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Getting started with levers and wires

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madsamurai

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:26 am

Getting started with levers and wires

Ratlock generously sent me a mortice lever lock this week to help me get started into picking levers, so I bent up some wires and started at it... Bending wires without the right tools isn't the easiest thing in the world, but I managed to come up with a couple that worked, and got it picked... however I sorta had to cheat a bit, and was hoping for some tips on how to deal with this sort of situation I've got here. The problem being the amount of tension on the levers from the springs... If I "cheat" and set the wires against a pin that's further back (so there's less tension):
Image
...I can pick this lock pretty easily. The levers set one-at-a-time and stay in the gate once they're put there.

However if I set the springs into their normal position:
Image
...there is much more tension on the levers, and the levers won't stay set. The binding lever won't stay in the gate, it slips down a small amount so the fence(?) is against the side of the lever above the gate and it holds there, and the other levers won't bind. I haven't figured out a way to progress...

How would you deal with a situation like this? Heavy tension didn't fix it... the only thing I can think of is to make a wider pick wire that can lift multiple levers at once, but that would only lift two that are right next to each other so might not help.

Here's a pic of the wires I made, based on what I've seen on other posts...
Image
would love to hear critiques and tips. My tension wire is .092", and the pick wires are .063". The bent one is for getting around the side warding. If I use the straighter one, I can get the bottom two levers easy but is hard to reach the top one around the warding. If I use the bent one I can get the top two levers easy but can't quite reach the bottom one because of the bend... I may make another one that's somewhere between the two, but I'd like to hear your thoughts first...

Thanks!
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ratlock

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2017 7:50 am

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

Well done mad samurai. your almost there.
Your right you just need a little more tension to get the levers to bind. I think it will cause you problems to try differant wires mid pick on a lever lock. I would make one wire that angles back, to overcome the warding. Then change the angle of your hand to change the angle of the pick wire, upstand.

I use 16swg gauge piano wire, which is 1.6 mm thick.

I havent tried to overlift that lock. but what I remember from it. Due to the brass wards coming in from both sides of the keyway it would stop an overlift wire from getting in.

Well done I like the wires youve made.
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madsamurai

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2017 3:34 pm

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

Well, I took another shot at it this morning and got it open with the springs correct... more tension did the trick, just took more than I thought I could put on it safely.
Glad I'm on the right track with the wires. I've had the most success with the straighter wire... I did have it angled up a bit more (it's hard to see in the pic but it is still angled up some) but had the same difficulty hitting that rear lever. There's a fine line... I can reach the front lever by tilting, but then it slips easily. I've been able to manage some stability by resting the shank of the pick wire against the shank of the tension wire and the wall of the keyhole... I think that was the hardest part to figure out - how to keep the wires from slipping down into the bitting slot of the keyhole and dropping everything. Still, tho, I have more control with the wires than I expected.
And you're right, it's difficult to get wires in and out mid-pick, especially the bent one. I've got plenty of wire of that size, so I'll try a couple of variations and see if I can find the sweet spot. I do need to find a better bending method, tho... what do you use for bending?
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ratlock

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Post Tue Feb 28, 2017 6:57 pm

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

I start with the upstand of the pick in a vice,(and a hammer). then use a pliers to bend the end Im going to hold.

On a pick where more attention to detail is needed I grind with a bench grinder, file, and sand the pick if its needed for a certain lock.

You usually end up with loads of pick wires in your tool box, all slightly differant than the next.
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ratlock

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Post Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:21 pm

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

heres what a key in the keyway looks like to avoid the wards.

Image
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madsamurai

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Post Fri Mar 03, 2017 4:40 am

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

Yep, that's about how I had imagined it... may try to make/impression a key for it, just for fun... have some tubing on order that should be about the right size. Thanks for the pic :)
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ratlock

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Post Fri Mar 03, 2017 2:16 pm

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

Heres a wee clip of me making up some wires. Hope it helps.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VSY11DZ7KeU
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madsamurai

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Post Fri Mar 03, 2017 5:10 pm

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

Very helpful, thanks... love that accent! Watched the rest of your videos while I was at it. I like your technique of nudging the levers up a bit at a time, will have to give that a try. I was trying to pick each lever to its gate like I would a pin tumbler. Nice job on that safe restoration.
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ratlock

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Post Fri Mar 03, 2017 7:03 pm

Re: Getting started with levers and wires

Cheers madsamurai. Some locks you can pick a lever at a time, some you have to nibble little by little till they open, hit antipick, or false gate, then go from there.
They all have there individual "Quirks"
Im still enjoying the learning curve.

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