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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 4412

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:12 pm


You've enabled me to enjoy this hobby far beyond what I could've ever done alone!
I can only hope, in some small way...... this will help someone else do the same.

SECTION 1- Very Brief History
SECTION 2- Pins - What to Expect
SECTION 3- Tools - Picks n' Tensors
SECTION 4- Lockpicking Americans
SECTION 5- American Picks Illustrated
Last edited by Oldfast on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."


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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 4412

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:13 pm


So my love affair with American Locks all started with this old Series 50.
Torched & pryed off the back of a semi, it layed on the ground for the winter.


As a newbie, it provided me with an epic battle.
It was my first real challenge (and accomplishment),
and also served as my introduction to serrated drivers.

Nearly two years later, I STILL enjoy collecting and picking these locks!
And I'm pleased to say that I still run into some that give me a run for my money.


How sexy is that?! All those Americans lined up and bent over. lol

. . ... .... ..... .......... .................... ............ ..... ... ..... ............ .................... .......... ..... .... ... . .

Although I'd love nothing more than to post a complete & comprehensive guide to American locks...
this article will simply entail what I have personally come to know and experience with these locks.

Not only for the sake of space, but for accuracy - I've decided to exclude three additional sections
on bypassing, bumping, and impressioning. Although I've done my fair share of all three when it comes to
Americans... I'll be honest, I just don't feel experienced enough to be writing about them. Better to exclude
something all together than to run the risk of presenting inaccurate or incomplete information. I will probably
finish these sections eventually and post them at a later date... possibly in a different section of the forum.

It's not about being right or wrong... rather, a collective effort to provide an accurate article so that others may learn, experience, and enjoy

. . . .. ... ..... ...... ........ ............ ............... History ............... ............ ........ ...... ..... .... ... .. . . .

It should be noted: American Lock has been affiliated with Master Lock for quite some time. Today, American Lock is wholly owned and operated by Master Lock. They are now producing locks that look identical to that of an American, but are drastically different on the inside. They seem to have abandoned the use of security pins altogether in many of the locks. Instead, opting to fill them with standard, cylindrical drivers and keypins. During my web-browsing sessions, I actually came across some rather disturbing things. But what Master Lock has done to the American Lock Co., its' employees, and its' products since acquiring it, is a topic in and of itself! As hard as it is, I will refrain from ranting and stick to the topic at hand. Here, we're talking about the Americans that we've all come to know and love.... the 'TRUE' American locks!

. . ... .... ..... .......... .................... ............ ..... ... ..... ............ .................... .......... ..... .... ... . .
Admittedly, delving into the history behind a company and/or lock has never really been my thing.
However, this proved to be a rather exciting company to look into! Truly one of the better lock producers in
our history, the American Lock Company has provided us all with many innovations. Unfortunately the majority
of sites I found all contained the same, very brief historical write-up on the company, and little more. Of course,
there's always the historical business stats that can be found for any company, but that only reveals so much.

One of the sites I came across belongs to a avid collector of American Locks. After drooling over his collection
for a bit, I contacted him in hopes of obtaining any additional history he may be willing to share. Roger was kind
enough to respond, but admitted he really had nothing new in comparison to what I had already gathered. He also
mentioned he was contacted several years ago by John Junkuncs' great grand daughter, who was also hoping to find
some history. Overall, I was rather disappointed with the lack of historical information I was able to obtain about
this company and its' founder. Needless to say, this section of the article could certainly afford to be expanded.
. . ... .... ..... .......... .................... ............ ..... ... ..... ............ .................... .......... ..... .... ... . .

In 1912 John Junkunc (founder of American Lock) was working as a railroad machinist when he created
the 'dial combination lock'. One of the first of its' kind, it became so popular that Junkunc quit his job at the
railroad and moved to Chicago where he worked full time fulfilling orders for his keyless lock.

By 1919 he relocated his company to a larger facility and began focusing his efforts towards producing a
high quality padlock at a lower cost. During their quest for security & quality the American Lock Co.
introduced many innovations to the lock world. Many of which are commonly seen in our locks today!
Hardend steel shackles, high security cover plates, and shackless padlocks (such as the pucklock),
all originated from this company. In the 1920's, they introduced their solid steel padlock bodies
(series 700), which became the foundation for American Locks' industrial grade security.

