When we bought our 2017 Aspire, electric latches for the cargo bay doors were not an available option (Note: In 2019 that option became available for the Aspire, I would strongly advise ordering it). Electric cargo latches have always been a standard item for the Anthem and Cornerstone.
It didn’t take long for locking/unlocking the 12 bay doors with a key to become annoyingly tedious so I started on a project to electrify them. Turns out the door structure and latches on the 2017 Aspire were the same as the Anthem/Cornerstone so the prospect looked hopeful.
I started out by contacting TriMark who I knew made the latch handles (the part you touch when you open the door). I assumed they also made the latch itself and the other parts – that was a bad assumption. While the latches themselves are indeed made by TriMark, everything else is a custom design manufactured by MORryde. It took me a while to get to that conclusion and find the right people to talk to and then figure out all the parts needed, but I finally got there and as of the summer of 2018 the project is finished. It looks and operates exactly like a factory installation, maybe even better, and the convenience is awesome! However, it was a tough slog that took lots of man hours and a good deal of figuring out as I went along. It’s not for everybody, but if you feel up to the challenge hopefully this post will speed up the process for you. My total cost for parts was about $380 and another $8 for tools I didn’t already have.
First step is to gather all the parts, but before you do that read the Project Planning Notes below to make sure you really want to tackle this project. After that study my photo/video album which details most of the steps involved in the project and provides even more insight. It starts with showing the Aspire latches, then there are a bunch of photos of the latches from a 2017 Anthem which I used for reference. Next it covers enlarging the cutouts in the Aspire doors, installing the new actuators and fishing wire thru the doors. Note: when viewing the individual photos be sure to turn on the Info pane which in most cases contains a detailed written explanation to go along with the photo/video.
Project Planning Notes:
- The cargo door latches, the part you touch when you open the cargo doors, are made by TriMark.
- BUT the latch mechanicals, bracket behind the latch, etc. are made by MorRyde.
- The stock non-electric Aspire latch has a bracket without an actuator, the bracket with the actuator is much larger. You will need to cut the opening on the inside skin of the door to fit the larger style bracket with the actuator motor attached.
- The inside door skin is thin aluminum. I made a template and did the cuts with a router which gave me nice clean, neat and consistent cuts. Can’t imagine many other ways to do it neatly, if you come up with something easier let me know. Once the template is set up it goes pretty fast, maybe 5 minutes per door to set up and about 20 seconds to make the cut.
- Note that the opening on the passenger side will be enlarged toward the bottom of the door, the opening on the driver side will be enlarged toward the top of the door, so keep that in mind when fabricating your template (and before you cut anything).
- After you enlarge the opening you will need to gouge out all the excess foam on all ten doors. This is messy and the biggest PITA part of the project.
- To properly attach the larger plastic covers on the back of the larger latch opening, you will need to add some aluminum angle behind the inside skin and between the foam to to have something substantial to put the screws into.
- MorRyde will sell you all the parts you need for the latch; the new larger bracket, the actuator motor, the little squiggly linkage piece you need to attach the actuator to the existing latch mechanism and the larger plastic covers to go over the back of the latch. See Note 1 below in the parts list.
- The actuators are very similar to the inexpensive ones you can buy on Amazon, BUT the tip where the linkage connects is different and may not work properly with the MORryde bracket and linkage.
- You will need four relays to add to the TriMark controller outputs. One lock/unlock relay pair for the passenger side and another for the driver side. I used the TriMark relays listed in the Parts List, see Note 4.
- The actuators work by reversing the voltage to switch from lock to unlock. The voltage needs to be a brief pulse (that’s controlled by the Tri-Mark controller) and spikes some serious current which is why you need the relays. Each relay can handle 5 door actuators, so for the 10 doors you need 2 relays for lock and 2 more for unlock.
- You will need to tap into 2 outputs on an un-pinned connector block on the TriMark controller (under the removable cover on the passenger side dash) and run two wires from it to the power compartment forward of the left front wheel. This is where I suggest installing the relays.
