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4fun

Senior Member
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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #1 
There are a lot of similarities between a UEV (440) and a Defender (110). Both have a steel chassis with an aluminium body, using pop rivets and sikaflex to hold it all together. Both are made with a lot of manual labour, both are clunky and have gaping holes here and there, both cost around the $50K ballpark.

Both have a military heritage: at least this is a fact for the Defenders and allegedly so for the Conquerors. Both are products that you either love or hate, or maybe dream about at night but don't dare to tell anyone [wink]

That's where the similarities stop.

For the same amount of money, the defender is delivered with 5 wheels instead of three, solid axles instead of independent suspension, disk brakes instead of drum brakes, the Defender has an engine and drive train (contributing to at least a third of the total bill of materials of a vehicle), and last but not least, the Defender comes with door locks that actually manage to keep the doors locked under all circumstances.

Never have I had the need to use an extra pad-lock or snap-lock to secure a Defender door. It just works! I assume that everyone who drives a different vehicle brand has similar positive experiences.

Enter the UEV range. All the locks on the UEV campers (my experience is limited to the 440, but I'd wager this applies to just about every model considering the huge amount of posts about this topic) are horrific. They do not reliably lock. Conqueror knows this, that's why every lock has a plastic zip-tie through it when your new camper is delivered to you.

Note that I probably should say door fastener, since off-factory there is no such thing as a lock that you can lock/un-lock with a key. But I'll use lock nevertheless in the rest of this posting since it's only four characters long.

In the beginning I thought this zip-tie thing was just a company being overly careful, but these safety measures are needed since the locks are just plain unreliable.

UEV's use three different types of locks:
Anti-Luce.png 
Anti-luce 

Over-Center-Fastener.png 
Over Centre fasteners

In the rest of this article I'll refer to the bit on the left as the 'hook' and the eye that hooks into it as the 'eye'. But I am not sure if these are the official names for it.

And then there is the greatest of all: The fantastic green swing handles that are supposed to keep the big door openings firmly shut into their rubbers.

In the pic below on the right you'll see a handle in my 'outback ready' version, i.e. it has a little bit of rope attached to it with a snap-lock at the end, and the handle on the left is the broken one that didn't have the little 'lip with hole' in it anymore, so there was nothing to attach the snap-hook onto. This little fellow is the starting point of my anger and the decision to do this properly once and for all.

On the picture you'll also see another problem with these handles: the bolt on the right hand handle is coming loose (No, I didn't do that). This is the problem with all the door handles and hinges on the UEV's. They use nuts and bolts that need to be kept a little bit loose to allow the arm or hinge to pivot, and over time these nuts and bolts work themselves loose. On a corrugated road this is likely going to happen a lot sooner. It's not a big drama to fix, but you'd better take a few spare nuts and bolts with you or you will find yourself one day unable to sleep in your bed because all the hinges have come off.

_DSC0721.jpg 

In my one and a half years of using my UEV I have had several doors slamming open whilst driving. Thankfully, no humans and animals got hurt in the process, but the left rear side of my camper has some noticeable dents where the pantry door slammed into the side whilst driving on a high-way - spraying it's contents into the curb-side in the process, and the spare wheel has swayed open at least once on a track. Thankfully this happened just after a vehicle had passed me or else the front screen and probably the whole top of the passing vehicle would have looked completely different.

It's not like I am lazy or anything and not checking my vehicle when driving off. I do that routinely and walk around the whole vehicle and check every lock, but once in a while maybe after a quick stop you might be in a hurry to get driving again. Maybe it rains and you want to stay dry, so do the check round a bit more in a rush. Or you're distracted because the other half asks you something whilst you are doing this important task and et voila you forget to put on a snap lock and disaster is waiting to happen. The point here is that it SHOULD NOT be necessary for me to have to put a snap lock on every door. It would be perfectly reasonably for me to expect that if I lock a door, using the lock that is provided by the manufacturer that the bloody door just stays closed.

So when one of the green door handles actually broke off (it's just a piece of crappy iron with some powder coat on top) I decided to fix this problem once and for all and do it the way Conqueror should have done it from the start.

After some Internet digging I ended up with a mob named Dunn and Watson that deliver locks, gas-struts, caravan windows and a whole other range of goodies especially to the caravan industry. I have no connection with these guys, they just happen to be a couple of suburbs away from me.