One of the more important contributions in my opinion, came with Junkunc's patent for the double ball
locking mechanism. Rather than spring-loaded latches, two ball bearings work in conjunction with a
central control cam in order to secure the shackle. If the cam is not aligned properly, the ball bearings
simply have nowhere to go, regardless of the pressure placed upon them. This effectively makes the
lock unshimmable, and makes it much more apt to withstand blunt force, and/or prying.
Any padlock on the shelves today worthy of your money will employ this mechanism.

double ball locking mechanism
Image Image
locked . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . unlocked

And last, but certainly not least, Americans' signature trait... their serrated security pins!
Unfortunately, I was unable to locate any patents and/or documents confirming this, but I do believe
the idea of a serrated pin originated with this company. And, more than one source I came across eluded
to it as being a "first" from the American Lock Company. Designed to complicate picking, they can also to some
extent, interfere with bumping and impressioning. American utilizes these serrations on both their driverpins and
keypins. We'll be taking a close look at these pins, their affects on picking, and how to overcome them.
Last edited by Oldfast on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."


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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 4412

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:13 pm


. . . .. ... ..... ...... ....... .......... Pins - what to expect .......... ....... ...... ..... .... ... .. . . .

:armed: Know Thy Enemy . . . :armed:

The more we know about a lock and what to expect... the more equipped we are to deal with it.

So lets first take a very close look at the security pins American Lock uses, and why.


First off, American Lock uses serrated keypins. This is a constant that we can always assume.
The only exception to this is on keypins that coincide with depth cuts 1 and 2, as these pins are too short
to effectively place serrations on. It's possible these were first introduced in order to combat an oldschool
attack known as reverse-picking. As these pins would render such an attack nearly obsolete.

Today, they complicate single-pin-picking (SPP)... specifically in regards to overset pinstacks.
If we have overset a pinstack, it means we've lifted it too far, and the keypin itself has begun to enter the hull.
The serrations help the keypin catch and bind above the shearline. Basically, they help an overset pin to STAY overset.

counter rotation... the stuff fun's made of

You'll also hear these pins referred to as 'spoorated' or 'hybrid spools'.
Although there's a serration at either end, you'll find they rarely complicate matters. In fact,
the feedback you'll receive when picking these is nearly identical to that of a regular spool pin.

In order to understand a spool pin and its' consequences, lets first imagine a standard cylindrical driver pin :stddriver:
This is a pin with a constant diameter from top to bottom. Such a pin, even when binding, is easily lifted and slides
smoothly across the shearline. In contrast, a spool pins' midsection is of a smaller diameter :spool: and is designed to get
hung up at the shearline and complicate picking. If you feel you're fully acquainted with spools and find yourself asking
"what's next?"... then it's time for an American lock!

There's now a great deal of 'how-to' literature/video on picking spool pins; the false-sets that occur
and the counter-rotation required to pick them. For that reason, this article will not go into any further
discussion on this type of security pin. If by chance, you're unfamiliar to spools, or not quite proficient with
them yet... I'd encourage you to back-track just a bit before tackling American locks.

However, don't ever let me or anyone else keep you from attempting a lock that you're "not ready for yet". Certainly, there's a
sensible progression when just starting out that could very well save you a great deal of frustration...
but half the fun is tackling something you shouldn't be able to pick yet!

crunch crunch crunch... music to my ears

Again, these security pins are designed to complicate picking. The multiple serrations help to confuse & frustrate us.

As each serration reaches the shearline, we are given the false impression of a correctly set pinstack.
The depth of the serration allows the plug to turn ever so slightly, causing yet another pin to bind...
which only helps to reinforce our false notion that the previous pin was indeed set correctly.

No big deal you say?
Try jumping headlong into a 6-pin lock that's fully loaded with nothing but serrated drivers & keypins...
and you may quickly find yourself drowning in a rather large bowl of Captain Crunch. :shock: lol

Really, in all seriousness though, these pins aren't nearly as devistating as you might think.
Especially when you consider the 'shallowness' of these serrations. Some companies use much
deeper and wider serrations than American Lock. Once you've acquired a good balance between
tension and lifting force, we're able to begin reliably deciphering what's truly going on.

