Ziptide, December 2020

Dec. 2, 2020

Key Machine Q&A

I am trying to identify a key machine. The car dealership has asked me to adjust it, and I have no information on the machine or how to do it. Would you please send me any information you have on key machines that have a Barnes Distribution Co. label.

— Dan Naye

Unfortunately, I can’t open the image you sent. Barnes Distribution once was called Curtis Industries. They had special electronic key machines made by a company in Arizona. The machines used different colored blocks. If this describes your machine, I believe it has been discontinued for several years. Barnes sold its machines direct to dealerships and hardware stores. As far as I know, no servicing information was available to our industry. The best suggestion is for the dealership to purchase a more modern key machine.

— Editor-in-Chief Gale Johnson

Key Blank ID?

Howdy! I inherited Dad’s locksmithing tools. There is a set of brass keys stamped “SUK” and numbered 1-120. They all have only one cut, and some have been filed thinner or shorter. I suspect they’re for cutting keys by code but don't know if they’re to his Ilco or Foley-Belsaw key machines. Any idea, please?

— Diane Jurgens

Sixty years ago, Ilco sold a key machine for cutting keys by code. The machine used two discs for each type of key. The discs had to be tightened correctly in place. The single notch on SUK keys was moved against the key cutter, which set the exact spacing and depths required to make a key. SUK keys aren’t usable for operating locks, only to set up the Ilco code machine accurately. The Ilco code machine part number was 2178. Perhaps you have the machine and the dozens of large and small discs that have small holes and were used by the machine. Unfortunately, there are many new key types that the 2178 isn’t designed to cut. The 2178 has been discontinued for several decades.

 -- Editor-in-Chief Gale Johnson

Thank you so much for your reply! One of Dad’s machines is, indeed, the Ilco that has the discs. Because he primarily worked with Kwikset and Schlage residential locks, I’m betting that this still will work with them. If you happen to find a guide decoding what brands the 118 numbered keys represent, you could name your reward from me! There have to be a few old-timers left out there!

-- Diane Jurgens

Locksmith Associations

Editor’s Note: This comment is in response to the November 2020 issue Notes from the Editor, titled Association Depth Chart. Read at

As a member of the “I remember when” club, I, too, lament the decline of in-person association meetings. I still remember walking into my first NY locksmith association meeting in the 1980s and recognizing three people I had gone to college with — a total surprise. 

There were many friendships I developed over the years and the opportunity to meet people of different backgrounds and learn and appreciate their stories is something I treasure.  

Today’s members of our industry might be more connected (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc.,) but I fear they’re less in touch with each other. A digital relationship is fine, but too often it’s fleeting. 

— Mark Berger

President, Chief Product Officer, Securitech