Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Thoughts for Patty Swisher @pmswish

Today, Patty Swisher @pmswish posted a photo asking assistance John Danes @johndanes who forwarded to me and others. Since I get home later than you work, here are some thoughts.  

The photo is with this tweet:

I guess I can start with what I see.  It is an antique looking knobset and Patty wants to know the function of the plate below the handle. I also see many layers of paint and an oval in the same size as the centre of the plate to the lower right. Also the material under the plate does not seem to match the door colour. It may be a photograph issue, but the plate also seems to lack a screw to the left side.  I am assuming the opening edge of the door is just to our left.

What I can not see and have to work from assumption is also interesting.  Being old, it would be either a mortise block which is set into the door but they USUALLY have a keyway aligned below the knob or even older it can be a rim block which mount to the inside surface of the door.  They would more likely have a keyway off centre.

I found a sample of this kind of lock on this page by Sheila Zeller at
Part way down is a nice surface lock by Jack in the Box.  You can see its keyway if off to the side. Before standardization, the spacing was all over the place.

What would I like to know?  Which side is the door edge and is any brand given?  Is it a mortise block or surface block? What year was this building built -- or a best guess?  Does our little plate have two screws and if you take them off is that a small bit of metal to block an old keyway?  

I will guess my last question is the key.  These old locks allowed the key from either side and let the wind whistle through the hole plus allowed people to peek in.  Often, the plate would be taken off and a small cover slid or glued in to stop air and site. The keying was often warded and represents almost no security now so covering the hole is a good option in so many ways. 

Do you have more photos? 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fire Exit Cliche

Another deadbolt over an exit device on the back of a banquet room.   (Another pair along the same wall had two vertical rod devices LBR with no deadbolts. However, they did not latch!)

This is almost cliche it is so common. So I should point out something 'unique' here.  They did not seem to attend to finish. The brass plates are tarnished but the exit could  have been in brass and it would eventually look about the same. Well, the grey looks bad and cheap. However, it would be fire rated.  I did not open the doors to see if that opening is fire rated but I have to assume it is since I know they exit into a supply hall as they do not exit to outside and this room could seat over 100 for a meal.

I know some will see the naked LCN 4041 and gasp too. While ugly that is hardly a fire exit problem.  If you look on the left, you can see the alcove for the matching pair of this double egress set. 

And this is a detail of the door in the alcove.  It too has a deadbolt over the exit but that is out of frame on this shot. What you are seeing is a knob prep with the back of the exit device head visible. I am assuming the sex nuts are used to hold the device on this metal door. If I am right, this door was fire rated, leaving the hole is both ugly and a compliance issue.  I would welcome thought on whether a fire label would still be valid had the modification included a riveted plate to seal that hole.  Done in brass, it could 'hide' much better.

I have chosen to not comment on the security of this arrangement but that could be a whole different blog posting.

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Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

"WE are improving the skills YOU have"

I was at a trade show today and had the chance to meet and chat with a product rep. The details matter little except to say he coaches sports locally for a wide range of children and his thoughts basically agree with mine.  On the drive home, it reminded me of a few ideas.

I was once in sporting goods store putting in a master key system. I was working in an office while a supervisor was commenting on the performance of staff member to the manager.  The talk boiled down to this staff member needing more training.  (I do not listen in on the conversations of my clients but if they say I can work on the door and then talk such that I can not help but here, what am I to do??)  I had known this manager when he worked at another business and chose to comment on this.

Of all the store types out there, you should appreciate the staff member needs coaching and not training.  We know as teachers how student or anybody reacts to that dynamic.  "I am the teacher with my special knowledge and skills and I will give you them as is. Right now, you know none of this."  It is not usually true but it is all too easy to set up this as the attitude you project with training and it is easy for the recipient to hear it even if not said.  Teaching in not a bad word but it builds a wall.

Coaching is much better in emotional tone.  It starts by saying WE are improving the skills YOU have.

And you learn by just reframing the words you use at times. At that chat, the manager agreed it would be helpful. He never committed to doing just that but I hope he did. I started to speak of coaching when I had a client who could just not dial open a safe combination or some other task I knew.  I found the word has power but only as long as you approach the situation like a coach.

You acknowledge the other person has some knowledge and some skills.
Your are there to find ways for that person to improve.

