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Old 07-19-2013, 02:12 PM   #1
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1973 Airstream Sovereign - Just wanna lock my door.

So yes! Let's start another one of these "lock" threads off with something that I hope will be fairly simple:

1973 Airstream Sovereign. No keys when I bought it and inside door handle missing (can't shut the door fully when I'm inside the trailer).

I've seen the arms and legs that people want for the original locks, and while I'm a vintage revivalist for sure, in THIS particular area -- I couldn't care less about keeping it authentic.

I'm about to move my Airstream from Houston - in the middle of nowhere to Austin - in the city. Being able to lock my Airstream just became super-important. I'm a single woman living and working in my trailer full time. What I care most about is being safe. Nothing else really matters to me.

Can I just buy something from Home Depot that will work? What do I buy? Are there any step by step instructions out there that someone with no real "Airstream Lock Knowledge" could follow? Do I really have to hire a locksmith? Out of all of the restoration I've done to my trailer so far, this has been the most annoying.

Any help would be greatly appreciated. You could save a girl's life!

Thanks,
Jenn
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Old 07-19-2013, 02:51 PM   #2
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I'm not an Airstream restoration expert, but I've got experience with replacing components on my own motorhome (non-AS, sorry, I know, gasp).

There are a number of replacement door latches available for a wide variety of RVs - perhaps a better fit for this case would be something from an RV parts store as opposed to Home Depot. You'll likely find something that's a bit more compact and resembles something you'd expect to find on an Airstream (even if it's not vintage).

Just a thought. Good luck!
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Old 07-19-2013, 03:15 PM   #3
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This is *NOT* a plug-and-play upgrade, but it's a good way to keep the door shut on the highway and have a reasonable level of security.

Custom Airstream Deadbolt

It involves drilling out some rivets in the inner skin, as well as cutting holes in the outer and inner skins and drilling through the doorframe. It might be something you'd want to pay someone else to do.

The problem with the expensive replacement KT latchsets is that (as far as I know) they're not really any better than the originals. They do fit the opening properly. If the outside part of your KT works right but you just don't have a key to lock it, you could purchase a new interior handle from VTS and the deadbolt and you'd be set.

NOS Inside Handle for 1970's KT Lock

PS: If you want to move the trailer first and handle the lock work in Austin, you can just duct-tape the door shut for transit for a little extra assurance that it'll stay closed. I notice that you have the closed grab-handle so the wooden gadgets that fit through the other style of grab-handle wouldn't help.
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Old 07-19-2013, 04:52 PM   #4
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1973 Airstream Sovereign - Just wanna lock my door.

Greetings Jenn!

I second DKB_SATX's suggestion of the custom Airstream deadbolt. Particularly if your current door latch is functioning as passage latch, you could forego locking the handle and just lock the deadbolt. The one thing that I like with the deadbolt on my Overlander is that I know that the door is securely locked when the deadbolt is set . . . almost eliminated my fears of having the door blow open when in-transit.

My '78 Argosy Minuet has a peculiar factory deadbolt as it can only be set from the inside so it is of no use when it comes worries about the door flying open when in-transit. The one thing that I did learn as I was researching having my Minuet modified so that I could have a deadbolt that can be locked with a key from outside is that the drilling of the door frame must be precise as an improperly drilled pocket for the lock can fracture the door frame resulting in an expensive repair. This is one of the instances where I am waiting to make the change until I can have a Vintage Friendly Airstream dealer make the change . . . or someone who is familiar with the Vintage Airstream structure.

Good luck with your investigation!

Kevin

P.S.: I am attaching photos of the deadbolt installation on my Overlander. The deadbolt is the same as that used for 1970s models but it is mounted in the door rather than in the wall as it was typically done with the 1970s era trailers:








The biggest reason that I know of that would prevent you from utilizing the 1960s style door handle and deadbolt is that you would need to patch both the interior and exterior of your door . . . and then there would be the interference created by the separate screen door (I believe that is the reason that the deadbolt lock is mounted in the wall rather than the door on the 1970s era trailers.
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Old 07-19-2013, 05:57 PM   #5
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Okay, I have to ask: Why don't you simply replace the missing door handle, and get a new tumbler and keys for what you have?
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Old 07-19-2013, 07:27 PM   #6
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New handles are dime-a-dozen, when I replaced mine I had a choice of a dozen to choose from - they just use about a 3/8" square shank which I found is real common. Biggest problem was getting the wife to decide on the style.

