A simple DIY upgrade to a one-key-RV system improves security and provides convenience.
There are a couple of things that have driven RVers crazy over the years. If the RV has two or more entry doors, separate keys are needed for each, plus there are compartment and hatch keys. And if the handles or tumblers haven’t been upgraded, it’s likely the old standby CH751 key is used for locking and unlocking the compartments. The CH751 key has been in use for the past 40 or more years, and there are millions of them in distribution, which means that anyone with the key can enter the compartments and “go shopping.”
The solution is one easy project, thanks to RV Locks and More, the retail arm of Global Link Distribution and Creative Products Group (CPG), lock suppliers to many RV manufacturers. Global Link’s and CPG’s technology allows the tumblers in its locks to be easily removed and changed, and unlike in some locks, both the dead-bolt and handle tumblers can be changed by using a combination of the proper key and the re-key tool, which the company provides.
If your RV has square-top keys for the entry doors, the RV Locks and More tumbler replacement may work for you. If not, it’s easy to change the lockset to a newer design that will allow use of the keyed-alike system. The company offers replacement paddle locks and twist-cam locks for most compartment doors that fit the cylinder kits. Cams are available in four lengths, and the throw arm from the original lock is reused.
Fitment exceptions include certain shallow locks, like the ones used to conceal a leveling-jack control panel or outside shower. Since there’s typically not enough room for the deeper cam, this lock can be left as is, and even though it usually uses a CH751 key, easy access doesn’t lead to anything thieves are interested in stealing.
The key system provides 90 different combinations, reducing the chance that someone will have access to your RV. Cylinders are available with or without master-key access, which gives dealers entry when the internal dead bolt isn’t locked.
A keyed-alike upgrade was tested on a 2015 Keystone Montana. The fifth-wheel’s entry doors had Global Link locks, but the other locks were different brands. The cylinders on the original entry locks could have easily been replaced, but we opted to upgrade to larger pull handles. Since the paddle locks on the compartments were a different brand, they were changed along with the CH751-keyed locks.
Two Ultra M Pro pull-handle locks ($79 each), five slam-latch paddle locks ($47.73 each), two cam locks ($11.99 each) and the cylinder replacements were installed in less than two hours, with no modifications to any door. If your RV has full-body paint, replacing the paddle locks may require some body-shop time for touch-ups, but the matte black perfectly matched the originals on the Montana fifth-wheel.
Ultra M Pro Locks benefit from a larger handle to grip and pull to enter. Only one side of the handle pulls out, but once acclimated, it’s a great feature. The locks don’t have a separate dead-bolt throw like the ones they replaced but instead have an interesting internal dead bolt that locks from within.
Replacements were installed for the original Kenco slam-latch locks, but models are available for other brands, all at different price points. Compression latches for toy haulers and hybrids are also available. Cylinders run $7.99 each if you’re replacing them in existing Global Link locks but are included and installed when ordering new locks from the RV Locks and More website. Each cylinder comes with two keys; LED-lighted keys ($6.99 each) are also available. Lastly, if you’re changing any cylinders in existing locks, you’ll need to rent the re-key tool. There is a $50 charge up front; $40 is reimbursed upon return of the key. This is done for security reasons.
The entire project cost $445, but we would have saved $158 by keeping the original entry-door locks. The most expensive part was replacing the five slam-latch paddle locks, which ran just under $240. If better security and the convenience of one key sounds good, then this easy DIY project is well worth the effort and expense.
Global Link’s new electronic RV lock with a pull handle, the Ultra E Pro ($205), offers the benefits of a built-in touchpad and reprogrammable four-digit lock/unlock code for keyless entry, along with the keyed-alike feature.
Chris Dougherty is technical editor of Trailer Life and MotorHome. Chris is an RVDA/RVIA certified technician and a lifelong RVer, including 10 years living full time in an RV. He and his wife make their home in Massachusetts and hit the road in their heavy-duty truck towing their travel trailer every chance they get.