Friday, December 26, 2014

Mortise Pick Tip

As a locksmith technician. you tend to run into jobs sometimes that will give many aggravations. Most of the jobs I found to be difficult and time consuming are commercial type jobs. Recently i got called to an  office building downtown. The customer who called me had a private office in the building and he seem to misplace the keys to the office. Normally, most of the office doors I ran into during my years in the field all had a Mortise type lock. These locks are much more heavy duty than the traditional standard key-in-knob lock and sometimes can be a hassle to open them. The Mortise mechanism is fairly complex which makes it very difficult to pick.

Once I got to the job site, all my suspicions turned to be true. The office door did had a Mortise type lock on it. There are only two options usually when facing this type of lockout job. One is to try and pick the lock, the other is drill and replace the lock with a new one. Unfortunately, that day I did not have any Mortises with me in the service vehicle, and I was also under the impression the customer will not be so thrill to pay extra couple hundreds because he lost his keys.

I reached out to my picking tool set and started working on the lock. As I was working it, I had some trouble turning it as the cylinder required a lot of force to turn, and my skinny pick tool set just wasn't cutting it. I then remembered of an advice one of my fellow locksmith technicians gave me once about using a key blank as an extra force to get the cylinder to turn and at the same time prevent from the pins to fall and mess the cylinder. Luckily, I did have a blank for that type of Mortise cylinder with me, so I figured it was worth a try. What I had to do was pick the lock with my pick tool just enough to turn it a little and then use the blank to turn it all the way to retract the bolt, and it worked! The customer was very satisfied from the fact I could open the door without drilling the lock and even gave me a tip.

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Commercial Key-Less Entry Lock System

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Ford Ignition Tip

I found that the most common issue with older Ford models ignitions is that the ears on the exterior of the ignition tend to wear out or break most of the time which will allow the ignition to spin even if there is no key in it. For this type of issue there are few solutions. One of them that is the most common which many locksmith technicians use which is using a roll pin that will prevent the worn out ears from spinning the ignition. This will work on most Ford 10-cut ignition.

I did find another solution however using a lab pin. The way that it works, the ignition would need to be removed first from the steering column. Once the ignition cylinder is out, the key-way face plate will need to be aligned using a blank key. Then the final step would be to drill a hole large enough to fit the lab pin in it. When inserting the lab pin, it is recommended to use superglue or other similar product to prevent from it to move or fall out.

Using the roll pin method can be very secure for this type of fix, but for me it seem that using the lab pin will work just as good and takes much less time to work with. In addition, it can easily be found in every professional locksmith pinning kit. The last time I services this type of ignition was over a year ago and I never heard any complains from the customer or any other customer before hand in which I applied the same fix on the other Ford ignition jobs.

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Automotive Broken Key Extraction

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Spare Tire Key Tip

A trick that not many locksmith technicians in the field knows is that when there is a job to cut a Ford spare tire key and you notice that the key is too long to fit into the key cutting machine, a home made key can be made as an alternative which should work just as good as the original and the importantly, can be cut on the key machine.

In order to accomplish that, there will be a need to find a garden center in the area and find a round plastic rod that is usually used to steak tomatoes. Once you accomplish that and you have the rod in your possession,  six inches should be cut off from the rod in which a slot will be cut and made at the end side of it. The next step would be to get an X-7 key blank and file the sides off the head of the key. Then two holes would need to be drilled into the rod, and two holes drilled into the customized key blank as well.

Once the process is done, the customer key will be ready to be duplicated. However, before starting the duplication process, two small screws and two nuts will need to be used in order to stick the key along to the rod. When the key is done, in order for it to be more convenient to be used,  a ring can be added to the other end of the rod, so it will be easier to turn.

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Key-Less Entry Lock System

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Lock Fix

I had a customer recently who called to complain about her lock not opening while she is turning the key. Like any other locksmith in this case, I suspected it must be a broken tail piece, so I decided to take the job and head onto the customer's address. However, by the time I got to her home, it seem that she was already able to get inside her home from a different door. She attempted to remove the thumb-turn on the damaged lock and broke the bolt mechanism while trying to force the bolt back inside.  

Once I got to examine the lock, I came to find that the tailpiece and retainer were actually intact and in operating condition which led me to believe there may be a different issue with the lock. Further inspection of the lock showed that the the bolt was removed, but for some reason the door would still not open. It seem like the door was very tight to fit the door jamb, so I had to use a small pry-bar and spread the jambs as much as I could. When I did that, I noticed that the two screws that hold the latch-bolt to the door seem to be loose and was rubbing against the strike which in turn caused the door to be locked. To solve it, I pushed the screws back and was able to finally open the door. After filling the screw holes with small wooden plugs with some Locktite on them, I left them to dry several minuted and put a new bolt in. It seem that the lock worked just fine after that.