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Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Retail Store Expansion and Restaurant Exit by Washrooms

I visited a veterinary pharmacy today which I have been to many times before.  It has recently expanded so changed some usage of the customer doors on the south wall.  A few secondary glass/aluminum doors have been blocked off and the main door is now a sliding pair.  However, this door had a rolling shutter installed outside.  It does not have an exit sign over it and rightly so.

As I stood at the till, I was thinking of the only other door I saw which was a signed exit.  There was a exit device installed EO near the SE corner of the building but I could not see it from where I stood.  I took a stoll and found signs pointing to an exit within receiving on the NE corner.  I could not see the inside of the door to evaluate its effectiveness.  However, this store is now huge and the only exits are crowded to one end. My gut reaction is that many areas of the shopping floor are well in excess of allowed travel to an exit and unless you walked to the horse supply area you can not see an EXIT sign from most of the store.

I guess the story here is that there is nothing to photograph.  I know that is poor for a blog but what can I do?

After work, I went for supper and did find something to photograph.  Ta da!
The signed fire exit from the hall by the washrooms to the office tower lobby.

And a detail of the locking hardware applied with thru-bolts over the push plate.

Here is a case where a plan to open a restaurant has run gotten ahead of itself. They built the restaurant area and lounge area on either side of a common hall with the washrooms.  However, a trip to the washrooms seems to have been a good time to skip on the bill and so it was locked up.  I can see the cash flow problem.  However, this is not acceptable in the least.

Do you have a solution for the owner which could make this door code compliant and eliminate or reduce deadbeat customers?  (I can not photo the whole place but a better job of planning the site would have solved this too but that option has passed.)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Master Keying System Set-up Checklist

Personally, I like how ideas for doing jobs better can sometimes hit you.  And how they sometimes inspire my writing for work or for this blog.  In this case, I was listening to a science podcast and it referenced a significant paper on surgery. The researchers had looked at the airline industry and found how common mistakes were avoided simply by having routine functions done with a checklist.  Critical yet routine items were not missed or put in the wrong order.  The thought was to test if similar checklists would help to prevent common surgical errors.  After drafting the checklists, they had a bit of a struggle to find surgeons who would test them.  However, they did find several cooperative surgeons and the checklists had dramatic effect to decrease complication. (1)

The common element is repetition. Errors leak in for a multitude of reasons because the work demands attention to detail but the details are highly patterned and yet not completely identical.

This had me thinking of drafting, designing and implementing master key systems.  It can go 'off the rails' simply by failing to ask one question or think to include one step.  I quickly tossed up a small poster for my shop to prompt me to think of all the issues.  Keep in mind this is a first draft. I will pencil in items the next few times I draw up systems and then amend the list.

With that, here is it.  By all means suggest a line or two to add.  Or suggest some in a different order.  Even now, I am thinking I need some points about the implementation phase where I cut all the keys, pin the cylinders and keep the records.

Master Keying System Set-up Checklist
Do you know the floor plan and room programming?

If extension of existing …
    Do you know the TMK and all issued changes?

If replacing a known MK …
    Do you know the old TMK? Fixed or constant parity?
    Can you select a new TMK to retire all old keys?
    Check all other items as if new system.

If new …
    What is the keyway?  Look up ITL# and MACS.
    How many MK levels are needed?
    Do I need a Control Key?  Auxiliary MK?
    How many changes are needed in each level?
    Are NMK doors known?  Are SKD doors known?

Select a TMK cut sequence.
    Does it have one high cut? One low cut?
    Does key repeat in registry?
    Select H/P and SOP to find available keys.
    Can each branch of system be used under 60%?
Are there enough blanks?  pins?  tags?
How many cylinders are there to change?
    KIL__  KIK__  DB__  Mort__  Rim__  Other___
Do cylinders have to be pulled and replaced in boxes?
Of course, this is MY checklist and needs to function for my work. If you do different jobs, then you checklist would be slightly different.

(1) This is research which dates back about 20 years now.  Strangely enough, it is not universally done in surgery even as effective as it proved to be.  I tried to track back the original paper but after getting flooded with hits, had to just move on.  If you know the authors, I would be happy to credit the work. Google Scholar shows the topic is still hotly researched.

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The contents of this post are released for non-profit or educational use in whole or in part provided this statement and the attribution below are kept attached. And remember, keep your follower on the plug.

Laux Myth ... Thoughts From a Locksmith
By MartinB, Found @