I don't think you can just buy a new cylinder and replace it - I had mine apart last week and it's not 'common'. Several times I've taken my cars by a locksmith's and had them make a key for a lock I didn't have a key for - any locksmith can do this in about 15min. (and $8.00 the last time I had it done).
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Old 07-19-2013, 09:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silver Hawk View Post
I don't think you can just buy a new cylinder and replace it - I had mine apart last week and it's not 'common'. Several times I've taken my cars by a locksmith's and had them make a key for a lock I didn't have a key for - any locksmith can do this in about 15min. (and $8.00 the last time I had it done).
How many lock cylinders with keys do you want for that lock? I think there are about 50 on the shelf where I work. And at least a dozen factory door handles.
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Old 07-19-2013, 10:44 PM   #8
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If you decide to keep the original KT lock assembly. And want it to last. DO NOT SLAM THE DOOR SHUT. You will damage the interior workings of the KT lock. Hold the outside handle out when closing the door.
I would recommend installing a dead bolt.
In your pics, I noticed you are also missing the interior lock handle in the KT assembly.
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:29 PM   #9
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Terry -

What you're suggesting is exactly what I'd like to do, but I don't really know how to go about it.

The deadbolt idea is great, but my interior screen door blocks the whole area off and the only way to do that would be to cut a custom hole in the screen so I could access the deadbolt from inside.

Where can I find a handle that will fit? Where can I get a new tumbler and keys that will fit?

Thanks to all,
J




overlander63 Okay, I have to ask: Why don't you simply replace the missing door handle, and get a new tumbler and keys for what you have?
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Old 07-24-2013, 02:49 PM   #10
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Re: The deadbolt: For a 70s trailer it doesn't go in the door, the barrel part of the deadbolt is installed in the wall forward of the door, and just the bolt throws into a hole cut in the edge of the door when you lock it. That's how the one I linked to in my earlier post is supposed to be installed.

From his location, I'm pretty sure overlander63 works at Out of Doors Mart, whose claim to fame is "The longest-running Airstream dealer in the world" and they have an excellent online parts store. I've bought several things from them and have always been pleased with the product and the service, they are one of the first places I look online for Airstream parts. At a minimum you'll need a replacement handle even if you wanted to install the deadbolt for locking the door, since you need to open and close it from inside, so call Out of Doors Mart and see if you can get that handle plus the lock knob and a barrel and keys for a price that doesn't scare you, and start from there.

I have never had a key for the locking part of my KT door handle, the previous owner of my '75 had installed a deadbolt (in the wall) and I'm going to install the Vintage Trailer Supply deadbolt I linked to earlier in my '76. Neither of them have the interior knob to lock the KT, either.
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:10 PM   #11
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That whole latch assembly is only held in place by three screws in the interior. take it out and take it to a lock smith. I did this very thing at a little neighborhood locksmith shop down the street from me just inside the north 610 loop in Houston, and in about 15 minutes, they had made a key that would fit my existing lock, and I was back in business (I want to say it cost me less than $20).

If you get desperate about the interior latch, go to your hardware store of choice, and buy a miniature vice-grip plier and snap it onto the shaft--problem solved.

If you have keys to any of the other locks on the trailer (ie., the refrigerator access door, the battery box, etc.), it is very likely that those keys will fit your door as well--give it a try.

Good luck!
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Old 07-24-2013, 03:19 PM   #12
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1973 Airstream Sovereign - Just wanna lock my door.

I borrowed these photos from the Forums Photo Album. They are of typical installations of a deadbolt on a 1970s era Airstream or Argosy.

Kevin






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