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Old 03-02-2015, 02:13 AM   #1
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1972 29' Ambassador
Cupertino , California
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All access panel locks damaged... can I drill them to open them?

So on the '72 Ambassador I recently picked up, every single one of the exterior panel locks were severely damaged by the previous owners. It spent the last few years being a camp trailer for Burning Man attendees who, from the look of things, used various screwdrivers to pry the locks open when they needed access (I'm just glad the entry door wasn't locked).

Amusingly, while I've been working on cleaning all the dust and debris from the interior, I came across what appears to be the keys, but even the best of the locks doesn't respond to them. I managed to get the battery tray door lock to pop open, but haven't had any luck with the rest. The panels are in good shape, so I'd like to avoid prying on them to get access.

Any recommendations on the best way to get the locks to open up? If they weren't so utterly destroyed I'd get one of my tow truck buddies to give a try at picking them, but I think I'm going to have to resort to more direct measures.

If need be, I can get some photos of the various locks to give you an idea of what I'm dealing with.
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Old 03-02-2015, 06:08 AM   #2
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1989 34.5' Airstream 345
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Have you tried a screwdriver, seems to be the go to tool for the job?
Some of my latches turn a bar that pivots onto a part of the rim of the compartment, wondering if a slim Jim would be able to push the bar around to unlatch?
Good luck with that and the dust removal.

Cheers Richard
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:28 AM   #3
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I drilled out the locks on the twin battery boxes on my Classic when I lost the only key. I started with a fairly small bit and used larger bits until the lock cylinder came loose. I was able to get the doors open with no problem. I replaced the original locks with similar locks from a local RV dealer.
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Old 03-02-2015, 08:55 AM   #4
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1976 31' Sovereign
Missouri City , Texas
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Once you get them open Vintage Trailer Supply has replacement locks that should match.

Baggage Door Pop Lock
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:01 AM   #5
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Time for new locks? I'm planning to replace my locks with something more secure at some stage (it seems all Airstreams have a common key?). There is a great blog about replacing them....

A 1963 Airstream Overlander named Moonraker: New locks for the compartment doors
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:09 AM   #6
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Many of these doors can be accessed on the back-side from inside the trailer. These may include the refrigerator access door, the freshwater fill door, the battery box, and the rear compartment. You may have do do some disassembly to get at them, ie., pulling the refrgerator out in order to see the access panel. Once you have access to the inside of the latch, you remove the nut that holds the lock cylinder to the "striker," and the door opens up.

good luck!
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Old 03-02-2015, 09:54 AM   #7
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For new locks that not everyone will have matching keys too check out these folks.

CH751, CAM LOCKS, CAMLOCKS
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Old 03-02-2015, 10:39 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
For new locks that not everyone will have matching keys too check out these folks.

CH751, CAM LOCKS, CAMLOCKS
Mine work fine.
However, thanks to AWCHIEF, now I have lock envy.
For $12.05 each. I think I will upgrade.
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Old 03-02-2015, 11:10 AM   #9
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The vintage AS locks are super easy to pick. Use a very small allen wrench as a tensioner and a paper clip with the tip bent up to use as a rake. I got into mine in less than 10 seconds. The exception will be if the pins in the cylinder are boogered up. If the locks are done for, I would drill them out. Call your local locksmith and they might be able to help you out and offer a trick or two . Good luck.
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:45 PM   #10
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Don't feel too bad,,, my PO sawed a 25" hole in the bedroom wall to get to the power inverter.. All my locks were jammed and all it took was some brake cleaner and WD40 and a lot of key jiggling to start working again.. After I got them open I flushed them out again and used dry lube..
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Old 03-02-2015, 12:47 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NavyCorpsman View Post
The vintage AS locks are super easy to pick. Use a very small allen wrench as a tensioner and a paper clip with the tip bent up to use as a rake. I got into mine in less than 10 seconds. The exception will be if the pins in the cylinder are boogered up. If the locks are done for, I would drill them out. Call your local locksmith and they might be able to help you out and offer a trick or two . Good luck.
They're all pretty much toast at this point for trying to pick them. One of them's already been rounded off on the inside almost a 1/4".

Quote:
Originally Posted by AWCHIEF View Post
For new locks that not everyone will have matching keys too check out these folks.

CH751, CAM LOCKS, CAMLOCKS
Thanks AWCHIEF, those look like the kind of lock / key I would like to use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pahaska View Post
I drilled out the locks on the twin battery boxes on my Classic when I lost the only key. I started with a fairly small bit and used larger bits until the lock cylinder came loose. I was able to get the doors open with no problem. I replaced the original locks with similar locks from a local RV dealer.
Cool, thanks, I'll approach it that way.
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Old 05-02-2015, 06:19 PM   #12
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It's not necessary to buy replacement lock sets from an RV Dealer. My local Hardware store has them in sets of up to six each keyed alike. Home Depot does also and they aren't the industry standard CF 751. Home Depot has some that may be disassembled and rekeyed as most household entry lock sets. I used them on the battery doors last week and will pick up enough to do the remainder of my compartment doors tomorrow. Under $5 each.
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Old 05-02-2015, 11:17 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frankrightbrain View Post
It's not necessary to buy replacement lock sets from an RV Dealer. My local Hardware store has them in sets of up to six each keyed alike. Home Depot does also and they aren't the industry standard CF 751. Home Depot has some that may be disassembled and rekeyed as most household entry lock sets. I used them on the battery doors last week and will pick up enough to do the remainder of my compartment doors tomorrow. Under $5 each.
Thanks for the heads up. I had a bit of a brainstorm today while working on the interior - the locks we use at work to close the panels on our company's products (semiconductor cleaning equipment) is somewhat similar in style and mounting hardware to the ones Airstream used. Going to bring one of my panels in to work to see if that works. If so, I've got a cheap method for replacing them.
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Old 05-19-2015, 04:42 PM   #14
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Just an update on this. The locks from work would've required more messing around than I care to do right now, so I ended up order a set of the t-locks. Normally I'd be all for doing a more custom / DIY approach, but I've got too many other things going on (both on the trailer and otherwise) to add to the list right now. Functionality for a few bucks is fine by me in this case.
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