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Locksmith Blog | Locksmiths Blog | Blog
Wednesday, 20 January 2016
Abus 3 Star Cylinder Test | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Reviews

Whilst on a lock change in Wednesbury this morning I got my hands on an Abus 3 star lock cylinder. I have fitted the Maco 3 Star version, which is in fact identical but they're pretty pricey so I haven't given any the destructive test until today.

The Abus 3 Star locks feature a robust central cradle that houses the cam section of the lock, a sacrificial front section and all the usual anti-pick and bump features you would expect of a three star lock.

abus 3 star lock cylinder abus lock in vice

I set myself up in the vice and using my grips on the front 10mm of the lock (as in a real world scenario you shouldn't really have access to more than that)  and began the snap test, expecting the front section to sheer off to begin with. I was surprised to see the entire cast section of the lock snap off right up to the cradle which allowed me to open the lock with a flat blade screwdriver!! I was pretty sure that should not have happened and kicked myself that I had not filmed it.

I flipped the lock around and set up my camera this time, again only using the front 10mm of the lock cylinder and snapped it again clean off at the cradle (Click here for Video). The central cam did not lock up in any way and allowed the cam to turn freely. Okay we could argue that there may be an extra bit of plastic or wood lipping further up the cylinder and thus dampening the force closer to the centre of the cylinder, however looking closer at the snapped sections there is no sign of fracture near the designated sacrificial cuts.

It seems the Abus 3 Star lock cylinder has not been designed for horizontal snapping forces and the lock is clearly weaker at this point due to the additional material removed for that final pinstack and the two horizontal securing pins. It really was an unexpected and exciting result from a tried and tested three star, kitemarked cylinder.

lock snapping snapped 3 star lock

I have only tested this one cylinder so I can't really state that these locks are not fit for purpose, but if this attack can be replicated in a door on other Abus 3 star cylinders then I really think the need downgrading to 1 star. If more material were to be removed from the sacrifical cut then they may pose more of a problem. A reliable locking cam mechanism really needs adding in place of the free floating cam currently used which is in fact vulnerable to wire bypass attacks anyway.

Locksmiths! If you have some old Abus 3 Star locks then I would be interested to see your result. Please film it and I will upload with your results. Cheers.

Update 02/02/16

A few authoritive sources have been in touch stating this lock is about to lose it's 3 star rating for the very reasons highlighted above. Seems like a wise move until the design is brought up to date.There are much better upvc door locks nowadays.


Posted by Rick the Pick at 2:33 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2016 3:16 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 15 December 2015
Schlosser Ultimate Pro 3 Star | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Reviews

Schlosser Technik have been expanding their range of locks and have recently released their TS007 3 Star lock - The Ultimate Pro 3 Star. I managed to pick one up from a locksmith in Brownhills over the weekend. I will be honest my first impressions weren't great, it felt ratchety and cheap in the hand, and overpriced at £20 (trade price). I have blogged in the past about the schlosser quality which is what you would expect of a budget anti snap lock.

schlosser 3 star locklock snapiing

So with an hour spare i thought I'd get it out and have a pick at it. Usually Schlosser Technik are a 30 second pick for a competent locksmith... I couldn't have been more wrong! Fifteen minutes in and I am now head scratching as this lock gives no feedback, it's awful. I gave up hand picking and gave the electric pick gun a blast, again to no avial. Passing the anti-pick test it now has my attention!

I decided that now it would be a good moment to vent my frustration and snap this lock apart to see how well it held up destructively. It was clear the cam had some sort of locking mechanism in it as the entire 6 pinstacks are removed when snapping. can't be too difficult now right?
Wrong again!

chlosser clutch3 star lock

I must have spent the best part of an hour trying to fathom a non destructive operation of the cam, without success. Pushing it in, pulling it out, half dismantling from an outsiders point of view to find a bypass but still nothing. It would not play ball. Even breaking apart the remaining section of external lock body as you can with a garage door cylinder, you would still struggle to detatch the cam from the locked in clutch piece which is held in place by a 7th pin on the internal half of the lock. The only way to open this lock after snapping and without a load of drilling is via the key on the internal side which will release the clutch.

I spent some more time trying to pick that external half of the lock and eventually had to throw in the towel and see what had beaten me. I popped off the circlip and emptied the pin stacks. It contained 4 stainless mushroom driver pins and two pin-in-pin drivers, one which was free floating, the other sprung. A formidable setup for even the most accomplished lock picker.  I would be interested to know how the seasoned locksport pickers get on with this lock.

So my conclusion couldn't be further from my initial impressions of the Sclosser Technik Ultimate Pro 3 Star. It may not be constructed to the high tolerances we are used to seeing in the higher security locks but it will most definitely do it's job and prevent a lock snapping burglary. I have no doubt this will beat any burglar looking to gain entry. It's going to leave a few good locksmiths head scratching too if they try and snap this lock from the outside. Now that I know what I am up against I would leave a snapping/plug pulling attack right at the end on my list of options. Drilling the lock in the traditional sweet spot carefully may be the best DE technique for this particular lock as upsetting that clutch piece is going to make life hard.

schlosser clutch assemblysecurity pins


Posted by Rick the Pick at 2:08 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 31 December 2016 3:17 PM GMT
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Monday, 7 December 2015
Five Annyoing Things Customers Say | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

As emergency locksmiths Cannock we are always dealing with the general public and meet all sorts of weird and wondeful characters, it's what makes the job more interesting. There are however certain things which we encounter on a weekly basis that really grind our gears, ceratinly my own. Here are my top five annoying things that customers do or say to locksmiths.