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

VATS Decoder Tip

Like any other experience locksmith technician in the industry, I too got a call occasionally to originate a key for GM vehicles that are equipped with the infamous VATS system. However, what do you do when you don't have a VATS system decoder on you or just don't want to spend the money to get one? I came across a good way that can save money for the average locksmith technician for decoding the VATS chip on GM models equipped with the system. The good news is that this improvised decoder will decode regular VATS keys as well as the double sided ones.

What needs to be done is purchasing an OHM meter at any hardware store or Radio Shack. Once you got it, remove the clear plastic face cover that protects the gauge. Move the needle to the "0" position with the adjustment screw. Put the VATS key in between the probes and mark a line where the needle stops. At the top of that line, you should mark the numerical value which should be anywhere between 1 and 15 for that key blank. You should do this process with all 15 keys and you now have a VATS decoder. You can now replace the cover back on the meter and you can start decoding VATS keys. I came across this trick way back in the late 80', early 90's when the VATS system equipped models were fairly on the Corvettes and Camaros. Since then, I've used it many times and never had any issues.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

1941 Ford Lock Re-Key

I had a customer recently that brought me a pair of new door locks for a 1941 Ford which he is currently working on a restoration for. The locks had the original Briggs & Stratton keys and looked similar to the older AMC door locks, beside the fact that they did not have the exposed plug release.

When I tried contacting the company where the customer got his locks from , I found out that these locks were manufactured as a limited production  and were not listed in any of the company's catalogs. In order to remove the plug of these locks for re-keying, I used the key to turn the plug left all the way to the stop position. Then, I inserted a curved shim between the plug and the cylinder at a point marked by a sticking surface point on the edge of the plug. At that point, I could feel the spring-loaded retaining pin. I then pushed in on this pin which in return allowed the plug to rotate past the stop, getting to a removal position. Finally, I was able to just pulled the plug out of the cylinder and re-key it just as I would do to any other wafer lock.

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Commercial Property Exit Devices

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Master-Key Planning

If you are about to do a job involving the implementation of a master-key system, there are a few simple rules that would be recommended to be followed. Following these rules will eliminate operating keys acting as unexpected Masters or Control Keys. Make certain that the Control Key bitting is opposite to the even/odd combination in the master and change keys. This should be done for each bitting position.

Another good practice when planning a master-key system is to have at least one cut on a master key that is higher than any on the Operating Key in that same position. This will eliminate the possibility of anyone "cutting down" an Operating Key and turning it into a Master Key. It is also recommended to use even numbers next to odd numbers in master keying in order to rule out the possibility of having keys that have similar depth. Same depth keys would need to be disqualified from the system and decreasing the number of combinations that are usable.

In addition, do not use a bitting in a Master Key that will be used in an Operating Key for any chamber. For example, if a 6 cut is used on Chamber #5 for the Master Key, then the Change Key will not have that specific cut in that same 5th position. Finally, it is recommended to use only one Master Pin per chamber. Each additional master pin will decrease the security by creating incidental Masters which may catch in a large system, even though they are detectable.It wouldn't be an ideal situation if the mail room attendant will discover he had a key to the rooms in the executive suite in which then the owner would be fairly upset about the locksmith technician who designed the system.

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Friday, October 3, 2014

Schlage Everest Lock System

Even though Schlage is a recent addition into the SFIC arena, the creation of the patented Everest (used by many locksmith companies in the country) Series of 1-cores is a nice addition to the restricted genre of Icores. The Everest line, first produced in October of 1998. Even though its different, it can still retrofit to any existing SFIC hardware. As a side note, it was Schlage that actually coined the term "Small Format Interchangeable Core", SFIC, as a worldwide concept for an interchangeable core that is different than the larger, "full size" interchangeable cores.

The term has now become an accepted part of the industry. Everest™ is a wide range line of patented key cylinders produced by Schlage. They include the large and small format (LFIC) interchangeable cores, and the  large format standard cylinders. Everest' keys style are similar to those of the popular and recognizable Schlage key, but with minor differences. A patented undercut groove on the right side of the key section, requiring a secondary milling operation in the key blank production which exist in the system.

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Broken Key Extraction

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Advertising Your Locksmith Business

The simplest way to get your new locksmith business going is business cards. The
card should point on the main services that you offer and have a clear presentation of your and company name, phone number, and website they can visit (if you have one), so they can get some more info about services you offer. You should also keep it simple and easy to read.

Business cards can be used in many ways to be effective. Always keep the cards handy, so you can give them to your customers in case they would need your services in the future especially commercial property customers as those can be a long term business relationship. It is also a good practice to make arrangement with business stores in the area such as hardware stores, service stations, auto parts store, and more, where they can put your business cards by their cash registers, so they will be visible for the customers who come to the store. A good practice will also be arranging door-to-door distribution of your business card around the closest neighborhoods around you.

