I have a Swift caravan, to which, in common with many tourers, a Hartal door-lock assembly is fitted.
Over recent months the internal mechanism has become stiff, making the opening and shutting of the door difficult. As a result, I have become worried that locking and unlocking the door might result in the key snapping off in the lock – not a scenario to be encountered, if at all avoidable.
According to one or two online forums, this is a common problem with this type of Hartal door lock. It is caused by the central shaft of the inner assembly binding in its plastic guide housing.
Given that many of you might be experiencing a similar issue with this kind of lock, I thought it worth explaining how to carry out some DIY to strip down the assembly and rectify the problem.
Of course, fitting a new door-lock unit would resolve the situation but, at around £100 for a complete assembly, a simple – and relatively easy – repair that will return the lock to an ‘as-new’ operational condition makes sense, especially if you’re caravanning on a budget.
Before we go through the process, here’s my list of six things to watch out for while you are doing the work:
1. When taking out the screws that hold the two parts of the lock assembly together, make sure each of them goes back in the same place it came from, as mixing them up could cause damage.
2. Take care when removing the spring that returns the door catch as it is inclined to jump out and get lost (I speak here from experience!).
3. After sanding down the components, make sure you remove any plastic ‘dust’. If you don’t, it could form a paste with the applied grease and exacerbate the problem.
4. I removed plastic from both the handle shaft and the guide in which it rotates with a piece of rolled up sandpaper, as gaining access to the upper part of the shaft is difficult.
5. It is essential that the knob is turning freely in its guide before reassembly. If it’s not, it won’t when it is back in place on the door either, and you will have to start all over again!
6. When reassembling the parts, press the two halves of the lock assembly together before making sure it operates correctly. Only then should you screw the halves back together.
I applied a sparing amount of grease to all of the moving parts. Do not use oil, as that will tend to run off the parts over time, making the problem with your Hartal door lock more likely to reoccur.
- Planning to get your van serviced? Take a look at our guide to caravan servicing to get an idea of what to expect.
You will need
- Conventional toolkit, comprising a Pozidriv screwdriver, pointed piercing tool and so on
- A pair of external circlip pliers
- Grease (I used lithium-based)
- Fine sandpaper
A step-by-step guide to overhauling the Hartal door lock of your caravan
1. Using a pointed tool, carefully remove the red and green screw caps.
2. Using the same tool, gently lift off the secondary Hartal screw-cap panel.
3. The securing screws are compatible with a Pozidriv screwdriver.
4. The lock tongue bar is secured with its own screw, which should be removed.
5. This is how the assembly looks with the lock tongue and spring removed.
6. Remove the circlip and crinkle washer with external circlip pliers.
7. Once you have removed the circlip and washer, you can take out the handle.
8. It may be necessary to remove some of the plastic from the inside of the knob guide with rolled-up sandpaper – this will be the case if the upper part of the shaft is scraping against the guide.
9. Try to sand down the plastic from the shaft mechanism evenly all round.
10. Check the handle turns freely before screwing the mechanism back together.
11. Using a pointed tool, push the spring in this direction until the end engages with the plastic lug inside.
12. Once you have checked the handle action, replace the tongue and lock it in place with its screw.
Looking for some more DIY projects for your van? Then take a look at these:
- We explain how to fit a new radio in your caravan
- We talk you through the process of how to change your caravan water filter
- We share the steps to how to replace a jockey wheel
Future Publishing Limited, the publisher of Practical Caravan, provides the information in this article in good faith and makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Individuals carrying out the instructions do so at their own risk and must exercise their independent judgement in determining the appropriateness of the advice to their circumstances and their own skill level. Individuals should take appropriate safety precautions and be aware of the risk of electrocution when dealing with electrical products. To the fullest extent permitted by law, neither Future nor its employees or agents shall have any liability in connection with the use of this information. You should check that any van warranty will not be affected before proceeding with DIY projects.
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