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Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 7:37 pm
by mdc5150
So I think I have the spool pins down now, I can do them pretty easy. But I am having hell with the serrated pins. I've tried a few different American padlocks and an LSDA American lock copy with serrated pins. My problem is I'm getting a "mushy" feedback feeling. When I lift the pins they plow through but I never feel a definitive set. Anyone have any good adivce? I've looked through some old threads and they said light raking with a hook then light spp and I've tried that. Thanks in advance for any help.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:17 pm
by NNFAK
How much tension are you putting on the lock? Americans usually work best with a lot of tension so that might help.

A little trick that I use with serrated pins is if I think I have over set a pin I just take away almost all tension on the lock and that will usually make any pin that is not set fall but the pins that are set wont and I just keep picking the pins like that.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:23 pm
by LocksmithArmy
alot of tension only helps IF you know what a set serrated pin feels like...

for learning american locks (or serrated pins in general) I suggest extreamly light tension... little more than the tensors weight...
this will cause your binding pin to bypass the serrations and set at only the correct pin hight (hopefully) if you get a false set, work it out like a spool or mushroom pin.

AFTER you are confidently doing this for a long time you can get to where yo uknow the diffeerence in set and false set and what the diffeences in mush feel like... then move up in your tension for faster times and what not.

another big tip for americans specifically is you almost always must use top tension... the tensor binds the plug and it wont turn nomatter what your setting...

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Wed Jan 11, 2012 10:20 pm
by NNFAK
LocksmithArmy wrote:alot of tension only helps IF you know what a set serrated pin feels like...

for learning american locks (or serrated pins in general) I suggest extreamly light tension... little more than the tensors weight...
this will cause your binding pin to bypass the serrations and set at only the correct pin hight (hopefully) if you get a false set, work it out like a spool or mushroom pin.

AFTER you are confidently doing this for a long time you can get to where yo uknow the diffeerence in set and false set and what the diffeences in mush feel like... then move up in your tension for faster times and what not.

another big tip for americans specifically is you almost always must use top tension... the tensor binds the plug and it wont turn nomatter what your setting...


That's weird, when I was picking my first American every time I tried to use light tension I over set the pin. Everyone is different so I guess you just have to find what really works for you.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 1:15 am
by xeo
I use hard tension on American locks and I don't even pay attention to the sound or feeling. Instead, I know how much force is required to overlift (force a keypin past the shearline) and I avoid using that much force. Instead of feeling for a binding pin I feel if a pin will lift. I think there's a huge difference there. This method also works on lots of other locks.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:12 am
by Oldfast
Everyones' technique will be different.... here's my thoughts on serrated pins (specific to AmericanLock Series 1100 & 1105)

I would suggest breakin' it down. Start with say, 3 serrated drivers. Get to where you know EXACTLY how many
'clicks' each one takes to set. You've now created a controlled environment to begin experimenting in.

1. Purposely overset a pin and feel the "mushyness" you referred to. Also note how easily you can let off the tension slightly
and drop ONLY the pin you just overset without losing previously set pins. American locks are very forgiving in this way.

2. Although I wouldn't spend too much time dwelling on this... if you choose to... there's several 'indicators' you can tryin' acclimate yourself to.
There's certainly a difference that can be felt & heard when passing a serration as opposed to hitting the shearline. Obviously, the heavier the tension,
the more pronounced these differences will become. Also, (something that's helped me anyway) is the fact that the core sets in these locks fairly loose.
Vertical movement of the core within the body while lifting a pin can reveal a great deal as well.

3. This, to me, is the most important & has given me the most success with these locks. I would gear most of your experimenting towards finding
what I call the 'perfect threshold'. I'm referring to your pick & the force you use to lift a pin. Kinda what Xeo eluded to. The perfect threshold is this:
A lifting force sufficient enough to overcome serrations, yet not so great as to push the pin beyond the shearline (overset). Finding this perfect
pressure can be a bit tricky. But just experiment with overlifting. Note JUST how much pressure it took to do so.... then tryin' avoid using that
much next time. Once you've honed in on this, you'll know when it's time to leave a pin alone because it'll feel too hard to push any further.
In big technical, scientific wording, it'll all play out something like this - click... click... click... HARD. lol

4. TENSION: How much tension you use is not nearly as important as maintaining a consistant tension WHILE lifting each pin. Feel free to vary the tension
when searching for the binding pin and what not... but when you actually go to lift a pin, tryin' revert back to the same amount you used when lifting the last
pin. If your tension is different, so too, will be that perfect lifting pressure you came to know so well.

