Repairing Vintage Airstream Locks & Access Doors

Having started the polishing process, I didn’t want to lose sight of the more important “quality of life” tasks left on my list. Primarily, anything to do with the existing appliances / systems, addressing water leaks, and making sure that the trailer would be safe & secure.

After I’d crashed my parts trailer the previous summer, I’d taken off all of the access doors and the original lock set for the entry door. I had keys for everything on that trailer except one of the access doors. When I purchased my second Airstream for renovation, the previous owner only had keys for the entry door, and both that door and the access panel door on that side of the trailer were scratched. All of that is to say that I’d need to do some swapping around of parts to get a complete set of unscratched doors with keyed locks on my trailer.

Scratched road-side access and entry doors on the Little Green Airstream.

When I took the entry door lock set off of my parts trailer, unfortunately some of the parts fell out. After some back and forth posts with members of Air Forums to figure out how to put it back together myself, I spent the better part of a day on it and wasn’t completely happy with the results; I installed it anyway. Months later, on my way back home from my contractor in Vermont, I discovered that the knob was just spinning in place – nearly locking me out – so I took the lock set off. Fortunately, my contractor had installed the deadbolt by that time, so I had a backup. I definitely didn’t want that happening again!

I decided it was time to call a professional, one that would be willing to work on an “exotic” project and do the installation on my site, so I looked online and settled on a reputable locksmith, J. Stein Master Locksmiths, in nearby Queens, NY.

Lock sets and access door, ready to be reinstalled.

I brought all of the parts to the shop and had a talk with one of the owners. We discussed the scope of work, which was to make new keys (to replace a set that previous owners had lost) for one of the access doors, and to repair and reinstall the entry door lock on site. Even though the reassembled lock set could be installed on the entry door with a few screws, I was willing to pay extra for the locksmith to install it on site and “own” the entire process. That way, if anything went wrong, he’d return on warranty.

Shortly after my visit, the lock sets were ready and a locksmith came to my site. We played a bit with the entry door lock to make sure it was seated properly, but all in all it was a quick and pleasant process, and I’m glad to have my trailer secure.

The only issue is perhaps with the entry lock itself. According to what I’ve read online, the Bargman L-100 lock set can be a little finicky over time, due to age, or parts shifting / screws loosening with the movement of the trailer. I’ve noticed that mine still works, but didn’t stay perfect after a few months. I’ll keep an eye on it, but in the meantime I’m really glad I installed the deadbolt and at least have everything working and lockable.

Airstream lock installation triptych.

Up next: Finalizing Your Airstream Renovation Budget

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