When it comes to lockpicking, serrated drivers are at the heart of American Locks' security.
The final section of this article will deal exclusively with these pins and how to overcome them.


Bare in mind, some of my locks were purchased brand new, straight from the factory.
But the majority of them were acquired second-hand. In other words, it's quite possible
that any number of my locks were re-keyed somewhere along the way prior to reaching me.
I do believe though, that this is a fairly accurate view of what your apt to find in an American.

NEVER have I personally come across one containing ALL spools.
I HAVE however come across plenty that contained ALL serrated drivers.

Generally though, we'll find a mixture of the two arranged in any
number of configurations. It could be a 2:3 ratio... or possibly a 1:4

from the top, down: these samples were taken from...
Series 1305, 1100, 1105, 'ACE brand' American, and a 1205

If you're interested, there's other Americans I've gutted scattered throughout this thread:
"Oldfast's gutted locks"..... viewtopic.php?p=40262#p40262
Last edited by Oldfast on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."


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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 4412

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:13 pm


. . . .. ... ..... ...... ........ ............ ............... Tools ............... ............ ........ ...... ..... .... ... .. . . .

First thing we assess with any lock is the keyway, as this will dictate what tools we decide to use.

-left: Here we have a Series 1105 that uses an AM3 keyway. These are not paracentric, which means.....
-middle: The wards do not infringe upon the center of the keyway. So we've a straight shot from top to bottom.
-right: Here you can see I'm lifting pin 1 while levering my pick off the bottom of the keyway. The warding poses no threat.


When starting out, you'll likely come across literature stating that the 'true' and 'correct' way to pick
is to touch ONLY the working end of your pick to the pin that is currently being lifted. This is bullshit.
Whenever the lock allows for it, use the warding or bottom of the keyway to your advantage by levering
your pick off them. The very precise and contolled lifting that can be acheived in this manner FAR exceeds
that of a free-floating pick. I would most certainly recommend taking the time to become proficient with this
other method though, as you will not always be afforded the luxury of being able to lever your pick off something.


Top or bottom? Again, be sure to experiment and go with whatever gives you the most success. But if you ask, I'll say TOP!
Never have a I heard a sufficient reason that would prompt me to tension from the bottom of an American keyway.
Instead, we tension from the top, leaving us with an enormous amount of room to attack the pins from below.

My 'top three' tensors when it comes to American locks (2 homebrews & a Peterson prybar).


Worth noting while on the topic of tensors:
A pair of side-cutters can be used to obtain a sort of serrated/dimple effect that provides a nice grip on the keyway.
But don't be too quick to crimp all your wrenches. The raised dimples add width to the tool and will limit the keyways it can fit.

(this idea is not original to me, and I'm not really certain who FIRST did this... but I REALLY like it!)


Various hooks seem to be the preference for most. There's many brands/styles to choose from. Here's my 'go-to' hooks.

top: SouthOrd standard shorthook (heavily modified)... viewtopic.php?p=53231#p53231
This is usually the first one in. The added strength allows me to use heavier tension if I choose to.
And surprisingly, this shorthook will tackle some of the most extreme high/low bittings with no problems.
So if you decide to go with a medium-deep hook, you can rest assured it'll be capable of any American bitting,
along with any locks that may have been rekeyed that are not within the MACS.

middle: SouthOrd slimline medium hook (slightly modified): Still one of my 'all-around' favorites.
bottom: Peterson slender gem: MANY people swear by this pick... and I would have to agree.

Or you may find you're better suited to a Deforest pick. These are brilliant picks that can produce some amazing results.
You'll notice the more gradual hook that's placed on these. The resulting profile allows the pick to ride low, yet lift high.

This offset 1/2 ball (one of only a few home-brews I've ever done) was one of my favorites for some time.

And here's SouthOrd's slimline version of an offset diamond.
Last edited by Oldfast on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."


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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 4412

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:13 pm


Certainly the most difficult section of this article. It's hard enough to explain the 'feel' of a lock to someone in person, let alone trying to convey it on paper. And we all know when it comes to picking there's really no right or wrong way... there are many means to the same end. I've seen people (quickly & reliably) just sort of jiggle/rake/scrub these locks into a false set, then work from there. I've even seen them simply raked open. But these are not always reliable methods for all of us. So here we'll focus only on single-pin-picking (SPP).

