Borderline Hoarders

July 17, 2019

Acme code machines were once popular in the 1940s and used discs with different spaced holes to originate keys. A locksmith contacted Locksmith Ledger asking if we had information on this machine. The locksmith had a handful of numbered discs and he wanted to know which kind of key each disc could be used for. Somewhere in my old collection of locksmith books is a small red copy of the Acme code book which I will try to source for the information.

There are probably others reading this newsletter who have the same malady which I have. I rarely throw anything away. My collection of locksmith-oriented books is located in the same cabinets with several old key machines. There is a Sagar machine for cutting Chicago double-sided keys, a Chicago machine for hand cutting tubular keys, an old Briggs & Stratton key machine designed to cut single-sided keys and a Yale machine made specifically for cutting 1933--1934 Chrysler offset keys.

My locksmith book collection is more extensive containing time-worn code books with key codes for every old car from Duesenberg to Pierce Arrow. Every code series of any value has long ago been entered into computerized code programs and modern code machines can easily cut more types of keys than every old key machine in my collection combined.

So why am I keeping all this stuff? My wife has been asking that same question for a long time. I finally came to the realization that she was right. There is no good reason. One by one, the vintage key machines are being thrown out with the trash. Half of them are now gone for good and I am no worse for the experience.

Tonight I will try to locate that little old Acme code book. If I find the book, the information contained inside will be forwarded to the inquiring locksmith. Then he will be able to cut keys for Ford, Chrysler and other vintage car keys from the twilight years. If that gives him consolation so be it. Meanwhile I am happy to say that my wife has begun to cure my hoarder instincts and I am now a much happier person.