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Old 02-21-2015, 03:03 AM   #1
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Replacing Broken Storage Bay Latches

This is a problem that comes up from time to time, so here's a little review of a way better replacement than the OEM latch (bolt) assemblies.

I finally had a chance to replace the broken latches that snapped in Quartzsite (2 in one week !) a few days ago with the new ones from Motorhome Latches. It turns out that the owner has an Itasca and has had several of these things break. He also owns an aircraft machining company, so apparently one thing led to another.....these things were born.

They sell both the full latch assembly for Winnebago, Fleetwood, and Tiffen/ Monaco, as well as the repair kit with beautifully machined (not cheap cast) replacement plungers, replacement springs, and new shell rivets. I bought two complete latches as well as 4ea. repair kits to fix my two removed broken latches. So after replacing the broken ones with the full assemblies, and two repair kits for the removed broken assemblies, I now have two like new spares and two repair kits left over.

Drilling out the rivets in the door was not a problem, just be careful. But unless you want things rolling around in the door when this is done, make SURE you remove the dead latch from the door when it is half way open (horizontal) and do whatever you can to retrieve the other side of the rivet left in the door. I was able to stick a finger in there and roll the old rivet out on one door, and the other one I was able to roll it out, but something is still rolling around the LP door .The assembled latches come with replacement mounting screws instead of rivets, but they are way too small to match the holes in the door, so I went back with rivets and I would suggest rivets over extra large screws, it's just cleaner and I doubt I'll be back in there again anyway. Also pay attention to the handle packing plate on the Winnebago. Even though there was thread lock on the screws, there was very little, and all the screws I removed were loose, so they all went back in with SS lockwashers.

Suggestion: If you are replacing all the latches on the entire coach and have a compressor, do yourself a favor and buy a pneumatic rivet gun from Harbor Freight for ~$40. The rivets I use are special and are enclosed on the back side so nothing is floating or accidentally breaks loose on the backside when the rivet shaft snaps, but they require way more hand power than I could develop with two hands on the grip and darn near broke my hand, and the handheld rivet gun.. The air gun develops 2400lb of pulling force @~90psi, so you pull the trigger and the problem goes away. I don't see any reason you couldn't use the coach compressor either. I was at 110psi on the compressor even though the book said 90psi, and there were no issues. If using a handheld gun, hang onto it !, or lay a rag over the door edge, because when the rivet shaft releases, the gun is going to kick back and possibly nick the door. The air gun doesn't have anywhere near the same problem since you're not straining your arms squeezing a grip.

The rebuild kit was no big deal either. Drill out the 4 rivets, pull the broken stuff out, clean, grease up the new plunger, and reassemble. The factory includes a little bag of grease to smear on the plunger, but I added a shade more to it from my 30 year old tube of LubraPlate... It seemed a tad light. The included rivets for the enclosure can be beat down with a hammer, but I modified the tip of a pneumatic chipping chisel I had laying around and built an air hammer out of it. Set at about 40psi and it will flatten the latch rivets out nicely. This rebuild was allot of fun, but unless you like to play, or can't stand tossing a perfectly good latch shell, I would vote for the full latch assembly. Either way, now that I found these, there is no possible way I would go back the the plastic OEM "bolts".


Drilling out the Dead Latch


Door Latch Removed


Screw Way Too Small


The Install


All Done


New Stainless 1/4-20 Lockwashers



Rebuilding the Removed Broken Assembly


Whats in The Bag


All The Pieces Installed


My Homebuilt Air Hammer


Finished & Rebuilt
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Old 02-21-2015, 07:21 AM   #2
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thanks for the info. / pictures I've replaced 2 so far.
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Old 02-21-2015, 08:30 AM   #3
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SCVJeff: Thanks a bunch for this. I have two of them broken to repair/replace in the Spring when the snow melts. I just ordered the kits from RB Machining so will be ready! Great post, THANKS! \ken
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Old 02-22-2015, 09:52 AM   #4
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Wow Jeff, thanks for posting this great DIY thread on the latch repair. I was all ready to buy a few backup plastic replacements when I learned of the nightmare it is not being able to open the bay compartments when these plungers snap off!

A man after my own heart! Billet CNC machined replacement parts that will outlive me and my coach! Love it!
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Old 02-22-2015, 11:16 AM   #5
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Jeff;

Thank you again for taking the time to take and post these pictures. It is members like you who help make this site so valuable in accomplishing needed RV maintenance.

Don
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Old 02-22-2015, 04:53 PM   #6
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Thanks Jeff. You solved a great problem for me. Have 6 broken latches. I learned too late not to let the doors bang shut.
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Old 02-23-2015, 12:20 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Miyagi View Post
Wow Jeff, thanks for posting this great DIY thread on the latch repair. I was all ready to buy a few backup plastic replacements when I learned of the nightmare it is not being able to open the bay compartments when these plungers snap off!

