Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Cylinder Picking Tip

In the locksmith business, you never get to old to learn more tricks. During my years in the field, I ran into many type of jobs that required picking locks. Sometimes, picking locks can be easy which means completing the job in several minutes. However. other times, I found myself struggling working on a cylinder lock with my pick tool set. Usually in these situation, there won't be many options but to scrap the cylinder, but on a job I did a while back, I discovered there may be a different way.

I got called for a job not too long ago where the customer was complaining he couldn't work the key anymore with the lock in the front door of his home. I decided to take the job and was headed to the customer's address. When I got there, I saw that the door was actually open and the customer told me that the problem is intermittent, but probably require attention sooner then later. I then grabbed my tools and started taking the lock apart from the door. The door had a Mortise lock and seem to me as the cylinder probably needed a replacement. Luckily, I did have few replacement cylinders laying in my van.

The best cylinder I could find in my van that had close fitment with the customer's lock was a Yale cylinder. However, as I was trying to pick it, I noticed I wasn't going anywhere using this method. I decided to call a fellow locksmith of mine for advice, and he told me I could use an uncut key blank and shim the cylinder to open it and so I did. I grabbed a Yale key blank and started playing with it in and out of the key-way while shimming it from the back and after about 20 seconds, the cylinder was open! Once I got that part done, it didn't take me a long time to get the Mortise lock back together and finish the job.

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Commercial Lockout Service in Portland

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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

GM Key Make Tip

After many years as a locksmith technician, you tend to pick up some tricks to get the job done in a fast and easy way. I got called recently to make a new door key for a Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am. During my years in the field I ran a lot with these types of GM vehicle models and new what I had to do in order to get the job done as quickly as possible. To my knowledge and experience, most GM vehicles has a separate key to unlock the door and trunk. These keys are normally a 6-cut type keys.

Approaching to a job like this there are few options, The first one is taking apart the lock from the door in order to get the 6-cut code. This can be a very time consuming since it will require taking the door panel and locking mechanism for that as well. The other option (and the one I usually take) is to take apart the glove box lock. Although the glove box lock only gives 4 of the 6 cuts code, I usually can progress the other 2 cuts without any issues. However, on some GM models, the difficulty in going that rout would be getting the plug out of the lock since it might be squeezed inside a plastic housing.

he way I normally deal with that type of situation is very simple. The first step to do is to grip the entire lock plastic case with a pair of pliers while the cylinder itself is facing up. It is important to be careful not to squeeze the cylinder too much otherwise it will get damaged. With a special ring pliers, I expand gently the plastic tabs of the lock case which lock the sides of the cylinder to the lock itself. For the final step, I use an auto center punch tool in order get the cylinder plug out of the lock case. All that is left now is to progress the other 2 cuts, make the key, and put everything back together.

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Double Cylinder Lock

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Lexus Lockout Tip

I got a job recently for a lockout on a 2003 Lexus ES300. The customer complained he accidentally locked his keys inside the trunk of the vehicle. Normally, this type of situation requires ordering new keys from the Lexus dealer to be able opening the trunk without having to damaging anything. The other option obviously would be causing damage by drilling the lock.

I did have an idea thou that required tampering with the alarm of the vehicle. This required using the under-the-window tool first in order to get into the car. Once I got inside the car, I had to remove the door panel in order to access the alarm electric wires. However, before attempting to "jump" the alarm system, I noticed there was small access trim panel which was removable. Once I removed it, I noticed there was a screw that when once removed, the door cylinder would be free to remove as well. Very identical to a VW door handle with an exception that only the cylinder by itself could be removed.

I was able to activate the security switch on the cylinder I pulled out using a standard Philips head screwdriver in which at that point disabled the alarm allowing me to use the trunk release lever which was otherwise disabled. I found myself very lucky being able to resolve the situation without having to drill the lock or what other locksmith companies would usually do which is recommend ordering a new key from the dealer.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Frozen Lock Fix

Here in Portland the winter does not get too much call, but sometimes during the hard winter months such as Dec, Jan, Feb I would get many calls from customers that will experience the locks on their vehicles being frozen. I notice for some reason it will happen mostly  on the door locks rather than the trunk locks. In order to resolve this recurring issue I came up with a neat way that will solve the issue within 30 seconds.

What I would usually do during those hard winter months is keep a small can of WD-40 (which any locksmith technician should have) in my service vehicle with an addition of an electric baby bottle warmer for the purpose of heating the WD-40 ca. Luckily, the type of bottle warmer I got plug right into the cigarette lighter plug, so when I'm on my way to the job that is when I'm gonna warm the can. That way, by the time I get to the job site, the WD-40 can will be nice and warm and ready to serve its purpose.

Once the warm WD-40 is being sprayed into the vehicle's door lock, it will de-freeze the internals of the locks instantly while releasing the sticky pins or wafers inside it. This portable baby bottle warmer can be found at the baby isle in almost every department store for the price of around $10. Usually, the WD-40 lubricant would be enough as is to free the frozen lock, but it may take some time for the lock internals to de-freeze. Using the warmer on the can will help it to be effective immediately.

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Exit Devices

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Broken Key Extraction

Broken key extraction can be a very stressful experience at times, especially on most foreign makes and models. The following method I am about to describe, I've learned from a fellow locksmith technician who had more experience with broken key extraction than I had. The first time I tried using this process was on a customer vehicle's door lock who just wanted the broken piece out so he can use his spare key to open the door. Ever since, I had only success using that same method in order to extract broken keys from foreign vehicles.

The only things a locksmith technician needs in order to execute this method is a power drill, spiral extractor, and steady hands. At a point where it is determined that the standard key extraction method will not work, use a 3/64 bit with the power drill and drill a small hole in the larger part of the broken key piece that is stuck inside the lock. Next, the spiral extractor will need to be used on the hole drilled. The extractor will be used the same way as you would usually use it with the exception of using of using pulling pressure instead of turning pressure in order to remove the broken key piece.
It could be a situation where the wafers or pins will prevent from removing the broken key piece out of the key-way. In such case, you could use a curved pick in order to lift each wafer or pin out of the way.

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