Antony's Blog

Some helpful locksmith tips and information...

Re-Key Tip

rekey-seattle-locksmithOne of the most common jobs a professional locksmith does during his years in the field is re-keying lock cylinders which the purpose of it is to prevent from the old key to work with the lock. Usually these re-key jobs will come from landlord that will have a new tenant moving to a house or an apartment, a customer who lost his keys and want a re-key done for his peace of mind, or a business owner who just laid off an employee and want a re-key done just to be on the safe side.

locksmith-seattle-rekeyWhen I’m doing these re-key jobs (especially when there are multiple locks involved) I learned that it is very helpful to use a label sticker in many ways that will help get the job done much easier. In an event where I got a job to do a 10 re-keys for example, labeling each lock as I finished re-keying actually helps to keep track of the locks that I did and other locks that needs to be done. In smaller jobs such as in residential home or apartments, in addition to the reminder, using the label stickers also insure the customer the lock has been re-keyed. On the label, I would usually have company information as well in case the customer would need additional work in the future.

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DIY Safe

locksmith-reno-padlockI recently got a job from a locksmith company I am working with about a church in the area that were looking to put a locked box just outside the church, so some of the deacons will have an access to the church Master-Key. It seem like the person in charge for some reason didn’t want each one of them to have the Master-Key, but preferred they will have an access to it on site. Once I got to the site, they explained to me they thought about using a box similar to what a Realtor usually use to use, however, I strongly recommended against it as a box similar to that can be easily broken in to.

I did however, recommended them to use a small floor safe which would be slightly modified in order to withstand nature elements. They did not seem to like that idea so much thou since their budget was fairly low. At the same time, they liked the idea and asked me if I could think of a similar alternative that would be less expensive. After brainstorming a little, I came up with a neat idea that would be more like a do-it-yourself type of safe which will give them more security than a locked box and be less expensive than a safe.

master-lock-locksmith-renoThe only things I needed to construct my idea were a pipe, threaded cap, a flange, and a Master Pro Series Padlock. First we chose a spot to construct the improvised “safe”. Then, I created a hole in the ground to stick the metal pipe inside followed by sticking the flange with a large anchor bolts. Then cover 2/3 around the pipe with cement. The final step was threading the cap on top of the pipe which will be locked using the Padlock. The advantage of this improvised safe is that it seem like a some sort of a utility pipe which will deceive unwanted intruders to think there might be something valuable in there such as the key to the church.

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Slim Jim Tips

locksmith-spokane-doorDuring the years I moved away from unlocking vehicles and houses with a Slim Jim tool. However, I do have one in my service vehicle just in case. There were few cases in my locksmith career where I had to use a Slim Jim to open a house even thou I acquired different types of tools to work with. When I can’t pick a lock I usually find myself using a Slim Jim and I came up with a few tricks while doing so. I first go all around the house to see where would be the best possible way to get inside the house. I would usually look for outswing doors because these doors can usually be pushed in against the insulation seal in order to allow the deadlock on the latch to go into the strike. If that is the case, the door can usually be open with a screwdriver.

The next point of entry I usually would look for is at a sliding glass door that will usually be at the patio. Sometimes thou, a home owner will put a block of wood in order to have the door stuck from people trying to enter from outside. In this situation, this is when the Slim Jim usually comes into play. First, slightly part the doors with a wedge or a screw driver and the wood block can be moved out of the way. On an apartment door that will usually be an inswing door, I would usually use a flat screwdriver to separate the door stop from the frame in order to maneuver a Slim Jim through the crack. By pulling on the door, the weather strip will usually provide enough space allowing the deadlock to go inside the strike which will give the option to open the door using the Slim Jim

