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Old 02-02-2004, 09:01 PM   #1
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1974 31' Sovereign
Howell , Michigan
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1970-1977 Main Door Lock

I have just had to remove and rebuild the entrance door locks on both my Argosy Minuet and AS Sovereign. I am appalled that these things cost $600+ to replace as they are an absolute POS!
The basic casting is some sort of pot-metal and the design has at least 4 flaws which can lead to failure of the mechanism. With a few changes they can be modified to give a longer life expectancy than they have as standard. Even so, if somebody lays into them. they are still going to break! This is why I got into this - a heavy handed wife on the Sovereign and a heavy handed son on the Argosy!
Probably the most frequent failure is related to the outside pull-handle - this is pot metal and connects to the steel shaft which moves the slide bolt via a cam on the end of the shaft. There are 3 design flaws right here:
1) Where the flapper joins to the shaft - this is prone to failure if someone pulls hard on it as the casting can break.
2) The shaft has a cam on the top end to activate the slide bolt. The cam is too thin and can either bend, break or become disengaged from the roll pin in the next flaw.
3) The slide bolt is activated by the above cam which bears on a roll pin - this is barely long enough and the cam can jump over the top of it resulting in a door that won't open.
I have refitted the modified lock to the Sovereign and so far it seems to be stronger than the original - I have been more heavy handed than normal and have not managed to break it again!
I'll post again if I get a premature failure!
In the meantime, if anybody is even remotely considering paying $600 for a new lock - hold off and contact me first - I might be able to help!
Cheers.
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:23 PM   #2
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Dorr Lock Removal and repair $900.00

I purchased my 71 Excella 500 with out being able to get into it other than by having my niece go into the trailer and remove the screen for the front windo and then open it so I could get in.

The lock was siezed up buy to water getting in it. If anyone wants tips. I removed and rebuilt it using all the original parts but one. Wasn't all that difficult. For me to replace the whole thing would have Cost about $900.00 Canadain.

OUCH!
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Old 05-14-2004, 03:40 PM   #3
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I just made a "note to self" - service door lock assembly next chance I get. Clean and lubricate all internal parts with graphite and door lock grease.
So far mine still works, but it is hard to pull the latch sometimes. I can see how this would break eaasily if it was any harder to pull, or if it is locken and someone yanks on it.
Now, if it usually works very easily, one would notice much sooner that it is locked, but if it's hard to work to begin with, then a good pull might just break it.
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Old 05-15-2004, 01:49 AM   #4
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I've had experience with two lock failures on my '72. I can only say this, if the lock fails, take it apart yourself and find the problem part. DO NOT just buy a whole new lock. Both times mine failed, it took only the replacement of a ~$30 part to fix it. The first time, I had the Factory work on it. Which probably lead to the next failure.

The second time, I worked on it and found the culprit part. I bought the replacement part and found that it really didn't 'fit' and function correctly. I had to spend a lot of time re-milling the bearing surfaces between the engagement points in order to get the handle to lay flat in the resting position AND still have enough movement to retract the bolt in order to unlatch the door. This door lock reminds me of a Rube-Goldberg contraption! They are simple in design, but rely on the interplay of a few very tenuous components, as Gvaman pointed out. I would definitely recommend taking it apart and cleaning, lubricating and just becoming aware of how it works, as Uwe pointed out.

-Dallas
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Old 05-15-2004, 02:29 PM   #5
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Have the same lock on my 73. For the life of me I can not understand how Airstream engineers allowed this piece of JUNK to get by, or why their Marketing Dept. allowed it to be put on for so many years. Crass incompetence, Managements' gross negligence. I wonder if those involved even realize how stupid they look.
I replaced the key tumbler assembly with an Aluminum plug, trashed the lock pin, and now am in the process of fitting two commercial dead bolts into the frame, with the catches in the door.
Dick
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Old 05-15-2004, 09:23 PM   #6
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Just be careful how much metal you're removing from the door frame in order to make your pocket's for the bolts, Dick. The door's integrity depends a great deal on a very thin strip of aluminum channel around the outside. You'll have to cut down the bolts along their long axis probably about 1/2 the thickness. Also allow some slop in the verticle dimension of your pocket. The trailer twists a little if you jack up the front to get level for example and you could find your door lock might not close. A dead bolt is definitely a good idea in my mind. We didn't have one on our '72 and I was very glad when our new '78 already had one installed. Let me know if you'd like pictures of our installation. I've also taken photos of other's as I was planning to add one to our '72.
-Dallas
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Old 05-17-2004, 11:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Navigator
Have the same lock on my 73. For the life of me I can not understand how Airstream engineers allowed this piece of JUNK to get by, or why their Marketing Dept. allowed it to be put on for so many years. Crass incompetence, Managements' gross negligence. I wonder if those involved even realize how stupid they look.
I replaced the key tumbler assembly with an Aluminum plug, trashed the lock pin, and now am in the process of fitting two commercial dead bolts into the frame, with the catches in the door.
Dick
I hear you, Dick. But to add insult to injury, look at how much they charge for new ones!!!! ( If you can find them) A pretty sad scene, if you consider that they even boast on their website abaout how many of their older trailers are still on the road.
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Old 05-28-2004, 11:08 AM   #8
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1972 27' Overlander
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Hi,

I have a 1972 27' international with original door handle, it works, but I would like tips on preventative maintainance.

