The handle on the sliding door of Vanagons is secured only inside at the lock mechanism. At the outside door skin, the handle shaft passes through a rubber grommet “escutcheon”. This grommet does nothing to support the handle and is there only to prevent water ingress inside the door. The problem is that the forces applied when you use the handle puts a strain on the pot metal handle shaft and can, after some years, cause the shaft to break. I have seen an aftermarket replacement for sale on Ebay (link here) and it looks pretty good, made of black Delrin. I thought I would have a go at making something similar.
I had some
high density polyethylene UHMW polyethylene rod
I thinks its actually teflon after buying some more UHMW and comparing… I feel dumb.
in the scrap bin and I chucked it up on the lathe and had at it. If I was smarter I would have just made it as a shouldered bushing, but I went to the trouble of making a groove to fit the door skin and then cutting the inner flange to allow it to press in place and remain secured. I don’t think you need to go to all that bother. Pictures below, you can see what I mean. The white poly does look a little daft, but hey its what I had lying around. It really makes a difference on how the handle feels when you use it, no looseness, it feels secure. Oh, also is one pic of the old stock rubber grommet.