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Wafer Lock Tip

portland-locksmith-lockAs a professional locksmith technician it seem to me that any other skilled locksmith who is familiar with impressioning will have it easy when dealing with a wafer lock since these types of locks are the most easier ones to fit a first key to by doing impressioning. However, there are some types of wafer locks that will cause very much aggravation and doubt in ones impressioning skills. It is noticeable that these types of locks have deeper wafer in the last position than the usual. Because of that particular design, the deeper wafer seems to prevent the uncut blank key to fully inserted into the key-way and allowing the shoulder to rest on the shoulder stop in the lock. When that situation occurs, there will be good marks forming, but once the key will be made, it will not open the lock.

locksmith-portland-keyUsually, the problem comes from the fact these type of locks have a nose and dust cover that will not allow to see if the shoulder has bottomed out or not. The problem starts when it is not obvious that the blank is all the way in inside the key-way. The only way to tell if it’s inside or not is to try and feel the depths of the key. Meaning, if the key feels like it is moving the tip instead of against the shoulder. If such case leads to believe this is the reason that prevents proper impressioning for the key, there will be a mark noticeable halfway down the ramp.
The solution would be filing on that particular mark. However, it is important to file toward the bow of the key that is in-line with the bottom of the blade. As the filing in progress, you will notice the key will slide slowly into the cylinder while giving the right feel once the key will be all the way in. At this point, the impressioning process can begin until the cylinder will turn.

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Mondeo Lockout Tip

locksmith-boise-ford-lockoutDuring my years as a professional locksmith technician, I rarely ran into European model vehicles made by American automobile manufacturers such as GM and Ford. However, one particular model I recall working on was the Ford Mondeo. When this vehicle first came out in Europe, it was equipped with a locking system that would automatically lock all the locks in the vehicle. One issue I remember having trying to unlock this vehicle was that fact that the doors where shielded and instead of the usual rod mechanism, there were cables that seem to replace that mechanism. At that point it seemed to me that it was almost impossible to unlock it.

boise-locksmith-ford-mondeoAfter a quick check, I came to realize that the locks incorporated into this vehicle were made by Tibbe. Fortunately I had with me a Tibbe lock pick set that I was able to use in order to gain entry to the vehicle. In order to pick these types of locks, a tension would need to be achieved on the #4 disc. The way to reach it is by inserting the pick tool and using it in an up and down movement on the pack of tumblers while moving the other discs into position. After each time of doing this process, going back to try and move the #4 disc will be necessary in order to check if the barrel will going to turn. If there is seem to be more than one #4 each of them would need to be checked after each iteration. Usually, once the other discs will sit in their position, moving the #4 disc will most likely cause the barrel to turn which will eventually open the lock.

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95 Altima Lockout

altima-lockout-portland-locksmithI got a call recently from a locksmith company I've been working with to open a 1995 Nissan Altima. Before I left for the job,  sense I haven't opened that type of vehicle before, I tried reading up on some opening tips in my tool opening manual that I had laying around. However,, the manual only showed models up to 1994. I figured that the same procedure would probably be the same for 95 models as well. I used the recommended tool from the manual and tried to catch the bell crank below the lock which didn't go very well. Neither did a Slim Jim type tool that I've used when I tried pulling on the vertical rod.

I discovered that the linkages were protected when I looked  in the door with the inspection light I had on. At the same time I noticed that the bottom edge of the window was only about 2" below the weather strip, so I decided to try  using an under the window tool to open the vehicle. My under the window tool went right under the window (as it suppose to) and inside the car without any issue. I manipulated the lock button and and the door was opened immediately.

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Hyundai Key Make

ignition-reno-locksmithWhen I started my locksmith career I noticed that when fitting a first key for a late 80's Hyundai models, the ignition plug can be pulled out of the housing and the wafers read with little to no difficulty at all. Using the back side of a diamond pick to raise and hold the nylon key buzzer activator up, and a hook pick to release the plug retainer, the plug will pull out of the housing just enough.