There is a really large range of door locks for camper trailers. But there is only a few that are useful for UEV's since we need to have something that can hook onto something on the inside of the door opening and then pull the door in so that it snugly mates with the door rubber to keep it all water and dust proof. 

That limited the choice down to one or two 'T-shape' models but when I took one of those home with me and tried to envision how this would work on my UEV the reality kicked in that this was never going to work. These locks simply require too much space on the inside to do their job. For example I would have had to take a chunk out of my kitchen corner with was just not an option. Another problem I had was that all of these locks that are nice and flat on the outside and have some mechanics on the inside but need a big hole to be cut in the door and simply aren't guaranteed to be water and dust proof. 

With every mode I make I am trying to do it in such a way that it is still reversible, so a big hole was just not an option.

Assuming that no-one is going to drive through water of say in excess of 700mm or so in reality the water proof requirement really is only needed for the bottom locks on the kitchen and storage doors and dust proofness is needed for all other doors. But still. It was a risk I wasn't willing to take.

Another problem with these fasteners is that most of them have some form of a key lock to actually lock the door against theft. This is great of course, but the problem in my opinion is that dust will accumulate in these locks (some have a very tiny rubber cap on top that maybe lasts for 6 months) so that after a long days driving you won't be able to get your key in and unlock the door.

So, considering this all I finally ended up with locking over center fasteners:

Locking-Over-Center-Fastener.png 
These locks are in principle the same as the over center lockers that Conqueror uses, but if you hold one in your hands you'll quickly conclude that we're talking about a completely different cattle of fish here. The locks I selected are STRONG and have a nylon bush to prevent the 'eye' from unwinding itself. Most importantly they have an additional patented locking mechanisms.
What that means is that if I push the blue handle in the closed position a little locking plate snaps behind a ridge on the base plate and it simply won't open again unless I deliberately push that 'spring loaded' locking plate out of the way. These locks are not cheap and come all the way from Sweden, but they are worth their weight in gold in my opinion.

You can see this little spring loaded locking plate at the top left in the picture, just next to the bit of blue silicon. The nice thing is, this is a really simple solution. It just works, and I can do this with one hand in the middle of the night without a light and still be certain I have locked my door properly. Good luck trying that with the original locks.

If you want to know more about the extra locking mechanisms, please take a look at the video: https://trailerpartsdirect.com.au/shop/fasteners-direct/locking-over-center-fastener-zinc-large/

So this is where it get's tricky. If you're not keen to drill a hole in your expensive baby then you can stop reading here :-)

How to put it all together?

Let's start with the doors and the green handles.

I'll first show a picture of the new situation to get you warmed up.

_DSC0710.jpg 

First of all you obviously need to take away all the existing locks. You'll need a hammer, a screw driver, two 10mm spanners, a piece of cloth and some mineral turps.

Simply undo all the nuts and bolts and keep them. Next we need to take off the green handles from the doors. This is fairly easy. Place a screw driver between the door and the base plate of a door handle and use a hammer to slowly separate the two. The handles are glued to the doors with sikaflex or something so you'll need a bit of mechanical force, but it's not impossible. It did give me an appreciation for how strong the sikaflex is whilst still being a little bit flexible.

Once you get the green locks off a bit of sikaflex will stay behind and I found that this could be cleaned off almost completely (depending on your perseverance) with an old cloth and some mineral turps. To make it look as new I went to the local paint shop and got me the same color in the 'rust guard' paint quality and a lick of paint with a brush and you would't know there ever was anything attached to there. Finally, I simply put back all the nuts and bolts with a little bit of sikaflex to make it water tight. Sure enough these bolts serve no other purpose other than to 'fill an unused hole', but it's doesn't look bad at all.

Next you need to put the new locks in place. I always started with the little 'hook' section on the UEV's body and once that was in place then I did the over lock bit onto the door.

The UEV doors are quite 'thick' and even when compressed solidly into their rubbers they still stick out quite a bit. It's OK and actually preferred for an overlock to be slightly on an angle, bit this height difference was just too much, so what I did was use a bit of box aluminium to raise the hooks slightly off the UEV's body. The hooks and locks are mounted using 6mm thick stainless steel flat bolts. On the inside is a flat washer, a spring washer and then a nut and I'm using nutlock to keep it fastened, and I also used a blob of sikaflex to make it all water proof.

