Sunday, November 27, 2011

Errors in ITL 9700A Flat Width Settings

I am gradually setting up a shop within my company to do locksmith work and most of that is master keying new construction projects.  I have a new ITL 9700A and ran a key to test calibration early on.  The specified cut depths on an SC4 came out fine both at the bow and the tip as measured by calibers.  I ran a depth key and put pins into an OEM plug and everything was flat and felt nice.  So it seemed the machine was good to go.

This last few weeks, I was tasked with setting master keys for two projects each of about 100 cylinders of mixed types:  mostly KIL but some rim and mortise too.  The first was on Yale GB and was going well until I did the block of mortise.  The cylinders were in two slightly different lots as a pair had one cam and one part number while about 8 others had a different cam and so a different part number.  These final 8 were all dragging as you turned the keys.  Some more and some less, but all dragging.  I took it the millings were holding up the key rather than letting the key rest on the bottom of the keyway at the shell.  I redid those few with bottom pins 0.005 inch lower and all was fine. This project was shipped.

I was then given the next project of about the same size based on Yale GC keying and started with the KIL cylinders and they started dragging at times for some samples of the MK or CK from the start. I then started looking deeper and found I could shift the key in the ITL vise and widen the cuts to stop this.  Also, when I pulled out the plug and looked at the pins at the shear line, the deep pins were rising while the 0 pins were not because they did not have a steep to hit.  I looked about and found the spacing numbers for the Yale G series and the ITL numbers matched.  It is a very tough item to measure on a key, but best I could the centres of the cuts did match the factory specification. 

I continued to pin but knew I had not found the problem much less the solution.  Some worked fine but some were dragging to turn.  This was heavy pressure drag and yet did not leave me impression marks even when I went to the sunshine. [My shop has poor light for this. We are working on it as it is killing me checking the third driver in on each end of a Yale plug.]  This was enough drag, some clients would think this is not even the right key.

I then realized I had a copy of the Yale spec which I had used my Professional Locksmith Association of Alberta (PLAA) presentation in October. A quick look at this says the flat should be 0.054 but the ITL setting used its flat #4 which is 0.048. A small amount but looking at the keys which I had cut which were at the MACS limit told me I could move up the flats and not risk anything.  I then went into the manual and defined a new flat width for #9 as 0.056 and recut keys.  After that, all worked fine.

I redid the flat width by setting up flat #9 and using a correction factor to get it to apply to my Yale keys.  Doing this means it disappears every time the machine is reset. I have to reprogrammed the Yale setting to make this permanent. I am thinking of moving back to 0.054 at that point.  Also is flat #4 of 0.048 used for other keys system?  I will have to check the factory specifications for Sargent and Corbin and Schlage.

This tells me that the first batch were not riding up on the milling at all.  A few pins were riding up since they were hitting the steeps closest to the shoulder.  I hope dropping the pins by 0.005 will not be a problem if somebody widens the flats to the factory numbers.  I doubt it but 0.006 was the error by ITL in the flat.

If you know of other problems in the ITL manual, let me know. I have worked one for years and found them usually robust but doubt this is the only problem.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pin Usage Frequency in LAB Smart Wedge LSW005

I have taken on the role of setting up a locksmithing operation within a larger company which does many other related building tasks.  As such, I am the local expert on the insides of the locks.  There are many within the hardware specification department who know about lock functions, fire rating and finishes. It is a once in a lifetime chance as I buy tools to do the tasks which are on the horizon without too many errors and sitting on unused stock and tools.

To that end, I have purchased a universal pin kit -- the LAB Smart Wedge LSW005. I like the size shape and stock of this kid and it has reasonably appropriate tables on the lid for most of my work.  However, when first purchased each cell contains 72 pins and I have started to run thin on some.  I was thinking of doing a pin order based on the locks I will most likely see and wondered what sizes will run dry first.  Being the geek  I am, I gave it to a spreadsheet and analysed for Yale GA, WR5, Sargent LA, and Schlage. (I will run into Corbin System 70 in time too but this gets me started and then you have to consider both plug sizes.)

