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Picking the ASSA Twin

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xeo

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Post Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:24 am

Picking the ASSA Twin

Destroying some of my favorite picks and my prybar in the process, I managed to pick a bunch of these sinister locks. I've picked a V-10, a Twin Maximum, and four Twin 6000s. I decided to do a writeup to document all of the minute details I've learned throughout my journey into ASSA land. I'll admit that I got a little cocky after opening a few of them and even went as far to call them easy. As of writing this I have 3 on my desk that just absolutely will not open after hours of picking on them and my hands are about to fragment all over the room... honestly I'd rather not lose my fingers to a tension wrench. Anyway, enjoy. I am by no means an expert and feel free to correct me or provide any other criticism, just keep it constructive.

All of the images are properly used from http://www.Lockwiki.com in accordance with their reuse policy

Tools
I started with these using a peterson prybar in top of keyway. You just have to use the top or you won't have room to manipulate the sidebar pins. It would be wise to use a short hook :shorthook: or a gem type pick :longhook: :offestdiamond: that actually has some strength to it as you'll be pick-twisting and putting lateral force on it.

For picking the side-pins you can use many tools, I've tried:

- Peterson DCAP hook
- Peterson DCAP diamond
- standard short hook :shorthook:
- a regular diamond :halfdiamond:
- a Southord Dimple pick with a square flag.

All of these tools work great and you may need to try different ones to see what fits in the lock well. Certain keyways present a narrower passage to insert your pick and you may need to either modify your square flag (Shorten it) or try a pick with a thinner shank.

Picking Direction
Honestly, theres no silver bullet with this. Either one of three things will happen.

(1) Top-pins will bind first
(2) Sidepins will bind first
(3) Top and side pins will bind in an alternating and seemingly inconvenient manor

In a perfect situation I prefer to test both directions to hopefully land on situation (1). I like to pick the top pins first.

Top Pins
Typically you will encounter these: :assaspool: :dblspool: or some other variant. ASSA likes to use spools.

Image Creditted to http://www.lockwiki.com/index.php/ASSA_Twin_V-10

Typical ASSA pins

664px-ASSA_Twin_V10_all_pins.jpg


Counter-milling

Picture 140.jpg


These pins in and of themselves are nothing special. What makes them difficult is the counter-milling in the chambers which causes the lips to snag and produce a very deceiving and very subtle false set. Counter-milling is basically a false shear-line put in the chambers to catch and bite on those security pins. Typically when picking the top pins, you'll be lifting what feels like a binding pin, it will set, and you'll move on. As you keep picking you'll need to come back and re-visit that pin to test if it is caught in countermilling or not. A pin caught in counter-milling will feel like a truly set pin. The way I do this test is to release some tension and tap on it. If you feel slight counter-rotation in the plug when tapping, chances are it needs to be lifted higher out of the milling. Other times as you tap, it will just crunch out of the milling. You may have to do this multiple times on the same pin even. What usually ends up happening is the top pins pick in two phases, Phase one is lifting them to the countermilling, then once all of them have been lifted to the milling, you need to pick them a second time out of the milling to the real shearline. There is also a binding order on the second phase. You'll hear an ear-splitting c-c-c-crunch as you lift out of the milling. It is actually a really therapeutic feeling, I could just lift pins through countermilling all day, something about the crunching noise... man I'm sick.

You'll feel slight plug rotation during all of this process but there is a signature plug turn that signifies you've completely set them all. When all of the pins are set, the plug will become springy and spongy. You should be able to release a small amount of tension and bounce between that tension level and full tension without dropping any pins at all. The term "small amount of tension" is relative to the lock you're picking. If the lock's tolerances are abnormally precise, you need to be very careful. If you release a tiny amount and you hear faint small clicking, you haven't finished the counter-milling and you've just dropped some shit back down. Just to make this even more deceiving, one lock in particular that I've picked DID produce the correct sponginess and springiness of the plug and did allow me to start picking side-pins which I will cover next however there was one pin that was caught in counter milling. This particular lock was a euro-profile Twin 6000. Sick, sick bastards.

I think thats it for the top pins, you're paying attention to false sets and countermilling. I usually end up checking and doublechecking and triplechecking each pin via the tapping method just to really be sure as you never know with these locks.