1> The know it all / I'm an engineer and I can't fix it.

I don't know why people like to drop this line when you are repairing their door? It's like they're saying "look mate, I am equally qualified or moreso and have already taken a look. I am not sure you can fix this". Of course they shut up as soon as you unjam that door they have been trying to open for the last week. These are the type of customer that like to stand over your shoulder suggesting better ways to do things or give unwanted opinions. I know a lot of less pateint locksmiths would pack up tools and leave, I get on with the task and smile. One of my favourite ones was a big burly chap that had been trying to chop a padlock off with some bolt cutters and failed. I took my cutters out and I could see him grinning since I was half his size. Five seconds later his padlock is off and the meathead is dumbfounded. It's all about technique not strength mate...

2> Hagglers

I don't mind a little bit of haggling before the job, I understand that in a lot of cultures this is the norm and I can give or take a few quid in certain circumstances, otherwise I will pass on the work if they're too keen. One thing that really pisses me off however is the customer that wants to haggle after the job is completed. The majority of time a firm NO will be enough to get your money but there are some that really push it and it's hard to remain professional.

3> Not giving the full story

A close relative of the haggler, this customer uses deception to get a better price. They will call a locksmith for a lock change but fail to mention important details; They have no keys and are locked out, or the door has been kicked off it's hinges and has been in the back garden for a month. You end up adjusting your quote accordingly on site only to be told "I'll get back to you then..." These customers usually end up blocked on my phone, I can't stand being messed around.

4> How much if I have my own lock?

I personally do not reduce my rates to fit a customers own lock unless I know full well it's the correct one for the job, and even then it's not by much. I have entertained this idea so many times in the past only to be handed a knackered old lock and they've still have the cheek to ask how long my work is guaranteed for. When you start dealing with these sort of customers the likelihood of the job coming to bite you in the ass further down the line increases and no locksmith likes a call back.

5> Do you do a free call out?

For a genuine local customer this is not a problem, number five is aimed more at the people that want you to come out, diagnose the problem and suggest the solution but then tell you they will call you back so they can have a go themselves first. Having slipped up on occasions in the past by giving away too much information I have learned to keep my cards close to my chest. "This is how much it's going to cost to resolve your issue", they can take it or leave it but I am not really willing to divulge any further anymore. At the end of the day our locksmith knowledge and expertise is what we charge for so it would be silly to turn up and give it away for nothing. 

Special thanks to Alcatraz Locksmith Edinburgh for their latest contribution to the locksmith-directory.org.uk/Scotland


Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:14 AM GMT
Updated: Monday, 1 February 2016 7:45 AM GMT
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Thursday, 19 November 2015
Belgaurd, Gibbons Alternative Opening | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Bypassing

gibbons lock gibbons lock

This is quite an old trick really but today I actually got to use it so have taken a few snaps just to show you how it works.

As any good locksmith will know these old Gibbons aka Belgaurd (rebranded in various forms) are an unusual 8 gauge curtain lock and are cheap and nasty inside making them a difficult pick.

There is however an easy alternative destructive bypass that makes life easier than drilling into the organs of the lock.

On the bolt side of the lockcase is a pre pressed hole that holds the curtain spring. It happens to sit directly in line with the bottom of the lever pack. Inserting a poke wire or small screwdriver you will be able to lift the lever bellies together which fall in line to open, all you have to do is provide a little tension via the curtain. If you aren't lucky enough to be bolt side of the door you can still access the same sweet spot by drilling yourself a 4-5mm hole in the case at this point: (approx one inch towards bolt from top of curtain)

Pictures below show belly of levers through the hole and then engaged with stump.


levers down levers engaged

 


Posted by Rick the Pick at 6:42 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 5 December 2015 1:35 PM GMT
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Factors Affecting Calls | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

I am currently enjoying my slowest week of the year, my phone has barely rung this week. Websites are all performing well, no problems with my phoneline... sometimes it's a complete fecking mystery as to why this happens, but it does. I normally use this unplanned spare time to finish of those bist of DIY that I never get time for or to brush up on advertising but I have actually been in bed most of the time sweating out a particularly nasty cold... anyway, It's a great opportunity to update the locksmith blog and todays topic will be 'Factors affecting Calls'.

Firstly let me just say that these factors are purely drawn from my own experience of approx six years and from chatting with other locksmiths who also suffer the occassional work drought.

commercial lock repairslock picking practice

School Holidays

I can almost guarantee that a school holiday week will be a steady one for locksmith work, ok the emergency locksmith work seems to come in but the bread and butter jobs seem to dry up. I guess during this period people spend money elsewhere on days out and holidays away so repair work gets but on the back burner for another week.

Weather/Season

I wrote some time ago about seasonal locksmith work. Peaks of hot and cold weather often take their toll on uPVC doors in particular. I notice a good increase in uPVC door lock repair work during the coldest months of Winter from Dec - Feb.

Crime 

Every now and again there will be a spate of burglaries, car thefts or lock snapping incidents that will get the local community talking and Googling. I often take to social media when i notice this change and get involved offering advice and maybe throw out a few discounts to generate a bit of work of the back of this. Word of mouthrecommendations can go bonkers if you pitch it just right.