For these overlocks to work well you need the eye section a bit on an angle. Again, a picture tells this better.

_DSC0712.jpg 
As you can see there is a bit of a V shape between the blue handle section on the left and the eye bit on the right. What this means is that if the door would be trying to open it would pull the lock even faster (because of these angles). I remember this technique from long time ago when I was working in the Navy on sub-marines: you'll find this technology used a lot on mission critical system because it is super simple and super reliable.

As you can also see there is still an eye hole that you can put a pad-lock through or a snap-lock if you're really trying to be safe, but unlike the original Conqueror locks these ones actually align up perfectly and are easy to lock with a padlock of a decent size, i.e not something so small that you can break it open again with a screw driver.

On each door I have two new locks. One at the top and one near the bottom. I kept them always at 100 mm from the top or bottom. 

To get the washers and nuts on the inside is here and there a bit clumsy and for the locks for the pantry you'll have to remove the little metal cover on the inside of the UEV that covers the big over-pressure fan. It's all doable. The cover is kept in place by eight nuts on the outside plus some pop rivets that are accessible from the pantry. 
 
This is the end result for the left side

_DSC0713.jpg 

Note that I haven't done the lock for the awning pole storage space yet. That's next on the todo list. Note also the snap-lock on a little piece of rope. I had these on every lock of the UEV.

Here's the other side with the box storage

_DSC0718.jpg 

You may like or dislike the end result but I like it a lot. It's exactly in-line with the army-look of the UEV. It oozes strength, but first and foremost it is simple and reliable and it's dead easy to adjust the tension of each door lock so that it's just tight enough to keep the dust and water out without bending the wall material.

For the over locks on the awning pole doors and the A-Frame doors, you'll need the following.

A few drills of 3, 5 & 6 mm, a cloth and some terps.

With the drill you drill out all the existing pop rivets that where used for the existing over-lock locks. Something in the ballpark of a 5mm or 6mm drill should do the job.

I have left the small hooks in place, even though they are slightly smaller then the once that came with the new locking over locks, and even through the old ones are rusting already. I may swap them some time in the future.

Once the old fasteners are gone I put STAINLESS STEEL pop rivets in the old holes, again with a small blob of sikaflex and then drilled new holes for the new (and bigger) fasteners. The way I did that is to turn the 'eye' about midway of it's thread, then put it in place with the door closed as if the fastener is holding it tight, and then marked ONE hole with a marker pen. Drill the hole, put the fastener in place with a nut through the hole, and then mark the other two holes. Drill it all out, and then fasten the whole thing with sikaflex, washers, nuts and nutlock.

Rinse and repeat for all fasteners.

Here's a pic of the front of the A-Frame box. I still need to clean it a bit, but hey ... I'm using this beast.

_DSC0716.jpg 
 
As you can see I had to remove the holder for the axe. I may put that back, a little bit more to the middle, or I'll find a new place for it.

Ok, finally, and I am sure this is going to stir some responses :-)

I'm not happy with the spare tire high up on the back of the camper. The spare tire plus the metal frame plus the spare wheel hub weigh in at 60Kg and that's sitting high up on the back of the camper. This is the absolute worst place on a camper to put a lot of weight. Conqueror has done that, I assume, to create a counter weight for all the heavy stuff that is in front of the wheels and is contributing to a high tow ball weight.

The reasons I don't like the spare wheel on the back is:
  • First and foremost it creates a top heavy vehicle that has a tendency to sway and roll over. Simply put that spare wheel over there on the back is an engineering disaster, specifically in combination with independent suspension.
  • Secondly I can't get easily into the back of the camper during short road stops and I hate to always have to unlock those damn anti luce fasteners (plus the extra snaplocks through it)
  • I've lost count of the number of times I ran into the open spare tire frame when camping
  • It's really clumsy to have that spare tire sitting there when rolling up the rear awning
  • I need to (remember to) walk around it when going to the other side of the camper.
  • If I wanted to have a toilet tent near the back of the camper, it would be in that area and the open spare wheel would be in the way.
  • My other half could never open the backdoor. Now that the tire with anti-luce fasteners is gone, she's happy.
So what I'd like to do is to:
  • put the spare tire in the back of my 110 (thankfully it has a great load capacity and ample space)
  • put the spare hub assembly really low in the back of the UEV. I'll try to squeeze it next to a battery on the right side (the left side with the kitchen is a bit heavier in my opinion)
  • leave the spare tire rack at home
  • only fill the diesel Jerry cans if I really have to, i.e. long distances with poor fuel station coverage.
So ... here's the new back of my 440. I can open it with one hand, and if I use two hands I can undo both locks at the same time. Locking up is equally fast and reliable and all locks shut with a firm 'Click' sound.