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Thursday, September 11, 2014

Gas Cap Key Trick

This is a trick I learned from a fellow locksmith technician I was working with before. The trick is about using the keys from those universal gas caps you can pretty much find in any auto parts store. They usually cost only few dollars and well worth the investment. I use those keys to unlocking security bars, desk locks, and file cabinets all that have wafer type locks.

I have made a spin-off version of that key that I use to pick pin tumbler locks. Using my version of the key, keeps me from using a turning tool more often. I had a lot of success with the key that now when I need to pick a pin tumbler type of lock, I try to work with that key first. Follow the link for more interesting locksmith tips.

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Monday, September 8, 2014

Key Blank Trick

This is something I learned from a fellow locksmith technician who educated me on most of the tricks and techniques in the job I know today. During one of my lessons on re-pinning and re-keying pin tumbler locks, I came across a quick and accurate way to mark a key blank for filing.

I use a fine line Sanford Sharpie permanent marking pen to mark the key blank for filing. I have found that the Sharpie affords the locksmith a perfect dead-center mark on virtually any key blank. The barrel on the fine line pen is just the right circumference and length to fit into the pin holes of the lock's cylinder without marring or scratching it, and the permanent ink does not smudge or rub off.

In addition, the tip of the fine line pen is small enough to make legible mark on pins, so now you can number each pin as they are removed from the cylinder. I have found this method to be fool proof and have used it on all of the re-pinning jobs that I got. I encourage any locksmith technician to try it, it will save a lot of time.

Residential Locksmith Service in Reno

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Working Under a Dashboard with Bi-Focal Glasses Tip

A problem that I'm sure many locksmith technicians had came across before, was looking up when are under an automobile dashboard while wearing  bi-focal glasses. Although during the years I ran into many different solutions, the following is the one I found most effective.

To be honest, wearing the bi-focals glasses upside down is not very effective and wearing them on the end of your nose is not very comfortable. Also, for those locksmith technicians who are getting old (like me), crawling underneath is not really an option, and even if they could looking up far enough to see what they need to see would be very difficult.

My solution was to have the lens duplicated on the top with the same or just a shade weaker, prescriptions lens cut. I can now see through the center of the lens, or if it needs to be magnified by the bi-focal, I can look through either the top or the bottom of my glasses. Check out this link for an honest and reliable locksmith company

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ford 10-Cut Ignition Tip

Like most locksmith technicians, using a roll pins to prevent the ears from spinning on a ford 10 cut ignition is a nice way to repair the problem. However, I have found that a .350 lab pan also works well. Simply align the keyway face plate (use a blank key) and drill the proper sized hole. Put in a dab of superglue or Loctite then the lab pin and the job is finished.

although the role pin is very secure, I have found that the lab pin works just as well and only takes about 10 minutes to do the entire job. Fast, simple and easy. And best of all, we all have pinning kits on the truck, so there’s little hunting for the right part to do the job

Locksmith Services in Reno, NV (775) 276-5673

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Monday, July 21, 2014

NorthWest Locksmith Reno - Automotive Services

Did you ever had a problem where you lost your car keys at the most unsuitable moment? Ever needed to re-key the locks in your home due to security reasons? Those unfortunate incidents can happen to anyone, anytime, and any place. NorthWest Locksmith Reno can help with any of those situations and more. We are respectable locksmith company that serve the greater Reno area and it's surroundings including Carson City!

NorthWest Locksmith Reno are the pioneers when it comes to automotive locksmith services. One of the most popular automotive locksmith services we can do is a car lockout. Who has not locked their keys inside the car at one time or another? When it does happen, the only professional that can help in that situation is a locksmith. North West Locksmith Reno's technicians are the best in the field and guarantee to provide service on most make and models without damage to the locks, or the car leaving you 100% satisfied.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NorthWest Locksmith Reno - Residential Services

When it comes to residential locksmith services, North West Locksmith Reno can do it all. If you need to re-key your home locks, the technicians have all the right equipment to do jobs, whether it's a low security lock, or high security one that contain 5 pins, their professional technicians will be able to get the job done in no time.

We know how frustrating it is when you locked out of your home, or even worse, someone broke into your home and destroyed the locks in the process. Our professional technicians are fully equipped with the latest technology tools so they can handle any residential locking situation you may have. They can provide a lockout service without damaging the door or lock, and they can re-key or change the locks in no time!

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Monday, June 30, 2014

About NorthWest Locksmith Reno

NorthWest Locksmith Reno is a mobile locksmith services company that provide many locksmith services around the greater Reno metro area. Some of the locksmith services we offer are residential, commercial, and automotive. All of our technicians are licensed, bonded, and insured so you know you are in good hand.

Some of the services we offer are:

  • Car/House lockouts
  • Lock re-key
  • Ignition repair/replace
  • Master-key
  • Locks install
  • Safes
  • High security systems
  • Key extraction
  • and much more!!!
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