200A and 202 reproduction
frames back
in stock.

adamltaylor
Folks,

My wife and I were given an old Coleman cooler by her parents.  My best guess is that it's a 5255B or 5255C, and was manufactured in 1979.  (See photos---please correct me if you think I'm wrong about this.)  It measures about 22.5 inches wide by 13.5 inches deep by 15.75 inches tall.

On one of our recent camping trips, some part of the latch mechanism fell off.  (In the photos, you can see the current state of the latch mechanism.)  There's clearly something wrong with it: If you try to latch the cooler by rotating the cam latch handle all the way clockwise, it grabs at the spring but then pulls off it with a twanging sound, and the cooler is not latched closed.  You can still kinda-sorta latch it closed if you're careful and only rotate the cam latch so the handle is at 6 o'clock, but it doesn't seem very secure at all.  (Normally the cam latch handle is at 9 o'clock when the latch is closed.)

But I'm having trouble figuring out exactly what part number I should be trying to find to fix it.  Based on the diagram at

https://www.oldcolemanparts.com/diagrams/5254B.jpg

it seems like there are three main parts to the latch mechanism: the cam latch (part number 5255-5301 or 5216-5301), the spring (part number 5255-191), and the latch cover (part number 5255-190 or 5214C135).  If I'm reading the parts list correctly, it seems to suggest that the 5255B does not have a spring as part of the latching mechanism?  So I guess that would suggest that I have the 5255C---there's definitely a part that looks like the spring (see below).

The part of the latch mechanism that fell off was attached to the lid of the cooler.  So that would seem to rule out it being part of the cam latch.  But I still have a part that looks like the spring, based on pictures like the one at

https://www.oldcolemanparts.com/product.php?productid=2197&cat=&page=5 .

And I still have what looks like the latch cover, based on the picture at

https://www.oldcolemanparts.com/product.php?productid=2038&cat=&page=1 .

So I guess I have two questions:

1) Do I have the 5255B or the 5255C ?  What's the difference?

2) What part am I missing?

Thank you in advance for any help you can lend,
Adam

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Gunhippie
Those latches are pretty finicky at best. I replaced one on an old cooler with an over-centering latch like this:



It holds the lid closed and tight.

If your cooler has the plastic hinges, OCP sells stainless ones that are drop-in replacements for the plastic ones.
It's priceless until someone puts a price on it.
Walk a mile in a man's shoes before you criticize him--then you're a mile away, and he has no shoes.
Texan's last words: "Y'all--hold my beer--I wanta' try sumptin'."
Timm--Middle of nowhere, near the end of the road, Oregon.
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Chucker
Like Timm says, a new and different one will work. Depends on how picky you are to keep it original. 
Chuck
"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, Sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." Proverbs 16:24
Eye-SEE-C-C Member #1333 -- MilSpecOps #003
"Michigan - from the Ojibwa word “meicigama,” meaning “great water.”
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StanDahl
You've got the 5255C, which began in 1975. The difference is in the latch, I think that's when they cheapened that part. I've got a 1979 low-boy 5254C, with the same crappy latch that sort of works, then fails in the same way. I got it recently, and it's practically like new. I hadn't realized that anything was missing from the upper latch mechanism, and it looks the same as yours. The spring you have on your cooler looks like the one in the OCP photo. 

Here's mine: 
20200731_184401 copy.jpg 
It seems to be the same as yours. I wonder if that spring could be lowered if it would work properly? Those rivets won't be easy to deal with though. 

The parts catalog diagrams I have (same as above) also look like the part that's on my cooler. I thought it didn't work properly because the lid won't close all the way, possibly because it's been in a shed in the desert for many years, but looking more closely there doesn't seem to be any obvious swelling of or below the plastic contact surfaces. 

I'm guessing that the reason the parts diagram looks the same for the B and C is that they stopped stocking the parts for the previous "B" latch and went with the new "C" latch for replacements. 

I don't know what to do with mine either, besides putting a piece of tape on the front of the cooler at the 6:00 position of the latch and write "stop here".

[edit: maybe another latch "spring" can be attached to the piece with the two holes under the spring that would extend down below the existing spring to engage the lower cam?] Calling @dbosch!
ICCC Petty Bureaucrat #CMLXII...
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dbosch
latch.jpg 

So every one of those coolers that I've touched has the same issue, when you fully latch the top, you can pop the lid free from the latch.  That is mostly likely due to the right angles of the two parts.  When the latch is pulled tight, the upper spring latch is deflecting and pops out because the right angles of the latch will cam out due to the deformation of the spring.  If both latches can be bent slightly so that they grab each other with opposing angles, they will tend to lock together.

A new latch could be formed and fastened to the two holes on the upper lid pretty easily, something stiffer than the existing spring latch but the length would need to be tuned so that it would tighten just before the latch cammed over.  The spring latch on the existing design gives compliance for the cam latch to work without tuning (mass assembly) but makes it fail to maintain a latch.  Both latches need to be bent for it to work.
Dan B.  ICCC #100
The Texas Dust Bowl

Faith is not about everything turning out okay; faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.
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StanDahl
Hey, the Bat Signal works!

That's a great idea Dan, I'll wait for Adam to try it, then report back before I ruin mine. 

I don't know much about metallurgy, but could the spring be heated, then straightened, and bent again at a lower point to add some length and reduce the tension on the cam, then reheated to restore the temper? There would be less mating surface area, but it could work, at least on paper. 
ICCC Petty Bureaucrat #CMLXII...
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dbosch
If you removed it from the cooler to do that you might have a chance at it but it would be easier to grind the holes to move it down during reassembly.  When I'm talking about bending the spring side, do it slowly and in small amounts.  You don't need a drastic bend, just a slight angle that will want to lock together.  Keep in mind this is a cooler, not a piece of rigging equipment.  The design is to keep the lid shut when the wind blows.  There's no gasket to compress in the design, so closing it tighter is not going to do anything.  The plastic to plastic interface is only going to be so efficient.
Dan B.  ICCC #100
The Texas Dust Bowl

Faith is not about everything turning out okay; faith is about being okay no matter how things turn out.
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adamltaylor
OK, so I think I must have been wrong about there being a part that fell off my cooler.  It stopped working like it used to, so I just assumed that something must have fallen off.  But it sounds like maybe the spring just got bent, and if I bend it back a bit (basically what dbosch is saying), maybe it will latch like it used to.  The metal of the spring seems like it could likely be bent a bit, but I'm not sure about the cam latch part---that metal is a lot thicker, and something about it makes me think it might be less prone to bending.  Guess I'll try it and see...  I ordered a replacement spring, so maybe that will give me a better idea of what the spring should look like.  And if I break the spring, I have a replacement.  But like StanDahl said, I'm a bit worried about dealing with those rivets if I need to replace the spring.  Well, I guess I'll cross that bridge when I come to it...  Thanks to everyone for sharing your knowledge and expertise!  I'll report back on the results of trying to bend the spring.

Adam
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Gasman64
[welcome], Adam, from Pennsylvania! That's a nice cooler they gave to you and your wife; most of them that vintage we see here are rather crusty and beat.
Steve
ICCC #1012
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