This Winnebago Journey has pretty much the same door lock assembly my Bounder did…
and it has the same problem of mysteriously locking the lower lock on occasion. When my brother traveled with me for a few days, it would lock us inside occasionally. I’d open the little window next to the door, reach around, and open from the outside. Weird. Seemed as though my brother was doing something unusual to the door when he was closing it. Slamming it too aggressively or something. Thing was, I hadn’t had a problem with it doing that for the 3 months before he joined me on a trip, and I’ve not had another problem with it mysteriously locking in the 8 months since. Well, whatever, I had problems with the lock assembly in my Bounder made by the same manufacturer, and this lock mechanism is the same style, so I wanted to get ahead of any potential issues. The upper lock is the deadbolt, the one with the potential issue…is the lower lock.
When I bought this Winnie in February of 2016, the dealer didn’t have a key for the deadbolt. Since I wasn’t having problems with it, except that short visit by my brother, I delayed trying to get a new key for it until I got here to Mexico. Once I got down here, I called a mobile locksmith, he came over and checked it out, but gave up on it. Saying he couldn’t work on it. Lack of expirience with that type of lock is what I suspected. And I put the whole idea on the back burner. I had a lock that worked, why worry about getting both of them working?
And then at this RV park, I had some neighbors move in next door in a 1 year old Winnebago Vista. And I happened to see the owner struggling with the lock, actually got locked outside. Had to knock for his wife to open the door. So I talked to him and turns out he’s had numerous problems with this RV, and the lock is just one of them. Randomly locking them inside or outside. His wife told me the story of her having to crawl inside through a window one or two times to unlock the door. So I did my little stop gap fix on it for them…and that was the impetus I needed to get keys for my dead bolt. Here’s what it looks like from the outside. The upper lock is the reliable deadbolt, and the lower lock is the problem lock. It has a spring that breaks, or weakens from use, or came weak from the factory, whereas the deadbolt just slides in and out with a key or latch turn…simpler with less to go wrong. And unlikely slamming the door would ever move it. I needed a key for the deadbolt so I could apply my magic fix to the lower lock.
There are 3 star head screws that have to be removed on the inside, and then this plate assembly can be worried off the outside of the door then out of the door. There’s some sticking going on after a few years of sitting in place but it eventually can be pulled off the outer skin if you tug a bit. Then you work the assembly out of the slots and cutouts in the door made for it by carefully working it up/down and side to side. Here’s a shot of the backside. Note that little spring at the bottom left? It’s hard to see in the picture, I know, but you’ll find it easily enough if you pull your latch assembly off. That’s the spring that gets weak or breaks. If it breaks, it can lock you out. If it gets weak, and you slam the door, that’s enough to allow the lock arm to drop down slightly, locking you outside or inside.
So, pulled that assembly off, and went searching here in San Felipe, Baja, for a different locksmith…one that could figure out how to make a key. I figured carrying the lock assembly with me would be much easier than trying to get a mobile locksmith around here to work on it successfully in the RV park.
And I found one. He had a hell of a time finding the right blank, but eventually, he found the right one in his stock. In the picture below, you can see that small rectangular hole on the left of the lock assembly. The locksmith poked a tool in there, and the key tumbler mechanism popped right out the front. Then it was a simple matter (for him) of figuring out the keying, than notching the blank at the right places with his files. He did the work by eye but didn’t waste a blank. All that cost me $200 pesos for the work and the 3 keys, around $10 USD. Excellent.
So now that I have the key for the upper deadbolt, I can stop using the lower lock and just lash it up in the unlocked position so the spring will never go wonky on me and lock me out (because it’s never being used). Problem solved before it occurs.
And that’s what the zip tie there below is for, looped over the lower ‘Lock’ lever and going up over the door latch. It’s not the least in the way, and I have a red vinyl cap for that lock arm so the zip tie will stay put, and I can easily slip it off so I can use both locks. Though why anyone would want to is beyond me. The dual locks are not going to keep a determined thief outside. They will just break a window. And using the deadbolt is better than using the lower lock anyway.
And that’s what I did to the neighbors door lock, add that zip tie. Convinced them to use the upper deadbolt exclusively, when out shopping, and when inside, and keep the strap I installed right where it is and not worry about it ever again. Pretty sure they’re happy with that idea because who likes to be locked out??
So why do this? Because reading and personal expirience had made me aware that the lower lock can actually lock people out of their RVs inappropriately, or in my case, locking my brother and myself inside, and that it happens often enough (my new neighbor in a nearly new RV is an example) that it’s just best to take care of it now rather than have an emergency and have to break a window or something. There’s nothing worse than to be in a strange town just returning from the shower in the RV park in the dark and find your RV door is now locked when you know you left it unlocked. That’s the problem with that lower lock, slam the door a little, and the weak or worn out spring allows it to lock itself.
My Journey has a traditional door into the bedroom that when opened, swings into the bathroom. Newer models did away with that style door in favor of a pocket door. I prefer the traditional door as it allows the placement of 3 handy access switches. When getting up in the dark to wander into the bathroom, they’re handy to have right there at hand level.
But there was a problem. And that was the door would not stay closed and latched when on the road. So it would start swinging and banging as I drove. Just slightly annoying. After several road trips with it happening, I tried to come up with a way to hold it closed, or hold it open, but nothing appealed to me. I didn’t want a bungee strapping it to the wall, or a plastic safety strap, so usually I’d just jamb something at the bottom of the door to hold it closed while I kept looking for a solution.
Then one day at a Dollar Store, I noticed a package of 4 stick on hooks. Just the thing for what I had in mind for the kitchen. Bought them and installed 3 of them. And realized that the hook was just about the right size to hold the bathroom door handle.
Sure enough, it was just right to hold the door open. Push down on the door lever, and the outside lever could be hooked over the hook. Perfect! So I no longer have to mess with the door before a trip.
Inexpensive, attractive, out of the way. An excellent solution to the banging door syndrome.