Door Gas Struts

There I was, minding my own business, doing a runup on taxiway E at ABQ. Seeing as how it was 90 degrees, I had the door open. A slight breeze was blowing. Halfway through the runup, a gust of wind came along, and suddenly my door swung even further open, and then came slamming down (ouch.) The gas strut had pulled out from inside the door. I dropped the plane off at the Santa Fe Jet Center on my way out of town.

A week later I was minding my own business in Hollister CA, opened the door, pop, bang, the door hit me. Ouch again.

This time I pulled the shop manual, scratched my head, and took a look at the problem. The gas strut is threaded at both ends. One end screws into a plastic fitting inside the door trim, and the other end screws into a plastic fitting that clips over a ball joint mounted on the door frame.

After a little bit of fiddling I discovered that, if you pop off the plastic cap from the back of the fitting, the fitting pops easily off of the ball joint. I then screwed the strut into the fitting inside the door, screwed down the other fitting, popped it back onto the ball joint, pressed the cap back on, and voila!–all fixed, and only a dull screwdriver was required.

For yucks I checked out the other door, and noticed that the strut wasn’t screwed all the way into the fittings, so I popped it open, screwed it down, and put it back. Total elapsed time, 60 seconds (much quicker than the first one.)

The gas strut has right hand threads at both ends. This means that you cannot tighten it down in place (like a turnbuckle), but must unhook it from one end. For whatever reason, they were not tightened down all the way, and given the softness of the plastic fittings (polyethylene or polypropylene, or something of that ilk) they need all the threads they can get.

I’m afraid to find out how much the Jet Center charged me to figure this out. Oh, well…

The upside is that (a) it is easy to fix, and (b) the doors aren’t very heavy when they hit you (or you have to lift them to get out of the airplane.)

Dave,

As a matter of interest, do you now have to properly record your “fix” in the aircraft log book together with a duly recognized Airframe Mechanic sign off on your work in order to stay legal and covered under your insurance contract?

Pete

There I was, minding my own business, doing a runup on taxiway E at ABQ. Seeing as how it was 90 degrees, I had the door open. A slight breeze was blowing. Halfway through the runup, a gust of wind came along, and suddenly my door swung even further open, and then came slamming down (ouch.) The gas strut had pulled out from inside the door. I dropped the plane off at the Santa Fe Jet Center on my way out of town.

A week later I was minding my own business in Hollister CA, opened the door, pop, bang, the door hit me. Ouch again.

This time I pulled the shop manual, scratched my head, and took a look at the problem. The gas strut is threaded at both ends. One end screws into a plastic fitting inside the door trim, and the other end screws into a plastic fitting that clips over a ball joint mounted on the door frame.

After a little bit of fiddling I discovered that, if you pop off the plastic cap from the back of the fitting, the fitting pops easily off of the ball joint. I then screwed the strut into the fitting inside the door, screwed down the other fitting, popped it back onto the ball joint, pressed the cap back on, and voila!–all fixed, and only a dull screwdriver was required.

For yucks I checked out the other door, and noticed that the strut wasn’t screwed all the way into the fittings, so I popped it open, screwed it down, and put it back. Total elapsed time, 60 seconds (much quicker than the first one.)

The gas strut has right hand threads at both ends. This means that you cannot tighten it down in place (like a turnbuckle), but must unhook it from one end. For whatever reason, they were not tightened down all the way, and given the softness of the plastic fittings (polyethylene or polypropylene, or something of that ilk) they need all the threads they can get.

I’m afraid to find out how much the Jet Center charged me to figure this out. Oh, well…

The upside is that (a) it is easy to fix, and (b) the doors aren’t very heavy when they hit you (or you have to lift them to get out of the airplane.)

There I was, minding my own business, doing a runup on taxiway E at ABQ. Seeing as how it was 90 degrees, I had the door open. A slight breeze was blowing. Halfway through the runup, a gust of wind came along, and suddenly my door swung even further open, and then came slamming down (ouch.) The gas strut had pulled out from inside the door. I dropped the plane off at the Santa Fe Jet Center on my way out of town.

A week later I was minding my own business in Hollister CA, opened the door, pop, bang, the door hit me. Ouch again.

This time I pulled the shop manual, scratched my head, and took a look at the problem. The gas strut is threaded at both ends. One end screws into a plastic fitting inside the door trim, and the other end screws into a plastic fitting that clips over a ball joint mounted on the door frame.

After a little bit of fiddling I discovered that, if you pop off the plastic cap from the back of the fitting, the fitting pops easily off of the ball joint. I then screwed the strut into the fitting inside the door, screwed down the other fitting, popped it back onto the ball joint, pressed the cap back on, and voila!–all fixed, and only a dull screwdriver was required.

For yucks I checked out the other door, and noticed that the strut wasn’t screwed all the way into the fittings, so I popped it open, screwed it down, and put it back. Total elapsed time, 60 seconds (much quicker than the first one.)

The gas strut has right hand threads at both ends. This means that you cannot tighten it down in place (like a turnbuckle), but must unhook it from one end. For whatever reason, they were not tightened down all the way, and given the softness of the plastic fittings (polyethylene or polypropylene, or something of that ilk) they need all the threads they can get.

I’m afraid to find out how much the Jet Center charged me to figure this out. Oh, well…

The upside is that (a) it is easy to fix, and (b) the doors aren’t very heavy when they hit you (or you have to lift them to get out of the airplane.)

Dave, your fix isn’t done yet. The threads in the receiver end inside the door have stripped and the whole unit should be replaced, or use J B weld as I had to do. If you don’t the end comes out easier each time until it won’t hold.

Carl

Dave,

As a matter of interest, do you now have to properly record your “fix” in the aircraft log book together with a duly recognized Airframe Mechanic sign off on your work in order to stay legal and covered under your insurance contract?

If you log it at all, it probably qualifies as an owner-serviceable item and you can use your pilot certificate number as authority.

Happy flying!

John Renwick

Dave,

As a matter of interest, do you now have to properly record your “fix” in the aircraft log book together with a duly recognized Airframe Mechanic sign off on your work in order to stay legal and covered under your insurance contract?

Yep. FAR 43.3(g) authorizes a holder of a pilot certificate to perform preventive maintenance. 43.5 and 43.9 describe the required log entry. 43 appendix A © (11) defines the following as preventive maintenance: “Repairing upholstery and decorative furnishings of the cabin, cockpit, or balloon basket interior when the repairing does not require disassembly of any primary structure or operating system or interfere with an operating system or affect the primary structure of the aircraft.” Whew.

Dave, your fix isn’t done yet. The threads in the receiver end inside the door have stripped and the whole unit should be replaced, or use J B weld as I had to do. If you don’t the end comes out easier each time until it won’t hold.

Yeah, I was kind of wondering about that. The up side is that there were still a bunch of threads left…