Magnetic Lock Security: A Capitol Idea

May 1, 2017
An added feature is a new system for rekeying or keying several cam locks alike.

One major problem with tumbler-operated lock systems is that they are susceptible to manipulation with lock picks and a tension wrench. But what if there was no keyway opening? Capitol Industries Inc. started with this premise and developed a magnetically operated lock system. Magnets in the lock unit are attracted or repelled by magnets in the key. Magnetism to operate the lock unit passes through an enclosed barrier in the face of the lock, preventing any type of physical interaction by picks or tension wrenches.

A cam lock was the first type introduced by Capitol Industries, Inc. The cam lock fits into a standard double-D and can be used to easily replace old existing cam locks without cutout modifications. The ingenious locking system combines rare earth magnetism, spring pressure and mechanical movement in a very compact package. Features include resistance to inclement weather and key bumping.

The basic locking system consists of two locking pins with beveled areas at each end. One end of each pin fit into a slot in the outer lock housing and prevents the plug from rotating. A spring-loaded, mushroom-shaped pin is located lengthwise in the lock plug. The mushroom head fits between the two pins, forcing them outwards into the locking slots in the outer housing.

At the heart of the Capitol locking system are three cylinder-shaped parts. Each cylindrical part contains a magnet which can be set in a north or south pole direction as needed. Each cylindrical part also contains a cutout notched area. When in a locked position, magnetism within each cylinder causes the set of cylinders to rotate to a locked position.

Magnetic keys by Capitol contain two extensions plus a specially shaped configuration at the tip of the key. The special key tip configuration allows the key to only be inserted in one specific direction, just as a pin tumber key can only be inserted in one direction into a pin tumbler lock cylinder. As the Capitol key is inserted, the two extensions fit into notches in the face of the Capitol cam lock. The extensions retain the key in place until the locking or unlocking procedure is completed.

If the correct magnetic key is inserted into the Capitol lock cylinder, magnetism from the key affects the rotation of the three cylinders in the lock housing, rotating them into a position where the three cylinder notches form a circular opening.

Mechanical movement begins as the user exerts a slight turning pressure on the key. Beveled outer edges of the two locking pins press inwards onto the horizontal mushroom-shaped pin. In turn, the mushroom-shaped pin is moved forward into the open notch area formed by the three cylinders. The locking pins are now free to fully move inwards out of the locking slots and the plug to be turned as needed.

After the plug has been turned 90 or 180 degrees, the two locking pins are once again aligned with the slots in the outer housing. The mushroom-shaped pin is spring-loaded. Spring pressure exerted by the rounded mushroom head once again pressed the two locking pins outward and into the locking slots. As the key is removed, magnetism within the three cylinder parts causes them to rotate and the lock is automatically relocked and secured.

An added feature is a new system for rekeying or keying several cam locks alike. After the plug unit has been removed from the outer housing, a set screw can then be accessed. Removal of the set screw allows locksmiths to install different magnets, setting the lock to a new key combination. A keying kit is available for duplication of keys. .Approximately 1500 key combinations are possible. Capitol cam locks are currently available in 1 1/8" length. 7/8" and 5/8" cam lock lengths are planned. Standard cams with various offsets are available.

Additional Products

Other Capitol Industries Inc. products include a CI-10XT cylinder guard for aluminum doors. Due to the required key length, interchangeable core lock cylinders often protrude away from the door surface and are vulnerable to wrenching. The CI-10XT can be installed to protect IC-core cylinders against wrenching.

CI-30 products protect aluminum door locks both against cylinder wrenching and knife attacks against the latch or electric strike. CI-10XT and CI-30 products are available in aluminum, black or bronze finishes. A padlock version which uses magnetic locking technology is in final stages of development with introduction planned for mid 2017. For further information contact your local locksmith distributor or:, 800-567-0451.