Safecracker: A Chronicle of the Coolest Job in the World

Safecracker: A Chronicle of the Coolest Job in the World

A book was written by a national treasure Dave McOmie, quite possibly the best safe and vault technicians in not only the united states but the world. Always enthusiastic about his career and humble as well one of my favorite quotes I can remember from a class of Daves I took in Texas “There isn’t a safe or vault on this planet I can’t open, however, one of my greatest fears is locking the keys in my car because I wouldn’t have the first clue as to how to get them out”.

Dave truly pioneered the industry with multiple books, classes, penetration parties, and the forum-based website NSO ( National Safecrackers Organization) Daves’s contributions to the industry will be put in the history books for decades to come.This is a fantastic read for both the industry professional and the interested hobbyist who finds safe and vaults interesting, you won’t be disappointed in this purchase,  simply click the link below to place your order today!

Excerpt from Safecracker: A Chronicle of the Coolest Job in the World —Chapter 2: Your Host:

“As a kid, I was enamored with Alexander Mundy, the debonair safecracker from the 1960s television series, It Takes a Thief. So enamored, in fact, that I enrolled in a locksmithing home-study course and later landed an apprenticeship at a local shop. I found my passion, then my job. It turned into a career.

“My interest in the key-cutting side of the business faded as I became familiar with safes and vaults. The supreme challenge was opening them, and this was reflected in the value difference: we charged five bucks to rekey a door lock, and five hundred to drill a tough safe. It was like learning the coolest magic tricks ever, and getting paid for it.”


Product Description


Like a character in a Hitchcock movie, Dave McOmie travels the country breaking into bank vaults, cracking jewelry store safes, and decoding unbreakable codes secured deep in government facilities.


Safecracker reveals a shadowy world where tumblers are twirled, skeletons are exposed, and longstanding mysteries are solved. You’ll ride shotgun with Dave for one crazy week, beginning with an impenetrable vault in Vegas with a midnight deadline, and ending with Prince’s ultra-secure music vault in the basement of Paisley Park. In between are factual stories that read like fiction: drilling the same model ATM from the notorious episode of Breaking Bad; meeting a mystery man from the Department of Defense at a remote location to crack two high security safes; chronicling the corruption and ineptitude that dogged efforts to develop the first electronic safe lock to guard our national secrets; tackling a hundred-year-old antique bank vault in downtown Salt Lake City, and more….


What’s in all these safes and vaults? Gold and silver, drugs and cash, guns and ammo, family heirlooms and X-rated paraphernalia. And a few secrets that should have remained secret.





When we needed to consult a safecracker for one of our movies, Dave McOmie was the obvious choice. His expertise and wit were matched only by his fantastic stories: drilling the Vegas vault (like Ocean’s Eleven but real!), cracking special safes for the government, opening the late Prince’s bank vault at Paisley Park, and more. These adventures form the core of Safecracker, a fun and fascinating memoir that breaks new ground in the genre — there isn’t anything remotely like it.


— Adam Yorke, Head of Development, Wildling Pictures


If Jobs and Wozniak had combined their DNA into one person with a passion for safes rather than computers, the result would have been (something very much like) Dave McOmie. Dave is as comfortable with abstract concepts as he is with concrete details, and his innovative safecracking classes have long been the industry gold standard. He is a living legend, and Safecracker is hands-down his best book.


— Rick Rolland, Chief Executive Officer, Rolland Safe Co., Inc.



Ask professional safecrackers who they want in their corner on a tough safe or vault, and they’ll answer in unison: “Dave McOmie.” Dave’s knowledge of his arcane craft is unrivaled, and Safecracker is your backstage pass into the shrouded, whispery world he inhabits.


— Martin Holloway, covert entry specialist and President, Hollotec



The weight of all the drill bits Dave McOmie has used in his long and storied career would sink the Titanic. He’s a monster. He’s also the most prolific author in the field. But in Safecracker, Dave has outdone himself. You’ll root for him when the pressure is on, cheer at each victory, and cross your fingers for a sequel!


— Jeff Volosing, President, StrongArm Inc.



Dave McOmie’s books and articles line the shelves of almost every lock and safe shop in the country. Whether he’s drilling a bank vault, opening a secret safe on a covert op, or teaching Burt Reynolds how to crack safes for a movie, Dave’s adventures have informed and entertained working professionals for decades. Talented wordsmiths are rare, master safecrackers even rarer. Dave is both.


— Lance Mayhew, Ada County Lock and Safe, Idaho



There are givers and takers in this world. Dave McOmie is a giver. He has trained several generations of field technicians, and quite literally wrote the books that the rest of us rely on every day. The truth is, most of us wouldn’t be where we are without him.


— C.D. Lipscomb, Navco Safe & Lock, Texas



Dave’s books and articles jump-started my interest in safes and vaults. Attending one of his famed Penetration Parties was like playing in a football game with Vince Lombardi coaching. Unforgettable.


