Sunday, February 1, 2015

Vin-to-year identification number chart

Using this chart below you can figure out the year of your vehicle. 
This chart is to be used with your vehicle's 17 digit V.I.N. (Vehicle Identification number)
The 10th digit from left to right is the "Vehicle Model-year" once you 
have found that letter or number use this chart to find it's represented year. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

How to open a car door with a tennis ball?

Many people are under the impression that if you cut a small hole in a tennis ball and push it hard on the door lock that it will open the car door. Sorry everyone, but this is false. It is not possible what so ever. You can watch the video that Myth busters did proving that even with 100PSI of air going into the lock it wouldn't unlock the car or budge the lock at all.

Is it true that a tennis ball can unlock a car door?   FALSE

Thursday, January 29, 2015

What does S&G stand for?

If you have a safe and the Dial has S&G on the face and you have always wondered what it meant, here is your answer: Sargent and Greenleaf ; a U.S. company that manufactures combination locks, key-operated safes, time locks, digital safe locks and safety deposit locks.Here is a picture of their logo.

The Parts of a key.

This picture of a key shows the parts of the key and I'll list what the part it is and its primary function.

  1. The Bow:  The bow of the key is the part that you hold on to when inserting the key into the lock. The shape of the bow varies from lock to lock and is also used to help identify the lock and key way that it opens. 
  2. The shoulder: The shoulder of the key stops the key from being inserted into the cylinder any further than it should be. When duplicating keys on a machine, the keys should be aligned using this shoulder to insure a accurate key copy is produced. If the shoulder of the key is offset in any way the cuts will not align properly to their coordinating hole and could cause the key not to turn the cylinder.  
  3. The cuts: The cuts of the key are very important. The cuts of the keys are spaced and cut to the necessary depth to turn the cylinder. These spaces and depths depend on the type of lock you are working with.
  4. The tip: The tip of the key should look like a ramp, smooth and at a angle. The tip is used to raise the pins and the shape allows the key to be inserted with ease. If the tip was flat and blunt it wouldn't pass the first pin and be difficult to insert.  
All the parts of the key play their own parts in turning the cylinder of a lock. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

How to rekey a simple lock cylinder.

Many locksmith, landlords and property management companies re-key locks or "change" locks. The principle of Re-keying locks is very simple. Re-keying a lock is changing the key combination of the cylinder you are working with. For example you are re-keying a Kwikset lock with a combination of 23135 and a new key with combination of 14552.  The cuts aren't similar enough for the old key to open the lock with the new combo.
This picture shows how to properly remove a cylinder from its housing. To insure that the top pins stay in the cylinder housing you must use a follower (the black plastic tool) so the top pins(which are being forced down by little springs) don't fall out and create a problem. Once you have successfully remove the cylinder from its housing you can discard the old pins, remove the old key, insert the new key and match the pins with the new key combination. Once the cylinder has been re-keyed and the pins are flush with the cylinder (making sure the pins don't stick out and sink in to far.) the cylinder can be inserted back into the housing and tested to make sure it rotates smoothly. If the key turns roughly and seems to bind, one or more pins are too long and need to be switched out for slightly smaller pins. If the key works well you can re-assemble the lock and re-install the hardware back on the door.

Friday, January 23, 2015

How to use curved shims on a lock cylinder.

Every locksmith should know what curved shims are and how to use them. The shims are used on lock cylinders when you don't have a working key and the lock needs to be re-keyed, Shims are very thin pieces of curved stainless steel, formed to fit the curve of a lock plug and are used to separate the top pins from the bottom pins. I use shims all the time they are great for when you have the cylinder in hand and you don't want to take the time to pick the lock.

  1.  Start by removing any C-clips or caps on the back end of the cylinder ( how you would when your about to start re-keying any cylinder lock)
  2. Fully insert a key blank into the cylinder. 
  3. Insert the shim in between the plug and the housing until it barely touches the last pin. 
  4. While adding light pressure on the shim inward( toward the front of the cylinder) slowly pull the key out. If this is done right you will feel the shim move a small amount inward. 
  5. Continue until all the top and bottom pins are separated.
  6. Turn the cylinder 90 degrees either way. The lock is now "picked" and you are now able to re-key this lock or make a key for the cylinder.  

Should you purchase a Silca SBB key programmer?

Silca SBB Key Programmer
    Many people have thought about purchasing this key programmer, the Silca SBB key programmer, Doesn't matter which version (I think it's up to V33.02) and a lot of people want to know if it's a good investment or not. I myself have purchased 2 of these programmers at about $105 each both have stopped working. I was able to get a good 10-15 keys programmed before they died.    
     The key programmers are based of the Ilco TKO which cost about $3000 depending on your supplier. My experience with the Silca SBB key programmer is mixed. This programmer doesn't last very long and it's manufactured poorly. I've had problems programming Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep.
  I was able to use this programmer to start out with but I would recommend purchasing a quality programmer at some point like the MVP PRO or Ilco TKO. These machines come backed by the manufacturer and will last a long time. The knock off machines are known to be unreliable and cause more harm then good. Its my opinion that a good machine is the better choose but I of all people understand times are tough and people have budgets. Good Luck out there and I hope this article helped you make a good decision.

Quality Machine (Ilco TKO or MVP PRO)  

  • Works every time
  • Programs more vehicle
  • One machine does most
  • Manufacturer's Warranty  


  • Expensive to purchase 
  • Requires tokens for each vehicle

Cheap Machine (SBB or T-300)

  • Inexpensive 
  • Doesn't require tokens 
  • Can program a good amount of cars 


  • Unreliable 
  • Made poorly 
  • Can cause damage to customers vehicle  
  • Wont last long