AccuReader is a new design and refinement of the auto and motorcycle keyway reader, based on existing wafer reader tool concepts. The focus here will be on the recently developed line of AccuReader auto readers.
A number of competitors are on the market, including Kobra, Determinator, EZ Reader, and BT Reader. Competitors and AccuReader alike use the core concept of inserting a modified key blank into a lock cylinder to trap wafers, and then inserting a feeler gauge down a machined slot in the blank to find out which wafer is trapped and to determine the depth of cut at that wafer position. The new AccuReader design, however, simplifies the process, has a shorter learning curve, and requires less finesse, avoiding possible errors.
Keith and Brian Capehart are the owners of LOCKTECH, a locksmith business in Biloxi, Miss. They have trademarked the AccuReader name, and have a patent pending on the tool. The Capeharts have operated as locksmiths in Biloxi for 10 years.
Keith had a friend and customer who owned the local Suzuki motorcycle dealership and needed lock services. The Capeharts developed the AccuReader as a tool for their own use in originating keys for motorcycles. They had their first public exposure on a locksmith forum, which generated sales. Encouraged, and seeing the commercial potential of the product, they began developing a line of motorcycle readers.
Customers began asking for AccuReaders for cars. The Capeharts developed tools for the GM 10-cut, the Ford 8-cut, the GM-Z keyway, and the Chrysler 8-cut. With numerous requests for Nissan and Toyota, the next tools to be introduced will likely cover these makes.
Keith says the AccuReader is sufficiently distinguishable from the prior technology to get approval of the pending patent application. The “prior art” (in patent office lingo), generally uses a single wafer lifting tool, which slides down the slot machined in the side of the key blank. The same wafer lifting tool doubles as a wafer reader. Since the working end of the slider has a pointed wedge-shaped profile, there is a danger of misreading a wafer due to the slider lifting the wafer. In addition to requiring impressioning skill, these tools can be time-consuming to use. The AccuReader avoids these problems by using a series of notched, square-end feeler gauges, with a separate, single-purpose lifter. Because the feeler gauges are square where they contact the wafer, there is no danger of lifting the wafer, and a clear indication of the depth of the cut is read.
As development of the invention progressed, a small but important additional touch was added, index marks on the outside of the gauge labeled “Yes” and “No.” On the GM ten-cut, for example, the user is provided with two key blanks, one for wafer positions 1 to 5, and the other for positions 6 to 10. The notches on the two blanks are positioned differently in order to reach the appropriate wafer positions. In addition to the release slide, there are three depth slides. The first blank is inserted to trap the deepest wafer. The three depth slides, as necessary, are run into the wafer. If the deepest wafer is a #4, the #4 depth slide will read a “Yes” on the outside end of the blank, and the cut is recorded. If it reads a “No,” the #3 depth slide is inserted, and so on. After adding the Yes-No index feature, numbering of the index holes was introduced on those keyways which have enough consistency from model to model to make this work.
Because the Capeharts were tinkerers since childhood, the family had a hobby machine shop, including a bench mill and a 20” lathe. They made the prototypes on this equipment. But when it came time to begin manufacturing, it was necessary to buy a small CNC (computer controlled) mill to handle the volume. They are producing 50 to 75 tool sets a week.
The basic design rules for wafer tumbler locks have not changed for almost 100 years.
DETERMINATORS are available for most years and models of domestic vehicles.