I can imagine that the spare tire rack is actually a part of the structural integrity of the rear side - because it creates a solid connection between the left and right sides - and by taking that rack away I have created a rear end that is a little bit weaker and more prone to excessive torsion. I believe that the half doors are very strong, so they provide an equally well suited 'anchor point' for the two sides to attach to, and the strong locks do just that. I'm also taking into consideration the fact that the back needed a strong frame because it was carrying a ridiculous high weight high up. So by taking away the weight, I have also reduced the need for a strong support frame.

I'll keep an eye on this and worst case scenario I'll add two more locks higher up on the door to make the side wall support even more rigid and strong.

_DSC0720.jpg 

Note: you don't have to agree with my statements about the spare wheel being unsafe and all that. This is my personal conclusion, based on extensive internet research into vehicle dynamics and reading off-road design guidelines.

Finally, I probably need to clarify that I'm setting up my UEV for what it was originally advertised as and sold to me by the original Conqueror management team: "a very capable and reliable off-road camper" so some of my modifications may seem 'extreme'. I do not believe that the product delivered by Conqueror is meeting those criteria, so I'll keep fixing and improving and I'll keep shedding weight until I have the reliable off-road camper that I want to have and thought I was buying. If I had wanted a comfortable and luxury caravan and didn't have the intention to ever leave the blacktop, I could have gotten a caravan for half the price.

Have fun!


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jamesgid

Junior Member
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Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #2 
Nice work. I am not a fan either of the door locks. We have committed to buying keyed alike padlocks for all openings in order to keep them closed and secured. But boy is it a pain unlocking every padlock when you set up camp. 

I like what you have done with removing the spare. I have the new version 440 which has the shower hanging off the inside of the rear door. So removing the rear door all together would not work for me. However, I have noticed the ball weight is quite heavy. How will you overcome an even heavier ball weight now that the tire and spare hub is not hanging off the back?

And I have to ask, with the new door latches, the blocks of aluminium. They are obviously there to bring the hook to the right height to match the lock. However, with a slight bend in the shaft of the loop, would it not reach the hook better and give you more pull in the right direction?
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filbee56

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Posts: 578
Reply with quote  #3 
Hello 4Fun and owners,
Nice work on the locks and so worth considering.  Especially for the 2 x rear bins and front boot doors on our UEV-490.
Whilst researching availability of locks in the ACT or Queanbeyan, I came across an Australian model of the same product, but at half the price of the Dunn & Watson locks.  Still manufacturered in Zinc coating; has the nylon threat for the adjustable tongue, and comes with a Stainless Steel spring-loaded lockable latch.  I've compared the pair, and looks to be a mirror copy of the Dunn & Watson (Swedish) latch.

Fail-safe locks:
Found these alternatives, which are half the price.
https://uesint.com/shop/ojop-over-centre-fastener-padlockable-703l/

Ojop Over-Centre Locking Device.jpg 

Ojop 703L Over-Centre locking device 1_jpg.png 

What do people think?

Cheers, Filbee56



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2013 LC200 TTD Sahara - Ex-Demo 10/2014 UEV-490 Evolution with the lot.
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4fun

Senior Member
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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #4 
Good find filbee56. Too late for me, but that's OK. I'm happy with my modification and have done every possible lock, including side bed. I'll post about that soon.
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4fun

Senior Member
Registered:
Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #5 
jamesgid, o wow. Never thought of bending the shaft of the loop. That would obviously work as well. Only downside I can think of is that - with my solution I can adjust the tension with half turns whereas with 'your' solution you can only make 360 degree turns of the loop. But that may work well enough.

If someone wants to experiment with that suggestion and give feedback on the site that would be great. The holes I have drilled should be compatible so I can always to that later. Mate, that suggestion alone has made it worth for me to do the whole writeup! Thank you.

