Did you know that 60 percent of all storage compartments found in today’s RVs have the same CH751 locks and keys? No, that isn’t a typo—60 percent! Done solely to reduce costs, the generic CH751 lock and key system works well for RV manufacturers and for those who are in RV sales, but not so great for RV owners as the system offers very little security for valuables. I’ve yet to suffer a break-in in any of the RVs I’ve owned. Still, the thought that any thief with a commonly found key could easily break-in and steal my tools and equipment was a bit unnerving. It was time to do something about it.
How do you know if your RV has these near worthless locks? Take a look at the key bow of your storage compartment key. If you see “CH751” inscribed on the key bow, you have them. Fortunately, replacing each lock was pretty easy thanks to the good folks at Industrial Lock and Hardware (ILH). The company manufactures and sells a wide variety of high-quality locks, including tubular RV cam locks which are much better than the garbage you typically find in the big box and RV parts stores. ILH’s website provides an easy to use form that makes it a snap to identify the correct size lock, correct size cam (also known as the locking arm), and correct size cam offset (or bend) needed. Simply remove the old lock and match it with the correct size images on the form. It’s so easy, a caveman can do it.
Industrial Lock and Hardware’s shipment came in a standard USPS Priority Mail box. I have to say that I was impressed with company’s packaging. All of the hardware came professionally sealed in a compartmentalized plastic, see-through bag. This effort shows attention to detail with the order and is something you don’t typically see today. It’s pretty refreshing. Aside from the lock hardware, the order came with four tubular keys and one service key, the latter of which is used if a lock ever “jumps” out of alignment. The installation instructions ILH provided were very detailed and easy to follow.
Replacing the old CH751 locks was extremely easy, meaning I didn’t need to possess locksmith-level skills to change out the old locks (the Caveman reference applies here, too). Removing the old lock is a quick, two-step process that requires just two tools: a crescent wrench and a Phillips screw driver. To remove the old lock, first remove the cam, which is held in place with a large screw. Once the cam is removed, the wrench is used to remove the large, thin nut that holds the lock into place. That’s it! The whole process of removing the old lock took about three minutes.
Installing your new cam locks is just as easy, except the installation steps are reversed. When installing them you’ll need to be careful not to lose the governor that came with your new locks (I had one fall during the installation of one lock and had a dickens of a time trying to find it). The first thing you’ll notice with the new ILH locks is that they use a small nut rather than a screw to attach the cam to the lock, so only a crescent wrench was needed to install the new locks. Make sure you don’t over-tighten this small nut; otherwise, you may bind the lock. Before closing the storage compartment door after installing the new lock, you’ll want to check the cam rotation for correct location and placement. Once this is done the install is complete. The whole process of removing the old lock and installing the new one took about 10 minutes.
As you can see from the photographs, the new tubular style cam locks look great. What you don’t see is a quality lock from Industrial Lock and Hardware that is much more stout and harder to pick than the CH751 cam locks that came with your RV. Mark Silver, the owner of Industrial Lock and Hardware, tells me that his locks are costume assembled here in the good ole’ USA using mushroom tumblers designed to stop would-be lock pickers. The so-called Bic pen trick won’t work on these, they don’t even fit. Now, I realize that if somebody really wants to break into my camper they will, but having an extra layer of security is always a good thing when minutes or even seconds count.
Disclaimer: I’m an independent reviewer. I do NOT get paid to review products on this website. I will only recommend products which I use and believe in and which I think will benefit my audience. The views expressed are my personal views and are written without any influence, whatsoever. That said, I reserve the right to engage in paid affiliate marketing and promotion with brands, companies and individuals whose products I review.
Click here to read my article on the installation of Industrial Lock and Hardware’s new tubular lock dust cover.
Can pick those with a bic pen.
No, you can't. They don't fit.
Where can I buy replacement rear side cargo doors for a 2004/05 Coachman Freedom gas engine 28' RV?
Where can I buy replacement rear side cargo doors for a 2004/05 Coachmen Freedom gas engine powered Rv? Thank you.
Sorry, I can't help you. I have no idea. Good luck.
Finding ILH was great. Nice write-up and review.
