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2015-2018 Annual Map Producer: Jeannine Patané/RV Compass

Green Eggs Rally

Inyan South Dakota Rally

Playboy Bunny Hardware

By Jeannine Patané
May 13, 2018

My travel trailer's principal role is being my mistress. Realistically, all an active vagabond needs is a car to live out of. Add a small luxury towed behind the vehicle and you have a real estate vacation home; an unnecessary living space but attractive and highly desirable.

With the potential for complications, keeping things simple for both wife (car) and mistress (trailer) is crucial. They both need specialized attention and maintenance. The longer I’m with them, the more I learn how to cater to their nuances.

Hitting the road is like going underway on a boat. Batten hatches, secure loose items and strap down for a bumpy ride. My mistress’s manufacturer thought installing basic roller catches on the cabinet doors would be sufficient enough for travel, but I’ve peeked in my trailer often enough at gas stations to find items on the trailer floor. Bungee cords and Velcro straps have fixed this issue, however after four years of road preparation, I wanted a more efficient system.

Last year a very close friend bought new cabinet hardware for my trailer as a birthday present to me. Replacing the knobs for lockable latches was not an option. I had to devise a new locking mechanism from the existing hardware and keep the current aesthetics. Just turning the knobs to make them lock was the goal.

turning cabinet knob

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I could just turn the knobs a quarter turn and a bar from behind the door would guarantee the cabinet doors security? Let the engineering begin.

Sketch of new mechanism and measurements

There were several measurements at the minute level to this challenge, and discreet indicators were considered. I had a little bit of red Washi tape leftover from other creative trailer projects and a sharp X-ACTO knife blade, so placing a small diamond dot in the hardware’s design worked nicely to indicate the direction of the bar behind the door.

indicator on knob

All of the hardware to modify the knobs was purchased at the local Sound Ace Hardware, and a few trips were made to get the exact pieces such as the nylon spacers, washers and correct length bolts. The salesmen were quite intrigued with my bee-lines to the back of the store to examine the hundreds of hardware compartments. They couldn’t help me with this particular project; I was two steps ahead.

At the register, a gentleman standing next to me looked at my barefooted, summer clothed appearance and questioned, “What are you going to do with that aluminum bar?”

With a wink of my eye, I smiled out of the corner of my mouth and responded, “I’m fabricating.” That only made him more curious.

Aluminum bar latch

Ultimately the knobs were super-glued to the bolt threads, otherwise the tension would make the bar slip out of position from the knob when turning it. It was a commitment to the hardware and the cabinet doors. If I need to remove the knobs now, I’ll plan to entirely rebuild the cabinets. Bastardizing the trailer can be a pleasurable experience.

The new latching system turned out to be very different from what I was used to for the last four years. I had to re-train my behavior on how to handle a completely different mechanism that looked almost exactly the same as before.

Profile of latch mechanism

To help give a visual reminder, I temporarily tied “bunny ears” on the knobs for a few days with wired jute cord. Immediately what came to mind were Playboy Bunny ears. Like my mistress prefers to be handled, the ears are a visual reminder to operate the hardware gently.

The doors no longer have to be pulled or pushed with manhandled force to make roller catches engage. Now all it takes is detailed observation of the small red marker and delicate fingertip control to lock and unlock the doors. A strapping system is no longer needed to keep things securely in place, just keen observation and a gentle quarter turn.

With the new door locks, it's smooth sailing for many journeys to come.

Jute bow ears