Electromagnetic Lock & Tools: Tools for all Reasons & for all Seasons

Installing an electromagnetic lock is pretty straightforward. The typical installation requires about seven holes to be drilled. But if the installer happens to mis-drill one of these holes, the anticipated completion time could go into extra innings, and the installation will not be totally safe and acceptable.

Installing electromagnetic locking systems is not a "no-brainer." It requires planning, proper design, mechanical skills and the right tools.

The steps to installing an electromagnetic lock are: Determine if an electromagnetic lock is right for your application. Determine what elements will be included in your design. Determine which electromagnetic lock is what you want to use. Determine what brackets to use. Determine that the door is in proper working order.

GOT THE RIGHT TOOLS? You use tools for several reasons, whether you are installing electromagnetic locks or building a barn. They enable you to work more efficiently (faster). They amplify your own physical strength. They prevent you from being injured. They prevent you from damaging the equipment and worksite during the installation. They help you be more precise and accurate. They enable you to leave behind a safe functional system. The tools you select for your work is a personal decision. Installers use hand and power tools, as well as a family of products generally referred to as Installation Aids.

Every mechanic has his (or her) own way of dealing with the issue of tools. Questions that determine what tools you use or carry include:

· What kind of work do you do: mechanical, electronic or both? · Do you do installations or repairs? · Do you use a truck or public transportation (many urban locksmiths use mass transit)? · Do you have a helper who can schlep? · How far from the worksite are you parked?

The answers to these questions will vary from day to day or job to job, so there is no single answer. Most will agree that they use a core of essential tools which they cherish and another group of tools they use in a sort of rotation. Most technicians also have a few tools they hate and can't wait for to break so buying a more suitable replacement can be justified.

Some tools are selected in a moment of need to solve a particular problem. Some you see being used by another mechanic and you want one. Some tools are regular equipment.

The following list is a collection of tools and devices used by the locksmith for the installation of electronic systems.

SAFETY CABLES You can purchase these specialized little devices pre-manufactured, or you can fabricate yourself from eyelets and braided cable. Safety cables are used on the armature of an electromagnetic lock to prevent the armature from being stolen, or to prevent it from falling on a pedestrian if it happens to get loose. Although electromagnetic lock manufacturers provide various means of ensuring that the "Sex Bolt" used to attach the armature to the door will not loosen, a poor installation or a little help from vandals will result in an armature loosening or actually leaving the door. Armatures are heavy, and can cause a nasty laceration or litigation (a litigation is like a laceration only usually more expensive and painful).

Safety cables are available from Sentinel Diversified Industries, Inc., 2043 Wellwood Ave., East Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735-1283. Telephone: (516) 753-6000 or (800) 526-9000. Website: http://www.sentineldiversified.com/

WIRE STRIPPERS AND CRIMPERS If you plan to do any electronic work, one of your first acquisitions should be a wire stripper. If you are going to handle coaxial cable for CCTV, then a crimper is also on the agenda.

Good wire termination is essential for a properly operating electronic systems. Although some electricians seem to get away with stripping wires with a utility knife, their work involves heavy gauge solid conductor wire, not the light gauge and stranded types used in electronics.

With stranded wire, each strand is important for both the conductivity of the wire and for its physical strength, and chopping and damaging it while removing the insulation is something you want to avoid. Solid wire does not have strands, but it can be surprisingly brittle. If you should happen to score or crease the wire by carelessly stripping it, the wire might break during installation, or partially fracture and fail in the future.

Good wire handling is a skill which is learned and perfected with practice, but having the right tools is essential.

There are many types of strippers. Strippers are sometimes combined with crimpers, but if you are working with small wires in confined spaces, (such as in a control panel), you may find the large combination tools impractical for certain work.

Coaxial Cable is also delicate, and if poorly handled, will produce disappointing performance. When your customer is whining about a fuzzy picture, you'll learn that the problem could have been avoided by using the right tool to put on the connectors. If you are only a weekend warrior, maybe you can rationalize using amateur night tools, but if you are actually getting paid to install CCTV, and you care about your installations, then you will use the right tools.

Among the manufacturers of wire strippers and crimpers are Klein Tools (www.kleintools.com), IDEAL Industries (www.idealindustries.com/ht/wirestrippers.nsf) and Clark Security Products (www.clarksecurity.com).

TEST METERS A test meter is essential for any electronic work for verifying things like the presence of line voltage, continuity through solenoids, or that the correct voltage is present. The Fluke 112 is a reliable, well insulated, versatile and economical tool you'll use for years. It has an illuminated display which is perfect for when you're working overtime. Its 'HOLD' feature lets you take a measurement and focus on where you are placing your meter probes (rather than have to look at the meter and the test points at the same time). Advanced users can test diodes and capacitors as well perform continuity tests with the audible beeper feature. For more information, visit www.fluke.com.

Another little gem that let's you tell instantly if a receptacle is live and wired properly is this line voltage tester. It is easier to use than getting out the Fluke, and will actually tell you a lot more and a lot faster about a line voltage receptacle. For more information, visit www.awsperry.com.

MAKING IT WORK That's your mission, and Altronix as well. The company makes power supplies and relay modules and many other little miracles that will help you, uh make it work. Their product line was developed based on feedback from the installation industry, and their entire product catalog is on-line and also on their free 2003 Product CD. For more information, visit www.altronix.com.

JUST FOR MAGLOCKS Many locksmiths who install electric releases and mortise locks use special fixtures (sometimes referred to as templates, drill guides, or jigs) which attach to the subject door and permit accurate drilling and cutting. SECURITRON has kits designed to make the installation of their maglocks quicker and easier. The new IK-2 Compact Installation Kit includes not only a drill guide which precisely locates the mounting holes for the solenoid and armature, but also a special tool for installing the blind nuts used with Securitron maglocks, spare fasteners, rubber washers, thread lock, an instructional video, a Securitron Wizard CD, and manuals.

(By the way, the fasteners used with the maglock can be installed without the tool, but it's a nice toy to have, and it makes the task just a little easier and faster.)

If you are a big league maglock installer, SECURITRON still offers the industrial strength version of this kit like they've already been for years. Having spare parts handy means if you drop a washer or screw, you won't have to hit the deck and crawl around looking for it anymore, saving time and preserving your professional image. For more information, visit www.securitron.com.