Financial year end

This can be a rewarding period with regards to commercial work whereby it seems companies try and use up their remaining yearly spend on things that have been put off throughout the rest of the year.

Physical directory advertisements

If you are one of the few remaining local locksmiths that bother to advertise in the door to door directories you will probably notice that the first few months of a fresh directory being delivered will bring in the most leads, tailing off throughout the year as people lose and throw away that book that sits around the house.

Website downtime

A web hosts server can sometimes go offline for repair work or other problems. It is worth checking your websites are actually live on a daily basis to ensure they are actually working. Notify your host immediately if you see any error messages as they may not be aware of the problem yet. Most local locksmiths rely heavilly on web generated leads so we are potentially losing money every hour we aren't online.

I am sure there are other factors that affect the amount of locksmith calls we can receive but I think I have covered the main onesabove, if you can think of anything I have missed write me a comment and I will add it to the list. 

Rick

 


Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:13 AM GMT
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Friday, 6 November 2015
This Weeks Summary | Locksmith Blog

I realise I have not been updating the locksmith blog as much as I have in the past, things have certainly become busier with one thing or another. I swear there are less hours in the day as you get older, either that or  am slowing down.

I thought I would summarise a few of the jobs that I have completed this week, thoughts, feelings and points worth mentioning, etc. etc.



uPVC French Door Unjam / Repair

I turned up to find a set of B&Q french doors that the owner had installed himself a few years back. Let's just say it wasn't a quality installation, the frame loose form the brickwork and wobbling around. The key tunred but handle seemed disconnected from the rest of the mech. This was easilly opened by spreading the door and manually returning the hooks.

Now as most uPVC locksmiths know, french doors can be a pain in the arse at the best of times and this particular set was the typical dragging on the frame type, slave door never been opened with shootbolts corroded and nasty. I whipped out the mech and replaced the knackered gearbox, drowned the rest of the components in release spray and oil and installed the working lock back into the door.

The doors needed some serious adjusting, it makes you wonder how these customers ever locked the them in the first place! So all squared up nicely, keeps adjusted to match... but would the bugger lock? Nope.
It's when you get an unknown fault that you begin to start sweating, I hate it and you put yourself through the whole problem solving routine, taking a keep off at a time to work out where the problem lies. All keeps now on the floor in a pile and I still don't have a working door!?
The door appeared to be working fine in the open position which only left the shootbolts. 

After a little more head scratching i solved the mystery. I must have connected the bottom shootbolt one tooth out on the serrated fitting so the shootbolt was extending another millimetre more than before. This was bottoming out on the plastic in the frame. A quick drill in the bottom of the keep and bobs your uncle!

 

Opening A Jammed Safe

I had a call from a woman who had shut her scarf into her big old safe at the office and was now unable to get it open again. When I arrived I found that all the handymen had already been let loose on it and broken the unlocking handle by forcing it, scarpering back into the shadows when I arrived.

I unscrewed it and poked out the piece of broken metal, then making myself a makeshift handle with a pair of grips and the remaining square spindle. Pressing on this if felt as though the bolts were almost retracted. A few clonks of the rubber mallet with a little downwards pressure on my handle and I felt it slide into place. I then prised open the jammed door with a couple of flat bladed screwdrivers. The woman was chuffed I didn't have to rip her scarf.

The broken handle was an all in one cast piece and I could not source a replacement the same day. I decided to repair it myself by drilling carefully my best square hole into the back of the handle, inserting a fresh length of spindle bar and bonding it in with some chemical metal after roughing up the contacting surfaces to ensure it would bond nicely and was as good as the original once it had all set. Job done!
Locksmith Cannock.

jammed safe

 

Unjamming A Locked Nightlatch Snib

This is a really common occurance with the 40mm nighlatches, the latch bolts aren't very long and do give a little under forcing so if the door user has knocked the snib deadlocking button down on the nightlatch and then slams the door hard enough, it will shut, making a re-entry impossible with the key and the door deadlocked.

If it's a particularly loose door you may be able to spread it and pop the latch. I wasn't so lucky and had to use the drilling into the back of the lock case method which I discussed in an old blog post whereby you 'mickey mouse' the lock cylinder to remove, drill a hole to access the inside of the nightlatch and then remove the snib from the deadlocked position. It's the best method in this scenario, leaving the nightlatch fully functioning afterwards. Insert new cyliner, jobs a good en!

mickey mousing a lock

 http://www.locksmith-in-worthing.co.uk

 

 


Posted by Rick the Pick at 10:02 AM GMT
Updated: Thursday, 19 November 2015 3:00 PM GMT
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Monday, 2 November 2015
uPVC Window Repairs | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

I have had a lot of customers get in touch with me lately who seem to be struggling to find uPVC window lock repairs in the West Midlands. It appears that most double glazing firms aren't interested in these smaller jobs and a lot of locksmiths shy away from uPVC window lock repairs.

I myself do not deal with replacement glass units for double glazed windows but I do undertake a lot of lock and hinge repairs, particularly seized and broken mechanisms which jam the window shut, the same way a upvc door mechanism fails, in the majority of cases the same central gearbox will break under forcing or through wear.