The whole "everyone has a 751 key" is interesting from two standpoints. First, if a crook has one, he is IN. Second, there must not be too many crooks going through the storage lot. There are a ton of rigs at my storage location, and they don't get raided, which says a lot for the RV'ing community. If we were infiltrated with thieves, we'd be cleaned out wherever we go: storage, camp grounds, resorts, backyards and maybe even the boonies.
I guess most of us are pretty cool; :>
Yes, the RV crowd is for the most part a great crowd. Hardworking, honest folks.
It makes no sense to change all the keys unless you have something really valuable in a compartment. Should I worry someone will steal a sewer hose? No! I don't have a generator and my 8D battery weight 165 lbs. I do like the idea of changing the door lock to one that is more secure.
I agree that not all doors need to be changed. I did mine only because I didn't want to carry extra keys around. I do think it's a good idea to secure the battery compartment and generator compartment.
Nice choice of new locks!
I have been camping since the early 70s, but a camper I got this summer was the first with locking outside storage compartments. I wanted an extra key and after 2 hardware stores didn't have blanks I stopped at a camper place and asked them. They said oh you want a 751 and disappeared into the parts room without my key and came back and handed me one and said $5. That was the first I was aware that most storage compartments are keyed the same. Made me feel real secure, but I don't have much in the storage areas yet worth steeling. I will keep your how to in mind for a future upgrade. Thanks
I just lost my truck and camper keys yesterday but all my doors are open. Finding just this article today made my day, thanks, filling out the form now
I'm glad it helped.
Thanks Mike! I miss you on the Airstream forum but this post is great! Replaced mine too! Blogged it here…..http://63overlandermoonraker.blogspot.com/2013/08/new-locks-for-compartment-doors.html
Thanks, Reinergirl. I miss the Airstreamers, too. There will be another Airstream in my life, I'm just not sure exactly when. Glad you liked the article and that you like the locks.
I take care of more than a dozen large buildings and most have 250 KW up to 500KW generators and guess what key they all use, that's right CH751.
Thanks for sharing this one. I'm sure that many readers would find this post a useful one.
I too replaced all my 5th wheel hold door locks with 'Ace'/Camlocks' with the 'round keys'. I also used them to secure each of my 4 solar panels on the roof (had to make my own brackets and cams to do so of course).
QUESTION: does anyone know, exactly, what THREAD the nuts are which hold the cams on the back of the locks? I need some new nuts and cannot identify the thread (and I work in OSH hardware store!). They are about 1/4 inch diameter but a fine thread I can't identify.
Is the battery door unlocked for safety, like the propane door?
Thanks for the article on locks. I'm currently trying to find an improved deadbolt setup for my camper door. The tiny little factory handle lock wouldn't deter a strong gust of wind. (although they say locks only keep out honest people). If you have any thoughts about deadbolts for camper doors, alarm systems, or other "hardening" ideas I think it'd be a really useful article.
I added a regular home deadbolt to my TC door. Works great and the bolt has a much longer throw than he puny bolt on the stock door.
Mike, your posting prompted me to wonder "are my locks were those danged CH751's too?". Being a bit slower than many of my fellow cavemen I further wondered "how am I supposed to know what locks I have?". I reread the article to see if there was some info I had missed. (Caveman comprehension weak). Nope, nada, noth'n. Then I looked at your first pic to see if it offered any clues. "Hmm… Looks like something on the key". A click of the pic loaded a big version and there, clear to see, was "CH751". So there it was: Caveman me is to look at my keys. (I told you I was slow). I did just that and found mine are also CH751's. I made the grunting sound of disappointment.
I think I'll change mine over as well. Thanks for the tip! We cavemen need to stick together.
On a related security note, when I had my LivinLite trailer built I had them include a locking cabinet inside. The idea was it would be a good place to stash valuables. Certainly better than just leaving them lying around. It would be an easy modification in many rv's to make an interior cabinet secure. (I had considered a "rv safe" but felt they were too heavy and more secure than I need. Plus a cabinet is much bigger and more suited to things like camera bags or computers).
Thanks, Ross. I'll have to put a statement on how tell if you have the CH751 lock and keys. I like the idea of a locking interior cabinet. Hmmmm! Time for another mod.
great job. thats something ive thought about doing but have not gotten around to it yet.
Thanks. It really is easy. Just gotta spend a little cash and do it.
Good article thanks
Thanks. It was a fun mod!
Mike – Thanks for the info, those new locks look great!
Thanks, I agree. Love the look.