Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Season's Greetings

Today is Christmas Day. Whether you observe the holiday or not, it is a day that you don't need to spend reading about RVs or Roadtreks. So on this 25th Day of December, all I will do is wish each and everyone of my readers and Roadtrek friends, a very joyous holiday!

Merry Christmas!

Happy (belated) Chanukah!

Happy Holidays!

From the 18th Century -
                                     Good Christmas Tide!

and a little...
                      Ho, Ho, Ho!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Roadtrek's Cabinet Latches

Roadtrek uses several different cabinet latches for the cabinets in the Roadtreks. The challenge in an RV is that a cabinet latch needs to keep a cabinet closed with the bouncing, vibrations, and shaking of a vehicle while driving. Something that is not necessary for a cabinet in a house. Some of the latches used are standard household latches on cabinets that will resist the extremes of this challenge. Some are special latches and these latches are available only from Roadtrek. A number of Roadtrek owners complain that the latches used break easily - and we have had two different latches break since we bought our 2011 Roadtrek. We will look at each latch and ways to keep it working as best as it can without breaking. Not all Roadtrek models use the same latches in the same places, but you should see in this article latches that are in your Roadtrek.

The latch -

And its catch -

This latch is the most used latch in our Roadtrek. It is on a number of cabinets. There is no visible release when looking at the cabinet doors.

The release is located in the lower edge of the door, in the middle on these cabinets shown above. 

Looking up from the bottom of the cabinet door, the latch is hidden in a cutout. To release this latch you push up on the long button that you see above and pull forward on the cutout to open the cabinet. Look above at the top photo and you will see the latch itself and how it works. When you push up on the button you are pulling the plastic wedge in front of the button up and into the latch and above the metal catch that is on the inside of the cabinet. 

This latch breaks easily. When closing the cabinet door the plastic wedge must must be pushed up and over the metal catch by scraping against the metal putting a lot of pressure on the mechanism and eventually breaking. Some break internally and will prevent the door then from opening as when you push on the button it no longer is able to move the wedge up. Since the hinge is inside the cabinet there is no way to open the door without forcing the door open or trying to push a flat, thin, and strong object (like a thin paint scraper in through the space between the cabinet and the door and moving the wedge up - but the wedge is behind the metal catch so you must not only get blindly to the right spot but so so behind the metal catch. It is possible. I did it when ours broke this way.  It has been suggested that by pushing up on the bottom edge of the cabinet and pulling out, the latch will release but this was not the case when I had to get the cabinet open when the latch broke. The door was solid and would not move in any direction.

If you look to replace this latch you will find one that looks very similar at many RV shops including Camping World, BUT that latch while looking like this one, is not the same size and the installation holes will not match the holes in your cabinets. The catch that this other latch uses is nylon and not metal and much lower than the metal catch. It does look like it might work better with the catch gliding over the nylon catch instead of scraping over metal. The latch used by Roadtrek is only available from Roadtrek. When one of ours broke and I learned that it had to be ordered from the Roadtrek factory or purchased at a Roadtrek dealer/service that stocked it, I purchased three spares in addition to the one that needed to replace the broken latch. I went to our Roadtrek dealer/service and their store did stock the Roadtrek latch, but they were out of stock. I was told that these sell out quickly. They ordered four latches for me at $10 each latch. Some have been able to have these broken latches replaced by service under warranty. That was not offered to me when I went to the service center. They were shipped to me (at my cost) and they arrived in ten days to my address.

There is a way to avoid these latches breaking. When you close the cabinet door always be sure to push the latch button in and hold it in until the door is completely closed. This will prevent the plastic wedge catch and the metal edge of the catch from putting a strain on the mechanism and stop the scraping of the catch every time the cabinet door is closed. 

Next -

The latch -

The catch -

What it looks like on the outside of the cabinet LOCKED -

What it looks like on the outside of the cabinet UNLOCKED -

To open this latch you push in on the lock - the round circle on the outside of the cabinet. This will release the latch from the metal catch inside and also pushes the door open at the same time. This latch is used on some newer Roadtreks or perhaps only the Sprinter Roadtreks on many cabinets that the first latch is used in our Roadtrek. In our Roadtrek this latch is only used on the bathroom door and on the wardrobe cabinet door. When you close the door with these latches you push in the button and it will click into place and lock the door closed.

