  • forward salon and forward head
  • the "tunnel" and the aft stateroom
  • the aft head and the engine room
I have spent a lot of time thinking about and researching the mechanism and hardware that could be used for the pocket doors. What I found is most stainless hardware that could be used were too bulky, too expensive or too difficult to retrofit. I finally arrived at what may be the most simplest, cheapest, easiest and most effective pocket door mechanism: UHMW slide bearings riding on slotted structural aluminum extrusions. The pictures show the aft cabin door installation being dry fitted.

Upper slide extrusion
The slotted black anodized structural aluminum extrusions will be mounted above, just under the deck, and below embedded in the door threshold.

Lower slide extrusion, embedded in the lower bulkhead
The sliding door panel will have UHMW slides rabbeted into the top and bottom that will be held captive in the slots of the extrusions, so it cannot "jump the track".

Sample section of a UHMW slide bearing held captive by the upper extrusion.
This approach has the following advantages:

  • Compact. The pocket gap is a nice one inch width, allowing  one-eighth inch space on each side of a three-quarter inch thick door panel.
  • The extrusions are mechanically fastened to their cleats with machine screws/carriage bolts. This allows the entire door mechanism to be dismantled without destroying anything.
  • As the extrusions are slotted on all four sides they can be used as cleats to mechanically fasten the wall panels that makeup the "pocket". Again with carriage bolts, making full access to the pocket door a non-destructive process. At worst, one may have to remove some bungs and trim concealing the bolts.

More later as things are permanently installed.

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