I think the reason a lot of locksmiths shy away form this type of window repair work is because it isn't something that is generally taught on locksmith courses and usually requires the locksmith or repairer to think outside of the box a little and improvise in some cases. Over the years I have taught myself to unjam and free up faulty window lock mechanisms and have a few custom made tools that allow me to spread the window and manipulate rollers without the need for removing glass and beading. I taught my friend at Alcatraz Locksmith Edinburgh how to make one and he loves it!

Once the window is unjammed you can unscrew and remove the locking strip from the window edge which is usually straightforward. If working above ground floor level it will require a little more care as not to drop parts or tools. I have always managed to do this from inside but please be careful leaning out of open windows, if uncertain get yourself up a ladder and familiarise youself with the positions of screws and how to disassemble the lock. 

There are many types of window locks, the espag style being most likely in a uPVC window unit. This style incorporating a central square hole gear that operated a slider fixed with rollers, which in turn can also operate side mounted shootbolts and occassionally a central hook depending on the manufacturer. These can be in a one piece strip or three parts connected by crocodile teeth fittings. Depending on the lock and the part broken you could either end up replacing a complete strip or just a central gearbox section, again dependent on manufacturer.

window repairs window repaired

Window hinges are another common job whereby a stiff window has been forced and bent the hinges or the hinges have worn preventing the window from closing properly or catching on the closing edge.
Very easy to replace on smaller windows however I would suggest an extra pair of hands with large windows or upper story windows as the weight of the unit can be misleading. I have had a few occassions where I have been unscrewing a hinge on a heavy window only to drop a screwdriver and have to sketchily jam the window back in its hole. A good tip is to keep a few screwdrivers and screws in your pocket!

Replacement is straightforward and the hinge fits snugly in the top corner of the frame, remember they are handed and sometimes you may need to replace the pair if they open at different rates/angles to the originals. Another good tip is to sure that the pointed top end of the hinge locates correctly in the attached plastic keep. If it doesn't you may have inverted the hinge on itself and the top corner of the window will not pull in if this is the case.

Don't talk yourself out of that next window repair job, get out there and add another string to your bow! £££

pile of moneywindow lock mechanism

 

 


Posted by Rick the Pick at 12:34 PM GMT
Updated: Tuesday, 1 March 2016 1:19 PM GMT
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Tuesday, 29 September 2015
Door Repairs | Locksmith Blog

It is fair to say that door repairs now account for the majority of the work undertaken as locksmiths and that uPVC and composite doors now outnumber traditional wooden doors at domestic dwellings, both incorporating multi point locking systems that are prone to jamming and misalignment issues.

If you haven't already begun to undertake door repairs it is most certainly an area you should be getting familiar with as soon as possible if you are to survive in the modern locksmith world.

Here are some of the typical jobs I undertake as a door repair specialist in Wolverhampton:

- Door alignment

Over time and under it's own weight a door will drop, particularly the upvc insallations. This can be down to warping in the door, hinges coming loose or just the kids swinging on the door and other abusive use. These are generally simple jobs unless there is considerable warping or a poorly fitted door but more often than not all that is requires is a few turns of the top hinge adjuster. Toe and Heeling may be required for doors with little adjustment left in the hinges.

- Unjamming and Repair

Usually resulting from heavy use and forcing of the lock, eventually something gives and the multipoint lock seizes preventing opening of the door. A repair usually consists of unjamming the mechanism and either replacing the center case or complete unit, depending on the fault and lock type. A good understanding of the types of lock and different brands is essential for this.

- Security Upgrades

Upgrading euro locks to anti snap and higher security handles are nice easy jobs that should not be overlooked. As simple as taking measurements and ordering the correct parts. Just be sure not to give your customers too much information as a lot will go away and Google it themselves ;-)

My good friend Steve at Hugo Locksmith Rainham has just made the leap into the upvc repairs sector and is thriving!


Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:23 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 2:56 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 16 September 2015
Directory Listings | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter
Here is a copy of my latest rant on Facebook that went viral this week. Please copy and share it around. It's good to let your customers know how things really work!

BEWARE THE DIRECTORIES! (Thomson + Yell)

A little known truth that potential customers might be interested in is that very few genuine local tradesmen now advertise in the physical paper directories (the usual door to door books), as well as their digital counterparts.

The genuine local and most competent tradesman are ditching the directories in their droves since the large national firms are constantly eating up the prime advertising space. We are simply sick of paying for advertisements that get lost amongst an array of national advertisers that use false locations, make misleading statements and use a network of redirected landline numbers to rope in and dupe unsuspecting customers.

The truth is, the directories do not give a shit. These national companies are keeping them afloat and the blind eye is being turned to keep them sweet.

A common tactic used by national advertisers is to buy a full page advertisement and split it into multiple adverts using different trading names and numbers. The truth is that all the numbers actually reach the same call centers. The customer will generally not accept the first inflated quotation and shop around, unwittingly ringing the same firms over and over, led to believe the inflated price is in fact the going rate for such work.

The little guys, the local guys that can probably offer the same service at a fraction of the cost are being pushed out and it is becoming harder for customers to find details of genuine local tradesmen.

The same thing is happening online, national firms paying premium prices for misleading adverts that trick a customer into using their services.

EVERYONE SUFFERS!

As a customer you will rarely receive a satisfactory result, if you do it is going to cost 2-3 times more than your local tradesman.

Genuine local tradesmen struggle to make ends meet due to lack of work and go bump leaving the nationals a free for all and charge whatever they want.