Side Pins

Sidebar:

800px-ASSA_Twin_V10_sidebar.jpg


Sidepin for Twin 6000

120px-ASSA_Twin_sidebar_pin.jpg


These rules apply to the V-10, Twin Maximum, and Twin 6000:

- There are 5 sidebar pins
- Under tension, you will get a total of THREE clicks before you cannot raise the pin any higher
- There are FOUR false gates, and ONE true gate directly in the middle of each pin
- All the pins are the same

The rule of three-clicks-you're-out is very important, as this is how you're going to decode the sidebar code as you pick. Typically, one of them will bind first, it will become solid and rigid. Lift it. Lift it once, until it clicks once, then check it again for its bounciness. If it is completely rigid, lift it again. Repeat again, and if you've lifted it to the 3rd click, stop and do not touch it. You need to remember which pin this was, and how many clicks it took to satisfy it. Now you're gonna move on to the next pin, hunting for the most rigid pin, and step through the clicks slowly. If at any point in the lifting process you feel it become springy, move on to another pin noting how many clicks you took it. You will also notice different levels of feedback when lifting, when checking a pin you may accidentally lift one and it will produce a small click, just ignore it and move on, Chances are when you set a real binding pin it will drop the ones that weren't ready to be set, however this isn't always the case and can make for a real devilish picking experience.

Now, this is the real nightmare. These pins will react differently depending on the states of the other pins. For example, if you lift pin 1 once, pin 2 becomes solid. If you start over and lift pin 1 twice, pin 2 is no longer solid and pin 3 is now rigid. The reason for this is due to the design of the pins themselves. If all 5 pins are sitting on a false gate, they will all appear to be rigid more or less. Lets say 4 of them are on false gates and one is on a true gate, you can actually lift the correctly set pin into a false gate and it will produce the same feeling as if you set it for real. What ends up happening in this scenario is you lift all the pins too high and you can't lift anymore, so you have to start over. Starting over... you'll be thankful for that "plug sponginess" after setting the top pins because you can just pulse a little and it will drop the sidepins back down allowing you to start over (keeping the top pins set).

Picture 141.jpg


As far as the technique goes using your pick, you will notice there are five little recessed chambers and you can feel their vertical walls with your pick. This will help you with pick placement to make sure you're underneath a pin and can lift it. I dont know how many times I've tried lifting warding or just lifting nothing at all because my pick was not even on a pin. Simply get a good grasp on the first pin, test it, and then carefully slide the pick into the next little chamber using that wall as a guide. Pin 5 is usually pretty difficult to get a good grasp on unless you're using something like a Peterson-DCAP where you can sure-fire know what you're doing better than a short hook. You're gonna want to just twist your pick to lift, but on pin 5 I come at it from an angle and try to lift it like a normal top pin. This angled attack usually works better once you've already lifted one a click or two. Never do I ever try and force a pin to come back down by pushing down on it, if I've lifted it too far, I'll either release tension or start the sidebar over again.

Sometimes when lifting a sidepin, it just wont lift, and you may need to release tension to get it to slide past. Try to slowly reduce tension while tapping on it until it just barely gives, then crank down again and finish the lift. Don't release too much or you'll drop other stuff.

What you need to do is find the magical combination of clicks on each sidepin to where they all start to become very solid. What you're doing as you pick these is creating a mental lookup-table where you're figuring out through process of elimination and rigidity of the pins which number of clicks is required on each pin. If you're not picking the lock blind, you're cheating basically, you know ballpark where the sidepin is supposed to rest and you can severely reduce the ammount of detective work and testing to arrive at the right combo of clicks per pin. Picking one blind is a pretty insane challenge as you have zero information to bias your decision-making.

Sidebar Pin Feedback

Some people say the sidebar pin clicking is indistinguishable, but there is a difference sometimes you'll hear a higher pitched click on a true gate... its difficult, but possible. You'll feel slight plug jolting, sometimes it will jolt 1/1000ths of an inch this is usually a good sign.

Picking the Sidebar First

Execute all of the said methodology for the sidepins until you feel the signature plug rotation with which you CANNOT RELEASE TENSION AT ALL. Just keep checking if top pins will bind as you feel the sidepins freeze up. Then pick the top pins and PRAY the side pins don't fall back down.

Evil Mode

Evil mode is scenario 3, where top and side pins bind in an alternating fashion. This is absolute hell in a hand-basket. The countermilling forces you to drop sidepins, and setting sidepins will probably drop top pins. I've only picked one lock like this and it took fucking forever. Basically you need to work through it to the point where you break out of an endless loop where side and top pins drop each other. If you're careful with the tension you can stop most of it but other times the side pins will bite so hard that you're forced to drop some of the top ones. All I can say here is good luck and try not go insane.

