May 182009

The purpose of our visit here to the Kansas City area is to spend some time with Terry’s cousin Carolyn and her husband Mel, two of our favorite people in the world.

Mel and Carolyn are completing the final steps to becoming fulltimers, and yesterday they took us to see their Heartland fifth wheel trailer, which they have in a storage lot just waiting to hit the road. Even though the slides were in and we could not get the full effect, we were impressed with how nice it is, just as we have been with all of the Heartland products we have ever seen. Mel says just a few more weeks and they’ll be on the road, and we know they are both itching to get out here and join in on all of the fun!

Two RVs that are on our very short list of rigs we’d like to have to replace the bus with are a Winnebago Ultimate Advantage or Ultimate Freedom, and there was an Ultimate Advantage in the same storage lot, which I pointed out to Mel and Carolyn. Just for the heck of it, when we left the storage lot, Carolyn drove past the dealership where they bought their trailer, and there was a used Ultimate Advantage sitting on the lot!

Even though it was Sunday and the place was closed, we decided to see what we could see. The bays were unlocked, and we checked out the impressive amount of storage space, and somebody said “It’s too bad the door is locked, or we could see the inside too.” Just being silly, I pulled out my key ring, and stuck an old key I have carried around with me for years into the lock. This was not a Winnebago key, in fact, it was originally for a small fireproof metal storage box, but it unlocked the door!

Mel thought that was funny and I told him it was my magic key, because in the past I have used it to unlock everything from storage boxes and padlocks to pickup camper shells. Just being a goofball by then, I walked over to another used rig, this one a three year old Allegro Bay diesel pusher, and even I was shocked when my key unlocked it too! I bet that makes you feel real secure when you lock your door and leave your RV for a while, doesn’t it?

I have had car keys that worked in the same model of cars before, and I had my pal Butch Williams install his special tubular locks on our bay doors a while back, because I know there are just a few key codes for them and if you put any ten RVers together, it’s a good bet somebody’s keys will open most of the bays. But I’d like to think that when Miss Terry tucks me into bed at night, the boogey man has to at least work a little bit to get inside!

I wasn’t too worried about the local constabulary coming to carry us away, because Mel and Carolyn have done enough business with this dealership that they have a very good relationship with them.

We really liked this particular Winnebago, and the price is right too. We’re not quite in a position to make a deal yet, but we’re close enough that I may go back to the dealership and talk to them while we’re here. But if we were to get it, or any other coach for that matter, you can bet that the first order of business would be to get custom locks installed!

So how secure is your RV?

Thought For The Day – Be wise enough not to be reckless, but brave enough to take great risks.

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Nick Russell

World-Famous, New York Times Best Selling Author, and All-Around Nice Guy!

  7 Responses to “How Secure Is Your RV?”

  1. Isn’t it strange how “things” happen? There is YOUR RV Nick! I’m waiting for that deal to “Jump” out at me……

    It just might be the ONE!!

    We are sort of like you tho……..If I did have that “DEAL” jump out at me,,,,,,I’d really be scared to take it, because I have this Rig to sell and neither of us have something that just “anybody” would want to buy. I know ours would no doubt be hard to sell and I can’t GIVE it away!!!

    Good Luck my friends…


  2. The locks on the newer rigs have more key combinations than the older rigs had. One safety practice is to lock the deadbolt on the entry door. It has many, many more key combinations. Bad people will not be as likely to be able to open the dead bolt. Replacing the hatch locks can be a good idea however. Unfortunately both entry and hatch doors are fairly easy to open with a pry bar so the type of lock is not as big of a deal as you might initially think. 🙁

  3. In delivering all these different RVs that I’ve driven all over the country, it really bothered me that just about *all* of the Monaco coaches (and of course that means Holiday Rambler, Safari, Beaver, etc., etc.) used only the “TM500” key for the storage bays. When Monaco went to the double-sided key (the “2001”) it was still the same situation. Thankfully, they have started using more different keys lately.

    And if you happen to have a “CH751” key (e.g., for your fuel door), you can probably open something or other on just about anybody else’s coach!


  4. I guess I should have said, “Monaco *HAD* started using…” :>)

  5. Its sad but…keys only keep the honest and the kids out…If someone wants in well they are in. A friend put his new RV in storage till he was fully ready to hit the road. When he went to pick it up and leave he noticed he was hit by vandels…the intire interior was destroyed and he had to wait three months before insurance came through. It was a write off. Happy part to the story is that he has been on the road for 2 years and loving every minute of it!! Don’t let anything take that dream away!!!

  6. I agree that most of those little ‘disk tumbler’ locks are worthless. If the key goes in, then pull it back a notch and wiggle it up and down. Failing that, the bad guys use a small tool called a rake. They are easily made from grinding a little off a street sweeper bristle found along the curb. I thought that the regular dead bolt lock with standard 5 pin tumbler provided by Allegro/Tiffin was secure.

    Until I met a locksmith working near Amarillo Texas. He had been called in to open several office doors with similar locks. He went to his key machine and dialed in 5 cuts at #7 or #8 depth, that’s the deepest. Then, using a small mallet to tap the key, and a piece of spring metal for tension, he ‘bumped” each lock. It was all over in minutes. I don’t even remember how many offices were opened.

    He then showed me the new ‘exotic’ locks like Schlage w/ side tumblers, Medico etc… He said that they are selling like crazy.

    If the bad guys have only 2 bump keys, they will be Quikset and Schlage, and that covers most of our coaches except Prevost, MCI etc., with double sided Ford keys.


  7. The tubular locks like Nick has are very difficult to pick. They can be picked with the right tool, but even with the right tool, it is difficult. the best bet is Medeco cam locks. These are almost impossible to pick and are highly drill resistant. To really secure the storage comparments, it would probably be necessary to add 2 more locks to help prevent prying. On the entry door, if it is at least 1 and 3/8 inches thick, a residential style deadbolt can be added. As a former locksmith, I have installed deadbolts on RV doors. If the door is not thick enough, check with a mobile home supply house for a lock. These suppliers carry locks for very thin doors. However, have it re-keyed as it will be master keyed ( more than 1 unique key will operate the lock). If you go with Medeco, order extra keys with the locks, because only the locksmith you order them from will have the correct key blank to make duplicates. Kmart, Wal-Mart, Lowes, etc will not be able to help you nor will the local locksmith.

    I hope this helps. If you have any questions Nick can get in touch with me.

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