My one piece of advice for any potential client that has bothered to read this far down into my rant is this:

DON'T RUSH INTO ANYTHING!

Alarm bells should be ringing if the people you have called are unfamiliar with the area, have different accents or are pushing uncomfortably hard for the sale. Some won't even issue a quote unless they have your card details and postcode. Is this what you would expect of your local reputable tradesman?
Get online, Google the company but be wary of review platforms which are notoriously open to abuse and 'self reviewing'. Often after a poor review the offending company will bury it below a pile of self authored reviews.

I won't rant any further, I just hope I have reached just a few people and raised awareness of the appalling standards that have been adopted by the leading directories.

Please like and share folks, if it saves just one customer from being taken for a mug then it was worth writing.

Peace X

https://www.facebook.com/wolverhampton.locksmiths

Posted by Rick the Pick at 10:59 AM BST
Updated: Wednesday, 16 September 2015 11:02 AM BST
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Tuesday, 1 September 2015
The £102 Call Out fee| Locksmith Blog
Mood:  irritated
Topic: General Chatter

You will always hear me ranting about why people should avoid national locksmith firms and how they trick customers out of hundreds of pounds.

Well in this case a customer was charged £102 for someone to 'take a look'.

An angry locksmith called the offending national firm to challenge them and recorded the poor excuses on his phone.

Please listen and share, it is disgusting and trading standards need to come down hard on these thieves.

http://www.tapeacall.com/z287mmxp72


Posted by Rick the Pick at 8:48 AM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 1 September 2015 8:51 AM BST
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Wednesday, 19 August 2015
Sir Locksalot Master Locksmith Middlesbrough | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Featured!

 

sir locksalot middlesbrough

 

 

 

 

 

It's been a while since I posted a locksmith feature on the locksmith blog so here we go; Sir Locksalot aka Gavin Hall a local master locksmith based in Middlesbrough.

Gavin has been trading for some time now as Sir Locksalot Locksmiths Middlesbrough and offers all the typical services you would expect of an accomplished locksmith on a 24 hour basis.

uPVC door lock repairs are his speciality and Gavin stocks a wide range of replacement upvc door locks and hardware to repair the majority of door types that you would find in Middlesbrough, including commercial door and shopfronts with higher security locks.

if you are searching for a locksmith in middlesbrough Gavin is the go to guy, not only is he a genuine local tradesman but also provides a high quality locksmith service at an affordable price.

You can contact Gavin 24 hours a day seven days a weekusing the details below:

32 Ronaldshay Terrace
Redcar
Cleveland
TS117HH

Tel: 07986-614865

Web: http://www.locksmith-in-middlesbrough.co.uk

security lock upgradeslockinox unitrick the pick lock picking bs eclipse lock


Posted by Rick the Pick at 12:36 PM BST
Updated: Sunday, 28 February 2016 3:26 PM GMT
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Wednesday, 15 July 2015
Small Claims Court Part 2 | Locksmith Blog
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: General Chatter
Three months ago I wrote detailing my experience using the small claims process online to serve justice on a scammer that owed me money.

After issuing a warrant upon them through Croyden County Court things went quiet, but I allowed the 8 weeks to pass that was stated in the guidelines for the bailiffs to go and do their thing.

Still nothing, so I began to start pestering and calling every week for updates. Three or Four weeks passed with nobody really knowing what was going on, nobody calling me back as promised with updates, I began to feel a bit annoyed.

So last week, a good 12 weeks or so later I finally decided to complain officially to Croyden County Court, a woman called me back swiftly to tell me goods had been seized but the defendant had applied to get them back!?

Today, 3 days later I called again for another update to be told the business is no longer trading or at the property. (They are I called them to check). Croyden County court have now washed their hands of the matter and told me to speak to my legal advisor.

So my question is; What the hell has happened? Have they cocked up somewhere and failed, been given the run around by a smart defendant or been paid to turn a blind eye to the case. They did not wish to comment.

The whole thing has left me fuming as I have wasted my money chasing this debt which was a straightforward case completely in my favour.

Not sure what else to do about it. Justice did not prevail!

So my advice to anyone about to throw a load of money into chasing their debt via small claims is DON'T BOTHER, it's a farcical service designed to give false hope, a complete shambles where nobody truly knows what the hell is going on.

I'm pissed off! Next time I'll send the boys around instead.

Update:

Many moons later I got a letter from the courts explaining that another debtor had a winding up order against the firm who owed a tonne of money. Seems they knew it was coming a ran up a load of debts. Quick change of company name and they're out trading again. Scumbags that make a living from screwing other people. These types get their come-uppance. Dare I reveal who the scam letting agents are? Click the linky, remember the name 'Red Properties London' and avoid like the plague.

Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:33 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 12 April 2016 2:30 PM BST
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Monday, 29 June 2015
5 Years Old | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

Tomorrow will be the fifth anniversary of my Locksmith Blog! I had planned on publishing a post tomorrow, however I am currently sat around the house with a face on me because the wife has taken all our car keys to work with her. Cry Seemed like a good opportunity to update websites and get on top of the paperwork.

I will be honest, I never expected the locksmith blog to get any followers! I have little to no experience writing anything and know I can waffle on sometimes. It turns out I was totally wrong and now have a worldwide audience in both locksmiths and hobby pickers looking forward to my next post of lock related jibberish. Google seem to like my content too, and it always surprises me when I get a call from some random person asking for advice that has stumbled across one of my articles.