- You will also need new keyfobs from TriMark that have the 4 buttons (lock & unlock for the entry door and lock and unlock for the cargo doors).
- There is a slight change to the TriMark controller dip-switch settings, Dip Switch #1 must be changed to ON (down). See photo album.
- You will need a bunch of wire that will pass the lock/unlock voltage from the relays down each side of the coach to each door. I only did the 10 center doors on my 44B. I did not electrify the door in front of the left front tire or the door for the Spartan service center. That is also how Entegra does it on the Anthem/Cornerstone, at least the 2017 model I studied before I began the project.
- You will need to get a wire on or thru each door from a few inches in on the hinge side, across the door to the actuator motor. I pondered that one for a long time. Originally I was going to run the wires on the inside door skin with some black split loom, but decided I wasn’t going to like the look of that. I finally figured out that contrary to what I originally thought, these doors have no frame – it is just an inner and outer skin filed with foam. When fishing wires you only need to avoid the aluminum blocks supporting the latching mechanism. Fishing the wires thru the core of the door actually turned out to be straightforward and surprisingly easy. First a 3/8″ hole was drilled in the latch side edge of the door skin (at a height that would clear the latch mechanism), then a 3/8″ x 4 foot long wire fishing bit ($8 at Harbor Freight ) was used to drill thru the foam. The hole at the hinge side of the door was drilled and then the wire was pushed thru using a fiberglass wire fishing kit. Even if the two holes didn’t line up exactly it was fairly simple to hook the wire from the hinge side hole and pull it thru.
|Actuator Bracket Rotary Latch
|Large Black Plastic Cover
|Power Lock Rod – 1/8″
|SPDT E-Access Relay
|Entry/Cargo Key Fob
|Socket Pins for 18-22 AWG
|Insulation Displacement Taps
|14 AWG stranded wire color 1
|14 AWG stranded wire color 2
|Fuse Block – min two 20A
|1/4″ (3/8″ OD) Black split loom
|3/8″ Black Cable Clamps
|Grommet with 3/8″ I.D.
|3/8″ Black Plastic Trim Cap
|1.5″ x 1/8″ Aluminum Angle
* pricing circa summer 2017
Note 1: Initially I just ordered the brackets thinking I could get the actuators elsewhere. Well surprise, surprise, they came with the actuator motors attached for the $5.99 price listed! So I never needed to order the actuators from MORryde – not sure if that was an accident on their part or not. As mentioned elsewhere the aftermarket actuators, while similar, may have an elongated tip and may not fit properly.
Note 2: Larger cover for the larger hole created for the bracket with actuator. Strongly suggest you have these covers on hand before you do any cutting to aid with sizing the opening properly.
Note 3: This is the little squiggly linkage piece that goes from the end of the actuator to the latch assembly. A bit pricey but a critical part of the assembly.
Note 4: Strongly suggest using relays with an internal or external back EMF suppression diode (aka snubber). This absorbs the spike generated when the relay de-energizes that can feed back and damage the controller. Note that the TriMark relays did come with an external diode pre-wired to the socket, so that is telling. It is unclear if the cheaper options found on Amazon and elsewhere are available with the diode pre-installed. If you can’t find relays with the diode and want to save some money you can always add your own diode.
Note 5: The new four button keyfobs will need to be trained to work with your existing controller. The instructions for that can be found here.
Note 6: Part listed is what I used but now is obsolete. Superceded by VAL-U-LOK SKT PHBZ SN 22-18AWG. These are the pins that fit the connector (C4 pins 10 & 11) on the TriMark controller where you need to tap into the 2 outputs that control the lock/unlock relays. On my coach there were no pins or wires on these previously unused connections. Buy extra pins in case you mess up soldering or crimping. If you don’t want to mess with the pins and trying to crimp them it’s possible TriMark will sell you a fully pinned and wired connector that you would then need to splice into the factory harness.
Note 7: I liked the way these taps exit at 90 degrees to the trunk wire, but was at first dubious of their reliability. Those fears have proven to be unfounded and in the year plus of operation have had zero issues.
