Servicing Profile Cylinders

The profile cylinder can be found on doors using specialty application aftermarket locks.


The profile cylinder has been making entries into the North American market through lock applications such as ready-made screen, atrium and storm doors that are using specialty application aftermarket locks. Unlike the standard mortise or key-in-lever cylinders, profile cylinders are larger and longer. The plug is normally positioned at the top of the profile cylinder, requiring the springs to push up on the pin tumblers in order to obstruct the shear line. When a properly bitted key is inserted into the plug, the pin tumblers are pushed down to align at the shearline.

Most of the profile cylinders are double-sided. This way, the lock can be operated from either side of the door, eliminating the need for additional components. The exterior of the double-sided profile cylinder is a key-operated lock mechanism. The interior can either be a key-operated lock mechanism or thumb turn. The cam, which operates the locking mechanism, is located between the exterior and the interior lock mechanisms.

Note: Most profile cylinders are interchangeable, having the same cam dimensions and retainer screw location. Profile cylinders are available in a variety of lengths, from approximately 1.20" to more than 3". Different size rosettes are available to compensate for door thickness.

To service the doubled-sided profile cylinders, a standard follower cannot be slid into the gap between the interconnected housings. For the sample profile cylinder, there is a gap of approximately 3/8" into which the cam is located. Since each plug is removed from its own end, specialized tools are required to keep the top pins and springs suspended within the housing when the plug is removed.

Several specialty tools are available for servicing profile cylinders, including specialized spring steel wires that clip onto the housing directly over the pin chambers to trap the top pins within the bible when the plug is removed. Another common tool is a multiple piece magnetic follower consisting of 10 round magnets each less than 3/8" thick, about the diameter of the plug. Being magnetic, each of the pieces attracts and can attach to each other, creating a near solid follower when placed one against another. Although non-magnetic or even wood dowel pieces could be used, the problem is ensuring they stay together to prevent a separation that could allow a top pin to slide between.

The plug diameter of a profile cylinder is approximately one-half inch, similar to most key-in-lever and mortise cylinders. Most profile cylinders use pin tumblers whose diameter is similar to the pin tumblers used in most conventional residential/commercial locks.

Profile cylinder plugs and thumb turns can be retained using C-clips or a screw that interconnects the cam to the ends of the plugs and/or thumb turn. There is normally minimal space between the housing and the cam. To service these profile cylinders equipped with C-clips, they must first be removed. Be careful, as some of these C-clips are made of malleable metal that will easily bend and become unusable. Others are made of spring steel. Some of the spring steel rings are made to break, requiring their replacement when the profile cylinder is serviced.

Profile cylinders are similar to other lock cylinders because they can have different keyways (some not common to the North American market). Depending upon the manufacturer, replacement key blanks may only be available from the lock manufacturer or a specialty key blank supplier.

Recombinating a profile cylinder may require special diameter pin tumblers. If conventional diameter pin tumblers are used, the manufacturer may incorporate varying length top pins. Some lock manufacturers use only one length of top pin for all of the pin tumbler lengths. Some profile cylinders are designed to use several lengths of top pins in order to balance the pin stacks. Because of profile cylinder design, we strongly recommend knowing the number of top pin lengths. If not, unload the top pins from the profile cylinder when recombinating. This way there will be no chance of overloading a pin chamber. If you unload the top pins, replace the springs as they receive additional wear because of their upside down operation.

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