So what sizes won?  Not so fast.
Not all the pins were even used by these four key systems. From 165 thou to 355 thou the 11 sizes were never used once.  Although in the real world, they will get used for other less common brands or to fit a badly cut key to only one lock.

One size was hit 3 times [drum roll] it was 240 thou [cymbal crash].  The following sizes are used by two of the above systems:  170, 180, 210, 220, 260, 270, 275, 295, 310, and 330 thou.

 For those as nerdy as I, here is the table.

And remember, keep your follower on the plug.

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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.

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

Sunday, November 13, 2011

My New Keychain

Having built a garage last year, I finally put up a method to show my collection of 'funky' keys gathered over the last decade or so. It is a length of small link chain held to the ceiling by a pair of shelf brackets. Each key is then hooked by an open paper clip.  This photo shows about half of the first of two planned key chains

I have copies of all the common high security keys used here in Western Canada as well as some rarely used key types too. Some came from a large institutional client cleaning out lost and found and I have no idea what the key does.  Some were retired from service for one reason or other. And at this point, I do not even know how some came into my hands.

From a quick glance, I see the cheapest of all suitcase keys and dimpled keys to a fire safe.  At the far end is an RSA key.  Guess it is retired now.  The batteries died long before RSA had its breach.

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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.

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

Monday, November 7, 2011

Unknown Assumptions Can Bite

We all make assumptions as we work and we assume those we work with are using the same one we have.  Face to face, you can verbally check on such things. However, when you have hardware to install, the only way I can know what assumptions the manufacturer is using, is if they are given with the directions. 

Allow me to go back a few years.  I was sent to a series of retail stored to add a simple block to modify the electric strike.  The strike allowed the latch to pass out the back so either door could close first.  The day started with 20 of these strange geometric aluminum blocks and a page of addresses.  Upon arrival at the first site, I found one dimension of the block was too big and it had to be cut and ground down.  I did it and thought this will take a while.  I did three that day all the same.  My times were getting better but not great. 

This is not the model under discussion, but it shows the open back of the electric strike.

The next morning, we made contact with the head office which had sent these out. They were concerned I had only done 3 on the first day.  However, I was sent to do more.  My second stop on the second day, I had a front door which was 2 1/4 inch (57 mm) built from the standard 1 3/4 inch (44mm) door with a plastic and aluminum liner of 1/2 inch (13 mm).  The part fit perfectly.  You put in two screws and done. 

It was then that I phoned the supplier.  Several things had gotten lost in the communication and to this day I know not where.  They had designed this for the thickened door and believe almost all of the sites had the same door. They also expected me to just report the actual door thickness if wrong so they could send out the different version of the blocks in the right quantity.  All fair enough but none of that got to me -- the only guy seeing the doors in my city.

Brings me back to a more recent install. I am going to be vague since this job is still ongoing.  Perhaps in a year or two I can say more.  I am a journeyman and yet was installing some door hardware I had not done before.  I read the directions and thought I had this under control.  Also, this is fire rated hardware so compliance depends on doing just that. When done, it did not work as required. I pulled it off and modified the instructions to get the function back.  The manufacturer had based the instructions on certain assumptions about the door construction which in hindsight are not required to be true even for fire doors. 

I have installed hardware of many type and usually such assumptions are clearly stated so that if some condition is not met, you change how you proceed.  For instance, if a hollow metal door needs a closer and you suddenly find it is the thinnest possible metal without any support behind, you can run sex nuts through the door.  However, all the big names in closers will state that they assume the door has support for the device.

I guess in summary, I just want people to be clear about the condition under which a piece of hardware can be used and can not. It saves the guy on the ground time.  And finally, if hardware is hard to install and there are choices in suppliers, easy of installation and repair is part of the decision making criteria. OK, so it is not the final say but I can live with that. 

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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.

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