Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Old Locks: Repair and Reuse

The love of used and antique items is a simple affair. Sometimes the item is a memento of a time or place held in your memory fondly. Other times an older item reminds one of their childhood. Many people like to collect items like this. But when we have something that doesn't work properly, even though it may vintage, how much value does it really have? Old broken stuff is just junk.... right?

It is much more rewarding to have an antique that works! Granted you may not want a working 8 track player, but a working Atari is pretty neat. The same goes with antique locks. There is something really fascinating about a working lock with a barrel key or "skeleton key". Sometimes older items have class that new things just don't hold a candle to.

There is also an argument that reusing items is environmentally responsible. All the old stuff eventually ends up in a land fill and how many of those do we have? Taking care of your locks will make them last a surprisingly long time, and will make you feel practical rather than wasteful.

Many Locksmiths can repair older locks, or restore them to their original function. You may even have a newer item either with a missing or broken key. Don't throw it away, you may be able to reuse it! This is actually a very affordable service, and easy to make happen.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get an estimate. Most locksmiths do this for free either over the phone, or in person. Look at your lock and check for stamps, numbers, or brands. Be ready to provide this information to the locksmith; the more accurate your description of the lock the more accurate their estimate will be.

  • Remove the lock and take it to a storefront Locksmith shop. If you have a screwdriver and some DIY skills, just take the lock to a shop. You may save some money this way and prevent scheduling hassles.

  • Take a picture with your digital camera or cellphone. Send or take the picture to your locksmith and see if they recognize it that way. This could save time, and identify problem locks that aren't worth restoring or repairing.

  • Lost keys can be replaced. Locksmiths can "impression" a lock making a new key from scratch. They can also replace keys by code if the lock was coded by the maker. Lastly, locks can often be re-keyed. Basically this involves removing the pins or wafers and creating a new key for the lock. These methods are actually fast and very affordable. This will work for anything from door locks to file cabinets to padlocks!

  • Broken keys often imitate a damaged mechanism. Many times a broken key or foreign object can jam the key way simulating a mechanical problem. Locksmiths can take a lock completely apart and remove any items blocking the key way. (Putting the lock back together is usually what separates a locksmith from a non-locksmith!) A broken key is often one of the most common problems... and the most affordable to repair!

  • Simple repairs are often less expensive than a new lock. Sometimes the problem is very common and can be repaired for less than the cost of a new lock. Most locksmiths have a back stock of older locks, or can order parts for cheap. Other times the "repair" is actually cleaning and lubrication caused by simple neglect and lack of maintenance.

If your locks are functioning well you may want to have a locksmith come and clean and lubricate the locks. Different brands of locks require different maintenance and cleaning; graphite powder can actually ruin high security locks and void any existing warranty! Ask your locksmith for details on lubrication for your locks.

Don't give up on those old locks that adorn your doors and furniture. They may still have some years left in them, have sentimental value to them, and some could even be worth money. Many old time locks and keys are collectible. Go to Sweeny Emporium online for some examples:

Rocky Mountain Security Group