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Help With Spool Pin

lock picking techniques, videos, lessons, skills and building them so you can pick locks in nanoseconds.

Moderators: Kaotik, Chucklz

Help With Spool Pin

Postby MolonLabe » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:56 am

I've been working my way through various 6 pin configurations with my practice lock and am getting to a point where I can open it in under a minute (most of the time!). Since I had never encountered spool pins, I decided to drop one in pin stack 3 to give it a go. This single little spool pin is driving me nuts!

I know the theory behind picking spool pins, but I'm encountering problems. I can pick the lock to false set in a minute or so. I can then locate the spool pin easily by feeling the feedback and opposite movement in my tension tool. However, I can't get the spool pin to move past the shear line, even if I release ALL tension...I can take my hand completely off of the tensioner to no effect.

I've tried the overlifting technique and it still doesn't feel like I'm getting the spool pin above shear. Does anyone have any advice? So far, I'm wondering if it may be worth it to try lubricating the lock with a little graphite. I'm also thinking of removing pin stacks down to one stack with a spool pin and working up from there, but I would really like to get a feel for it with other standard driver pins in play. This is the first time I've wished I had a cutaway lock to see what's going on inside.

Any advice or help is greatly appreciated!
The only honorable response to violence is counter-violence. - Jeff Cooper
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby gloves » Fri Feb 24, 2012 5:43 am

Hello and welcome :)

I think that you replaced the driver pin, not the key one, right? :)
If you release all tension and still can't move your spool pin, I guess it either got catched on the shear line or your cylinder stays turned due to dirt/rust and you'd have to turn in the opposite direction manually in order to free it's movement, something which is counter-productive for defeating security pins :)

I suggest lubricating your lock a little, just enough to have your cylinder turn freely and spring back in position when no torque is applied.

With a little practive you'll beat if for sure :wink:

Cheers :D
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby dls » Fri Feb 24, 2012 7:57 am

if the lock has ballanced pinstacks and you have a short pin and short driver the whole stack may be below the shear also i the pins you used are not the right diameter for the lock you may have problems.
When picking starts to hurt take your finger out
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby MolonLabe » Fri Feb 24, 2012 9:46 am

Thanks guys...good replies!

Yes, I replaced the driver pin with the spool pin, not the key pin.

I'm fairly certain that my pin diameter is correct...this is an Ultimate Challenge Practice Lock based on a Sargent mortice lock and I'm using the pins that came with it. That's not to say a different diameter couldn't have snuck into the bag, though so I'll check it.

I'm starting to think that some metal dust from heavy use might be causing some binding, so I'm going to disassemble, clean, and lubricate the lock when I have a chance.

dls brings up a good point about pin length, which was brought up on another forum where I posed this question. That poster thought I might have too long of a pin in the stack causing issues. I'm pretty sure I have a short #1 pin in that stack, so I'll have to compare the spool pin to the driver it replaced to make sure it's not too short. I think an examination of the spring might show this also, since I would expect to see some deformation of the spring if that is the case.

I'll definitely try one thing at a time so I can determine the root cause and post my findings. Since this is the first time I've played with spool pins, I was worried that it was in my technique, but so far everything is pointing to a mechanical issue.

Great food for thought...thanks!
The only honorable response to violence is counter-violence. - Jeff Cooper
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby MolonLabe » Mon Feb 27, 2012 5:58 am

Looks like my problem was lubrication! I sprayed my lock down with an aerosol gun cleaning product and there was plenty of metallic dust in there (I've been using my practice lock A LOT! Lol) I didn't have any graphite on hand, so I decided to use another product that I use on my firearms called Militec. I prefer dry lubricants on my guns so there's no particle buildup on the inside and I figured it would be perfect for a lock. You just wipe this stuff on lightly and then heat it up, allowing it to impregnate the metal. The manufacturer recommends an oven on low or firing the weapon for the heat source. I've been using a hair dryer on high heat and it works beautifully! From that point on, there's no need for anything else since the coating is self lubricating. I coated the entire lock housing and all of my pins, springs, and set screws that came with the lock. I put everything in a bowl, covered it with a mesh screen (so small pieces wouldn't fly away), and blasted it all with a hairdryer until it was too hot to hold. After reassembly, my lock is buttery smooth in operation. The spool pin is now reacting the way I thought it should! It's amazing how much different it feels and how easily the spool pin is now moving.

