SUPER CHEAP & EASY RV Cabinet Door Lift Strut Repair

Way back when we started making videos, nearly 6 years ago, we used pop rivets to help friends install a central vacuum in their rig. Now we’re sharing one reason we keep a pop riveter around for repairs, too.

Full-timing limits the amount of space we have on board for just about everything. That includes tools. But our pop riveter has come in handy so many times, we’d never give it up. And of course we keep an assortment of various size aluminum rivets on hand. Some of our favorite DIY projects involve a fairly specialized tool saving the day in some unexpected way.

That said, certain repairs are to be expected, even before they happen. For example, we know that the cords in our day-night shades are bound to break sooner or later. So we try to keep a supply of replacement cord on hand. It’s just a known point of failure.

The same thing is true when it comes to overhead cabinets. It’s only a matter of time before opening a cabinet results in that tell-tale BANG, followed by a limp door. The rivets in the struts that hold those doors up are another known failure point, so we keep a special supply of rivets on board just for that purpose: 1/2″ long x 1/8″ diameter stainless steel, which is super strong.

These particular rivets suffer from metal fatigue over time, especially with full-time use. It’s inevitable that certain cabinets are used more often than others, and we’d guess that some of our most popular nooks and crannies are opened and closed a dozen or more times in a day. Tick tock, tick tock. Which time will we open one of those popular cabinets and be startled by the BANG!?

Now before you go reading the fine print on the box of stainless steel rivets we showed in the video (the part that says they’re “not for use with manually operated rivet tools”… damn HiDef!), please save your criticisms for a more egregious error. They work just fine.

When we first started using a pop riveter, we either failed to notice that note on the stainless steel packaging, or it wasn’t there back then. Either way, we’ve been successfully using them with our manual riveter for years with no problem. We’re guessing that the note is simply due to the additional hand strength required for spreading stainless steel compared to standard aluminum rivets. Sometimes ignorance is bliss, and we’ve continued to happily use them without a problem. But you should of course feel free to follow the official instructions if you prefer. ;-)

Besides, stainless steel is only required for very high-stress situations, like the regular opening and closing of RV cabinets, which puts a lot of metal-to-metal stress on the struts, slowly cutting through aluminum rivets over time. The vast majority of other uses for pop rivets will only require aluminum.

We’ve included links below for the rivet gun and rivets we use for cabinet repair, along with an assortment of standard aluminum rivets. Thanks for supporting our videos by using our Amazon Links!


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We're handy RVers, not professional technicians. We're happy with the techniques and products we use, but be sure to confirm that all methods and materials you use are compatible with your equipment and abilities. Regardless of what we recommend, consult a professional if you're unsure about working on your RV. Any task you perform or product you purchase based on any information we provide is strictly at your own risk.

We sometimes receive products for evaluation at no cost, and The RVgeeks are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. But our opinions are our own, you won’t pay an extra penny, and we only link to products we personally use, love and can recommend to friends with complete confidence.
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