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How to pick old (dirty) locks?

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subsonic1050

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Post Sun Sep 15, 2013 4:59 am

How to pick old (dirty) locks?

Hey all - this is my first real post on here. I got sent here by Oldfast, and have been enjoying the reading. I have been really focusing on learning lock picking over the past 2 or 3 months, and have gotten reasonably proficient with standard pin tumbler locks. I can pick nearly everything I've tried (the best locks I currently have are some Abus 34/55's - and other similar locks with 5 or 6 pins and security pins). The only things that are currently giving me trouble are:

1.) Serrated Pins (there is a Schlage lock that I picked once by luck - but have been unable to duplicate)
2.) OLD and grimy locks

It seems when I feel around inside these old locks that the pins are sometimes sticking a lot, or are very gritty. I suspect this is just from old age, rust, dirt/grime, and possibly wear on the pins themselves from a lot of use. However, I have found that sometimes even standard locks (no security pins) give me quite a bit of trouble before I can get them open - and there have been some dirty/rusty locks with security pins that I have been completely unable to open.

Does anyone have any tips or tricks to fix this? I have heard of squirting WD40 into the lock, but that seems to work only slightly. Any advice would be appreciated - abou the old lock issue OR about what to feel for with serrated pins. Thanks!
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elbowmacaroni

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Post Sun Sep 15, 2013 5:05 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

WD40 sucks... don't bother with it... if it is so grimey that it is causing difficulty, then try some strong solvent like acetone, toulene, naptha, methylene chloride, etc... if you can, it is best to let it soak for a few days in a closed GLASS or METAL container. DO NOT USE PLASTIC! If you use a plastic container to soak the lock in, well, you won't have a container for long! You can try brake cleaner too, if you think it doesn't need to soak (or even after soaking for good measure!) Just stick the little straw on, get the tip of the straw into the keyway or lined up as best you can and blast away! Oh, and for the aforementioned solvents... don't put locks with plastic parts into them.
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MrWizard

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Post Sun Sep 15, 2013 6:03 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

On oily or dirty locks I always use Electronic Contact Cleaner of the type that doesn't leave any residue. Some contact cleaner has oil in it you don't want that. LPS brand is a good quality contact cleaner but a little hard to find around town. You can get it online or from most lock supply distributors. Works great for me and doesn't have a caustic gas station lube bay reek. It has very little smell and evaporates quickly. If the lock is very dirty soaking it in something like what has been suggested is a good idea. But if it is a lock in use on a door you are trying to get open contact cleaner is what I would use.
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lockpickfan

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Post Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:49 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

I always use the GEGE lock cleaner spray, it's a fantastic stuff for cleaning dirt out from locks.
But, one important thing:
After you cpicked the lock open, get a key, spray it hardly, and put it on a paper towel with the cleaned side down, so the dirt came out to the paper towel with the spray, not into the spring chambers.
Here in Europe the spring chambers are "upside down" and peoples like to lubricate the locks in the doors on dirty places and wash the dirt under the pins....sometimes it's impossible to open without drilling.
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Oldfast

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Post Sun Sep 15, 2013 2:52 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

Good to see you're still at it :) I too find that age, wear & tear, dirt & gunk, etc. can be our
biggest enemy sometimes when it comes to picking. Bop the shackle and the lock body a few
times, turn the plug back and forth, and scrub the pins a bit. This'll sometimes loosen things
up enough to get ya moving. An air can (used for cleaning electronics and keyboards) comes
in handy for a lot of things lock related too. I always keep a few of em' on hand. If none of
that gets you anywhere, then some of the various cleaners mentioned is your next step.

On serrated pins... I can't remember if I directed you to this already? Might help some.
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Continue to put the time in and you'll be surprised just how quickly you'll start 'speaking the language'.
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jeffmoss26

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Post Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:40 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

I picked up a can of Houdini spray through one of my distributors. I absolutely LOVE it for cleaning and lubricating locks.
My next purchases will be Lock Saver and Medeco spray lube.
femurat: They're called restricted for a reason...
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subsonic1050

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Post Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:18 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

Thanks for all the help everyone! It's nice to hear of some other solutions, since WD40 was not cutting it for me. I won a lot of 33 Best cores that are fairly old, and I think I'm just going to toss 'em in a bath of acetone first. I think they are standard pins, but since there are 7 of them it's still quite a challenge.
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jeffmoss26

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Post Mon Sep 16, 2013 4:58 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

33 Best cores you say?!
femurat: They're called restricted for a reason...
Innerpicked: The more keys you carry, the more important you look
GWiens2001: Great video! Learned a lot about what fun can be had with a forklift and a chainsaw.
pmaxey83: but i first have to submit the proper forms for a new hobby to my wife
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GringoLocksmith

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Post Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:20 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

I love these threads with all of the product suggestions. Really useful stuff. My first line of defense when I encounter a lock that's grimed up is to pull out my own keyring, select a key that fits the lock, and then rake it in and out of the plug a few times, good and hard. Often times that's enough to clear the keyway and unstick the pins.
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subsonic1050

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Post Tue Sep 17, 2013 3:28 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

Gringo - I also really like that suggestion! Unfortunately, a lot of the locks I am getting I don't have keys for. For example these Best cores (and yes Jeffmoss - 33 of them!) I got on ebay with no operating or control keys. The pack of 33 cores are all 6 pin cores, and I also have a few 7 pin Best cores as well which are a real bitch to pick.

By the way - does anyone know how to disassemble these cores? I was interested in possibly getting some keys cut for them, but I have no way of determining what cuts the keys need. I assume since these have a "control" to them, that this is something like master keying? Does this mean there will be 3 pins per stack?
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Riyame

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Post Tue Sep 17, 2013 6:52 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

You see the holes in the bottom of the cores? You use a holder to hold the core and a special punch to drive the pins out of the top. If you want keys for them it would be easier to just get new keys cut and pin them to those keys.

In a master keyed lock there are usually 4 pins per stack. For a lock with no master key there are usually 3 pins per stack due to the control shear line.
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jeffmoss26

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Post Tue Sep 17, 2013 11:49 am

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

What Riy said.
A locksmith would either just dump the pins and start over (easier) or use a decoding block that empties each stack, you measure the pins, and cut keys to match (more labor).
femurat: They're called restricted for a reason...
Innerpicked: The more keys you carry, the more important you look
GWiens2001: Great video! Learned a lot about what fun can be had with a forklift and a chainsaw.
pmaxey83: but i first have to submit the proper forms for a new hobby to my wife
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rai

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Post Tue Sep 17, 2013 1:59 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

about soaking in solvent, some kind of sonic cleaner, like the top of the washing machine or the back of the pickup truck would definatly speed things up.

gunk can be soaked in still non moving solvent and still be there after the solvent evaporates, but with a greater adhesive abillity.
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Oldfast

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Post Tue Sep 17, 2013 10:35 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

On top of the washer machine.... Rai, that's not a bad idea!
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80553

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Post Thu Dec 12, 2013 8:44 pm

Re: How to pick old (dirty) locks?

I "love" old dirty padlocks, you've set all the pins but nothing happens - did the last pin cause a false set?
Nope, rusted shackle. After picking the lock you have to pull the shackle out like you're trying to tear the whole lock apart.

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