Before settling on any one method, be sure to have a THOROUGH look around to get a good feel for how others might approach these locks. Then, go with what feels natural to you. As mentioned, this article entails only MY personal experience and thoughts. Obviously, a brief write-up such as this won't give you everything you need. But I will attempt... ATTEMPT lol... to go into excruciating detail on the various techniques that I've come to favor and find the most success with.

. . . .. ... .... ..... ...... ........ ............ Lockpicking Americans ............ ........ ...... ..... .... ... .. . . .

Serrated Drivers

Before discussing the actual picking of serrated drivers, it's only logical we first tryn' gain a thorough understanding of them.
The simplest way to do this, I've found, is to take a look at a standard cylindrical driver in comparison to a serrated driver.

:stddriver: .....versus..... :serrated:

Here we have the most basic of driver pins. It has a smooth surface and a consistant diameter from end to end. Such a pin, even
when binding, is easily lifted and slides smoothly across the shearline. In contrast, serrated pins are anything but smooth.
The multiple serrations provide plenty of resistance as we attempt to lift them above the shearline.

More so than resistance, they're designed to confuse and frustrate. As each serration reaches the shearline, we receive
a distinct 'click' that can be heard and felt. This feedback gives us the false impression of a correctly set pinstack.
Also, the depth of each serration allows the plug to turn ever so slightly, causing yet another pin to bind.
This only helps to reinforce our false notion that the previous pin was indeed set correctly.

There is one other thing I'd like to touch on, and I've heard it more than once. The idea is this:
"by revisiting an incorrectly set serrated driver, you'll inevitably lose ALL previously set pins"

By no means am I saying this is false. There's certainly truth to this statement, as there will be plenty of times
that this will cause you to lose one, two, or even all of the other pins. (when this happens, just continue picking...
you're one step closer to reaching the true binding order
) However, I've picked a fair amount of these locks, and this
does not entirely coincide with my experience. Often times I find I can revisit a pin, lifting it passed additional
serrations (like it should've been the first time around) and not lose any of my previously made progress.

Picking Serrated Pins

So we now know the problem: "have I truly set the pin, or am I hung up on a serration?"
Our solution must be a method that enables us to reliably differenciate between the two.

Once we've acclimated our senses to the subtle differences between a set and a serration,
these pins will become far less daunting than you might think. This doesn't mean that we'll
always be able to pick them with absolute ease every time... but you may be surprised to
find just how quickly and reliably you can overcome these security pins much of the time.

Sight, sound, and feel, can all play a role. The majority of our focus however, must be placed on feel!
It is by far, our most reliable source for deciphering true from false when dealing with serrated pins.
The other two (sight & sound) are merely complimentary to feel. They can give us a broader view
of what's going on inside the lock, and also help to confirm the insights we've gained through feel.

Depending on several factors, the feedback we receive from sight and sound can not only be dampend (or non-existant),
but can even be deceiving. So again, emphasis is placed on feel, and our practice sessions should be geared towards
honing our sense of touch. Bearing this in mind... lets take a look at all three, and how they can help us.

I've all but excluded this from my technique, and debated whether it should even be included in this article. However,
you may find it more useful than I, and is therefore worth mentioning. Here's what I'm talking about. The cores in these
locks are seated loosely within the body. This is especially true of the locks within the 1100 Series along with many others.
So much so, that you'll sometimes observe the entire core move upward with your pick as you attempt to lift a pinstack.

If you tend to use fairly light tension with these locks, this core movement may serve as a useful indicator...
letting you know that the pin is set, and any further lifting will result in an overset pinstack. On the other hand,
if you prefer medium-heavy tension (as I do), the movement of the core becomes irrelevant and tells us nothing
about what's really going on. We can be lifting a pin past a serration, or lifting a pin that is already set...
and in both cases, the core is apt to move.

Some may downplay this as a viable means of recognizing a serration from a set. But for me personally,
it has proved to be quite useful. Again, it is secondary only to 'feel'. But when I take careful note of what
I'm hearing, and couple it with what I'm feeling, it creates for a devastating combination that allows me to
plow through these locks. Well, not ALL of them of course... lol... but a good majority anyways.