I was so thrilled with the results that I swabbed some Militec on all of my picks, too. They're all plastic handled, spring steel Peterson picks, so I had to be careful not to heat them up for too long and risk melting or deforming the handles. I resisted the temptation to put some on my tension tools...didn't want those to be too slick and start jumping out of keyways on me.

I remember the HUGE difference in smoothness and feel when I polished my picks with a dremel and Mother's Mag polish. This was just as dramatic, by the same amount. I'm really gonna be spoiled if I have to use untreated picks!

Thanks for all of the replies...I'm glad it was something simple. I'm now able to focus on my technique!
The only honorable response to violence is counter-violence. - Jeff Cooper
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby gloves » Sat Mar 03, 2012 6:03 am

gloves wrote:I suggest lubricating your lock a little, just enough to have your cylinder turn freely and spring back in position when no torque is applied.


Just as expected, keep up training :wink:
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby Squelchtone » Sat Mar 03, 2012 7:55 am

MolonLabe wrote:Looks like my problem was lubrication!


That's what SHE said!

:lol:
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby sandplum » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:30 am

Graphite and pins are not friends. Sounds like the gun lube was a good choice.
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby Eyes_Only » Sat Mar 03, 2012 10:38 am

sandplum wrote:Graphite and pins are not friends. Sounds like the gun lube was a good choice.



Sandplum is here!!! :o
If a lock is a puzzle, then its key is the complete picture
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby sandplum » Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:33 am

Eyes_Only wrote:Sandplum is here!!! :o


< waves hello > :))))
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby MolonLabe » Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:52 am

squelchtone wrote:
MolonLabe wrote:Looks like my problem was lubrication!


That's what SHE said!

:lol:


Lol...I was wondering how long it would take for someone to drop that gem! Any proper discussion of lubrication is bound to end up there...
The only honorable response to violence is counter-violence. - Jeff Cooper
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby MolonLabe » Sun Mar 04, 2012 6:55 am

sandplum wrote:Graphite and pins are not friends. Sounds like the gun lube was a good choice.


Hey sandplum...what's your take on graphite? I'm not questioning your wisdom, it's just that there are so many contradictory opinions on what's best, that I'm curious.
The only honorable response to violence is counter-violence. - Jeff Cooper
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby sandplum » Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:07 pm

MolonLabe wrote:Hey sandplum...what's your take on graphite? I'm not questioning your wisdom, it's just that there are so many contradictory opinions on what's best, that I'm curious.


Ah, well, as I understand it, when graphite is used by lock manufacturers, they appy it as an extremely fine film and it works as a lube. But individuals working manually are rarely able to apply it so finely and they tend to use WAY too much. Apparently some manufacturers think this is bad for their locks and state that any use of graphite will void their warranty on the locks.

I my experience, some cylinders that have had graphite squirted in the keyway fail to work smoothly. (though they probably weren't woking great to start with, thus the graphite) I haven't done any tests on this myself, but I wonder if the graphite mixes with oils and debris in the plug, becomes granular and clogs up the pin chambers. What do you know about this? Any ideas?
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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby Squelchtone » Sun Mar 04, 2012 3:15 pm

The trouble is that over the years every one who walks up to the lock to service it has a different idea of what they think is the best way to lubricate the lock. One maintenance guy or locksmith may use graphite and it works great, then 5 years later the next guy who doesn't know any better uses WD40, and now you have a slurry in there, then 5 or 10 years go by and someone sprays silicone or Teflon spray in there, and then another person walks up a year later and puffs some graphite powder into the lock. You can see the muddy mess inside is not going to help anyone. Use one thing and stick to it. and take a lock apart and fully clean it every few years depending how often the lock is used (home, work, campus, office building, and main doors vs not often used door)

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Re: Help With Spool Pin

Postby dls » Sun Mar 04, 2012 5:01 pm

I use electrical contact cleaner it foams up inside the lock and washes most stuff out its non corrosive and removes oil and leaves no trace or residue, when its dry use any lube you like.
Dont use this stuff in the bedroom :lol:
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