By Tony Barthel
Despite seeming impossible, we lost all the keys to our RV. All of them. Including my dealership master key that I kept juuuuust in case. In other words, there was no getting into our RV. So now we were locked out of the trailer and locked out of the baggage compartments. And even locked out of the outdoor shower, for that matter. Now what?
If you’re unaware, many of the locks on RVs can be opened by a single universal key. Baggage compartments on travel trailers and many motorhomes use the “751” key so you could go to your neighbor at a campground and ask them to unlock your baggage compartments. That part’s easy.
RV dealerships also have a master key that unlocks a lot of the deadbolt locks on RVs including the ones on most, but not all, travel trailers. But the lock that works on the door latch is unique and dealerships do not have a master key for this.
Fortunately, this happened when we were at home, aka Camp Boredom, so it was easy enough for me to get my electric drill and drill out the locks on the door of our travel trailer. In fact, it was shockingly easy – after just a few moments I had managed to break into the trailer and it wasn’t even as noisy as I thought it would be. Fort Knox an RV isn’t.
My job was going to be to replace my door handle and the locks that went with it with a new handle from RVLock. After figuring out which lock models would directly replace the handle and lock on my travel trailer, I placed an order online and was ready to spend an afternoon swapping my original lock and door handle for this new one.
After drilling out the old locks it was easy enough to open the door of the trailer where I could get to the three screws that held the door handle in. RVLock provided all the necessary screws and fittings to directly replace the door handle on my travel trailer and its associated locks.
While I had budgeted an afternoon for this, the entire process really took about 15 minutes including drilling out the old locks. It was an all-too-easy replacement and the new lock fit right in where the old lock was.
Now I have a keyless entry to my travel trailer so I no longer have to worry about losing keys since there really aren’t any. Well, that’s not true. The new lock did come with two sets of keys for me to lose and also a nifty remote so I could sit by the campfire and lock and unlock my RV’s door to my heart’s content.
I like that the keypad lights up when you start depressing the keys and you can easily set your own lock code. The wireless remote functionality can also be turned on and off with a switch inside the trailer to save the batteries of the receiver inside the lock. This is really an easy direct replacement for the lock on my door and I like that I now no longer have to worry about having keys to the door – as long as I can remember my code I’m in!
While I was at it I did some hunting around in Jeff Bezos’ neighborhood and bought some combination lock replacements for my baggage compartments. In the case of my trailer there are three baggage compartments and, bada boom, bada bing, there is a set of three replacement baggage compartment locks from the world-famous company, Xuanfeng.
Okay, seriously, I don’t know who they are either.
But I do know that the locks were also easy to replace on the baggage doors once a friend from the dealership came by with a new key to the old locks and I could unlock them and remove the old lock mechanisms.
Again, this is a simple procedure with just a couple of tools. The new baggage door combination locks are actually of higher quality than I expected. Sorry, Xuanfeng, I don’t mean to cast aspersions on your fine name.
The combination locks have three tumblers so you can program them easily with any three-number combination you choose. I chose to program all three with the same combination. Duh.
What I like about these is that there’s a nice mechanical “snap” when the lock is opened or closed and they actually really do feel like a quality part. Once again I am saved from having to have keys in my pocket, which I hate, and I can open the baggage doors willy nilly by just remembering three digits. Furthermore, every Tom, Dick and Harry at the campground doesn’t have a key to my baggage compartments and the valuable rags and sewer tools therein.
I’ve had all these locks for over a year and the RVLock for the door of the trailer is performing as well as it did from day one. I have no regrets. But the combination locks have gotten a bit “fiddly” and sometimes the combination tumblers stick a bit. I might shoot a bit of graphite lube into the tumblers and see if that helps because sometimes they’re pretty fidgety.
How did we lose our keys?
I’m sure you’re curious about how we lost our keys so I’ll share. The first set was purely a mystery. They just disappeared. Into thin air, no less.
The second was not my doing (and I will not implicate anyone whom I live with as I enjoy sleeping INside the house). But let’s just say that a certain member of the family (hint: it wasn’t the dog) left the keys for the trailer on the bumper of the truck and then took said truck to the grocery store. All the keys for the trailer including the keys for the bicycle lock and the lock we use for our surge suppressor were on that keyring.
Once I had replaced all the locks on the trailer with these new ones I happened to be doing some maintenance on our front-loader washing machine and was cleaning out the gasket area for the door. Guess what I found in there? It turns out that I had left my keys in my pocket and then washed my pants and the washing machine wanted to remind me that I should check my pockets.
It had probably been a year since it ate my keys as they were a bit rusty which also means I should check that gasket more often.
But that shows that, after a year, our RVLock is still going strong and the batteries that make it work show no signs of needing replacement thus far.
Overall if I were to get a new trailer, the first thing I’d do might be to replace the lock and baggage door locks with these units. The fact that I don’t have to wander around like the school janitor with a ring of keys announcing my presence is convenient.
Camping should be about relaxing and enjoying the experience, not about being keyed up.
Again, those combination lock replacements can be found here.