Sidebar Code to Click Decode Table

I came up with this cool idea to convert the sidebar code to the number of clicks required to satisfy a sidepin. I guess you could in theory decode the sidebar bitting if you picked one of these open in the wild (or even just picked the sidebar) and wrote down the clicks per pin and then you could cut a key from that to bypass the sidebar and maybe make a bumpkey? I dunno.. food for thought.

SBC of 1 = 1 click
SBC of 2 = 1 click
SBC of 3 = 2 clicks
SBC of 4 = 3 clicks
SBC of 5 = 3 clicks

Evil Keyways

Picture 7.jpg


This is a Twin 6000 that I have just been unable to pick at all or even make any reasonable progress on simply because of the little curved lip there that prevents you from accessing the top pins from an an angle. The first cut is also super deep, so I can't even enter from the front. In a case of a lock like this, you just need to pray the bitting is easy. Most of the other keyways are easy and wide open for pick room. The V-10 is pretty forgiving.



OK thats it... I'm sick of typing.
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Last edited by xeo on Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:07 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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chris

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Post Fri Apr 15, 2011 12:32 am

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Very good writeup, definitely going to be a useful reference for people just starting out with ASSA Twins. I recommend this get Stickied here or under tutorials or something similar...
Naaapaalm...sticks to kids...it sticks to the belly and it sticks to the ribs...
See those kids standing by the lake...drop some napalm and watch them bake.
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KokomoLock

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Post Fri Apr 15, 2011 9:34 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Excellent write up on the ASSA Xeo!!!! Thanks for taking the time to write and post it!!!
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sandman

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Post Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:08 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

amazing work and write up!!! now, all you have to do is respond to my pm's and youd be nearly perfect!
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LocksmithArmy

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Post Fri Apr 15, 2011 11:50 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

great job, thanks man... i may actually try one of these now ;)
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uklockpicker

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Post Sat Apr 16, 2011 10:07 am

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Excellent write up & pics thanks very much .. ..
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Solomon

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Post Sat Apr 16, 2011 12:39 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Kickass explanation xeo, thanks very much for sharing with us. I have 2 of these puppies, one with key and one without... one is an SCD and not sure about the other one, but it's from Kokomo. I'm gonna have to tackle them some day but they're scary. I had a revelation though, and I can't believe I never thought of this before... evil as the bitting may be, because of the countermilling it means you actually can't overset anything in the first stage and when you start working the pins out of it and into the true shear line it should be easier to avoid!! That'll give me a confidence boost. Thanks again :D
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xeo

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Post Sat Apr 16, 2011 5:23 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Solomon wrote: evil as the bitting may be, because of the countermilling it means you actually can't overset anything in the first stage and when you start working the pins out of it and into the true shear line it should be easier to avoid!! That'll give me a confidence boost. Thanks again :D



Surprisingly enough, its very difficult to overset ASSA top pins under hard tension. You'd really have to force it up.
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The code is hidden in the tumblers. One position opens the lock, another position opens one of these doors...
http://www.youtube.com/xeotech1

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whizdumb

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Post Sat Apr 16, 2011 8:28 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

You did a great job on this write-up. My 6000 is still being a bitch but I'll give it another shot in honor of this thread. Thanks Xeo
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xeo

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Post Sat Apr 16, 2011 11:07 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Added some new pics !
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The code is hidden in the tumblers. One position opens the lock, another position opens one of these doors...
http://www.youtube.com/xeotech1

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Bigdipper08

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Post Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:47 am

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Nice write up. I will try to get my hands on one this weekend and give it a go.....
A spy is just a criminal with a government paycheck.....
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xeo

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Post Tue Jun 21, 2011 1:31 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Bigdipper08 wrote:Nice write up. I will try to get my hands on one this weekend and give it a go.....


Thanks and good luck!
Image
The code is hidden in the tumblers. One position opens the lock, another position opens one of these doors...
http://www.youtube.com/xeotech1

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the picker

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Post Mon Jun 27, 2011 12:53 am

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

well done.this is the next lock on my list to assassinate and this will help me do the deed :akimbo:
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muddassarusa

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Post Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:22 pm

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

Everyone wrote wonderful comments really good job
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fogcreature

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Post Mon Feb 25, 2013 1:13 am

Re: Picking the ASSA Twin

wow. thats an awesomely detailed and meticulous write up xeo. something id love to read more of. its also feeding my assa addiction
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