RV cabinet door struts are great because they hold your RV’s cabinet doors open while we browse, retrieve, or put away items. But over time, these cabinet door struts can fail, frequently at a common point.
In this post, we’ll look at how the struts on your RV cabinet doors work, and how to repair (super easy/super cheap!) and replace them (a bit less easy & cheap).
This is a great little DIY project with many benefits (ever been clobbered by a cabinet door with a failed strut?), so let’s get right to it!
- 1) What Are RV Cabinet Door Struts?
- 2) How Do I Fix My RV Cabinet Doors?
- 3) RV Cabinet Door Strut Repair
- 4) RV Cabinet Door Strut Replacement
- 5) What Does “N” or “lbs” Mean on a Gas Strut?
- 6) How Do You Measure for Cabinet Struts?
- 7) How Do You Install Struts on a Cabinet Door?
- 8) Have You Repaired or Replaced Struts For Your RV Cabinet Door?
What Are RV Cabinet Door Struts?
These support struts, (sometimes referred to as “RV cabinet door shocks”), are similar to the struts that you might find on a car’s hatchback door. They’re installed on horizontally hinged cabinet doors, anywhere doors are hinged at the top (i.e the cabinet door opens up) instead of on the side (where the cabinet door will open from/to the left/right). When the cabinet is open, they act as supports for the overhead cabinet doors in your RV.
While there may be many different types of RV cabinet door latches for securing the doors closed, the support struts that help hold them open are pretty much the same for all RVs.
A cabinet door strut has a small cylinder that typically contains a strong spring and a piston that helps to lift and hold the door open. This type of strut is not specific to cabinet doors and may also be seen in many other applications, including RV exterior storage bays (though these are often gas struts, where compressed gas replaces the spring, and are usually larger & stronger to account for heavier doors and wind).
How Do I Fix My RV Cabinet Doors?
There are a couple of ways to fix RV cabinet doors.
Repair Your Camper Cabinet Door Struts
Depending on the problem, you may be able to simply repair the struts for a free and easy fix.
We’ll provide a simple tutorial for that process in just a moment.
Replace the Struts on Your RV Cabinet Doors
Alternatively, completely replacing the struts on your RV cabinet doors is an option. Fortunately, RV cabinet door strut installation is neither difficult nor expensive and doesn’t really require much in the way of installation instructions. There are typically just two mounting screws that secure the spring-loaded strut to both the door and the cabinet frame.
RV Cabinet Door Strut Repair
Typical struts used in RVs will have a rivet at the hinge point. This rivet acts to allow the strut to pivot as you open and close the door. But, it can loosen and suffer from metal fatigue over time. This is actually the most common failure point, and that’s actually good news because it’s a quick and easy (and very cheap) fix!
Having lived full-time in our RV for a couple of decades now, we’ve had several of these fail at the rivet. The clue is the loud “bang” that occurs when the rivet finally breaks and the strut can no longer hold the cabinet door up.
We’ve repaired our RV cabinet door struts this way more than once, and always with excellent success, so we know it works well.
All you need is a pop rivet gun (handy for many repairs around the rig) and a pop rivet. That’s it!
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For a quick and easy video tutorial, have a look at this 3-minute video of us repairing one of the support struts on our RV cabinet:
RV Cabinet Door Strut Replacement
When replacing a support strut, you can either order the replacement(s) online (available on Amazon) or pick them up at a local RV parts store. The spring-loaded struts typically used for interior cabinet doors are fairly universal in size and strength.
For most interior RV cabinets, you’ll need only one strut to support the door. Though sometimes on larger cabinet doors, they may be two, one on each side of the door.
- RV Door Strut
- Used to hold spring-loaded cabinet doors in open position
What Does “N” or “lbs” Mean on a Gas Strut?
While the small, spring-loaded struts commonly used for RV cabinets don’t generally have a force rating, gas struts that are more typically used for exterior storage bay doors do. Generally, you’ll see the force of a gas strut/spring expressed in Newton or pounds.
You’ll find that European gas springs or struts use the letter “N” for Newton, and American-made gas struts use the abbreviation “lbs” for pounds.
For reference (and conversion), 100N is equivalent to 22.5 lbs of force.
For example, the following cabinet struts are rated at 100N/22.5lbs. They come in lengths of 10.5 inches, 8 inches, and 7 inches, but all lengths are rated with the same force of 100N/22.5lbs.
- 1. Force:100N/22.5lb (Per Strut);Length(hole center to hole center) :10 inch,Support opens lids to a Maximum angle of 100 degrees.Please note: This...
- 2.Easy to install, durable and stable. Round metal mounting plate: the contact area of the cabinet body is larger, three point positioning,...
These are likely overkill for use on a typical interior cabinet door, but they are definitely appropriate for use on exterior/basement compartment doors.
How Do You Measure for Cabinet Struts?
The general rule of thumb is that you want your strut to be about 55% of the height of the door you’re trying to hold open.
Let’s say you have a cabinet door that’s 12 inches in height. 55% of 12 is 6.6, so you’d want to buy a strut that’s about 6” long. So, basically, we’re looking at half the door height plus a bit more when determining the appropriate strut length.
How Do You Install Struts on a Cabinet Door?
Lift the Door to 90°
If you have an assistant handy, it’s helpful to have someone hold the door open for you while you take measurements.
Measure 2 ½ inches in from the edge of your cabinet door on the hinge side. Here, make marks 2 inches in length across the side of the door.
Next, measure along the first mark perpendicularly and place a mark at the 1-inch point.
Your lines should intersect at the center of the bracket that will hold the strut to the cabinet door.
Center the Bracket
On the cylinder end of the strut, (which is the large part of the assembly), center the bracket of the cylinder over the center mark you’ve drawn.
Note that the cylinder’s piston should emerge from the cylinder diagonally and downward toward the cabinet.
On the end of the cylinder, you’ll see an oval-shaped bracket with two holes in it. Center this bracket on your mark. The oval should be perpendicular to the side of the door.
Secure the Bracket
Secure the bracket to the door using the included screws.
Situate the Piston
Pull the piston all the way out, extending the cylinder. Bring the bottom of the piston 2” inside the face frame of the cabinet and attach it with the provided screws.
That’s it! You’ve replaced your own cabinet door strut!
Have You Repaired or Replaced Struts For Your RV Cabinet Door?
Let us know in the comments if you’ve repaired or replaced any of your RV cabinet’s support struts. How long did your struts last and what was the failure point that caused the need for your cabinet door repair or replacement?
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