Admittedly, it's rather difficult to put into words. But there does exist a slight (but noticable) difference
in the sound produced by a serration as opposed to a set. When a serration hits the shearline, a somewhat
dull 'click' will be heard. A 'true set' however, seems to give off a cleaner, more crisp 'snap'. So if we were
to put this in big technical terms, the picking of one pinstack might go like this: click, click, click, snap. lol

To what degree we're able to utilize sound depends on a couple of things though. Again, tension is a factor here.
We're always looking for subtle differences when picking a lock. As a general rule, the heavier the tension being
used, the more pronounced these differences become. So, if you like to use fairly light tension with these locks,
you may find that sound is not much of a tool for interpretation. The other factor is the condition of the lock.
Some locks have been lubricated many times over the years with both wet AND dry lubricants. The mixture of
the two eventually creates a greasy paste that can dampen or even kill the feedback we would've otherwise
received from sound. Other large amounts of foreign debris can essentially create the same affect.

Probably the most difficult of the three senses to acquire. But this my friends, is our bread & butter when it comes
to killing Americans. Devote your time and effort... and it will pay off. This may look like alot at first glance, but it's not.
Really, it's more complicated to put into words than it is to do. Just give this a good thorough read and begin experimenting.

We want a good balance between tension and lifting force. But lets look more so at lifting force for a moment.
I'm referring to your pick & the force you use to lift a pin. We're looking to achieve what I call the 'perfect threshold'

-a lifting force sufficient enough to overcome serrations, yet not so great as to push the pin beyond the shearline (overset)-

Once we've found this optimal lifting force and become proficient with it, it tells us everything!
We'll lift a pin past any serrations required. Yet when the pin hits the shearline and is actually set,
it will feel too hard to push any further... we'll know it's time to leave it alone and move on. Again, the
perfect lifting force allows us to notice this 'hardness' without oversetting the pin. Once more, in big technical,
scientific wording, it'll all play out something like this - click... click... click... HARD. lol

As I mentioned, there must be a balance between tension and lifting force. However, don't be overly concerned with this...
the balance between the two will occur almost naturally. The optimal lifting force will be directly proportional to the amount
of tension being applied. Since we all use a different amount of tension, the optimal lifting force will be different for each of us.
So when you start experimenting, simply use the tension you prefer. When you find the lifting force that produces results for you,
that force will automatically be taylored to the amount of tension you were using when you found it. Just be aware that if the
tension changes, so too will that optimum lifting force that you previously found worked so well.

If you're struggling with this, you may find it beneficial to get to know the lock you're working with. Know the binding order.
And even more importantly... know exactly how many serrations must be past for each pinstack before it's truly set. Now you have
a controlled environment in which to begin experimenting. Your goal: find the lifting force that is JUST SLIGHTLY LIGHTER than that
required to overlift the pinstack. Start out by purposely oversetting a pin. Feel the mushyness that occurs. Take careful note of just
how much force it took to overlift. Then do it again, each time using a little less lifting force than the last. Eventually, you'll arrive at
your optimal lifting force that creates that perfect threshold. I'll touch on this once more in a minute, giving you one more example.


Lets talk briefly about the actual finding and lifting of pinstacks.

FINDING the binding pinstack can be done in one of two ways... lets call them 'pattern testing' and 'sweeping'.

Just as the name implies, each pin is methodically tested while following a pattern. This insures we don't miss any pins.
That 'perfect threshold' pressure is applied to each pin as we work our way from the back pin, to the front pin... or we might work
from the front to the back. Whatever pattern you prefer, it will likely have to be repeated several times over before the lock opens.

Here, we start at the back of the lock and lightly run/pull our hook over the pins to the front in order to locate the binding pin.
With this motion, our hook tends to kind of catch, snag, and stop at the solid binding pin. Sweeping is a wonderful time saver.
It allows us to quickly zero in on the pin that needs to be targeted, while wasting no time on the pins that are not yet binding.
I love this technique! Sweeping is almost always my initial attack when it comes to nearly any lock. But using this method with
Americans places me in the minority. The majority of people I see picking an American lock usually prefer pattern testing...
and with good reason. When it comes to picking serrated drivers (or spools), there's a downside to using this technique...

