Hangar works #11 – Boot lock

The Morgan 3-Wheeler is a kind of vehicle that may not be designed for a daily use. Its cockpit is fully open, and the engine is totally accessible. So, it’s not the kind of car we’re used to. Not a cocoon which interior can’t be accessed when closed. We can agree on that, but a simple lock for the boot and the bonnet are something that would be highly appreciated, as most of us drivers keep expensive tools and other stuff under the bonnet or in the boot.

Both the bonnet and the boot lid of the Morgan 3-Wheeler are secured by Dzus fasteners. Once you learn how to use them, and how to push the bonnet sides to make them grab their steel pin, they are quite easy to use.

Dzus fastener

There is another option for the bonnet: the vintage bonnet catches. Apart the aesthetic difference, most of the owners who have them in their machines declare they are easier to use than the Dzus fasteners. There are some pros and cons about the vintage bonnet catches, but they are not the subject of this post.

Vintage bonnet catches

This post is focused on the boot. To secure the boot lid, you have two Dzus fasteners, one on each side of the body. Fast and easy. But there is no lock.

So, it is an undeniable fact that the boot can be freely open by anyone who knows how to. We can discuss about if a regular pedestrian sniffing around the striking 3-Wheeler would know how to. But the reality, and our concern, is that there is no lock, so no security against any opportunistic stealing baboon. If any specimen of this sub-human specie discovers how to open your boot, anything that is stored in there is at risk.

Then, AM and I have decided to install a lock, so we can stop on the road to have a coffee with peace of mind.

But, which kind of lock? And how? And where? The boot lid of the 3-Wheeler has this special shape, so you don’t have many choices. What we are looking for is a preventive lock, to protect against thefts by opportunists. So, there is no need to install a huge, armored lock. And the best option I came up with is a simple key lock, like the one used for mailboxes or cabinets.

A simple key lock, as the ones used for mailboxes or cabinets.

This kind of lock is very simple and easy to install. And you have plenty of choices with different qualities, colours, shapes, lengths, etc. But I’ll need to drill a hole in the boot lid and that is the scary part of the job!

The idea is to install it, so its lever gets under the body plate at the front of the boot, just behind the right-side safety roll hoop. We chose the right side as this one is clear. On the left side there is a vent tube from the fuel tank.

The following drawing shows how is the profile of this area, where the boot lid drops on the body plate behind the roll hoops.

The idea is to put the lock in the boot lid close enough so its rotating blade gets beneath the body plate, so you can’t lift the boot lid. A U-shaped aluminum profile will be fixed to the body plate to avoid the lock’s rotating blade to rotate directly over the rubber gasket, as the rubber-to-metal rubbing would disturb the usual closing and opening and will end up damaging the gasket.

With a clear idea of how it should be, and detailed measures taken, it’s time to start the job! It may look simple, but it’s important to take very precise measures before doing the job, or it can end up in a true carnage! The lock I bought is a 16 mm body-length, made out of chrome brass. Looking at the dimensional drawing below, its measures are: X = 25 mm; Y = 16 mm; B = 40 mm

The U-shaped aluminum profile I chose is anodized and has the following dimensions, in millimeters (mm).

First thing is to cut a 40 mm length piece out of the U-shaped aluminum profile. Note that with the installation done in our 3-Wheeler, the 20 mm face is cut to reduce its 20 mm to 15 mm for a proper lock rotation. Once cut, I used a file to smooth the edges.

Then I proceed to drill two holes on it, as I’ll fix it with a couple of rivets to the edge of the body plate. I drilled all through both faces of the profile and made the bottom holes larger so the rivet can be put without any interference. And I put some double-sided mounting tape too, as it will help me during the installation.

Then I removed the rubber seal to leave the body plate naked, and chose the best location, according to my own criteria (if you do it yourself, you may chose a different one), to fix the U-shaped profile piece. I chose it quite upwards, as close as possible to the top of the edge. And then I made the two drills for the rivets. I use 3,2 mm diameter rivets, as this piece won’t suffer any force. So good enough!

This is how it looks like when riveted.

And then with the rubber seal back in place, it’s almost invisible to the eye. The rubber gets back in place without any problem, and it hides the U-shaped profile pretty good.

Now it’s time to calculate the correct position of the lock. The technique I used is quite simple: with a chalk marker I stained the upper part of the rubber seal, all along the exact location where the U-shaped profile is.

With the zone marked, I closed the boot lid before the chalk liquid gets dry, and when I open again the boot lid, this one is perfectly marked, as you can see in this next picture.

With the blade of the lock, which is removable in this type of locks or it would not be possible to install them, I mark the exact spot where the center line of the lock should be, this is the spot marking the rotation center of the blade. You need to leave enough room, so the lock body doesn’t get too close to the rubber seal, but not too far so the blade doesn’t land properly on the U-shaped profile.

And now starts the scary part of all this job: drilling the boot lid! Oh my God I’m really afraid… If something goes wrong, I’ll have to deal with a hole in the boot lid! If you are thinking about copying this installation, I suggest you do as me: when you’re at this stage of the process, make sure, not twice but five times or more, that you’re marking the correct spot where you will place your drill bit!

Obviously, I’m drilling from the inside side of the boot lid. I do it the lowest RPM my drill allows, and with a very sharp high-quality bit. You can’t play with wrong speed and / or bit’s quality here, as the paint of the car is affected! The hole is done. There is no way back now!

Left: inside View. Right Outside View.

Now I use the lock body’s template to mark the exact area to be removed. The body of the lock is not totally round. It has two flat sides, so if you put it in a hole this same shape and size, the body will stay and not turn while tightening it with the counter locknut.

To do it, I use my brand new Dremel 3000 tool. What a fantastic machine! The head used is a very small cylindrical steel head, that showed to be the best choice.

With a lot of patience and making sure that the exact size and shape of the lock’s body is respected, I finished the drilling job. Always working from the inside side of the boot lid! Be careful not to do it the other way round, as if the drilling head “escapes” you would damage the visible outer paint! You can see a very small scratch in the inner side (left side of next picture); I wouldn’t forget myself if this happened on the outer side, on the visible paint! Always keep working from the inside!

Left: inside View. Right Outside View.

The result is really good. I’m proud I made it perfect and with patience, so the hole matches perfect to the lock’s body.

Now the moment of truth has come. I fix the lock body to the boot lid. Shown in the below picture you have:

  • 1 – The lock body.
  • 2 – The outer washer, that will protect against water ingression.
  • 3 – The first inner washer: the one shown in the picture is a large soft one of big diameter that I’ll use first to test if everything is OK, as it protects the paint from scratches of the wrench. The final one is also a white semi-soft one that will adapt to the inner surface, but with the correct diameter.
  • 4 – The clear washer that came with the lock, that is quite rigid and will be the one in contact with the locknut.
  • 5 – The locknut.

The lock is really discreet. And its size does not disturb the aesthetics of the back. Or at least not dramatically.

The following video shows how it works from the inside.

It trully works very nice! The boot lid can’t be lifted if the lock is on. Not a single milimeter! It’s a nice, clean and simple solution. Of course, not perfect, but a really nice one!

Now that I know it works, and really well, I might consider using a lock protector on the outside. There is a Harley Davidson one that attired my attention.

Maybe it’s a next improvement? I believe it will be better looking than just the lock, and it has the advantage of hiding it, and protects the lock from direct rain and dust.

Hope you liked the post!

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