Photos by Shawn Spence
Installing storage-compartment locks from Creative Products Group takes advantage of keyed-alike convenience.
There are a number of considerations when it comes to locking up an RV. Beyond the painful experience when a lockset fails, the RV industry’s use of certain hardware that helps dealers control key inventory and keep manufacturing costs down has created a situation that owners may not be aware of.
We’re talking, of course, about the infamous CH751 key. Overwhelmingly, the RV industry supplies locks that use the same key, CH751, to “lock” baggage doors. However, they have been around for 50 years, and just about everyone has one. If you want your baggage door lock to offer more protection than simply preventing things from falling out, these definitely need to be upgraded.
So, we did — while also upgrading the slam-latch paddle locks.
The retail segment for Global Link, rvlocksandmore.com, produces locks for RVs under the Creative Products Group (CPG) branding and offers a variety of locks for RV manufacturers and consumers via aftermarket distribution. Most fifth wheels these days use slam-latch paddle locks on the exterior storage compartment doors — and we replaced those with CPG’s counterparts to enable the tumblers to be keyed alike. The slam-latch paddle locks ($54.89 each) used for this project were direct replacements for the original Kencon hardware. Locks for other OEM models are available; it’s best to seek professional advice if you are not familiar with the standard locks on your trailer or fifth wheel.
While the compartment latches work smoothly, we found that a thin coating of a silicone paste, applied about once a month (for heavy usage) facilitates easier opening and closing.
No lock transformation would be complete, however, without replacing the CH751 cam locks on the storage compartment doors. These locks are nothing more than latches to keep the compartment door closed; the prevalence of the CH751 by many manufacturers means there’s hardly any security offered — your next-door-neighbor at the campground probably has locks on his/her rig using the same key. CPG offers cam locks for just about any compartment door where the cylinder will fit; 5/8-inch diameter cam locks are available in short- or long-arm versions. The only caveat in using these cam locks is that they may not work in access doors (think outside shower, leveling controller or gravity water fill, for example) that have shallow locks, but there’s nothing worth stealing there. Careful measurement and test fitting will help.
Cam locks sell for around $12 (two keys are provided) and can be fitted with offset latches to fit the compartment-door configuration. The big benefit of using the CPG cam and slam latches is that they can be keyed alike to your entry-way lockset (if also replaced — see rventhusiast.com/rvexpert/locked-loaded/ for more information).
Owners can order all the locksets with alike keys, including those that cannot be opened with a dealership pass key; we like that feature. There are 90 key combinations available, which makes it pretty difficult to find someone with a key that will open your locks. Owners can also change the tumblers in existing locks, which requires the use of a change key. This key is not universally available, which is a good thing, but most RV dealers have one or it can be rented from CPG for $50; $40 will be credited when the key is returned. While this is done for security reasons, it’s still possible for a crook to buy a key, but the chances of that are slim. And, if the lock is in the locked position, the change key won’t work anyway.
The process for replacing the tumbler is simple: Insert the change key into the lock, turn and remove the tumbler. Put the key in the new tumbler and secure it in the cylinder. This is one project that raises the convenience factor dramatically by only having to carry one key to access all the storage compartments — while still offering enhanced security against unauthorized entry.