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  • Ken Hay

Just One More Turn Of The Screw

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

The last day of two weeks R & R at Denham, Shark Bay and time to start packing up.

But first! – tighten that damned screw holding one end on the curtain on the door. Got the ratchet screw driver from the tool kit and fitted the correct Phillips head. One complete turn of the screw and the job was done.

About an hour later Maureen reported the door was mis-behaving. She could not split the flywire section from the main section and then, when we shut the door, it locked and would not open without a whole lot of fiddling and jiggling of the handle and locking slide.

I abandoned packing up and decided I should dismantle the lock mechanism. It had to be something ridiculously simple and easy to fix even though I was dealing with a you-beaut tri-lock system. I was subsequently proven correct on that assumption but not before a whole lot of drama and wasted time.

It was easy to remove the two obvious screws holding the mechanism together and in place but then it became apparent there was something else securing it all - something behind the locking slide. Manoeuvring the locking slide revealed another countersunk Phillips head screw behind the slide. Eventually I got it out without causing any damage. Then I was able to separate the outer and inner components of the locking mechanism and get them out.

Careful study of the exposed gizzards revealed a ratchet in an aluminium strip into which fitted a plastic cog attached to the door handle. Another component of the handle mechanism fitted into a square hole in the aluminium strip. Aha! Obviously, the aluminium ratchet had worn away the head of the plastic cog causing the malfunction. I jiggled it all until the cog fitted back into the ratchet, reassembled the lot and it all worked – for a while. Twice I repeated the procedure and, after the third time it all seemed to work OK and continued to do so.

Well, anyway, until next day when we stopped for lunch in Northampton on the way home. Mau was inside and I was outside when the door shut and locked itself. Sometime later Mau was released from imprisonment and not too happy at all. The closed door again and, this time, steadfastly, refused to open.

We ran some duct tape around the door and frame – just to ensure the bloody thing wouldn’t unlock itself and open en-route to the Coromal Caravan yard in Geraldton. (Mind you, the door hinges are on the front side of the door as we had insisted during manufacture of the van. None of this doors falling off like some one else we know.)

Ross at Coromal Geraldton was very helpful. It only took a couple of hours to destroy the lock completely and get the door open. Then he installed a new one but in the process he discovered the cause of the entire problem. That bloody curtain screw I had tightened, with just one turn, was too long and pressed against the aluminium slide pushing the ratchet off the plastic cog on the door handle.

Well, Ross was a good bloke, (we had a few giggles during the procedure), and didn’t charge us for any labour. That was fortunate because the lock cost the princely sum of one hundred and sixty nine dollars and ninety cents. If he had charged labour on top of that I would have invoiced him $200 for trades assistants fees for my contribution to the repairs. I now have the remains of what once was a perfectly good tri-lock door locking mechanism sitting on my workbench!

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