Originating Sidewinder Keys With Clue Cards

During the last 10 years almost every major car manufacturer except Mitsubishi has joined the sidewinder key revolution. The new Clue-CardTM program is a less expensive way to originate many such sidewinder keys.


Mercedes introduced a new type of key 30 years ago which came to be known as a sidewinder. Key cuts were not made completely through the blade as with previous automotive keys. Instead, each key cut was milled onto the surface of the blank. This required a new type of key making machine with...


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Mercedes introduced a new type of key 30 years ago which came to be known as a sidewinder. Key cuts were not made completely through the blade as with previous automotive keys. Instead, each key cut was milled onto the surface of the blank. This required a new type of key making machine with similarities to a stationary router. This new key system was at first limited to Mercedes and BMW vehicles. During the last 10 years, most major auto manufacturers have joined the sidewinder key revolution.

Every sidewinder key system has its own peculiarities, such as differences in depths, spaces and tip or shoulder stop positioning. Sidewinder keys can basically be divided into two types which either have internal cuts down the center of the blank or have external cuts along the edge of the blank. In addition, sidewinder keys can be either 2-track keys with tumbler spring pressure pressing against one side of the blade, or the keys can be 4-track keys with tumbler spring pressure usually alternating left to right from tumbler to tumbler. Sidewinder keys contain identical cuts on each side of the key which allows the key to be inserted without regard for key orientation.

Until now, the only method for sidewinder key origination was either by the tedious process of using depth and space keys or with an expensive electronic code machine. Sieveking Products Co. has recently introduced a new Clue-CardTM program which is a less expensive way to originate many types of automotive sidewinder keys. The Clue-Card system requires the use of both a card-type code machine and a manual sidewinder machine.

The Clue-Card system assumes that you already know what key cuts are needed. This requires either knowing the key code, disassembling a lock, or by using aftermarket sidewinder picks to decode the cuts.

The first procedure is to make a pattern key. One or two Clue-Cards will be needed depending on whether the key is a 2-track or 4-track type. Sieveking recommends the use of two different safe deposit key blanks, Ilco 1063E or 1323L, either of which can be used to make pattern keys. All pattern keys are tip-stopped in the card-type code machine. The normal extended tip on safe deposit box key blanks must be removed to make a straight, smooth end on the blank.

Before inserting a card into the machine, read the informational notes in the Sieveking operators manual and on the Clue-Card used for the specific key type being originated. Vise jaw A and cutter CW-1011 are currently required for all Clue-Card procedures.

To make a pattern key, the safe deposit blank must be tip stopped against the inner or outer vise jaw stop of the card type code machine as indicated in the Sieveking instructions. Secondary space lines are included on each card. The secondary marks are used to slightly widen the cuts and also to remove the peaks between each cut. This then produces smooth, laser-like cuts on the pattern key. Sieveking also includes instructions on how to complete the tip of each pattern key to make the correctly positioned lead area ramp angle.

A Clue fixture is also included with the system. This fixture is designed to be clamped into the jaw of a manual sidewinder duplicator (where an original key would normally be inserted). The fixture is double-sided, allowing a pattern key to be installed on the left or right side of the fixture as needed. Two jaws, A & B, are included. Sieveking A & B jaws operate in a similar manner to standard A & B jaws for a card type code machine. The B jaw holds the pattern key closer to the center line of a sidewinder blank while the A jaw holds the pattern key farther away from the center line of a sidewinder key. The combination of using either A or B jaws according to instructions in the manual plus carefully calibrated Clue Cards will produce keys within .001 to .003 of a manufacturers listed dimensions according to Sieveking Products Co.

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