The creation of this locksmith blog led to several other projects that I now oversee such as the Locksmith Directory and SEO for Locksmiths as well as aiding in the No to Nationals campaigns and educating potential clients of the importance of using local locksmith as opposed to call centers operating nationally.

I am not entirely sure how to celebrate this 5 year milestone so am going to list my five favourite posts since it all began.

Thanks for reading and I hope that you will find my ramblings of some use in the future.

Rick.

Top Five Locksmith Posts

1/ Cyber Locks - I must admit this became a bit of an obsession for some time, firstly blagging some expensive samples from a local cyber lock dealer, learning how they work, learning to defeat them and eventually tackling some of the all singing and dancing designs out on the job. Locks of the future?

cyberlock

2/ Aubin Trophy Lock -  I was lucky enough to have an up close and personal look at the Aubin Trophy Lock in Wolverhampton. Arguably the ultimate lock, most certainly the most valuable.

trophy lock

3/ Lock Experiments - Just one of many experiments from back in the days when I had far too much time on my hands. Usually ended in failure but always enjoyable.

lock bumping

4/ Featured Locksmiths - A sub section I created to showcase local talent. I think it's important to help the small guy get noticed and a little feature atricle always helps.

featured locksmiths

5/ Dimple Lock Picking - My favourite locks to pick and always the first ones I grab when i get time for a bit of practice. My lock picking skills are nowhere near as refined as they used to be in my hobby picking days but it's always a confidence booster sitting down and defeating a few higher security cylinders.

avocet abs lock picking 

 


Posted by Rick the Pick at 11:05 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 29 June 2015 11:40 AM BST
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Friday, 19 June 2015
Zoo Hardware Copies | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Reviews

zoo ERA lockZoo hardware are now stocking a range of reproduction lever locks from various manufacturers that have expired patents.

I have used a lot of the three lever mortice range from my local locks supplier without any issues for well over a year now but was only recently made aware of the newer BS rated locks.

The first I got my hands on was a free sample lock, a BS Era Fortress copy from my mate Steve at Hugo Locksmiths Barking. The lock looked and functioned as good as, if not smoother than the original Fortress design, I particularly preferred the new chunkier keys.

Upon internal inspection it seems the dimpled ERA levers have been replaced with flat spaced levers.

I was however concerened about the quality of the latch spring in the sashlock version which does not sit comfortably in place and will undoubtedly fall loose once the grease has thinned out some.
The genuine ERA version has a much beefier spring.

The price difference compared with the originals was peanuts so decided not to buy into any of these particular locks.

Last week a locksmith on the Island forum mentioned they were now reproducing the 3g114/3k74 Union (formerly Chubb) range of mortice locks, which as you know have always been pricier than your average lock.

I have always replaced these like for like where possible in the past due to the non standard dimensions so was interested to see what an alternative could offer.

I ordered a couple of Zoos BS deadlocks replicating the 3g114 and was thus time pleasantly surprised with the quality which was as good as the originals aside from the lesser grade brass in the bolt.

At nearly £10 cheaper than the genuine Union locks, these are worth investing in.

Zoo has an extensive and expanding range of products that are worth checking out via the website: http://www.zoohardware.co.uk/products/byhierarchy/15/17.html#1/12

zoo deadlocksCHubb 3g114 copy lock


Posted by Rick the Pick at 1:26 PM BST
Updated: Thursday, 2 July 2015 1:22 PM BST
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Monday, 18 May 2015
Small Claims Process | Locksmith Blog
bailiff

As a self employed locksmith that takes on commercial work we will all encounted the odd non-payer, perhaps through bad management of finances or just sheer cheek and trying it on with the small guys.

Chasing a debt is usually pretty straightforward in my exprience and the usual threats of action and removing locks, etc usually does the trick.
I have already published a short guide to chasing debts for locksmiths in a previous post which you might want to read first.

Eventually we all come across one that really tries it on though and will ignore or dispute everything you send at them. Unfortunately I've have had a couple to deal with lately.

I completed work for a property management firm based in London a few months ago, collecting keys from workmen and changing locks. I left the keys to be picked up by one of their agents later that week who was supposed to post the money (I was away at the time.)

I was surprised to find he took the keys without leaving money as agreed and was straight on the phone to them when I got back. I was told they 'forgot' and they will pay asap...

As you can imagine this went on for a while, me chasing the debt to the point where I would ring every day to be told 'so and so is in a meeting at the minute, can we take a message, blablabla'. I began to lose patience and sent the final demand, a seven day letter from a solicitor.

This was ignored and I sent a message to the directors phone stating I am going to pursue this if not settled immediately. He finally replied and assured it would be sorted... It wasn't

Having never taken anyone to court I was dubious about incurring further losses myself but decided I needed to make an example of these assholes.

Issuing a Small Claim

The process itself is fairly straightforward; Firstly you need to register an account with Money Claim Online

The next step is to fill out the 'issue claim form' on the website. This requires company name, trading address, money owed, etc and takes no more than half an hour to fill out. It costs £25 to issue.

Once completed this is then sent to the debtor giving them 2 working weeks to respond to your claim wherby they can dispute, pay up or Ignore.

My debtor chose to ignore.