A man after my own heart! Billet CNC machined replacement parts that will outlive me and my coach! Love it!
Ron,
I was going to talk with you about this very answer to the latch issue. I've just replaced one of mine that also broke in Quartzsite, (must be contagious) But, I managed to get replacement latches for quite a bit less than those billet ones. But, they are the factory type nylon/plastic plunger so, definitely not the high quality of billet material.

I'll go over more of this with you in a couple of weeks when we're camping out at Calico.

Jeff,
Outstanding job of description and, photos. My kind-a repair. We think a tad alike. I also tore my broken latch apart to see what the "innards" looked like and, was trying to figure a way to "machine" a plunger out of HDPE or, even better, UHMW plastic. UHMW or, Ultra High Molecular Weight plastic is the stuff NASA uses for various applications where plastic can be used. Not cheap but, has outstanding wear and impact capabilities.

But, aluminum will do. I also used rivets when re-attaching the latch to the door edge. Yep, a lot cleaner and, heck, even if it don't last as long as the original one did, almost 11 years, drilling it back out is certainly no big deal. And, we think almost dead alike in that air hammer alteration. I too did a modification on one of my tips for that air hammer to do just exactly what you did. I even did one to do aircraft type rivets.

Anyway, your repair/replacement sure looks professional. It would be interesting to hear from you in a report on how that replacement is holding up, in a year or, 5. Without a doubt, it will outlast the factory plastic plungers. Again, nice job.
Scott
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Old 02-23-2015, 02:31 AM   #8
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Hi Scott,
I found the plastic ones at the RV parts store in Palm Springs and they were about $1 more than the repair kits, so needless to say I passed. As mentioned, the only reason I bought the complete assembly was to try the complete swap and take pix. Personally the rebuild kit works fine for me. Interestingly I'm probably more gentle than anyone else I know when closing these things: door softly down, and close with knee until snap, and I think that might have been the problem... When I push the door in with my knee to clear the catch, it clears completely and snaps into the catch hole, no restrictions, and I think that might have been hurting them. Likewise slamming might clear the catch again, also causing them to snap, so this seems like a no-brainer fix for something that's bound to fail always at the wrong time.
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Old 02-24-2015, 09:31 PM   #9
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Where does the plastic latch fail? In 11 yrs I have not had one break....(knock on wood). I keep mine lubed with Boeshield T9 and don't slam & use my knee to latch each end. I wondering if some petroleum lubricants make the plastic brittle over time?

Scott, Helen and I are loving our Townie bikes.
SCVJeff, my new Magnum 2012 install was slick and working like a champ (replacing the Dimensions 2K).

Happy Trails,
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Old 02-25-2015, 02:05 AM   #10
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Hey Bill,
On mine it had nothing to do with lubrication, mine were fully greased and free. Where both of mine broke was inside the assembly right where the spring cavity ends. I think it recoils so hard that it stresses the bolt to break at its weak point, and if that theory is true, it doesn't matter how gentle you shut the doors. It's the recoil that snaps them.

I had one break on a left bay I always use, and the other on the LP bay on the right side that's hardly used. I'll probably replace all of them because it's clearly a time bomb, and you stand an excellent chance of breaking the catch or chipping paint trying to get a broken one open..

Glad the 2012 is werkin', mine just sits there and runs. What's better is that there is real customer service, and there is at least one of those guys lurking around here from time to time.
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Old 02-25-2015, 07:30 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by SCVJeff View Post
Hi Scott,
I found the plastic ones at the RV parts store in Palm Springs and they were about $1 more than the repair kits, so needless to say I passed. As mentioned, the only reason I bought the complete assembly was to try the complete swap and take pix. Personally the rebuild kit works fine for me. Interestingly I'm probably more gentle than anyone else I know when closing these things: door softly down, and close with knee until snap, and I think that might have been the problem... When I push the door in with my knee to clear the catch, it clears completely and snaps into the catch hole, no restrictions, and I think that might have been hurting them. Likewise slamming might clear the catch again, also causing them to snap, so this seems like a no-brainer fix for something that's bound to fail always at the wrong time.
Jeff,
I most certainly understand your reasoning for doing what you did in the repair. As I've posted on here quite a few times, I've done my share of "Rube Goldberging" or, "MacGuyvering" to make things work. My repairs have worked, SOME of the time. Other times, well, not so good. Anyway, the billet idea is way cool and, should last for decades longer than any other material. One thing I see that MIGHT be an issue is, there's no real self lubing capabilities of aluminum like there is in some plastics.
Many of us lube those contact surfaces with one lube or another and, it most likely helps some. But, like you, and, others, I ALWAYS do a "SOFT CLOSE" of those compartment doors and, use the knee method for final latching.
Scott
Quote:
Originally Posted by Duner View Post
Where does the plastic latch fail? In 11 yrs I have not had one break....(knock on wood). I keep mine lubed with Boeshield T9 and don't slam & use my knee to latch each end. I wondering if some petroleum lubricants make the plastic brittle over time?

Scott, Helen and I are loving our Townie bikes.
SCVJeff, my new Magnum 2012 install was slick and working like a champ (replacing the Dimensions 2K).