Once it is out as far as it can get, begin raking the wafers and apply very little pulling pressure while pulling the plug in your direction. It should come out easily. Both the nylon buzzer activator and the plug retainer are in line with the "K" showing in the word "LOCK"  that is on the face of the cylinder. Once the plug will be out, make sure not to loose any of the wafers, place a blank key,  read the wafers and begin generating a functional key from the readings. This method will be a much faster way  than in a way of  pulling any of the other locks on the vehicle.

hyundai-locksmith-renoCheck out these links for more information and tips on ignition and other locksmith services in Reno, Nevada | Reno locksmith solutions.

Nissan Ignition Lock

During my many years in the locksmith business, I received many job calls to replace a C-16 series Datsun and Subaru ignition locks with the X-7 and X-6 key-ways. The locks seem to stop working when the shoulder stop wears away and the key bottoms out past the proper space alignment. One I'm in the process of replacing one of those ignition types, I modify the new cylinder to prevent the problem from happening again and at the same time give the customer the advantage of a conventional shoulder stop and a tip stop.

datson-boise-locksmithI put liquid steel or a similar product in the end of the new plug. I then insert in it just enough to make sure that the tip of the key bottoms out and forms the "<" shaped indentation that is required for the key to butt up against. Next, I will hold the liquid steel in place with my thumb while pressing the proper blank firmly against it until it will turn hard. Once the new tip stop has solidified, I remove the blank and then replace it again just to make sure that all the wafers come to the shearline.  In order to keep the key from catching with the liquid steel, I will spray a blank with WD-40. This quick and fast modification prevents the shoulder wear problem happening again later on and does not require much effort.

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Foreign Vehicles Ignition Tip

ignition-spokane-locksmithI that know that many experienced locksmith technicians before me have came up with different ways regarding a  removal of the break-a-way bolts on most foreign car ignitions. However, it seem to me I found a much quicker, simple and effective method to do the procedure  in a way that will allow to re-use the same bolts if required. What I did first was drilling a 532 hole in the center of the bolt, approximately 3/16" deep. Then I used a hammer to drive a T25 Torx bit from a magnetic screwdriver into the hole until it bottoms out. Then i used a 14" wrench, socket or an off set ratcheting wrench in order to remove the bolt in a quick and easy way. 

volvo-ignition-locksmith-spokaneOnce the ignition is ready to re- install, the same bolts could be used to fasten it to the column if a replacement bolts are not available to you. However, Although this method allow you to reuse the original bolts, I recommend using those only in case of emergency when you don't have any other option. If it would be determined to use the same bolts, it would be a good practice replacing them as soon as possible.  If or when the old bolts would be replaced with new ones, the Torx driver will strip out of the hole as it removes the old bolts. In this case, going to the next size driver and forcing it into the hole would be a good idea.

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Volvo Lock Clip Removal Tip

After many years of experience in the locksmith field I found an easy way for removing the door lock retaining lock clip on a 1985 Volvo, Series 200 without removing the door panel. I'm assuming it might work on other model Volvos as well. On the edge of the door, in line with the lock cylinder, there will be two screws to be found. These particular screws hold a box-type clip that keeps the lock cylinder in place. Usually, in order to remove the lock cylinder, the inner door panel would have to be removed and then remove the screws so the clip would be released, which would allow for the removal of the cylinder.  

portland-locksmith-volvoTo avoid going through all that hassle, I discovered that if you remove the the two screws and replace them with 4" long screws, the clip can be pushed off the cylinder. All that need to be done is to thread the screws in by a the longer using half a dozen or so turns, then using both thumbs on each screw, finally, the clip can be pushed off of the cylinder. The longer screws will hold the clip and keep it from falling into the door panel.

Since there are no connecting linkages attached to the cylinder, the cylinder will come out fairly easy for servicing. After servicing or generating a key, simply replace the cylinder grasp the two screws and pull the clip back in place. Now the longer screws would need to be removed and replaced with the originals. It seem much easier than removing the entire door panel. 

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