— Michael Jennings, Solid Lock and Safe, Louisiana



Other than my father, Dave McOmie was the single greatest influence on my career as a safe and vault technician. His willingness to share information and his ability to teach are unparalleled.


— Michael McElheney, McElheney Locksmiths, Ohio



When your vault is locked, don’t go off half-cocked: Call Dave!


— Rusty Bramblett, Bramblett Locksmith, Florida


Generous with his knowledge and intensely loyal to his industry colleagues, Dave McOmie is the go-to guy when a tough safe or vault is reluctant to reveal its secrets.


— T. A. Martin, Antique Safes, Wisconsin


Dave McOmie’s dedication to his craft and his fellow safecrackers is matchless. There isn’t anyone quite like the master.


— Scott Clark, S.G. Clark Safe Services, New York


Every industry has its hero and mentor. In the safe and vault world, we have Dave McOmie.


— W. Scott Maness, Blair and Sons Locksmith, Alabama


Dave has been the single biggest influence on my career as a professional safe technician. He’s always willing to help, and I‘m eternally grateful for it.


— Walt Peterson, Floyd Security, Minnesota


If you are in the business of opening safes and vault, Dave is the guy you want to know.


— Ernie Lay, BranchServ, North Carolina


If it weren’t for Dave, I wouldn’t be the safecracker I am today. Virtually everyone in the trade today can say the same thing.


— James Green, Peifer Lock, Tennessee



Dave’s depth of knowledge on safes and vaults is peerless. He’s truly one of a kind.


— J. Drew Van Deventer, Alpine Safe and Lock, Florida




Many years ago, I met Dave McOmie at a convention, but he was so low key I didn’t know who he was. I told him safecracking was pretty simple now that some guy is writing technical books on the subject. My father later pointed out that the guy I was talking to was the author of those very books.


— Jacob Feinberg, Carl’s Locksmith Service, Massachusetts




When you need a hand, Dave’s the man!


— Jerry Kruss, Certified Lock & Safe, California




Dave McOmie is the authority on safes and vaults. Period. He’s also a great guy, and I’m proud to call him a friend.”


— Jim Wiedman, President, Associated Locksmiths of America




Dave McOmie’s books and classes have advanced the skills of thousands of safe and vault technicians around the globe. No other person has had a greater impact on the industry.


— Mike Potter, President, Safe and Vault Technicians Association


Links provided on this page for the book are affiliate links.


About the Author


Dave McOmie is editor-at-large at The International Safecracker and a member of the Safe & Vault Technicians Hall of Fame. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Washington and resides in the Evergreen State with his wife and children

By |2021-08-09T01:12:03+00:00August 5th, 2021|Book Review, Safe and Vault, Safes, Uncategorized|0 Comments

HES Smart Pac III

Here we have a HES 1006 CS in 12-hour continuous passage with more cycles. The strike was getting hot while receiving continuous power reaching temperatures in excess of 121 degrees Fahrenheit (see figure 1).

After purchasing and installing the HES smart pac (See figure 2) the temperature was reduced to a more reasonable temperature and has maintained function well. We recommend installing a smart pac with all heavily used access control systems, especially ones that are receiving continuous power for extended periods of time like this one being put in passage mode for hours on end. (See figure 3)

The author of this post may benefit from a commission from the use of this link.
See the link below to purchase here:

Specs from the manufacturer:

For dependable installations, add the SMART Pac III

The 2005M3 SMART Pac III is an in-line power controller that is able to receive input voltages from 12 to 32V AC or DC. It has a built-in bridge rectifier. The continuous duty timer reduces the initial voltage by 25% to extend the life of the electric strike. Includes built-in resettable fuse, MOV, voltage regulation, and input status LED.

Standard Features

  • Accepts a wide range of input voltage: 12-32 Volts AC* or DC
  • Output 12VDC or 24VDC, depending on input voltage
  • Smart LED Input Status Indicator
  • Built-in bridge rectifier
  • Built-in surge protection / voltage regulation
  • Supports fail-secure or fail-safe configured electric strikes
  • Continuous duty: reduces initial voltage by 25% after a fixed period of time, to provide cooler more efficient operation of the strike
  • Self-resetting overcurrent protection
  • Configures strike eliminating the need for voltage specific pigtails
  • Extends the warranty of HES electric strikes

Installing a SMART Pac III power controller with any new products extends the 1-year warranty on electrical components, including the SMART Pac III, to the full 3-5 warranty term applicable to each Series mechanical component as outlined in standard terms and conditions.

*Note:  For use with a 1006 electric strike, the input voltage must be a filtered DC with a ripple of less than 1 volt RMS.
**Note: The SMART Pac III can not provide an output voltage greater than the input voltage.