Happy Trails,
Bill
Hey Bill,
Glad the Townies are serving you well. We've been cruising around the island in Lake Havasu with them a lot lately. They get a lot of comments. Now, as for your question on where the plastic latch fails. Well, I've had them fail in different places. It's simply a beveled plunger that works against a spring. Over the years, a flaw, or crack in the plastic can happened and, finally one day, it breaks. Depending on how it broke, it can be a real pain to open the door, as it was in my case. The beveled portion remained in place and, due to the limited clearance for it to move while the door was closed, it could not fall out.

What that meant was, since the retraction portion of the plastic latch was still in operation, the beveled part was not and that meant that, the beveled part was just sitting there, behind the catch which, is screwed to the door jamb. So, the door would not open. Fortunately for me, the gap between the door edge and the body, was large enough for me to slip in a thin Phillips screw driver and loosen the catch which, allowed the door to open and me to repair the latch.

I don't know what the chemical makeup of the material (plastic beveled part) is but, I've got some UHMW ... Ultra High Molecular Weight, (high impact plastic) that I was going to goof around with and basically "machine" a new plunger to see how it turns out. We'll see.
Scott
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:09 PM   #12
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Scott, Don't know if you are familiar with Lubraplate, but the factory provides a glob of something that looks exactly like it. I'm smeared up around the entire bolt and that stuff is quite viscous, so i think im fine
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Old 02-25-2015, 09:29 PM   #13
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Scott, Don't know if you are familiar with Lubraplate, but the factory provides a glob of something that looks exactly like it. I'm smeared up around the entire bolt and that stuff is quite viscous, so i think im fine
Jeff,
Yep, been dealing with Lubriplate for a few decades. I used to get it in tiny tubes and, even in a pint can. Used it on brake shoe contact points at the brake backings for ever. That stuff's been around for eons of time.
Scott
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Old 02-26-2015, 06:00 PM   #14
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Nice job. Well done and great pictures. Thanks. Oh yea. The rivets do roll around when not removed. I found out the hard way when I did a OEM latch replacement.
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Old 06-16-2017, 11:29 AM   #15
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Another broken plunger on remote control latches Thor Tuscany 45AT

I have added my own experience here as well. I think it is important to update the post because I faced an issue with a different type of latching mechanism for remote control RV compartment locks. It is a similar story, and one I wish the RV manufacturers would deal with! Why use a cheap plastic plunger on a door latch? My car does not have plastic latching mechanisms, nor does my home!? The latches are definitely prone to breaking and if you do slam them shut, it is inevitable!

First, let me say, this is a safety issue! I had a latch fail while driving and the large battery compartment door, which has a gas pressure strut attached to hold it open, pushed the door open while driving down the road. The door is a good three feet long and opens like a house door, not up, so the full length of the door was sticking out into the left lane of traffic!! After having a few cars pass me honking and signaling with strange hand gestures, I looked carefully in the rear view mirror and saw the door open! I had already had a latch failure on the exterior television door compartment on the passenger side, so I assumed it might have been an adjustment issue to the mechanism or I did not close it tightly. However, after pulling over on a very busy road (basically a two lane highway with way too much traffic and no real shoulder!) I discovered the seriousness of the problem. The latching mechanism, or "plunger" was gone. It had broken off at a point inside the latch mechanism which was secured inside the door by two aluminum rivets. Definitely not a roadside serviceable part. I could not close the door and keep it closed because there was no latching mechanism to catch the inside latch on the body of the RV. The gas strut was forcing the door open with about 15 lbs of pressure, which was enough to open the door at anything less than 40 mpg. I could not lock the latch and solve the problem later, because there was no safety catch and no other way to keep the door closed! My roadside solution: break the gas strut off so it would not force the door open and put a bunch of silver duct tape on the door to keep it shut. I tell you, it is embarrassing driving a +$250k rig with about 10 pieces of duct tape holding it together. But it was not the first time, like I said, I had already had a latch failure on the television compartment door, but for a completely different reason.

After getting to safety, I figured a way out to use a bungee cord to secure the door while driving. Luckily, there is a point under the body where a bungee cord could be connected to a bracket on the body mount, and I ran it around the door and connected to the original latch. The immediate risk was over. But the long term repair had just begun.

I e-mailed Thor and the technical guy actually sent me two new latches. However, the latched he sent were incorrect because I have remote control latches which are recess mounted inside the door skin and further away from the actual latch on the body. My repair is similar to the at her, so I wont repeat that. I have included some pictures of the pieces. The manufacturer is Tri Mark and the parts are available for order from them directly. The cost was about $5.00 per latch ( I bought 4 to have a couple spares) plus shipping. Take a look at my pictures and good luck!
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Old 06-18-2017, 11:01 AM   #16
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Good stuff guys. Thanks for bring this back to the top.

I have one broken bolt on the Itasca. I think I will order a couple of kits and a couple of complete latches to keep in our coaches just in case one fails on the road.

Thanks for all the info.
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