Keyed-The-Same Locks

One hassle of an RV is that there are a lot of locks, and they aren’t keyed the same, so you end up with a jailkeeper-like keychain for your RV. I decided to get lots of locks all keyed the same. RV stores provide a keyed-the-same kit with a few locks, mostly a hitch-ball lock, one receiver lock, and a hitch-pin lock. I needed a lot more:

  • One ball lock.
  • One hitch-pin lock.
  • 2 receiver locks, one for the receiver and one for the load-equalizing hitch.
  • 3 weather-proof padlocks, for the battery box and the cable through the two gas canisters.
  • 4 small padlocks to go on the roof latches. Mostly to hold them closed in motion rather than to provide security, but you need one to keep unauthorized folks from opening the Trailmanor.

I wanted these to all be keyed the same. With that, the Trailmanor would use three keys in total: one for the door, one for the outside shower and outside storage, and one for all other locks.

The outside shower and outside storage use a cam-lock, and I was not able to get one that was keyed the same with everything else.  This cam-lock is problematical in that it uses the CH751 key which is identical across most RV brands! All of your RV park neighbors have a key to your storage doors.

If you want all of those locks keyed the same, the most locks fit the master K1 keyway. This is not a high-security keyway. It has only 4 pins. I would assume that anyone good at locksport could pick it quickly, but some weak Master locks can be opened with a few taps of a hammer!  See this video.

The weather proof locks I bought have ball bearings and hopefully are a bit harder to thump open. The locks on the roof latches are probably vulnerable to being opened with a few taps of a hammer, but they also have the thinner shanks and aluminum bodies appropriate for hanging on the roof latch.

But of course all of these locks are vulnerable to hacksaws and bolt cutters. A cordless drill with a fiber cutting disk can go through most anything, although it’s a bit noisy and makes sparks. I had a heavy-duty lock jam shut at a storage container, and the site mechanic cut its body in half with a blowtorch in minutes. And the material of the Trailmanor itself is not that sturdy. So, we’re trying for deterrence rather than the ultimate in security.

If you want really heavy-duty padlocks, look on this page at Security Snobs. Prices up to $1800 per padlock. At the same site they have excellent padlocks at acceptable prices, I use Abus discs with an unusual keyway at my storage container, because special equipment is necessary to pick it. The main problem at storage containers is the staff, although the place I use is pretty well managed and well-funded, and remarkably theft-free.

The two pages here at Heartland Locks will allow you to pick almost any lock you need, and Dave at Heartland locks is very helpful. You can reach him via email at sales at heartlandlock dot com . Dave did research into cam locks for me and got my keyed-the-same order out in a day.

Screening the Refrigerator Vents

The refrigerator vents are an entry point for rodents and mud-dauber wasps. Camco makes a mud-dauber screen for various sizes of refrigerator vent, but it’s not effective for rodents. One of my vent covers had some plastic gnawed out to enlarge the opening.

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Here is the Camco mud-dauber screen installed.

IMG_20160504_165738I can see that this might have worked for mud-dauber wasps, but my problem was mice and the Norway Rat, it appeared.

Rodents can get through very narrow openings because they don’t have collar bones. Anything their skull gets through, the rest will get through as well. I have used 1/4 inch mesh, if this fails I’ll have to get 1/8.

You will need gloves and  for this work. Cut steel screening material has sharp ends that will draw blood from your hands. Use a tin-snip (a scissors for sheet metal) to cut the screening.

Form the mesh to fit the inside of the refrigerator vent, and bind the corners together with steel wire. The screen came with several feet of wire.

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Screening with the corner wired so that it won’t come apart.

Shape the screening to tightly fit the protruding portion of the vent, or the vent won’t fit in it’s opening.

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Here’s a nicely-fit screen. The vent fits back in its opening without trouble.IMG_20160504_161800I’m going to end this project by using a hot-melt glue gun to seal the screen to the plastic on all edges.

 

Don’t use “Canbus” LEDs in your RV!

RV owners replace their incandescent lights with LEDs so that they’ll get better battery life. LEDs produce the same amount of light while using less power.

“Canbus” LED lamps are built to deliberately waste power like incandescent lamps! Why? Some automobiles that were built to use incandescent lamps have a feature that detects when the lamp is blown out, and indicates it with a trouble light and error code. To do this, the vehicle computer senses the resistance of each lamp, or the current flow through the lamp when it’s lit, and indicates trouble if the current or resistance is not what is expected of an incandescent lamp. So “canbus” LED lamps have a resistor added, in parallel with the LED, to use enough power for the car computer to think there’s an incandescent lamp there instead of an LED.

The house lights in your RV don’t have a computer to detect blown-out lamps. If you put a “canbus” LED lamp in your RV, it will light up just fine, but it will use more power than it should.

In general, “canbus” LED lamps also cost more than lamps without the resistor. Cheap LED lamps are available on eBay for rock-bottom prices and generally work just fine. A “canbus” LED lamp can cost 10 times more!

What’s a “canbus”? Properly referred to as “CAN bus”, the Controller Area Network bus connects microprocessors in the vehicle. You might have met it if you’ve used the ODBII connector under your dashboard to plug in a trouble code reader. The lamps actually aren’t connected to the CAN bus in any way! It’s just that when some cars have LEDs installed and detect them as blown incandescent bulbs, the error code is reported via the CAN bus.