How to Disassemble Plastic Airstream Latches

I'm talking about these babies.

Our '74 Overlander used these latches for cabinet doors and the screen door hold-back.  They're riveted on from inside the mechanism, and there's no apparent way to disassemble them without breaking the plastic.  So, how do you get these things apart?

First, it helps to understand the mechanism a little.  There is a top sliding latch and bottom plastic base with a spring in the middle.


What's important to note is that when the latch is in the retracted position (spring compressed), there is very little engagement between the grooves.  That means the ideal position to separate these pieces will be in the compressed position.

So here's how to get them apart.  Press the latch open with your thumb as far as you can.  Remember, the further you can open it, the less force it'll take to remove.  With a flat screwdriver in the other hand, lift the back of the latch straight toward you.  It'll take some force.

Pop! and you're free.  Don't lose the spring -- it's going to want to fly out when you do this.

It's important to pull straight toward yourself with the screwdriver.  You don't want to wedge the screwdriver in sideways and twist to spread the grooves apart or you'll probably break that 40 year old plastic.  No twisting, just lever it toward you like the latch is a beer bottle cap and you don't have a proper opener.

Now, to reassemble.  One end of the spring goes in the latch, the other end wedges against the tab on the base.


Compress the spring and press the front grooves into the center of the base first.

Now press the rear of the latch into the base and guide it forward to the closed position.

That's it!  Success!