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Old 07-17-2016, 08:39 PM   #1
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1959 28' Ambassador
Summerville , South Carolina
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Bargman L77 alternatives

Greetings,

I've not owned a vintage Airstream even a week (1959 Ambassador) and I've already discovered the bane of many owner's existence. Alas, the insides of my Bargman L77 are gone, lost by the previous owner, and I've discovered the difficulty in finding parts. It's been recommended that I patch the door and put something different on it and that makes great sense given the difficulty in finding L77 parts and the fact that I just don't really like the L77 anyway. The thought of cutting new holes in a door however, frightens me almost as much as spiders.

So here is my question to the group that may be most concerned, or at least involved with, the L77; what, if any, alternatives have you come up with that do not involve altering the door?

What I've been referring to as "the guts" of the L77 is actually called a mortise latch, sometimes referred to as a mortise housing. I'm presently looking for a mortise latch that could be modified to work with the existing handles, but I'm not holding much hope. I'd settle for a standard door latch that would work with a 'T' handle and a couple of fabricated plates to cover the existing holes in the door.

The L77 just doesn't look like I want it to either. It's too much like a 50's refrigerator handle and not enough like a vintage space ship door handle. I'm still a little on the fence about whether to steer towards original or go nuts. About 80% of me wants to make this thing look so cool that it would make Captain Kirk weep. I am, of course, on a tight budget so that may not quite work out. Remember that show with Andy Griffith called "Salvage 1" where he built a spacecraft out of junk? I think Id like something with a little more refined appearance than that.

Eagerly awaiting replies,
James
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Old 07-21-2016, 01:05 PM   #2
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1959 28' Ambassador
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So on the off chance someone is actually paying attention to this I've found a ghetto fix to get my door to stay closed that doesn't involve modification or sticks. Ace hardware of all places has replacement mortise latches for $24 that will go in the door. There are, of course, pros and cons. You'll need to drill a hole in the faceplate of the latch to make a new screw hole. I tapped it and used machine screws through the existing holes in the edge of the door. The top screw goes through the existing top screw on the latch and is held on with a nut. The bottom screw goes in to the newly made hole in the faceplate of the latch. All the hardware up to this point fits nicely inside the door and from the outside is easily accessible. The inside isn't quite as nice. The replacement latch has a 2 and 3/8 backset and the existing hole in the door interior overlaps by about 3/16 of an inch. Rather than "wallowing" out the hole to accommodate I use a flat screwdriver to turn the latch from the inside. The knob that comes with the latch works fine for the outside. So the pros are that the door now closes and stays closed, no modifications to the door were required, and it was cheap. The cons are that it looks like a cheap temporary fix and because of the fit it's a pain to open from the inside.

Obviously a 2 inch backset would have solved the second problem without altering the interior skin of the door. I'll keep looking for that, but I'm not holding much hope. I think the appearance could be improved by fabricating a couple of plates for the inside and outside of the door, but the backset problem would have to be solved first. This isn't the permanent solution to this problem, but it's working well enough to get in and out of the trailer while it sits in our driveway to be worked on. That's actually a step in the right direction.
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Old 07-21-2016, 01:11 PM   #3
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I had a similar debate with myself but lucked out getting a locksmith who was into vintage trailers your solution sounds good and I was wondering if you had any pics?
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Old 07-22-2016, 01:31 PM   #4
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It seems to me that, in this 3D-printer era in which we live, the L77 problems are more solvable than they used to be.
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Old 07-23-2016, 12:22 PM   #5
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1959 28' Ambassador
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So we'll see how this goes. I haven't uploaded photos before so bear with me.

Photo one is the kit I purchased from Ace hardware.
Photo two shows (kind of) the mortise latch from the kit installed in the door
Photo three shows the nut attached to the back of the machine screw using the existing hole on the mortise latch inside the door
Photo four shows the latch installed from the edge of the door and knob from the kit used to open the door from the outside
Photo five shows the drawing of the latch on the original packaging and I've added a small red dot where you'll need to drill a hole and tap it for the machine screw that goes in the edge of the door just below the latch

Again, the purpose in doing this is to avoid cutting the door in any way form or fashion and it's a temporary fix to get the door closed while it sits awaiting proper repairs. I'd be more than reluctant to head down the road like this and it's definitely not pretty.
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Old 07-23-2016, 01:18 PM   #6
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ah I see what your mean. If it works though, all good.
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