The small-format interchangeable core (IC) is regarded as the “universal” lock mechanism throughout the commercial door hardware industry. Servicing interchangeable cores require specialized tools to ensure smoother operating locks and keys, than conventional lock cylinders. The core...
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Loading (block) tools hold the cores in place as the pins are loaded into the pin chambers. It is important to always load one pin chamber, test the operation with the operating key, top master key and the control key. If the three keys operate the core, then load the next pin chamber. This way, if one pin chamber does not operate, you do not have to completely unload the core in order to fix the problem.
Coding an interchangeable core requires knowing the top level master key, the operating key and the control key depths of cut. From the three keys, the bottom pin, master pin, build-up pin and the top pin lengths are determined.
Determining Pin Lengths
There are three ways to determine the pin lengths, using the lengths of the pins or the pin numbers. For example, the A2 system has a total stack height of 23 or .397”.
Here are the formulas necessary in order to determine each pin stack:
Control Key Depth of Cut + 10 - Plug Total = Build-Up Pin
Plug Total = Length of the Bottom Pin + the Master Pin (if applicable)
Plug Total + Build-Up Pin subtracted from 23 = Top Pin
Plug Total + Build-Up Pin + Top Pin =23
FYI: The Best A2, A3 and A4 Systems each have a specific value for their pin stacks. The A2 System has a pin stack value of 23. The A3 System has a pin stack value of 16. The A4 System has a pin stack value of 14.
The Ultra Security “QU-I.C-KEY” pin segment calculator contains 16,384 pin segment calculations for a complete dedicated A2 Grandmaster System. It has seven chamber wheels, with each wheel having six sections. Each section indicates a key cut and displays the proper pin segments – (bottom pin, master pins, control pin and build-up pin) for that cut.
LAB offers the EASY WAY I.Core Pinning Slide Chart for A2 System, part number LSC001. This slide chart displays pin stacks for one pin chamber at a time. The top master key cut and the control key cut are positioned. Align with the change key depth and the pin lengths are indicated for master keyed and non-master keyed A2 System pin chambers.
The Ultra Security “QU-I.C-TEST Tool”, part number QTT and “QU-I.C-TEST Adapter”, part number QTA, are used to verify that the core is properly combinated. The core is inserted into the “QU-I.C-TEST Adapter” once it has been combinated. The “QU-I.C-TEST Tool” spring loaded brass rods press down into the pin chambers simulating a capped core. The top master key, operating key and control key are tested. Testing will confirm if the core has been properly combinated. The trumpet keys will indicate if any chambers are “hanging up” (shelf problem) when the keys are withdrawn from the core. Inserting a key blank enables comparing all the chambers and determines where the differences are and make the appropriate corrections.
Once the cores have been combinated and tested, the final step is to cap the pin chambers. Capping tools are designed to secure the core while installing the cap. The standard loading tool has a cut-to-cut spacing of .150”. Before capping, look into the tool to be certain the pin chambers align with the tool’s openings.
There are two methods for capping the individual pin chambers: individual capping blocks where one cap is secured into a pin chamber and capping presses that cap all of the pin chambers at one time.
A1 Security offers two styles of capping presses. The CapSaver Press, part number CAP-5, uses a brass strip to form the caps and caps all of the chambers in one operation. Forming the caps eliminates the need to position individual caps onto each pin chamber. The Capping Press Plus, part number CAP-1, caps interchangeable cores and has a separate attachment for dumping.
Combination tools can perform unloading, loading and capping. For example, the LAB Interchangeable Core Annex® that has a slide out code book into which each pin chamber pins, springs and cap unloads. The Pro-Lok® LT340 IC Rekey/Decode/Dump Tool features a removable pin dump receptacle capping cover.
CUTTING IC KEYS
Cutting interchangeable core keys can be difficult. The key blades are thin and when secured with a standard rotary key originating machine vise, they can be secured using too much pressure. This is because the blades are thin and irregularly shaped. Extra force is often exerted out of frustration and in the hope to keep the key blank in proper position in the vise as it is being cut. This problem can also occur when duplicating interchangeable core keys.
Each IC lock manufacturer has its own pinning system. For locksmiths who service many different types of IC systems, it can be difficult to remember which pinning system to use.
Articles about masterkeying have appeared dozens of times in Locksmith Ledger. Masterkeying has been the topic of books by well-known people in our industry. Full one or two day classes on...