I would appreciate any input especially with pictures.

Thanks,

Steve
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Old 06-08-2004, 08:22 PM   #9
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Steve.

Three things you can do for the 1970 to 1977 KT lock.

#1. Make sure the brass shim in the striker pocket is OK.

#2. Keep the lock well lubed with silicone spray.

#3. Make sure the running gear is properly balanced.

Andy
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Old 04-06-2007, 01:20 AM   #10
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1972 25' Tradewind
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'72 Trade Wind inside handle

Still getting to know my '72 Trade Wind. While parked in front of the house my wife and I were inside the trailer and when she went to open the door from the inside handle nothing happened. I checked it out and the handle didn't seem to be engaging anything. I pulled the screen and the outside lever worked fine.

I've not taken the mechnanism apaprt yet nor have I removed the latch from the door. Any tips on what to look for?

Also, in removing the assembly, is it just a matter of removing the screws from the inside of the door and the one above the actuating rod?

Thanks,

Aron
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Old 04-06-2007, 05:55 AM   #11
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Is there a particular dead bolt [brand model] that fits better than others?
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Old 04-06-2007, 10:00 AM   #12
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Aron, the lock will probably need to be removed. It's been awhile since, but if memory serves you'll have to take off the inside handle. Unscrew the inside locking peg and remove the screws. Then the lock will push out of the outer skin.--the rear end of the lock first and then then the bolt end should come out through the opening. It's a pretty flush fit, but it should go with minimal bending of the interior skin as I recall.

The lock is basically a spring-loaded bolt which is normally closed by spring pressure and then opened by either the inside or outside handles pushing on a pin which goes through it. If the inside handle fails, trying the outside as you did might open it and vice-a-versa since they are separate from one another.

You may be lucky in that something is only bent and you can bend it back to make it work. Worse, if one of the pieces of pot metal is busted, then you'll have to re-weld it, or find a replacement part. At least until recently, those replacement parts were still available without having to buy an entire lock.

There are no new manufactured alternatives that fit that size hole. So if you buy a new style lock you'd end up cutting a different size hole and having to fill in a patch. I think there's one like that available on Andy's site.

You might have luck with contacting a salvage place such as Colaw's for a replacement, too.

My advice would be to install a deadbolt and not rely on the KT for locking the door either during travel or when parked. It's just too fragile and prone to problems. Stress to everyone who uses the trailer the importance of being gentle with it. Never 'test' the lock to see if it's locked by pulling on the outside handle. That will usually bend or break something. Also, if your handle doesn't sit flush, don't try to push it down. Pull the lock off and look at the inside cam and dremel it a little if needed being careful not to remove too much material and weaken it, or else just live with it not being flush.

Good luck!
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Old 04-06-2007, 11:32 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DPeakMD

There are no new manufactured alternatives that fit that size hole. So if you buy a new style lock you'd end up cutting a different size hole and having to fill in a patch. I think there's one like that available on Andy's site.


My advice would be to install a deadbolt and not rely on the KT for locking the door either during travel or when parked. It's just too fragile and prone to problems. Stress to everyone who uses the trailer the importance of being gentle with it. Never 'test' the lock to see if it's locked by pulling on the outside handle. That will usually bend or break something. Also, if your handle doesn't sit flush, don't try to push it down. Pull the lock off and look at the inside cam and dremel it a little if needed being careful not to remove too much material and weaken it, or else just live with it not being flush.

Good luck!
1970 to 1977 Airstream trailers used a "KT" entrance door lock.

It is still available, but expensive, like $600.00.

Installing a dead bolt requires making a hole in the entrance door frame. That is not a good idea, since the frame is "cast" and can easily break when a hole is made for a dead bolt.

If push comes to shove, the 1966 to 1969 L-100 special lock can be used, but the door must be plated, inside and out, to accept a different lock.

Or have the KT lock rebuilt. All the parts are available.

You might also check for "wear" on the striker bolt. It has a habit of getting a groove in it, making it difficult to open the door from the inside. That groove is caused by inadequate running gear balance.

To remove the KT lock, you must drill out some of the surrounding rivets on the inside of the door. The vinyl-clad metal must be pull away from the door, which will allow the handle shaft to clear the metal, so that the lock can be removed.

If you don't drill out those rivets, you cannot remove the lock.

Some dealers can quickly rebuild the lock for you, and ship it back out, the same day. We have done that for years.

Andy
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Old 04-06-2007, 01:08 PM   #14
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The cast paddle handle is a weak point, granted and if broken can be replaced with one fabricated from i/8" mild steel chrome plated. Any descent welder can do this for a lot less than 600. Make sure door alignment is good, since excessive pressure on the bolt will stress the handle. Pressing in on the door with one hand can relieve pressure too.
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