It is reported that this latch breaks easily also. Roadtrek has said that if the door is closed with the latch in the locked position (as shown in the photo two above) the latch will break. When the latch is open, the middle of the circle pops significantly out and stays out - as shown in the photo two above - and I am not sure why anyone would push this in while the cabinet is open, but apparently some do and the latch will break inside. One of these on ours - we have one on the wardrobe and one on the bathroom door - sticks when pushed in to open and the door needs to be given a gentle push in and then the button pops out.

This latch also can only be obtained from Roadtrek. If you need a replacement, a Roadtrek dealer/service center will order them for you. If you order a replacement, order spares at the same time.

Next -

The latch -

The catch -

This latch is a stock household cabinet latch found at most home stores at less than $2.00. This latch should not break unless the door is misaligned with the cabinet and the latch does not hit the center of the rollers when closed. In my Roadtrek this latch is used in combination with the latch just above on the bathroom and the wardrobe cabinet doors. The mechanism is simple. The point of the catch passes through the nylon rollers and is caught between them and a strong spring. To open you just pull. To close you just push.

Next and last -

The latch -

The catch -

This latch is also a household latch that can be found at most home stores and I replaced a broken one of these latches for less than one dollar. With this latch the metal clip surrounds the outside of the nylon rollers and holds on behind them. Outside the cabinet door has a pull knob attached. We only have this catch on one cabinet - the pantry cabinet over the sink. On our cabinet, I discovered - after one arm of the metal catch broke off - that the door is out of line and this catch was not going around the rollers but rather one arm of the metal was going into the center of the rollers - and at the same time cutting into the edge of the cabinet (which has a metal edge) every time the cabinet door was closed. On close examination I could see that the door was not evenly aligned. To close this cabinet now, we push up on the door bottom as we close the cabinet so that the metal arms of the catch clear the edge of the cabinet and listen for the click of the catch locking around the rollers. I did try to adjust the alignment of the door but I could not and will explain why in the next paragraph.

Cabinet Hinges -

The horizontal cabinets have these hinges -

I have recently learned that all hinges used by Roadtrek are not created equal. The above hinge is what is in the cabinets in my Roadtrek. Other Roadtreks - by model? - perhaps just Sprinters - by year? - perhaps after 2011? - have a similar looking hinge that is a much heavier metal and has an adjusting screw in the middle that will widen and lessen the gap between the the door and the cabinet where the hinge is attached. Those hinges are common and are called in woodworking among other names, European hinges. A lot of knockdown furniture uses those hinges. To adjust a European hinge to align the cabinet door you turn one or more adjusting screws - simple. Now, in my Roadtrek and I am sure many others, the hinge that you see in the photo above has no adjusting screw. There is a small adjustment possible IF the screws holding the hinge were aligned with each other exactly on installation by loosing the screws and then sliding the entire hinge forward or back. That would be fine but I have found more than once that if the wood screws in the Roadtrek are loosened they do not always tighten back again. I tried to do this with the cabinet latch above and the hinges on that cabinet to adjust that latch from hitting the edge of the cabinet but the screws were stripping the wood with just the slightest adjustment and I stopped. Yes, I know about wood filler and how to put glue and a matchstick or steel wool or toothpicks into the holes and screw into them again (I have been a woodworker for a long time), but I was not going to do this and hope it would go back together. So, be very careful if you decide to take out or loosen wood screws in the Roadtrek as they don't always have anything to screw back into.

Some cabinets have metal piano hinges - a long strip of hinge. These cannot be adjusted at all. 

So there you have the cabinet latches found in Roadtreks. Perhaps in older Roadtreks there were different latches used. If you would like to change these over to other types of hinges it is always possible but you will need to make different holes in the cabinets and may need to cover any cutouts that these hinges require in the cabinet doors. Be sure to find latches that will withstand the motion of the vehicle as it travels and will not release and spill the contents of your cabinet all over.