Trailer Security – Locks

Did you know that the vast majority of RVs use the same storage compartment key? CH751… go ahead, google it.

In addition to being concerned about theft from our compartments, I didn’t like that the door handles had a master key as well. RV dealers use a master key on the slam-latch for the doors, so that they don’t have to keep a huge keyring with them. The door deadbolts are unique.

Then came the issue with keeping our trailer in storage. Nothing is going to keep a determined thief from taking what isn’t theirs, however you can do your best to persuade them to find an easier target. After dropping a bit of money on the trailer, I wanted to keep someone from hitching up and towing it away.

For the first two issues, I did a little digging. Seems that the company RV Locks and More provided the door latches to my trailer. I gave them a call and explained that I wanted a little bit more security (let’s face it, the trailer is fiberglass, foam and other building materials, it’s not a vault). They directed me to their “900” series of locks which have no master key. I was able to buy 2 new door handles, several luggage compartment locks all on the same key. Each door lock came with 2 keys, each luggage compartment came with a key (again, all the same key code). The end result was we now have 1 key for all the locks on the trailer.

The quality of the locks was extremely high. I always had to fuss with the factory luggage locks to get the key in and turn, it always wanted to stick. These glide like they are on ball bearings; a night and day difference. Installation was very straight forward. For the doors, I had to remove 4 screws from the interior, and 2 from the striker plate. Re-Assembly was simply the reverse process.

For the luggage locks, I removed the retaining nut and simply pushed the locks out through the panel. Slid the new locks in, re-secured everything and I was done. Replacing a total of 2 door locks and 6 luggage locks took me less than an hour. Cost for this project was about $200. They do offer electronic locks, but I didn’t find the need for it. I just wanted something that most people don’t have a key to. Check out their site if you want an upgrade.

Compared to the compartment and door locks, the hitch lock became a big deal to me. I’ve seen plenty of locks defeated over the years, whether from picking, bolt cutters or a good cutoff-wheel from a grinder. Most locks will be defeated within 60 seconds; that’s terrifying.

So, with that being said, how do you best slow a thief down? You have a few options. Below is a few different lock styles harvested from amazon, I’ll discuss the pro’s and con’s of each:

Resse Towpower/Metal bar around coupler. How this lock works, is you place the ball into the hitch mount then push the U-Bar through the holes. The actual locking mechanism attaches to the U-Bar. This lock could be defeated with a large pair of bolt cutters with some effort or a grinder in seconds. The perk to these locks is that they are in-expensive. I use one on my utility trailer because I’m not going to spend 1/4 of the cost of the trailer on a lock for it. This is one of those locks that’s better than nothing.

Master Lock Pin Style. This could be defeated with a good strike from a heavy hammer, snapping or bending the metal. Alternatively, a grinder would take a few minutes.

AmpLock – This is a seriously hardened piece of equipment. In researching locks, I saw one that had been attacked by a grinder, it scratched the paint off but the lock held. This is a serious lock with a very well designed and thought out system. I haven’t figured out how to defeat this lock, short of taking a long time to grind it off. The key-style they use isn’t easily pickable (a seasoned locksmith might be able to open it, however).

Proven Industries – This is another serious lock. The design of this hitch is a complete “denial of access” to the coupler mechanism. The collar is a very strong steel with no easy place to cut. The only weak spot I could imagine would be the user’s choice of lock. Some hockey puck locks are made out of aluminum; which is an easy target to a good grinder. Some locks, albeit more expensive, are made from hardened steel. If you are going to buy this type of lock, buy the proper padlock to go with it.

The other accessory to think about is your coupler pin. Frankly, you are not going to prevent theft with one. What you need to consider is the ease of use and how secure it is. Now, when I said secure earlier, I was talking about theft. This part is all about keeping your trailer from un-hitching in transit and possibly slowing a thief down a few seconds.

I’m less concerned about keyways and what-not on this one; I want to be able to open it and lock it – it’s job is to not fall off the trailer. Some people use snap rings or other pin types. I prefer something with a lock, personally I feel like it’s less likely to fall off that way.

I really like the BOLT system of locks. I have one for my coupler lock on my truck, I use the cable lock to secure equipment in my truck bed, a spare padlock for extra gear if needed. The hitch pin lock just made sense.

BOLT makes locks for many vehicle key types; the only issue you may run into is if you have one of those new keyless start vehicles which doesn’t use a traditional key anymore. The whole intention of using this type of lock is that you’ll always have your car key with you, so you’ll always have your lock key with you. If your truck doesn’t use a key, you might as well try to find a master-lock that can be re-keyed so that you can use 1 key for multiple types of locks in your setup.

Bolt makes a lot of different locks; make sure you key-type is supported. The description in each Amazon listing will give you an indication on which lock supports your keyway.

I hope this helps/shines some light on security options.

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