At this stage you can now log in and have to option to request judgement. Since the client decided to ignore all corespondance the judgement went in my favour.

To enforce the judgement and recover money you now have the option to request a warrant of execution. This allows a bailiff to attend on your behalf and collect the outstanding amount or goods to the value. This cost me a further £75 however, this and the other £25 for issuing the claim can be added to the grand total. Larger debts may incur larger collection fees.

Once accepted this is dealt with at the debtors local court. This process can take sevceral weeks and I myself am still waiting for the results of this step. I will update accordingly.

Part two can be found here.




Posted by Rick the Pick at 9:58 AM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 2:58 PM GMT
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Monday, 9 March 2015
Why Avoid National Locksmiths | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

As you well know I am always whinging about national locksmith firms, their ludicrous fees, shoddy work and undrhand sales tactics.

It is something every genuine locksmith will encounter, the disgruntled customer that has rang for a second opinion or for advice after a national firm has tried to rip them off.

I have decided to quote you a few experiences of rogue locksmiths that have been taken from various locksmith forums, myself and friends of mine and put them up here for people to read. All company names will be blanked for obvious reasons.

Enjoy

----

I had to follow Locksmith Company X the other week, Dropped snib, old style vertical letter box that flap opened sideways,cylinder incorperated in top part of letter plate nice easy opening one would think.
Not so it would seem, he drilled fixings and punched lock off back according to customer and all this took an hour and a half.
Then made off with old lock ( as it was a special and needed to be ordered ) and left door unsecured and never returned.

----

I am just back from a 'broken key' job...steel key snapped inside a euro cyclinder. As usual, I asked the customer where she got my number. After telling me, she also said she had phoned another lockie first (Company X) and was quoted £120 +VAT +Part

----

So, fitted some anti snap euro's for a customer today. He mentions that his dad (77 years young) called a locksmith out yesterday to sort his upvc door out (not locking).
He got the company from Thompson local book.
Son informs me how much they are charging for the job! He didn't know dad had called them until today.
Dads house was only round the corner so I said I'd have a gander, they have removed Mpl and fitted temp over nighter.
They have taken £130 deposit and wrote an invoice out fit £169.50 inc vat.
On this invoice it's wrote on that customer owes £39.50 on NEXT bill!
Dad has been informed verbally that the next bill owed when work complete will be £290 plus the £39.50! WTF Exclamation
It's the first time I've come across this sort of thing, it's cooking crazy! How do they get away with it?
I've told them to ring the company and get them to explain the costs.
I've measured up for type of Mpl and it's era 4x roller £25 ish plus vat to us!

----

I had a lady phone me up over Easter, - on the Sunday. She'd got a failed mech, and said she'd had some guy that was a 'Thug-type' (her words) with a skin-head and tats, who had come along, taken the mech out, said he didn't have one, so put it back in again (leaving her door unlockable) and asked if she wanted him to order her one. She said she wanted to think about it for five minutes. He THEN said 'If you go into the next hour, it'll be another £450+vat.' Unknown to the Customer, she'd signed a paper to agree to paying the first hour at £450+vat. At which point she phoned me in tears. I went round and sorted it there and then (Era Saracen IIRC Rolling Eyes ) for £190 all in.. (it was a Sunday remember). Anyway, she showed me the paperwork she'd been left by the other guy... It made astounding reading.
(can you guess who it was yet?)

----

Just been working for a customer who had been waiting 2 hours for Locksmith Company X to show up(told 30 mins).
He called me and cancelled them, they wanted to charge him cancellation fees etc etc and threatened court action if he didnt.
Hugo Locksmiths Romford

 ----

Just had a young woman call me in tears as some wannabe national going by Locksmith Company X was trying to shaft her.
Tried to leave with the mech claiming it was a custom made lock and needs to be rebuilt at his factory.
Wanted £300+ vat
She told him bollocks and he took 70 quid off her to put it back in the door.
My blood is boiling, i told her to take a picture of the cunt so i can share it around
[update] He fooked off and took the lock with him!


Posted by Rick the Pick at 10:02 AM BST
Updated: Friday, 5 June 2015 8:25 AM BST
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Friday, 27 February 2015
Hugo Locksmiths Romford | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Featured!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven't had a featured locksmith for quite a while now so this month the spotlight is shining on Hugo Locksmiths based in Romford.

Steve has been working as a locksmith in Romford for quite some time as part of the Lockrite franchise, which he eventually decided to leave and build his own brand, Hugo Locksmiths.

A well as all the domestic aspects of locksmithing you would expect of a well seasoned locksmith to offer, Steve provides a wide range of commercial services for business owners and commercial premises in Romford, Barking and Ilford areas such as roller shutter locks and hardware, high security locks for vulnerable premises and master key suited locks for access control and restriction.

Hugo Locksmiths Romford also provide a uPVC door repair and opening service for jammed and faulty uPVC door mechanisms, as well as more modern composite door setups using similar locks.

Stocking a wide range of repair locks and replacement parts, even for obsoloete mechanisms, Steve is well prepared for the majority of uPVC door problems and lock changes in Romford.

Please take five minutes to take a look at his new locksmiths website and remember to add that number to your phonebook!

