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Old 12-19-2005, 12:47 PM   #1
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1984 31' Airstream310
Dunsmuir , California
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Motorhome door lock woes

Hello everyone, I know this topic has been frequently talked about. I am currently traveling and my internet access is very unreliable and slow so I haven't been able to do much searching.

I am composing this off-line and hopefully I will be able to stay connected long enough to get it posted.

The door lock on my 1984 310 Limited broke at a fuel stop yesterday. The outside handle no longer did anything. After boosting my wife through the cockpit window, (There's no way I would fit through it) I removed and disassembled the lock to find that the tabs which the outside door handle contacts to move the plate which drives the bolt were gone. One is completely gone, the other is bent, cracked, and about to fall off. I understand parts are not available.

Question 1: Does anyone have any ideas about how to repair/replace the broken part?

The dead bolt on the MH works fine. Except I have no key. It appears to me that in order to remove the tumbler for this lock, it needs to be removed from the coach. Is that correct? If so, it looks like I need to remove the inside skin to get access.

Question 2: Do I need to remove the inside skin in order to get a key for the dead bolt or could a locksmith make a key without doing so?

Question 3: Any other ideas about my problem? I saw the residential dead bolt that was installed bu the PO of Chaplain Kent's coach. I suppose I'll have to do something similar if all else fails.

Please also email your responses to guy99APPLE@snowcrest.net. Since I may not be able to stay connected long enough to read the thread.

(The fruit was added to my email in order to thwart automated email harvesting so remove the fruit from the address before you use it)
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Old 12-25-2005, 04:58 PM   #2
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I suspect if you drive by either an RV service shop, or a locksmith, they'll be able to come up with something. I found an RV deadbolt at a small RV service only shop for my '51 Airstream. It's not vintage but it suits and it was a perfect drop into the original hole that had been covered over in the past by a PO. One way or another, though, either one of the two above will be able to fix your problem - I'm sure they get enough of this stuff that they can do this quickly.

Barry
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Old 12-25-2005, 09:14 PM   #3
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Guy99, I feel your pain. I have had the same thing happen to my entry door. Lucky for me I had two casket doors and the rear double lock swing down ramp. As previously posted you can drive to a locksmith and have a key made for your dead bolt.
You can also take the door handle mechanism apart and remove the plate with the tabs. Now here's the good part.... I also need the same part for one of my locks.
Give me a call at 888-844-2322 and we can conspire to make a part for both you and me... just be sure to check your clock and to call me before 10pm EST. I'm looking forward to your call.
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Old 12-25-2005, 09:48 PM   #4
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This RV repair shop I go to has a bunch of new and used stuff. He seems to keep pretty much anything he's ever taken off a unit, and has stuff from his and his fathers many years in the RV repair business. If you can provide a picture I can ask him if he has replacements. He will be open Tuesday. If he does, what's something like that worth so I know what to pay? I can then throw them in the mail.

Barry
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Old 12-26-2005, 04:16 AM   #5
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Entry Lock

Yep know the feeling. Last week mine broke on my 72 Sovereign. The outside handle works great the inside just spins. I took it off the door and found that a piece inside had broken off. Looks like is will be able to take the mig welder in tach weld it back. The arm fits in a slot and I was able to place the arm back in place. Looks a little tight but if I use a long piece of wire ( about 3 " ) I should be able to tack it back on.
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Old 12-26-2005, 01:07 PM   #6
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All's well that ends well I guess

Hello everyone, currently we are in Rocky Point (Puerto PeŮasco, MX). If I get this posted I will be using an unsecured hotspot at a local nightclub.

I thought it might be useful for the knowledge base if I reported how I addressed the problems I described previously.

First, the door handle, latch and lock. This had been the only way we could secure the MH from the outside. A few days back I reported that ours had broken so that we could not open the door from the outside. When I disassembled the latch/lock I found that one of the tabs which are used to open the latch when you pull the outside handle was completely missing and that the other one was bent and cracked and no longer functioning. These tabs are formed by bends in the flat plate to which the 'bolt' is attached. They are not separate, replaceable parts. What to do? The friends with whom we were traveling (remember we couldn't leave the coach because we had no way to lock it from the outside) had some replacement tabs welded onto the plate where the old tabs had been. The tabs which were welded on were wider than the slots they had to go into, so there was quite a bit of filing to be done. After filing the newly welded tabs until they fit nicely into their slots, I assembled the lock and installed it. It functioned fine in that it latched and held the door closed and the door could be opened from either side. Unfortunately, it could not be locked.

I removed the lock and looked at why it wouldn't lock. The locking mechanism is a separate plate which has a flat tab protruding from it. To lock the lock, this plate slides in the direction of the main plate (which has the bolt attached). The tab on the lock plate engages a cutout in the main plate 'locking' the main plate (and the bolt) in place. The locking plate can be moved by a key and cylinder from the outside or by the locking lever from the inside. When I examined my repaired lock, I saw that the main plate was not retracting far enough for the locking plate to slide its tab into the cutout in the main plate. Why? It turns out that the tabs which had been welded on to replace the broken/missing tabs were quite a bit longer than the originals. This additional length was causing them to engage the actuators of the outside handle too soon and thereby limiting the travel of the main plate.

It became clear that substantial length had to be filed off of the new tabs. A bit over an eighth of an inch needed to be removed. It was clear that shortening the tabs with the hand files I had with me would take way too long. So, off to Harbor Freight where I bought a very small grinder which had a grinding wheel, a polishing wheel, and a flex shaft drive with some diamond bits. After grinding and polishing and fitting, I was able to get everything fitting and operating correctly. Reinstalled the latch and it works fine and can be locked from either side.

After the close call, I decided that I really wanted a key for the dead bolt lock (PO didn't have one). So I spoke with a local locksmith (in Yuma, AZ) he said he thought they could make a key without removing the lock (and handle) from the MH. I had him send one of his trucks to the RV park we were staying at. The guy spent about 45 minutes and had no luck either picking the lock or figuring out how to remove the handle/lock without removing or drilling holes in the inner skin. (BTW, the manual says that to remove the handle you have to drill two 1/2 inch holes in the inner skin). It was time for this fellow to go home so I asked him to call his boss to get suggestions (I really wanted a key to the lock and I didn't want to have to pay for the service call since nothing had been accomplished). The boss said that I should bring the coach to the shop at 9 AM the next morning. I did. He spent two hours 'making an impression' then fitting a key via trial and error. I had told him that he could make the holes in the inner skin if that was the only way to get a key made, but he worked very hard and eventually succeeded. I now have four keys to the dead bolt. He charged me $45 plus the cost of the extra keys! Quite a bargain in my view.

My experience with the door handle/latch leads me to believe that as long the main casting is not damaged, it is possible to repair these locks given enough time and effort.

Also, I now know that a skilled and persistent locksmith can make a key for the dead bolt without removing it. I suppose that if the lock needed a new cylinder, there would be no choise but to either drill the two holes in the interior skin as the manual says or remove a section of the inner skin.
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1984 310 Limited Motorhome
Courtesy Parking (W/S/E/Wi-Fi) on I-5 in Northern California, 70 miles from Oregon border
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Old 12-26-2005, 08:08 PM   #7
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Guy, congratulations on finding a solution to your broken part. The lesson learned is about being persistant. The locksmith issue points out the skill level of the individual being important. The best bargains in that business are always had by going to the locksmith vs. having one come to you. I've had a couple of different locks sorted out by the same method your locksmith used. Now that you've done so well I'm going to disassemble my broken piece and see if I can get it repaired rather than replace it with another.
Good luck with the rest of your trip.
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