New Procedures, New Tools

Jan. 2, 2017
ICore servicing tools and installation jigs make lock servicing easier; new automobile security requires specialized car-opening tools

When lock and car manufacturers introduce new products, locksmiths often require new tools and new servicing procedures to install and/or repair those new products. This article examines the latest developments and tools for servicing interchangeable cores, car-opening and lock installations.

ICore Tools

Interchangeable core (ICore) lock systems date back 70 or 80 years. The most popular ICore cylinder type has now become known as a small format Interchangeable core (SFIC). During World War II, the government was a big customer for Icore cylinders since cores could be instantly changed to maintain security.

SFIC lock cylinders were designed to fit into the same dimensions as existing 1-1/4" diameter mortise cylinders. In order to fit into this small space the Icore key blanks were downsized as compared with the height dimension of standard commercial key blanks. As the popularity of Icore lock systems increased in the last few decades, lock companies developed a new, Icore type called LFIC. Ways have been found to install these larger SFIC Icore types into special mortise cylinder housings of 1 1/4" diameter. This allows the flexibility of Icores to be installed in important building entrances while still using existing standard lock cylinders on other door openings in the building.

Lock servicing has become a problem as an increasing amount of different SFIC lock cylinders have been introduced. While lock companies who support the original SFIC format primarily adhere to standard keying rules and procedures, lock manufacturers who have introduced LFIC cylinders all have their own pinning procedures and pin dimensions. When a locksmith is called to service a SFIC key system, he or she must be prepared with pinning kits, pinning procedures and servicing tools for that specific lock manufacturer.

Car-Opening Tools

As a youngster I would sometimes accompany my father on after hours car lockout jobs. This was in an era when almost every car on the road had small vent windows. A popular vehicle opening tool at the time was a flat, spring-loaded metal strip which could be inserted under the vent window. When the tool came in contact with the lock button, the spring-loaded feature would magically pop the lock button to the unlocked position.

Older pre-war cars were also a problem. Door keys actually locked the outer handle instead of locking the inner latch mechanism. If the driver first locked the door handle, then left their keys inside and closed the door, the best recourse was to pick open the door lock cylinder. My father always carried a long homemade, snake shaped rod in his truck. The rod had a round loop at one end. Brake and clutch pedals extended through the floorboards in those days. After much tugging and pushing, the rod could be inserted through the clutch or brake opening and then extended upward to connect with the window crank handle. After a few window crank revolutions the window would be open far enough to reach the inner latch handle.

In more recent years car door construction has moved from vent windows to frameless windows to easily accessed internal locking rods to locks with bicycle-type operating cables and even to motor-driven locking systems with no internal door lock parts to access. Laser-style keys, first introduced by Mercedes in the late 1970s, have now become the norm for a majority of car manufacturers.

Manufacturers of car-opening tools have tried to change with the times. As vehicle door security has increased, manufacturers of car-opening tools have introduced a few additional tools each year to keep up with the changes. But car-opening options are slowly decreasing as new security measures are continually added by car manufacturers.

Two popular options today are dedicated lock picks and the use of long-reach tools. Lishi tools are an excellent, non-invasive way to pick a laser lock to the unlocked position. There may be more than one company using the Lishi name and the quality may vary. Ask questions and purchase these tools from a known, dependable domestic locksmith distributor. Purchasing any tool on low price alone is no bargain if the tool cannot serve its intended purpose.

Long reach car-opening tools are becoming more popular because of the protections now being installed with vehicle doors. The procedure consists of using wedges to slightly separate the door frame from the door jamb near the top of the door. A long reach tool is then inserted through the opening which can operate interior passenger controls to unlock the vehicle. Some vehicles may not be constructed to flex enough to wedge the door outward. With all of the yearly security changes, an updated car-opening manual from a dependable source is a must.

Installation Jigs

Hardware installations a few years ago did not require the exacting dimensions now universally required. During my locksmith career my complete drill jig package consisted of a Schlage jig for remortising cylindrical locks.

Years ago Kwikset templates suggested three small crossbore holes for installing their knob locks, one for the spindle and two for the chassis retaining screws. If a Kwikset cylindrical lock was to be replaced by another brand, the three-hole system had to be replaced by one large crossbore hole. My Schlage drill jig for redrilling crossbore holes was a lifesaver hundreds of times.

Demand for enlarging crossbores became a thing of the past after ASA regulations standardized mortising dimensions. During the last 30 years all doors in new residential buildings all have 2 1/8" crossbore construction and every cylindrical lock manufacturer now uses that same crosssbore dimension. Lock replacement from one brand to another requires only a screwdriver and my Schlage drill jig has become an instant relic.

Hardware installation will always be a locksmith staple; only the type of hardware has changed. New types of hardware such as cylindrical Lever locks plus mechanical and electronic pushbutton locks often require more than just a screwdriver. Lever locks are susceptible to spinning if heavy pressure is exerted on the lever. Additional crossbore holes are often required at precise locations to solidify the installation. Keyless locks may require crossbore holes for wires or retainer screws.

Each lock company has their own drilling dimensions. Installation jig manufacturers have met the challenge with convertible jigs which have interchangeable side plates to match the hole patterns of each manufacturer.

For More Information

Whether servicing Icores, opening vehicles or installing new hardware, the locksmith business has moved far past the procedures and methods and tools once depended upon by our predecesssors. For additional information contact your local locksmith distributor or the following companies:

  • A1 Manufacturing, Icore servicing tools and installation jigs
  • Pro-Lok: Icore servicing tools, installation jigs and vehicle opening tools
  • KSP, Icore cylinders and servicing tools
  • Lab, Icore servicing tools and pin kits
  • Ultra Security: Icore servicing accessories
  • HPC, Icore servicing tools and car-opening tools
  • Access Tools/High Tech Tools, car-opening manuals and tools
  • Lockmasters, car-opening tools and manuals
  • Keedexm Icore servicing tools
  • Major Manufacturing, installation jigs
  • Steck Mfg.: car-opening tools.