Hugo Locksmiths
5 Hugo Gardens
Rainham
Essex
RM137LA
07957-624-954
http://www.locksmith-in-romford.co.uk
http://www.locksmith-in-rainham.co.uk

 


Posted by Rick the Pick at 7:55 AM GMT
Updated: Friday, 6 November 2015 8:59 AM GMT
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Saturday, 24 January 2015
Standing Out Online | Locksmith Blog
Topic: General Chatter

Firstly, sorry for the lack of posts lately. Things have been pretty hectic.

There has been a lot of talk lately on the locksmith forums that I read regarding the look and feel of business websites.

Generally locksmiths spend a load of money on a professionally built website with all the flashy buttons and Wordpress themes, however it appears that these sites are failing to convert viewers to callers very well due to the fact  they are very similar in design to websites ued by larger national locksmith comapnies.

A lot of locksmiths have been emailing me for advice (since I do a bit of SEO for quite a few locksmiths now) and have been asking for ideas on how to make their websites look more friendly and less corporate.

I have always stood by the no frills approach, keeping it simply to the point with all relevant information highlighted accordingly.

As a working locksmith myself i know that 75% of my new leads are now via mobile search. So all the information your customer needs should be within that top half page of your index page.

Here are some MUST haves for your landing page:

- A bold clickable phone number, this is what your mobile user is looking for, if it is not clear and clickable they may not care to search your page for it and look elsewhere. Listing multiple redirect landlines is a definite no!

-A profile picture of you and possibly your van. So many sites using the pretty lady with headset on or a polished 'engineer' with a bag of new tools. This reaks of national call center or expensive large locksmith firm, and a good proportion of potential customers will steer clear.

-Publish your name and real address. Being on first name terms with your tradesman installs a massive amount of confidence. Most of my customers now call and ask for me by name and when I answer reassures them they have made the right choice.

JS Locksmiths based in Manchester


Posted by Rick the Pick at 7:32 PM GMT
Updated: Saturday, 6 June 2015 5:43 PM BST
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Friday, 31 October 2014
LTC Curtain Pick Review | Locksmith Blog
Topic: Reviews

Over the last few months I have been struggling with curtain picks that are well worn, completely broken or just not up to the job and was reluctant to throw money at more curtrain picks without doing some homework beforehand.

The binding edge of all my RPCP's tools finally bent beyond repair. To be honest I wasn't the biggest fan of the design as it did not allow much control upon releasing tension on the levers, so more often than not I would reset the entire pack rather than the last few binding levers. I also found the lollypop wire holders would unscrew themselves mid-picking if not bollocked up super tight.

island locks LTC picks LTC curtain wires

Last week I was lucky enough to be offered a set of LTC curtain picks by Jay at Island Locks who is now manufacturing the unique design born from the frustration of teaching with existing curtain picks that just weren't good enough to send his students away with.

The LTC curtain wheel picks feature three noteworthy improvements over existing lock picks that are currently on the market.

island locks pickset reading lock levers

The first being a lever height indicator that screws directly into the pick wire handles. Once aligned with the pick wire end it can be used to read the lever bellies of locks prior to picking locks such as the ERA viscount, invincible and vectis, allowing a rough decoding of the levers. Identifying high and low lift levers correctly is important with these particular locks and the indicator eliminates the need for guess work.

Secondly, the T bar end towards the tip has all been machined flat so you may twist and dig under levers without your wires being trapped in the central guide. I have found similar T shaped curtain picks to be a little restricting in the past and do not allow you to perform that spiraling manoeuvre that frees a stuck pickwire due to a tightly guided end section. There is plenty of room for all angles with the LTC picks!

view of a lock pick unique lock pick design


Thirdly, my personal favourite design feature; the removable pin piece.
The tip of the pick allows removal of the contact pin that catches the curtain. This allows for modifications and different end pieces to be used for different locks. If you are a bit clumsy like myself you might like to use a longer pin so you do not push all the way through the lock. although a notch will need to be machined from your pin so you can reach the back lever on a right mounted lock.
Note that the default pin is of minimal height to prevent excessive force stretching the hole it is pressed into. A longer pin will be more likely to widen the hole over time.

So after a few hours testing it seems an impressive kit with some nice features that are both aesthetically pleasing and work well.

The LTC curtain pick is available either directly via Jay or through
Duffells here: LTC Lock Picks

picking eclipse bs lock island locks picks

Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:48 PM BST
Updated: Monday, 9 November 2015 3:00 PM GMT
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Friday, 17 October 2014
Oval Anti-Snap Locks | Locksmith Blog

The UK's first decent oval profile antisnap lock has been released, the Brisant D oval cylinder!

Like many other locksmiths I have had requests to install anti-snap products in apartments that use oval style lock cases and have never had a retrofit product that would meet their expectations. I know the guys over at Legend Locksmiths in Barnet have been crying out for a product like this.

The new anti snap oval cylinder from Brisant incorporates all the same features as their standard antisnap range apart from the strengthened center bar. If you have ever tried snapping an oval you will know it is much stronger than a stadard euro due to the extra material in the center, so I can't see this being a real issue.

The lock, a 6 pin dimple cylinder incorporates three antidrill pins in the front section of the cylinder as well as two offset in the rear portion of the lock. Sacrificial sections on both sides ensure amatuer snapping atacks fail leaving the door both secure and in working order.

I will now be having a play to see how these oval antisnap locks pick.

 oval snap safe cylinders


Posted by Rick the Pick at 3:41 PM BST
Updated: Tuesday, 2 December 2014 7:59 AM GMT
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