Tag Archives: repair

And you said that I’m not handy

Things started out simply enough.  We wanted to get some extra keys cut for our RV.  We asked at a hardware store, but they didn’t have the blanks required to cut motorhome keys.  In Quartzsite, we were pleased to find a guy cutting keys out of his trailer, and he specifically caters to RVers.

The locks on the exterior compartments of our motorhome were stiff.  Sticky.  Downright difficult to turn.  While figuring out which keys to have cut, I managed to break one off in a lock (one that I’d previously bent and straightened in Mountain View), jamming the blade inside the lock cylinder.

I explained my dilemma to the guy who was cutting our keys, and he kindly suggested the rather complicated steps I should take to remove the lock cylinder, after which I could push the broken key out from the back side.  He loaned me a lock pick (aren’t they illegal?), and then reassured me by saying, “I’m not a locksmith”.

Patrick viewed from rear seated beside motorhome working on compartment lock wearing black down jacket and red hoodie

Tying to remove the lock cylinder

After a lot of trying I couldn’t get the door open using his technique, but I did manage to pick the lock and open the compartment.  I disassembled the latch from the inside, thinking I had my problem solved.  The latch came apart into many pieces, and eventually I was able to remove the lock cylinder and push out the broken key.

Patrick seated on small stool beside RV with compartment open and small screwdriver in hand

Success!

Reassembling the latch turned out to be tougher than I expected.  I knew the order of assembly, but could not for the life of me figure out how to put the pieces together.  So now I had an open compartment without a latch.

Patrick working on latch of motorhome compartment

Shit!

I reverted to Plan B, pulling out my ‘go-to’ tools – duct tape (I’m Canadian after all) and rope (I’m also a Queen’s Scout – yes I know that sounds kinda gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I also incorporated a bit of bubble wrap, but I’m not bragging.

Patrick working on compartment latch with duct tape

Plan B In Progress

And Diane says that I’m not handy. What do you think?

RV compartment door without latch and protected with buble wrap and duct tape and tied shut with rope

Almost as good as new

Layed Up In Lynnwood

Because our license plate and taillights were blocked by our new bike cover, we decided it wasn’t safe to proceed.  Before we had even made it to Seattle, we were at a standstill.

Rear of motorhome with covered bikes, and not taile lights or license plate visible
Not a light in sight

I spent the morning developing a solution to add some additional rear tail and signal lights and to move the license plate (and its light).  Unfortunately, regulations vary across the United States about the minimum and maximum heights of both brake lights and license plates and also the colour of signal lights (red or orange?)  After some online research and trips to Walmart and O’Reilley’s auto parts, I came up with a design that should work, without requiring any permanent alternations to the motorhome and using only the tools that I had on hand.

By the end of the day, I had acquired all the necessary parts and roughed up a wiring diagram. Still in the Walmart parking lot where we’d slept the previous night, I laboured into the very cold evening until I had a working prototype.

Patrick working on project at rear of motorhome in Walmart parking lot

It’s still winter in Lynnwood!

Patrick standing in front of bikes on rear of motorhome

At least it wasn’t raining!

When it got too cold, we walked back to the same pub where we’d eaten the night before, this time enjoying an inexpensive prime rib and helping a team of young guys win the trivia competition (“We’ll take the Food Network for 400 Alex”).

I spent most of the next day completing the build and installing everything.  It was cold but sunny, and not the ‘liquid sunshine’ that the Pacific Northwest normally receives at this time of year.

Patrick kneeling at rear of motorhome working on lights and wiring

Still at it the next day

I was feeling pretty pleased with myself, as prior to this, my collective experience as an electrician included:

  • the science kit that my parents gave me in Grade 4, which I tried to wire into a household electrical socket and almost killed myself
  • changing light bulbs when Diane couldn’t reach them

The rear of motorhome with 2 new tail lights, the license plate and its light relocated to the ladder

The completed project -2 new tailights, license plate and its light relocated to ladder

The parts included a 7 pin to 4 pin trailer wiring adapter, 2 LED rear lights, a license plate holder, automotive wire, a variety of connectors, wiring shrink wrap, kitchen drawer liner, some non-skid carpet tape, a lot of zap straps (known as ‘wire ties’ in the U.S.), and of course, duct tape.  Canadians can’t build anything without duct tape.  Total Cost $160.

Close up of new tail light on rear bubmper on right rear corner of motorhome

Look close to see the white drawer liner covering the wires

And so, almost 3 days into our trip, we set off again, passing through Seattle just in time to enjoy the evening rush hour.  At least we were moving again!