Here we have a He’s 1006 CS in 12 hour continuous passage more cycles. The strike was getting hot while receiving continuous power reaching temperatures in excess of 121 degrees Fahrenheit (see figure 1).

After purchasing and installing the HES smart pac (see photo 2) the temperature was reduced to a more reasonable temperature and has maintained function well.We recommend installing a smart pac with all heavily used access control systems, especially ones that are receiving continuous power for extended periods of time like this one being put in passage mode for hours on end. (See figure 3)

See link below to purchase here:
(affiliate link here)
Specs from manufacturer:

For dependable installations, add the SMART Pac III

The 2005M3 SMART Pac III is an in-line power controller that is able to receive input voltages from 12 to 32V AC or DC. It has a built-in bridge rectifier. The continuous duty timer reduces initial voltage by 25% to extend the life of the electric strike. Includes built-in resettable fuse, MOV, voltage regulation and input status LED.

Standard Features

  • Accepts wide range of input voltage: 12-32 Volts AC* or DC
  • Output 12VDC or 24VDC, depending on input voltage
  • Smart LED Input Status Indicator
  • Built-in bridge rectifier
  • Built-in surge protection / voltage regulation
  • Supports fail secure or fail safe configured electric strikes
  • Continuous duty: reduces initial voltage by 25% after a fixed period of time, to provide cooler more efficient operation of the strike
  • Self-resetting over-current protection
  • Configures strike eliminating need for voltage specific pigtails
  • Extends the warranty of HES electric strikes

Installing a SMART Pac III power controller with any new products extends the 1 year warranty on electrical components, including the SMART Pac III, to the full 3-5 warranty term applicable to each Series mechanical component as outlined in standard terms and conditions.

*Note:  For use with a 1006 electric strike, the input voltage must be a filtered DC with a ripple of less than 1 volt RMS.
**Note: The SMART Pac III can not provide an output voltage greater than the input voltage.

Lishi 2-in-1 Commercial/Residential Tools Webinar

Join Wayne Winton this Friday at 1:00 PM CST for a very detailed training webinar on Original Lishi’s 2-in-1 Commercial/Residential Tools!

In this 3-hour webinar Wayne will show you how he utilizes these tools to service commercial and residential keyways including:

  • Schlage pin tumbler locks (SC1/SC4)
  • Kwikset pin tumbler locks (KW1)
  • Best A keyway picking and decoding
  • Kwikset Smart Key picking and decoding
  • AM 5-6 padlock picking and decoding

The class cost is $100 and includes $50 H.L. Flake credit. To register, click here.
Do not miss out on this class! I have been able to preview this class and Wayne goes into extreme detail covering Original Lishi tools as well as the corresponding locks.

By |2020-04-30T09:00:37+00:00April 30th, 2020|All, Webinars|0 Comments

Simplex L1000, Part 1: Series Overview

This is the first in a 4-part series covering the Simplex L1000 series. This article will provide a series overview, the remaining articles will cover changing and resetting combinations, installation, and servicing, respectively. 


For nearly 50 years the Simplex line has represented the most popular combination locks in the North American market. Found in a widespread of settings and situations, the L1000 is the shining star of the Simplex line. Figure 1 shows the newest version of the L1000, less core. You can find the L1000 in commercial buildings, retail stores, community pool and tennis gates, banks, hospitals, government facilities and many more places. I’ve long noticed that, perhaps due to its ubiquity in the same, common situations, a good number of locksmiths aren’t fully aware of all features and functions of the L1000. This article will go over all features and functions of the L1000 series to fully educate locksmiths, new and old.

Figure 1

Figure 1

Series Overview

The L1000 is a fully mechanical combination lock in a cylindrical lockset format. The L1000 carries a 3-hour UL/ULC fire rating and features ADA-compliant lever trim. It is also D.O.D. 5220.22M compliant. The L1000 is weather-resistant which allows for exterior use, such as the previously mentioned community pool and tennis gates. It comes with a 3-year warranty and I can attest to Kaba’s commitment to honoring this warranty through my own experience. I serviced an L1000 last fall that exhibited signs of a defective clutch. I simply provided the lock’s serial number to a Kaba tech support representative via phone and Kaba shipped replacement parts, free of charge.  Just make sure that you register each L1000 you install with Kaba via their website: 
The L1000 is pre-assembled to accommodate 1 5/8” to 1 7/8” thick doors but it can be re-configured right out of the box to handle doors as thin as 1 3/8” and as thick as 2 1/4” through the removal or inclusion of spacers (Figure 2).

