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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This pressure results in the key blade spreading out and becoming misshapen. Under the compression of the key vise, the blade can grow a few thousandths of an inch. Once cut and removed from the vise jaws, the depths of cut in the blade under compression will attempt to reform, resulting in incorrect cuts in the key.
Using a key punch machine designed to originate the interchangeable core keys can eliminate these problems. The key punch machine vise jaw is designed specifically for interchangeable core keys. In addition, the cutter is specifically designed for the origination procedure, having the correct flat and fixed depths and spacing. Standard spacing for interchangeable cores is .150” cut-to-cut. Some security products have different spacing.
The following is a list of interchangeable core key punch machines:
- A1 Security Manufacturing PAK-1C handheld key punch machine
- A1 Security Manufacturing Mean Green Machine GP201-A2
- Best Combinator
- Pro-Lok BP201IC
- Rytan RY2000 A2
Before purchasing a punch machine, make sure the vise jaws are designed to secure the keyway you plan on originating keys. For example, the Pro-Lok BP201IC will originate keys for the A2 System using the A-R, TA-TE and W key blades. The A1Security Manufacturing PAK-1C, Pro-Lok BP201IC and the Rytan RY2000 IC punch machines can be modified to originate A3 and A4 system keys.
Many years ago, Best sold an older style punch machine for the A2, A3 and A4 systems. They were color-coded for easy identification. The A2 system punch machine is red. The A3 system punch machine is green. The A4 system punch machine is orange.
KEY BLANKS & DECODERS
IC key blanks are available from core producers and aftermarket key blank manufacturers. There are more than 30 known keyways manufactured for Best key systems. In addition, other manufacturers offer their own keyways. Depending upon the aftermarket key blank manufacturer, key blanks can be available in different configurations including the standard head and with “Do Not Duplicate” marked into the head. Note: The “Do Not duplicate” key blank marking is not legally binding in many parts of the world.
Key decoders are metal plates with one or more reducing slot used to determine the depths of cut in a key. The key is inserted into the slot along one of the cuts flat. As the key slides, the slot becomes smaller, eventually indicating the depth of cut. Interchangeable core key decoders are available in different configurations. Some have only a single slot, while others have three slots for the A2, A3 and A4 Systems.
Once the cores have been installed, occasionally the control key is no longer available. This results in having to remove a core in order to determine the control key bitting.
A core can be removed several ways. Picking the core to the control shear line is a non-destructive method. However, using standard turning (tension) tools, there is no guarantee the core will be picked to the control shear line. Specialized turning tools that have one or more tabs can be used to pick to the control shear line. Each pin chamber in an interchangeable core has openings from the top to the bottom. Using a turning tool with a tab that extends into the lug sleeve puts turning pressure on the control shear line. To pick the control shear line, use clockwise turning pressure.
There are several manufacturers of interchangeable core turning tools. Peterson Manufacturing offers three styles of IC tension tools, the differences being the thickness of the tool and the keyways they will accommodate. The Type A Tension Tool is designed for the A, C, DD, M, TR, Q, and R keyways. The Type B Tension Tool is designed for the D, B, E, F, G, H, K, and N keyways. The Type C Tension Tool is designed for the wider keyways, such as the E style. Note: When using these tools, insert a wood toothpick into the bottom of the keyway behind the tool to affix the tool in place.
When the core is damaged and the control key will not remove the core, the question becomes: Do I drill the core or the housing? The destructive decision is determined by knowing what you need. If the core is malfunctioning, drill the core. If the housing is expensive, drill the core. To determine the control cuts, it is easier to drill the housing. When drilling the core, remember it is a one time operation.
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.
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