Easy RV Mod -> Upgrade Your Drawer Latches

Pre-Post Note: This may not be my most exciting RV mod, but it solved a long-standing and annoying problem. Hopefully it will do the same for some of you….

Yet another broken drawer clasp! Grrrrr!

With all the bounce and jiggle that comes with driving an RV, drawer latches are pretty much a necessity. They keep drawers shut and prevent things flying about while “the beast” is en route. Our RV, as many do, came pre-equipped with cheap plastic hook-and-latch (often called catch-and-strike) jobs that seem to break every few months. Not only that, but replacements can only be bought at RV stores, cost $4-9 a piece…and last just as long. After replacing almost 12 of these in our first 2 years (we must have an extra-special knack for breaking them) this was starting to annoy me in a serious way, and I went searching for a better option.

Our new brass catch. Tension adjustments for the ball catches are on the side.

In my attempt at improvement I tried just about every option from the hardware store including child-proof and magnetic latches, none of which measured up to par. They were either too weak to hold the drawer in motion or would break or simply didn’t work. Finally ~6 months ago some folks on the  iRV2.com forums suggested an all-metal adjustable-tension ball latch which looked to be the perfect replacement. I managed to find 2 packs at a local RV store in Eugene OR and tried them out on our heaviest kitchen drawers. BINGO!!! Several months of real-road testing later and I’m happy to share these are the bees knees.

Our original plastic drawer clasp and new metal one side-by-side

The metal latches come flat, but can be mounted at a right-angle (top part vertical, bottom part horizontal) so they are a direct and easy replacement for your existing crappy plastic latch. The latch is held in place by tension “balls” and the tension is easily adjusted on each side by using a screw-driver. The hardest part of the installment is aligning the 2 halves of the latch so that they come together properly when the drawers are closed, but a bit of measuring (before installing) will help to make it all work out. I got the 2″ version which works fine, but for a little heftier clasp I would probably suggest the size up at 2 5/16″ that you can buy online HERE (thanks to Bob in the comments for the link on a place to source these for a decent price!). So far these latches look great and are a much sturdier option that I expect to last far beyond the ‘ol plastic ones.

Got a cool RV mod of your own? Feel free to e-mail me with photos and details and I’ll highlight on the blog in a future post. Full credit will be yours!

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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do

  1. The Good Luck Duck says

    Good to know!

    Somehow, all of our drawer latches work. (?!?) Sure, we haven’t had automatic steps since ever, but our drawers stay closed (because we’re ladies).

  2. says

    Ours stay closed too but we have the old fashioned lift em’ up to close and open them. No plastic involved. Wonder why they quit doing the rail with the bump thing that we have?? Cheaper?, Easier? to use plastic?

    • libertatemamo says

      Now THAT sounds like a much more practical option. Have no idea why they don’t do that anymore, altho’ I’m sure price comes into it somewhere.

    • libertatemamo says

      You know I think people either fall into “they break all the time” or “they never break” catagory, and I have no idea why! When I posted this problem on the forums I got a very mixed bag of responses…a bunch of people who totally identified w/ our problem and others who just had no idea why we were getting so many breakages. We must be especially hard on our drawers LOL…

  3. says

    Our big drawer(in lieu of oven area) has been a problem since day one. Currently have baby locks and they sorta’ work(drawer only comes out 2 inches) but wife hates them!!! These could be perfect!!!!1 Thanks!!!

  4. says

    Any suggestion for an RV Mod is a good one in my opinion. Although I’m still not quite over YOU changing out that sewer handle !!

    Luckily none of my drawer latches have broken………yet ! ‘Cause everything else sure has !! LOL

    Right now the bedroom door (which is on a slide) is off the slide at one end. And there’s NO WAY to get at it ?? grrrr

    • libertatemamo says

      You know sometimes you wonder how the RV manufacturers decide to put stuff together. We have a water filter in a completely insane location that requires an 8-armed octopus to change….really?
      Hope you manage to get that door fixed!

  5. says

    Thank goodness I have the lift type of drawers. However, cheap plastic that hold the slider parts are broken on 4 of my drawers. The really good replacements for those are like $35 a pair.

  6. says

    This is something we will look into as we have had to replace a few already. Now do you have any ideas for the catch that holds the bedroom mirrored closet doors in place? Perhaps yours are different than ours but we have had to replace these little plastic catches several times already.

    • libertatemamo says

      Ah no…sadly I do not have a good replacement for those. I have one broken too (I definitely have a knack for breaking things)

    • Bob Ledoux says

      I’ve tried to absorb all the tips on your site as we prepare to go full-time later this year so I’m very happy to be able to offer a solution we found for our mirrored sliding doors.

      My wife found that a window lock would work for us. It is a latching mechanism with a strong adhesive backing–simple to apply. The one we chose has the trademarked name, BurglarBar, and it is working perfectly for us. She found it on Amazon.

    • libertatemamo says

      Sorry to hear that. I guess it’s overly optimistic of me to think these will last forever, but I have to believe they are waaay more sturdy than the old plastic rubbish. So far we’ve gone almost 3 months on the new latches which is already breaking my record on the old ones.

    • libertatemamo says

      Hmmm…interesting. I would think the tension could be adjusted to allow them to let go? Anyway I’m glad you’ve got a solution that works.

    • libertatemamo says

      They just used to make ’em better is all I can say. Older RV construction was more solid than it is today.

    • libertatemamo says

      Glad I could offer a good tip! DO see Bob’s note below on where to buy these for a much better price than what I originally posted in the blog.

  7. says

    I took out all the drawers (not all at once, mind you) and eventually replaced them along with the drawer slides with full extension self closers. A slightly more expensive and time consuming exercise. Unfortunately now in an RV that we no longer own however. :(

    Probably a good idea to look around the web for the best price for those catches though. It seems to depend on whether or not they’re labelled “RV” or not. It’s getting as bad as when something is called “marine”. That usually means pricey.

    Here’s one example to compare to the link you provided. You’ll need to copy and paste, as WordPress doesn’t seem to like for me to put in a link.


    • libertatemamo says

      THANK YOU for the link!! I’ve been looking for a cheaper source for these latches and wasn’t able to find them. That’s definitely the spot to buy them. I will update my blog post with that link.

  8. Bob Nuttmann says

    All our motor home cabinets but one came with the brass latches. The brass ones do wear out after a while. As a matter of fact I need a couple more to replace worn ones. I like the lee valley web site price better than the other. We had the same latches in a very nice sailboat we had ten years ago.

    • libertatemamo says

      It makes sense that even these will wear down eventually. I’m hopeful they will last a lot longer than the plastic ones tho’

  9. Mark says

    My two heaviest drawers have broken the same latches you have problems with. I just ordered the latches you recommend. Hopefully I’ll have them installed in a week or two and can stop taking the drawers out when we roll.

    • libertatemamo says

      Hope they work out for you! So far these latches are still holding well for us. It takes a bit of fiddly alignment to get them installed, but once they’re in they do the job.

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