Door and Drawer Pulls

One of the first changes I needed to make was to cupboard doors and drawers so Betty could operate them.  All of the doors used very nice solid brass knobs.  Unfortunately, Betty could not grip them.

All the knobs have been changed for loop handles.  The drawers had no handles before.

The drawers were a major problem also.  All the many, many drawers in the Foretravel are very nicely made with a gap on the bottom back side of the drawer front and a stainless steel latch mechanism in the gap.  To operate you put your fingers in the bottom of the drawer, pressing on the latch as you do, and open the drawer.  Betty cannot even get her hand in the position to do this, not to mention pressing the latch.

Using a simple jig I made, I drilled a second hole in each lower cupboard door (I did not do the overhead cabinets, as Betty cannot reach them anyway.), and two holes in each drawer front.  I installed brass loop type door pulls on all of these.

I did three different things to overcome the latch problem.

1. On the low drawers under the wardrobe and the two large pots and pan drawers, I left the original latches.  Betty also has a problem with very low drawers, so these are “my drawers”..In the kitchen, I have to open the large drawers for her and they never get latched until we are ready to travel.  She keeps a small towel hanging over the front of the drawer so it won’t latch.

2. On the 4 stacked kitchen drawers, I installed a 1 x 2 board behind the center of the closed drawers and installed the same type of plastic cupboard latches that are used on most of the cupboard doors.  Now the drawer moves freely except that it latches in the closed position.  This has worked fairly well, except on two occasions, climbing the Yarnell grade, on the same reverse banked turn, one of my bottom drawers came open.  This drawer was quite heavy, with a number of my tools and supplies in it.  I have since added a dowel which drops in a block at the edge of the carpet and snaps into the edge of the countertop to prevent any more incidents.  I am trying to work out a more elegant solution.

3. On the remainder of the drawers, the six in the dresser and the six under the two bedside tables, I got a little more “off the wall”.  The drawer slides have a number of holes for screws where they attach to the drawers.  They also have several short vertical slots.  I removed all the screws except the rear one and added a screw in the bottom end of the most foreword slot.  I left these screws slightly loose.  The front of the drawer can now be lifted slightly to clear the latch, then pulled open.  I am somewhat concerned about having only two slightly loose screws holding each side of the drawer, but we have used them that way for four years now (in early 2005), and they still are as secure as when I first made the changes.  These are all fairly small drawers with very little weight in them.

The slides are attached in the rear where they pivot, and at the front where the front can slide up and down a small amount.

Betty now has independent access to far more of the cupboards and drawers than she did with either of our previous motorhomes.

Light Switches

Many of the lights in the Foretravel have overhead switches which Betty cannot reach.  Fortunately, the bathroom and bedroom light switches are in positions she can reach.

We decided that if she could turn on the side and the center fluorescent lights over the dinette table that would be adequate.  Foretravel wanted over $40 for a double switch plate with two switches, so I opted to make my own.  I machined a small aluminum plate and painted it black.  It mounts two of the same switches used throughout the rig.  I mounted the switches at the corner of the pantry alongside the mirror.  It just barely fit the width available, so I had to chisel out some of the cabinet’s corner support to clear.  I ran the wires up through the hollow left wall of the pantry into the floor of the overhead cabinets.  This gave me access to both the side light and the switch for the center one

I made the switch plate narrower than the standare Foretravel one and it still just barely fit between the mirror and the corner of the pantry.  It doesn't show clearly here, but the edge of the plate is right where the corner starts to curve.  

I made one small goof.  The following day I tried to use the light over the recliner chair and found it was also controlled by Betty’s switch – oops!  A five minute job corrected this goof and all works as expected.

I also installed a switch in the map light by the passenger’s front seat.  It worked by twisting the top cap of the light itself, and was difficult for an able-bodied person to do.

The rocker switch now operates the map light.

Originally you had to turn the top of the light to turn it on.  If you turned it the wrong direction, the lamp came apart to allow changing bulbs.


Refrigerator Latch

We have been lucky with the refrigerators in our previous motorhomes, as they have had handles and latches that Betty could handle.  On one, I added a small plate that she could get hold of easier.

On the Foretravel refrigerator there is a large, easy to grip handle on each door, but there is also a press latch.  There was no way Betty could press this latch.  I experimented with several options.  I actually removed the clip the latch engages, but this left the refrigerator vulnerable to opening while driving.  I looked at a device to keep the latch pressed while parked, but that did not work well at all.

Walking through a hardware store one day, I saw a thin stainless steel plate used to provide side pressure on casement windows.  It hit me that that would work!  I cut off a piece and bent it.  Using velcro, I fasten it over the edge of the door opening, covering the latch engagement clip.  Now the latch simply slides over the stainless steel and does not catch anything.  For travel I remove this plate and the door latches normally.

The small stainless plate is held with velcro, and prevents the latch from snapping on to anything.  To make the latch work normally, we just remove the plate.

I could easily do the same thing on the freezer door, but since Betty cannot reach that high there is no need. 



Dick Mason, Prescott, AZ 2/211/05