Regarding the ball weight. Yes it's high already and I don't like it for one bit. Removing the spare wheel and everything increases the towball weight with 25Kg. I've been experimenting with various setups and depending on where I put the weight I can vary my towball weight between 90Kg and 140Kg. I'll make a longer posting on that when I am done experimenting.

Here's a few things I have done already:
  • the spare hub assembly will end up in the back behind a battery,
  • I've removed the ridiculous amateurish gas boxes and have the gas bottles on the little platforms with a simple gas bottle holder. Saved me a couple of Kg. It's not much but 10 x 2.5 Kg is becoming interesting.
  • I've actually removed a section of the big steel platform on which the gas bottles were standing.
I'm furthermore considering to:
  • put two water jerry cans at the back, down low where the stabilizer legs are,
  • I'll keep a close eye on what I'll be loading in the front boxes,
  • Towball weight difference between a full and empty front water tank on the 440 is 25Kg, so I may keep the front water tank empty unless I absolutely need it for long trips - and then I'll use it first (yes, I have separated the two tanks so I can choose from which tank I am using water).
Worst case scenario, I plan to replace the front bed panel with a more light weight panel with a caravan window in it, so that I can get some ventilation in the cabin.

Worst worst case scenario, I'll have to admit my defeat and put the wheel back. But I'm far from that point.
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Doc

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Posts: 251
Reply with quote  #6 
Well 4fun...I for one enjoy reading about your commitment.

It's occurred to me from time to time that, although not perfect in that the Conqueror (ours is a 490) inevitably needs modifying to suit ones particular needs, there's not a lot on the market that we could do it on. The fact that the basics are generally there means that making the changes we read about throughout the forum are relatively easy (with some thought and preparation behind you perhaps) - the bonus is we each end up with something that ticks all the boxes. Wouldn't be too many other off-road campers that could say the same thing I wouldn't have thought. The moment they start to use fibreglass sandwich panels and whatnot they lose all individualisation.
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4fun

Senior Member
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Posts: 150
Reply with quote  #7 
Doc, you're 100% correct. I'm perfectly comfortable to make these changes to my UEV and it still looks great (at least I think so). If I'd have an Ultimate (bwehhh) I wouldn't dare drilling a hole in that upside down boat :-)

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OneEye

Junior Member
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Posts: 26
Reply with quote  #8 
4fun, thanks for your very interesting blog. We can identify with what you have written. I wondered at the time of purchase why the dealer gave me padlocks with my new UEV 360. I thought he was being very generous; however, having lost a bottle of gin, items of clothing and various other essentials on the Savanna Highway and elsewhere after forgetting to padlock the doors, I can now see the reason. To remove the onerous bit of unlocking the padlocks, we now use small carabiners to secure the doors. P.S. I love my Defender!
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filbee56

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Reply with quote  #9 
Well, the new 703L latches arrived today from UES International (Fasteners) - 2 days delivery, beats Australia Post by a country mile.

First assessment - they are huge and considerably larger than the Conqueror fitted latches. Maybe I should have looked more closely at the dimensions that I posted up early in this topic.  
So I'm thinking that they will be okay for the rear storage doors, but could be an overkill for the front lockers.

I just noticed that 4Fun has these latches fitted to his front locker. Okay, could be convinced to fit them.

The size of these latches, when seen by the naked eye, prompted me to go back to the suppliers site, and it would appear that these are the only 'safety catch' over-centre latches that they stock. The remainder in their range vary in sizes (similar size to Conqueror), are lockable, but are not 'safety catch' latches.  

http://uesint.com/shop/category/fasteners/page/2/


Conclusion: If you are thinking of purchasing these locks, please know that they are a much bigger latch. They "mean business" as my neighbours said.

Cheers for now, Filbee56

  


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2013 LC200 TTD Sahara - Ex-Demo 10/2014 UEV-490 Evolution with the lot.
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Kev

Junior Member
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Posts: 15
Reply with quote  #10 
Hi

I have an issue with my UEV 345 door not closing nicely with the current handle, no matter what I try. So I've gone and bought some of these off E-bay and will be putting them on.
I'll post some pics once done, but thanks for posting this chaps, it definitely sounds like a good idea.
As 4fun said, I have no issues drilling holes in my trailer for mods and am quite happy that I can do this and make it mine rather than have some other brand that I wouldn't dare touch.

Cheers
Kevin
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