- Imagine the state of a pinstack where the driverpin has been lifted onto or past one or more serrations.
That driverpin will then bare the spring load, leaving the keypin beneath it 'free-floating'. I call these 'hangers'.

For us, when we come across a free-floating keypin (no springyness), we usually assume that particular pinstack has been set.
This means we could potentially glide over a keypin, and not realize the driverpin above it is binding. So even though a keypin
may feel loose, its' driverpin may still require additional lifting past several more serrations. If you don't truly set each pinstack
the VERY FIRST time you come in contact with it, you'll leave behind a 'hanger' that will have to be found later.

For this reason, I tend to use both methods depending on how things are going. If I've swept through a lock, and it's
not popped after a short time with this method, I'll revert to pattern testing to finish it off. I suppose this would be
similar to a competitive picker who sets what he can using a rake, then switches to a hook to get any remaining pins.

LIFTING pinstacks is a thing of preference as well. I mainly see (and use) two main techniques.

1. You may opt to lift each pin in one continuous, motion. This way of lifting a pin is pretty straight forward,
and probably doesn't require much more explaning than that. A constant yet consistant lifting force is applied,
and the pin is gradually brought to the shearline in one fluent motion.

2. The other option is to 'bounce' your pick. Using the word bounce to describe this technique is probably not
the best idea, as it implies a sort of 'out-of-control lift'. Quite the contrary. What we're doing here is applying
a very controlled and consistant lifting force to the pin. But instead of the force being continuous, it's delivered
to the pin in a rythmic/pulsating fashion. A more appropriate word might be 'nudging', since that's basically
what we're doing; nudging the pin little by little until we hit the shearline.

Both of these methods can work well. Or, you may find your own style that works better for you.
But regardless of how you decide to lift, you must keep in mind what we discussed earlier - finding
and MAINTAINING that optimal lifting force that creates that perfect threshold. I know I'm getting
redundant with this but it is by far the most important thing I've mentioned in this article. Like it or not,
I've taken it upon myself to beat the livin' shit out of this horse from every angle until you get the hang of it.
Feel free to ask, and I'll be more than willing to pick up my beatin' stick again...lol. But this should about do it.

Lets say for example you're working on a pinstack. You've heard and felt the 'clicks' and know you've lifted it past several serrations.
All of sudden that SAME lifting force you JUST used to pass those previous few serrations does not seem adequate enough to lift the
pin any farther. At this point, a red flag should go up! The state of the pinstack has changed; it's no longer responding to our 'optimal
lifting force'. This means the pin is set and any further lifting will result in an overset. It's time to leave it alone and move on.

In addition, this may be accompanied by a couple of other tell-tale signs (sight & sound). But, as we discussed earlier,
these are dependent upon the condition of the lock and the amount of tension you're using. You may have noticed the
final 'click' was a slightly more pronounced 'snap' in comparison to the first two serrations that you past. You may also
notice the entire core moves upward within the lock body as you test the pin a bit more.

Our first encounter with serrated drivers can be frustrating.
Our natural tendency is to want to "lift just a LITTLE harder"........or, "I think I can get just ONE MORE CLICK out of this pinstack".
The result is always the same... an overlifted pinstack. Train yourself to stay within that optimal lifting force.... no more, no less.
This force will not be sufficient enough to push a pin beyond the shearline, hence... will not ALLOW you to overlift. On the other
hand, some of us are so fearful of overlifting that we don't lift far enough... leaving you with those annoying 'hangers'.
Again, if you have found the correct lifting force, you can test pins all you want without fear of overlifting them.
Last edited by Oldfast on Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."


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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

Posts: 4412

Joined: Thu Mar 31, 2011 3:16 pm

Location: Michigan

Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:14 pm


. . . .. ... .... ..... ...... ...... ........ American Picks Illustrated ........ ...... ...... ..... .... ... .. . . .

I wrote:Before settling on any one method, be sure to have a THOROUGH look around to get a good feel for how others might approach these locks.
Then, go with what feels natural to you. As mentioned, this article entails only MY personal experience and thoughts.

