why are slide side doors more common on vans these days? - Ram Promaster Forum
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post #1 of 26 Old 04-15-2019, 07:31 PM Thread Starter
mostlyHarmless
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why are slide side doors more common on vans these days?

An academic discussion:
This is a curiosity of mine more than anything, looking to see what the pros and cons were. You don't see many vans these days with the side doors as double swing doors, sliders seem to be king.

Is it simply a matter of supply and demand, more people bought sliders over double swing? Do sliders seals last longer, cheaper to build?

I find the swing doors nicer to use on a regular basis, especially when parked in camper mode (and kids can open/close them more easily). We briefly entertained a layout that had the main access for the "home life" out the back doors, but it made it hard to manage a layout that still allowed you to move from front seats to the back of the van without sacrificing storage and it always involved more set up and moving parts. And most camp sites are designed that you part along side them, so going out the back of the vehicle didn't work as well, a non issue when boon docking though.

2018 Ram Promaster 159 wb - converting to an "off grid" camper/work rig for our family of 4.
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post #2 of 26 Old 04-15-2019, 08:04 PM
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The only thing I liked about the double swing out side doors on my old E350 van were they made a good privacy curtain if you had to pull over to pee.

From a day to day standpoint, I like the side roller door on my PM just fine. Never have to worry about swinging it into another vehicle in a parking lot!

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post #3 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 12:02 AM
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Since I use only a bit over 2 feet of the side opening I would like the barn doors on the side. The slider doesn't have a good way to use it just half way. Or have I missed a modification for that?? My galley occupies the other 2 feet of the slider area. With barn doors we could open both and cook with a view just like we do now but have a smaller door for entry.

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post #4 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 12:23 AM
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Sliding doors are among the worst contraptions man has ever conceived. Yes, I acknowledge the narrow-when-open advantage, but that does not compensate for the noise when opening and especially when slamming it closed 3 times before it actually latches properly. Yes I know it helps to open the passenger door before slamming the slider. Please! I realize power operated sliders eliminate this issue. And early '70s era Chevys actually had a double-acting handle that pulled and latched the rear of the door - no slamming required. Much better, but they eliminated that useful feature in subsequent iterations. But the worst part is that the inside surface of the door itself is unusable for anything but art, and cannot be accessed at all when open. Perfect place to mount a fold-down camp stove, but nooooo… By the way, I'm not referring to the PM exclusively, as I have lived with these monstrosities on full-size domestic vans, Japanese mini-vans, and Sprinters. Give me back my barn doors! Rant over.

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post #5 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 12:28 AM
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I think some people are used to the double barn door side doors found on the older US vans and want them in their next van.

I can't remember the exact reason (maybe like the OP said, it's easier to open/close) but a Ford salesman told me there is enough demand for them that the Ford Transit still has that as an option(!)--but only in the low roof version. He said there's a steady stream of E-150 owners who insist on them, so Ford continues to make them.

I do find our PM's doors a little annoying to close. I have to wind up like a baseball pitcher and get that thing going before it'll close all the way.

Ordered Feb 2018, arrived Sept 2018. 159-inch WB regular length, high top, 3.6L gas, both driver's and passenger-side sliding doors. Planning to lightly camper-ize it for spontaneous and free-spirited travel!
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post #6 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 12:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RDinNHandAZ View Post
Since I use only a bit over 2 feet of the side opening I would like the barn doors on the side. The slider doesn't have a good way to use it just half way. Or have I missed a modification for that?? My galley occupies the other 2 feet of the slider area. With barn doors we could open both and cook with a view just like we do now but have a smaller door for entry.
I came across a guy selling a little custom shallow ramp with a divot in it that fits on the door track. You can mount it anywhere along that track and the door will ride up to the divot and stay there. or you can blow past the divot and open the door all the way.

https://www.nortonfab.com/?product=s...-van-door-stop

And I haven't looked whether or not it works for our PMs or not, but I met a guy in an Sprinter who hand made a door stop by clamping something on to the door track. His design doesn't allow him to go past that stop though, but he doesn't really need to.

I think a problem with opening the PM door only a little would be the closing of it. I had mention in a other reply in this thread that I have to "wind up" like a pitcher to close the PM's doors. Not sure that I can "pitch from the stretch" and still close the doors. :-D

Ordered Feb 2018, arrived Sept 2018. 159-inch WB regular length, high top, 3.6L gas, both driver's and passenger-side sliding doors. Planning to lightly camper-ize it for spontaneous and free-spirited travel!
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post #7 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 07:31 AM
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The little ramp on the rail idea does work. I had a delrin piece mounted with tape for a while. It worked well until the cheap tape failed (not 3M). I may do a permanent one at some point.

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post #8 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 07:49 AM
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Having side slider may have to do with it being easier to load pallets with a fork truck ó Iím not sure. The rear doors can swing about 270 degrees so vans can back to a loading dock, partly because these vehicles are used for cargo in Europe where they originated. Side barn doors could be made to swing close to body, but may not be as convenient for fork trucks to avoid.

For a camper, I wish they had barn door option. I even thought whether it would be possible to adapt a pickup side door without spending a fortune. They are limited to low roof, so thatís a problem right away.

On longer wheelbase vans, it would be great to have a single swinging door option about 3 feet back behind passenger door. That would allow more floorplan options. A single door would be more like a regular motorhome.
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post #9 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 07:54 AM
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One of the reason was for people like myself who use the vans for work and maybe opening the doors 20 or more times a day in sometimes cramped spaces is being to actually open the doors when you are parked next to someone. Before you would stand to the left open the door, move to the right, open the door, get out some of your tools, move to the right, close the left door, walk to the back of the truck to get something then back to the side and start all over.
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post #10 of 26 Old 04-16-2019, 09:25 AM
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Having had multiple Ford and Dodge vans with swing open doors, I love the slider! It opens up questionable parking spots as one can pull right next to objects and still get out, no doors to damage when loading with a fork lift, no worries about the wind slamming the doors closed (Or a passing car takign them off) and the best part is it makes one heck of giant picture window! The only things that I don't like about it is the complexity of the cable mechanism and increased amount of maintenance they require, and the slight difficulty in closing the door. I've added an interior handle to assist in the closing and it's made a huge difference.

It was discussed in another thread, but a cheap and easy modification can be made to the slider so that it only opens part way. I've seen the little ramp mechanism, but on mine the previous own simply drilled a small hole in the stainless track that runs down the side of the van. A small stainless carriage bolt (The type with the dome shaped head) is dropped into the hole (It's just held in by gravity, no nut). It basically makes an indent for the door roller to catch on and is large enough to hold the open part way (How far depends on where you drill the hole/s), but small enough that with full force the door will open or close all the way by jumping over the bolt head. Simply pull the bolt out and the door operates it always did.

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Last edited by JohnnyRambles; 04-16-2019 at 09:28 AM.
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