I tend to complicate the livin' shit outta things...lol... but I hope that helped somehow.

http://youtu.be/LkjMioA6F9s

Dunno if watchin' this will help.... but you can see how the cores dance around in the locks.
You might also be able to get an idea of the kind of tension I prefer to use with Americans.
You can see (especially on the 2nd to last lock) the entire tensor vibrating. If I had to put it
into words, I'd say medium,light tension. NOT to be confused with light,medium tension.
lol

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 2:17 pm
by mdc5150
Thank you to everyone that responded and anyone else who wants to. Great info and I will keep coming back and referring to it.

After reading everything the lock I am working on right now I must be oversetting a pin or two. I get some serious counter rotation out of two pins, the first three pins feel set and the back two pins are free.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Thu Jan 12, 2012 6:56 pm
by jailersmith
BOK will work if you insert tension tool all the way in then withdraw until TW changes angle with only 1/4 inch inserted. The feedback is similar to center of plug tension. Works when you don't have a TOK tool available.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2012 10:41 pm
by mdc5150
Just opened a 5200 that I got off of ebay in about 30 seconds. I'm a little suspicious so I will gut it later.

Just tore it down and just as I suspected it has a grand total of ZERO security pins. I've pinned up the bottom pins with serrated and I'm picking that consistently now I will start adding serrated top pins.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 4:45 am
by mdc5150
Ok, so as I said above I got a new American 5200. After I took all the top pins out I found out it had 4 spools. I picked it with straight bottom pins no problem without realizing there were spool pins. I removed the one standard top pin and two spools and put in serrated top pins. So here is is on the drivers, 1, 2, 5 are serrated and 3 and 4 are spools. All the bottoms pins are also serrated. Is this about standard now for a 5200 because I was able to pick that?

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:06 am
by Oldfast
mdchurchill wrote:....Is this about standard now for a 5200 because I was able to pick that?....

I'm sure they can all vary somewhat. But I'd say yeah, that's about right. I just went and tore apart my one and only 5200 for ya:

It had 3 serrated drivers and 2 hybrid spools. The spools were in positions 3 and 5.

I've also come across other American series with ALL serrated drivers... but it's usually a mixed bag of spools & serrated.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 1:09 pm
by mdc5150
Oldfast wrote:
mdchurchill wrote:....Is this about standard now for a 5200 because I was able to pick that?....

I'm sure they can all vary somewhat. But I'd say yeah, that's about right. I just went and tore apart my one and only 5200 for ya:

It had 3 serrated drivers and 2 hybrid spools. The spools were in positions 3 and 5.

I've also come across other American series with ALL serrated drivers... but it's usually a mixed bag of spools & serrated.


Thank you! At last I can pick a damn American padlock. I can pick it consistently too. It will be my American confidence lock.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 6:43 pm
by LocksmithArmy
master bought american lock... and when they first bought em a few years ago they started making em with no security pins... idk if that has changed. I just know when the army bought a ton they had no security pins, they had to go back and reorder all of what they bought to get the security back...

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Sun Jan 15, 2012 7:25 pm
by Oldfast
LocksmithArmy wrote:master bought american lock... and when they first bought em a few years ago they started making em with no security pins... idk if that has changed. I just know when the army bought a ton they had no security pins, they had to go back and reorder all of what they bought to get the security back...

I KNOW RIGHT!? It's an absolute shame. I've made several similar purchases lately. Nothin' like fuckin' up a good thing. lol

Nice job on the 5200 Matt! I still come across some that throw me for a loop... guess that's one reason I like em'.

Re: Help with serrated pins

PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2012 5:26 am
by mdc5150
Thank you to eveyone who offered up some helpful words. I'm on my way and have a couple locks now with serrated pins that I can pick. I love this place.