Small Tip #1

Ever pick up a game from an auction and found that it had no keys for its locks? Or ever been cleaning out the bottom of a cabinet you picked up from an operator and found spare keys on the bottom or behind the coin door? Well, now you can take these mismatch parts and put them to good use.

I would buy games at auctions and from operators that had locks with no keys, or I'd have spare keys from some other game or that were found in the bottom of the cabinet or on the back of coin doors which had no locks. I put all the pieces into a "lock box", scrounging pieces from it when needed. I found however, that the box started getting full of locks which had no keys, and keys which had no locks. "How can I make use of these locks? None of the key match up to the locks. There's got to be a way to reuse these."

Well, back in my high school days I did a little studying in lock picking (don't ask, let's just say it came in handy ;-)), so I knew the basic priciples: the notches in the key raise pins such that they line up and are flush with the plug (the part of the lock that rotates). Being flush with the plug is known as the sheer line. When all the pins are at the sheer line, the plug can rotate in the hull (the part of the lock that doesn't move--the case).

Anyway, pulling the plug out of the case reveals the pins. What I do is this: take my inventory of keys and plugs, inserting the keys into the plugs until I find a key which has the pins closest to the sheer line. When I find one that is close, I do the following: take a dremel tool, grinder, Black & Decker Wizard, file, whatever, and grind down the pins so that they are flush to the plug (sheer line). If most pins are close, but maybe one or two pins are way out of range of being close, I will simply pull those pins out completely.

Once all the pins are flush, I insert it into the appropriate hull, rotate it a few times to make sure it is a smooth fit, and viola! A perfectly good lock.

I know locks can be picked up brand new for around $2.50 at some places, but if you deal with a lot of games (like I do), it adds up.

Just a little money saving/recycling tip.

Misc lock parts
Grinder of some sort (dremel tool, Black & Decker Wizard, file, etc)


Advanced tip
Lock picking can come in handy, especially if you just picked up a cabinet with no keys. Before, you'd have to pry the door open, possibly damaging the cabinet/coin door, or drill the lock out (ruining a perfectly good lock you could recycle). I recently picked up a cabinet with three locks and no keys, and they were all opened in 20 minutes with no damage to the cabinet. I reused those very same locks on the cabinet after using the tip above. Look into the reference above to learn more about it.

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