So here's a good start. I've compiled a few vids from some of the other members here. Thanks to all for allowing me to use them!
Some of these will help illustrate some of the points I've made. Others have a style all their own. And some I just love watchin'.
There's no shortage of videos on various American locks. Continue searching and you'll find hundreds more.

darkhorse ......... http://youtu.be/MTKtLWuU-Qw .... Series 30
ImSchatten360.... http://youtu.be/TQ5R02w8rVo ..... Series 200
awol70 ............. http://youtu.be/UwE3NUJK5vY .... Series 700
Oldfast.............. http://youtu.be/QRcjbruVT7k ..... Series 700
mech................ http://youtu.be/ZuLqWcYSFeQ .... Series 748
KokomoLock....... http://youtu.be/IW-etokvEHo ...... Series 1100 Custom 6-pin
MrPharmer2012... http://youtu.be/NYGzzLV4lDA ..... Series 1100 James Bond style
xeo.................. http://youtu.be/5vAN37LeGDo .... Series 1100 x 3
cyrano138.......... http://youtu.be/I244p71-Sbo ...... Series 1100
KokomoLock....... http://youtu.be/LM1r581EuF0 ..... American Barrel Lock
xeo.................. http://youtu.be/RddrdMZwAV8 ... American Barrel Lock
MrPharmer2012... http://youtu.be/NOUPJrkpRyQ .... Series 1100 Bumped/Raked w/ Dcap
Oldfast.............. http://youtu.be/BE44PqSgjlM ..... Series 2000
chris................. http://youtu.be/tpGWkvv_lm4 .... Series 5200
LocksmithArmy.... http://youtu.be/4j_W0_be-KM .... Series 5200 Picked Backwards
mdchurchill........ http://youtu.be/5DysU-Pl-Sk ....... Series 5360 Shrouded
Last edited by Oldfast on Tue Aug 07, 2012 2:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."


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Sargent Mossberg
Sargent Mossberg

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Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:47 pm


Thanks for the great writeup. I've got several American padlocks but have not picked any successfully. Hopefully your guide will help me!
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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Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:02 pm




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Familiar Face

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Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 8:38 pm


1st off let me just say wow now that write up is frickin` awesome man! this should be made into a pdf and uploaded for future reference.. thanks for the hard work put into it! .. and 2nd thanks for including my video... :)


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Familiar Face

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Post Mon Aug 06, 2012 9:24 pm


Amazing work on this write up, I vote stickie! :D
"My only definite plan is that in the future I'm definitely just using this screwdriver for screwing in screws" -The Doctor

┓┏ 凵 =╱⊿┌┬┐


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Post Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:09 am


mech wrote:1st off let me just say wow now that write up is frickin` awesome man! this should be made into a pdf and uploaded for future reference.. thanks for the hard work put into it! .. and 2nd thanks for including my video... :)

I feel the same way. The only thing I have to add is my vote for a sticky on this thread! Excellent work. :hbg:


Keeper of the Bests / Supreme Overlord of Small Format Interchangeable Picking Nightmares

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Post Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:12 am


Great article man. I can see you put a lot of time and effort in to it.
PhoneMan: I always knew I'd say something stupid and it would be someone's sig
macgng: i am an equal opportunity pervert
macgng: aww fuck thats goin in someone sig :-(

If life gives you melons, you might be dyslexic.


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Post Tue Aug 07, 2012 1:17 am


:agree: yep, sticky it!
(20:10:59) Blacky: oki
(20:18:08) MBI: Me working for the CIA is about as likely as you working in the Middle East.
(20:19:01) Riyame: lol
(20:19:05) Riyame: he is in dubai
(20:19:26) MBI rescinds his previous comment


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Doctor... Contributor
Doctor... Contributor

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Location: San Diego CA

Post Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:40 am

Great write up

But did nt you forget to mention my all time favorite tools used to pick an American a bobby pin as tension tool and a pick cut from a hotel key Card with scissors hahaha check it out Americans don't require anything special to open just the right touch and getting the feel down I prove that here
Last edited by MrPharmer2012 on Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:48 am, edited 1 time in total.


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I've Been Banned!!
I've Been Banned!!

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Post Tue Aug 07, 2012 3:45 am


Bloody AMAZING job man... as you probably guessed ,having seen the number of YT vids i have done on American Locks I have always considered them my favorite lock of all time.
A love affair,if you will. ;)
" I Love the smell of napalm in the morning!....."


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