To access the remainder of this piece of premium content, you must be registered with Locksmith Ledger. Already have an account? Login
Register in seconds by connecting with your preferred Social Network.
Complete the registration form.
ESP is a well-known manufacturer of utility locks, specialty hardware and key blanks. A few years ago ESP was purchased by Hudson Lock Company. This purchase did not change the fundamental direction of ESP which continues to expand its product lines and key blank selections in support of the locksmith industry.
Jeff Conforti, national sales manager for ESP, has given Locksmith Ledger an opportunity to test a new line of ESP key machines (Photos 1, 2 and 3). These are very economical imported key machines. Words like economical and imported can sometimes be connected with poor quality and/or inaccurate key duplication. ESP allowed us an extended amount of time to put two of the machines through some tests to see how they would perform.
The first noticeable feature on this key machine is that the cutter blade is directly attached to the motor shaft (photo 4). No drive belt means one less part needing periodic adjusting or replacing plus no possible slippage between belt and pulley.
Vise jaws are the heart of any key machine. Top and bottom jaw parts on the ESP automatic fit snugly together forming a firm holding surface during key duplication. The two-way jaws can be revolved 180 degrees. One side of the jaw contains top and bottom ‘fingers’ to hold double-sided keys by their central grooves. Jaw fingers keep the key blank parallel while cutting the second side of a double-sided key.
Vise jaws in our test machine did not include a gauge for aligning tip stop keys. This was brought to the attention of ESP and it is our understanding that subsequent automatic duplicator models will have tip stop gauges on both the right and left sides of the jaws.
Flat sides on the second side of the jaw are designed to hold a variety of single-sided keys. Jaw dimensions are adequate for holding most large house keys or smaller mailbox or padlock keys without the need for secondary shims.
A unique cutter blade is included with the ESP machine. The cutter only has teeth on one side of the blade. The second side is completely smooth and flat which forms a surface for aligning keys for duplication. ESP will offer two additional optional cutter blades for this machine. You may want to choose either a hardened steel or carbide blade depending on the amount of keys being cut on a daily basis.
THE DUPLICATION PROCESS
Key machine must be turned off during the following steps.
The vise carriage is spring-loaded. Begin by tilting the vise jaw to an approximate 45-degree angle and then moving the carriage to the left side of the machine. Stops built into the machine will then hold the carriage on a 45-degree angle while the original key and new key blank are installed in the vise jaws. Move each key blank to the right until the key blank shoulders are closely aligned with the left side of the vise jaw. Loosely tighten the key blanks in place.
Move the carriage to the right and align the key blank shoulder against the smooth side of the cutter blade. Note: Carriage is spring loaded. Maintain holding pressure while moving vise carriage to prevent the vise jaw or key blank from striking against the cutter blade. Once the key blank is aligned with the smooth side of the cutter blade, loosen the owner’s key and move it against the side of the key guide (tracer). Tighten both keys firmly in preparation for duplication.
The automatic mechanism and the cutter blade are both designed to complete the key cutting procedure by using one ‘pass’ across the key blank. Repetitive key cutting trials with large keys such as Kwikset and smaller vehicle key blanks produced accurate, operational duplicates. If you are cutting keys with heavier stock, such as Weiser, it may be necessary to make an additional ‘pass’ across the key to assure complete removal of material on the new key. This additional step will only add a few seconds to the key cutting procedure.
Micro switches control the cutting cycle. A push button located on front of the machine is used to begin the cutting cycle and the micro switches then end the cycle when the key cutting pass is completed. As an added touch, a sign on the front of the machine helps attract business while also acting as a shield to help prevent wandering key shavings. A drawer located at the front of the machine does double duty as a holder for accessories and a catching area for key shavings.
Another unique feature is the hand crank located on the right side of the machine. The crankshaft can be set either at an inward or outward position. When moved to the outward position, the crankshaft is disconnected from the gear system and the machine operates as an automatic duplicator.
When the hand crank is moved inward, the crankshaft is directly connected to the motor shaft by a large gear. Slow turning of the crank handle revolves the cutter blade at a high RPM due to the gear ratio. The automatic feature if the machine is still operational. Keys can be quickly duplicated even when electricity is not available.
Pontiac advertising at one time coined the expression "wide track" to emphasize their stronger, smoother ride qualities. The same can be said for the new Bianchi 303 key cutting machine. It is...