1 Rivet Member
1976 31' Sovereign
Join Date: Jun 2013
Z-Lock Frozen and Internal Pictures
I've just registered, but have been reading the forum for the past year while restoring my 1976. I finally had something I could contribute here, so I just signed up.
I recently had this same problem. I tried, and tried, and tugged and tugged as I and a friend might, but we could not get the Zip Dee to deploy on the lock end. Other threads on this forum suggested that the spring might be broken, or that there might be missing gear teeth. Well, I'll tell you how I fixed it and what I found.
Not sure what I would find, I ordered a replacement Z-Lock mechanism from Out of Doors Mart. This after a consultation with the Zip Dee factory. When the Lock arrived, I went to the trailer to install. To replace the Z-Lock, you need to drill out four rivets. In order to get to the rivets, you need to deploy the awning. Well, with the Zip Lock stuck, you need to remove the hardened steel bolt that attaches the support arm to the Z-Lock. Please be careful, as you only would want to do this on the Z-Lock side that is near the front of the trailer. The other end houses the spring, and if you were to remove the steel bolt on that side the spring would unwind rapidly (I don't think you could do this under tension, but best not to try). Once the pin was out, we could carefully unwind the Zip Dee awning. Once the awning was deployed, I could easily get to the rivets, drill out, match-mark the location of the old lock and replace the Z-Lock. I then reattached the side arm to the new Z-Lock, and the awning rolled back perfectly.
Note that, upon inspection, the hardened steel bolt that attaches the Z-Lock assy to the side arm was in pretty bad shape. I decided to order replacements from Out of Doors Mart and replace these too, as they are the only piece that really holds the whole awning on each side. Replacing on the Z-Lock side was easy because it wasn't really under tension, replacing on the rear of the arm required me to deploy the awning, support the awning, then disconnect the arm from the base of the trailer. You then unwind the arm CCW about 25 turns and this releases all the tension. After reading some comments on the forum, I was worried about how hard this would be - it was easy. I came to the conclusion that we are not dealing with a garage door spring, but, like any spring, it should be treated with respect. I replaced the bolt, put the spring under tension again (25+turns) and the whole assembly rolled right back up. As for locating the bolt - order a genuine Zip Dee replacement - don't try to locate one locally - they are specially made for Zip Dee, and they are inexpensive. I spent several hours looking locally before I gave up. Anything common from a hardware store is likely to shear and fail with disastrous results.
Now, with the old Z-Lock removed from the awning, I decided to take it apart and see what was causing the trouble. (Zip Dee couldn't supply me with a drawing or picture of the Z-Lock internals...) When I first searched for this problem on the forums, I couldn't see any pictures of the mechanism, so I took some and will post following. To disassemble, remove the cotter pin on the side where the castle nut is, and remove the castle nut. Now, you may discover your problem - the bolt that passes through one side of the casting (the bolt that the castle nut attaches to) was completely galled up, with enough friction that it could not allow the mechanism to spin freely. I had to put the assembly in a vice and pound the bolt out with a hammer. (Use caution, you might ruin the bolt threads - screw on a sacrificial nut while you are pounding.) Once the assembly was apart, I cleaned up the bolt, and ran a drill bit slightly larger than the bolt through the hole, cleaning it all up - oiled, and it worked perfectly. You might be able to do this and save the cost of the Zip Lock.
Someone mentioned oiling the Z-Lock. Because of the design, you will never be able to get oil to this post that actually rotates (the same one with the castle nut) - if it is galled, you need to take it apart.
Another question I had was, how should the Z-Lock lever feel when flipped? I was told by ZipDee that I might have a broken internal spring for the latch on the Z-Lock. Well, let me attest, that the lever will have a very positive, snappy feel, like that of an old-time light switch. If it is lose, then you probably have a broken spring.
See pics for internal details. Sure hope my experience helps someone.