Note 8: Cost reflects marine grade AWG wire (tinned), suggest a stranded copper automotive grade wire minimum. Do not use CCA (copper clad aluminum) for this application. Do not use less than 14 gauge, a larger size like 12 gauge is fine but may be overkill.
Note 9: You must have a fuse for each lock/unlock relay pair, it protects the wire and will all but eliminate the possibility of a fire. The block I used is 6 position even though this project just needs two positions. I liked the form factor and thought it might come in handy for any future additions that require a fuse. Feel free to use whatever you like here as long as it can handle at least two 20 Amp fuses. Also, note that versions of the automotive relays are available with a fuse built in so that may be an option as well.
Note 10: Miscellaneous supplies. I used split loom on ALL the wiring, it looks professional and protects it from damage. Only about 20 cable clamps are needed for the wire clamping around the door hinges but you will use several more for the trunk and other wiring. I linked to the grommet kit shown because it was cheaper and potentially useful for other projects. The black plugs fit the 3/8″ hole drilled in the edge of the door to fish the wiring and match so well they are all but invisible.
Note 11: The aluminum angle is cut into short pieces and used to provide a solid screw backing for the new location of the cover screws. Otherwise, the only thing to hold the cover screw thread is the thin aluminum skin which I think would strip out very easily. I just wedged these between the foam and the skin in the approximate corner locations.
The wiring was also a labor intensive endeavor. I’ll break it down into four parts. The Door Wiring, the Trunk Wiring, the Controller Wiring and the Relay Assembly.
Door Wiring – this is primarily fishing the wires thru the door and was discussed previously. Leave enough wire slack for a “loop” near the hinge and to comfortably reach the trunk wires where it is tapped in with insulation displacement connectors. The exposed parts were covered with split loom and pushed an inch or so into the door skin grommet. Cable clamps were used on the door and on the coach frame to create a stable “hinge loop”.
Trunk Wiring – basically I ran a pair of wires from the power compartment (forward of the left front wheel) down the drivers side of the coach and another pair down the passenger side. I pulled all four wires from the power compartment thru the frame rail and into the first bay on the drivers side. From there one pair continued down the drivers side and the other pair crossed over to the passenger side. I ran the wires along the top outside edge of the cargo bay. Note that you only have to run the wires as far as the hinge side (forward side) of the aft-most bay door. All this wiring was covered in split loom.
Controller Wiring – this is two wires run from the TriMark area (under passenger side dash cover) to the power compartment. The tricky part here is connecting to the TriMark itself because there are no pins or wires in the factory cable harness for connector C4 pins 10 & 11 (see diagram below). That means you must obtain pins that fit the connector (see parts list), crimp or solder them to a wire and insert them into the connector. Not as bad as it sounds once you have the connectors. Order several extra pins, I crimped them with a cheap tool and it took two or three tries to determine the right settings and procedure. While you are handling the controller, set dip switch #1 to ON – this sets the unit up for “Cargo Mode”.
Relay Harness – this is what ties it all together. Using the diagram above build a relay assembly something like shown in the photo right. The diagram shows two relays, one Lock, the other Unlock, but each relay can only handle five actuators so we need to double up. Simply parallel a second Lock relay and a second Unlock relay. All the connections will be the same except on one relay Terminal 30 will connect to the passenger side wiring and the other Terminal 30 will connect to the driver side wiring. The +12 volt power needs to go thru your fuse block then to the 87 and 85 terminals on all the relays. The 87A terminal goes to ground on all the relays. The only other connections are the two wires from the controller, pin 10 of the controller connects to Terminal 86 on both Lock relays and pin 11 from the controller connects to Terminal 86 on both Unlock relays. It can be confusing getting this right so take your time sorting it out. Once all the connections are made you can tuck the harness into the free space in the wiring compartment as shown below.
[Try to draw up a diagram that shows all the connections and update this section]
Here’s the complete Tri_mark manual for reference: