This thread details modifications that I made to the drawers inside my motorhome. I apologize for the length of this post, but I wanted to give as much detail as possible, in case any of you wish to attempt the same mod. This was a time consuming and difficult project. I would only recommend it for someone that has good cabinetry skills. I do not - and as a result, I now have high blood pressure and less hair on my head.
Anyone that’s looked beyond the surface of their Fleetwood cabinets, knows that Fleetwood has never been known for the quality of their cabinet making. There are trade off’s in purchasing an RV however, so this was something I had to take into consideration when I bought my Providence seven years ago.
Fast-forward to now: the bottoms of several of the drawers throughout my MH are beginning to cave in. After removing the drawers and examining them, I found that Fleetwood cut corners when they made the drawers. They stapled the drawers together and used inexpensive paper thin wood for the drawer bottoms. These drawer bottoms are unable to stand up to the rigors of RV use. The bottom pieces are slid into a channel without any screws or glue. Any amount of weight in the drawers can cause the drawer bottoms to flex, especially when traveling. Several of mine have flexed to the point where they have caved in - popped out. Some of my drawer slides are failing as well. Some drawers don’t slide in/out without binding, and I keep finding ball bearings on the floor from the failing drawer slides.
I decided it was time to fix all of my drawer bottoms and replace all of the drawer slides. I could have just concentrated on the broken drawers, but I was sure that the remaining drawers would all fail over time. My 27 year old son made a hobby of woodworking many years ago, so I asked him if he could help me with this project. He agreed and we both figured it would take us about a week to complete...boy were we wrong!
My son did some research and said the easiest way to fix the drawer bottoms was to modify them, by gluing 1/4" plywood underneath the drawer bottoms. This worked well on most of the drawers, but the larger galley drawers needed something more, so we added cross-bracing below those drawer bottoms, along with glue along the drawer bottom edges. This part of the project was fairly easy.
I love the new soft closing drawer slides that are so popular in new homes today. They take extra force to open, so I thought they would be ideal in an RV. They are however fairly expensive. I came to the members of this forum for some suggestions on the best slides to use and got several replies. I ended up using Centerline soft closing slides from my local Rockler woodworking store on most of the drawers, and KV soft closing slides for four of my smaller 12" drawers (Rockler doesn’t make 12" slides).
Out of the box, three of the Rockler Centerline slides had to be returned due to defective soft closing mechanisms. Although the KV soft closing slides were a much cheaper design and were not as beefy as the Rockler slides, none of them proved to be defective.
This is where the project took a drastic turn - Fleetwood did a terrible job building the support structures for all of the coach’s drawers. Again, no screws or glue used, only staples. This allowed the drawer structures to flex side to side. Adding the heavier Rockler drawer slides only made this problem worse. On top of that, most of the drawer structures either had wood that was bowed or they were not stapled straight, which caused many of the drawers to bind. At this point we were forced to rebuild almost all of the drawer structures. This took a great deal of time and patience. I lost mine, so I am thankful that my son was able to keep his cool and push forward. Not a single drawer was easy, they all seem to take a 2-3 hours of work each to get them to open/close smoothly. This is where our level of inexperience came into play. Neither one of us had ever installed drawer slides before.
In all, we removed and modified 16 drawers - every drawer in the coach. The entire project ran me $460 in material. It took us four weeks to complete, not one as we originally thought. It took us 60+ hours. Would I attempt this again? No, I would have stopped with the drawer bottom mod and left the slides alone, but it may be easier for someone with a lot more cabinet experience.