Figure 2

Figure 2

It’s available for doors and gates in 2 3/4” and 2 3/8” backsets and can be retrofit into an existing 160 or 161 prep. Don-Jo makes a wrap-around (part no. 15 CW) for the L1000 series to fit other existing preps, such as for mortise locks, as well (Figure 3).
Figure 3

Figure 3

The L1000 comes with a standard 1/2” throw latch but 3/4” throw latches are available for fire-rated assemblies requiring their use (Figure 4).
Figure 4

Figure 4

Both latches can be used in conjunction with the included standard and ANSI strikes (Figure 5).  
Figure 5

Figure 5

Satin Chrome (US26D/626) and Antique Brass (US5/609) are standard finishes for the L1000 but Bright Brass (US3/605) and Bright Chrome (US26/625) finishes are available. Key override options are available in SFIC (B Option), LFIC, and FSIC formats. Supported LFIC formats include Medeco (M), ASSA (M), Yale (M), and Abloy (M) 5 or 6 pin cores, Corbin Russwin (C) 6 pin cores, and Sargent (R) cores. Schlage (S) FSIC is also available. 
L1000 series locks are factory handed and are not field reversible. It is important to verify the doors handing prior to placing an order for or surveying for the installation of an L1000.  


There are 5 models for the L1000, each with different features and/or functions: 
Model 101x utilizes just a combination entry. Model 102x builds on to the 101x by offering combination entry with a key override option. These two models are by far the most popular and can be used in a variety of situations. Model 103x offers a passage function. The passage function allows the user(s) to place the lock into “passage mode”, or allowing access without using the code, by utilizing a thumbturn or key (DF5) on the inside trim. Model 104x offers a passage function with a key override option. 
Model 1076 is the privacy (lockout) function. This model allows a user to disable outside codes temporarily by pressing a thumbturn on the insider lever (Figure 6).

Figure 6

Figure 6

The key override function on the outside trim will still operate, however, to allow for emergency access. The privacy function is popular bathrooms restricted to staff or personnel use only. Unlike other models, Model 1076 can only be ordered with a “6” lock device option, which is a 3/4″ throw latch.  

Selling, Surveying, and Ordering 

The L1000 has several excellent features that can help you market and sell them effectively. The entire Simplex line centers around the ability to allow access without providing physical credentials, such as a keys or cards/fobs. This is done, obviously, through a combination. The L1000 therefore allows access without the added cost, time, and planning of issuing the physical credentials. In the event of a termination or loss of privilege, changing the combination is more cost effective for the customer than rekeying and, in some cases, reprogramming cards/software. This is a great source of recurring revenue.  
Familiarity is another great selling point. Most customers will have already seen, and perhaps used, an L1000 or its sister model: the Simplex 1000 (knob trim version). This makes usage quite simple and requires very little, if any, customer training. Customers love simplicity after all. 
Due to its popularity, the L1000 is readily available through distribution. This availability makes turnaround times for quoted jobs quick and painless which bodes well for both you and your customer. There are no batteries or wires, so maintenance is limited. The locks can be installed, either brand new or retrofit, easily on a large majority of doors. Ordering and product selection is made simple via Kaba’s Simplex Catalog. I have made minor edits to fit the entire Simplex L1000 model/option order page onto a single page. Scan this and keep a copy, or copies, on your truck to make quoting/ordering as simple as possible until fully committed to memory. 

By |2020-04-20T09:00:11+00:00April 20th, 2020|All, Combination Locks, Mechanical Combination|0 Comments

Electric Strike Solenoid Replacement

This article originally appeared in the February, 2015 edition of Keynotes.


I received a work order that an exterior door restricted to card swipe access was not releasing when an authorized card was used. The door had a Von Duprin 99 series rim exit device used in conjunction with an older Von Duprin 6100 series electric strike (Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1

After troubleshooting, I removed the mounting screws, disconnected the strike, and determined that the electric strike, set for fail secure, was receiving proper voltage/amperage (Figure 2) when an authorized card was used, but the electric strike would still not release. At this point, I want to stress that assuming is never a good idea. Always verify the correct voltage with a meter and check that the power supply can provide ­the rated current or amperage required by the strike. Also verify that the wire size and length is adequate to prevent too great a voltage drop.
Figure 2

Figure 2


Visual inspection showed no damage to the external components of the electric strike or foreign objects within it preventing normal operation. Sometimes, especially on college campuses, individuals come up with makeshift ways to keep doors open and/or unlocked, and the items used can inadvertently cause otherwise fine door hardware to not work by jamming key components. An electric strike, believe it or not, is a very, very simple device. The only moving part in this strike aside from the keeper’s spring, and nearly all others, is the solenoid. That had to be culprit.
I then reconnected the electric strike to its power source and swiped a working card a few more times. Each time I held my finger to the solenoid — which is placed on the outside of the electric strike on this particular model — I felt nothing. You should feel and hear movement when a working solenoid is energized, but more on that in a moment. Case closed: we had a solenoid that had failed, and it needed to be replaced. But could it?
Some manufacturers offer replacement kits for their electric strike’s solenoids; some don’t. In this case, Von Duprin offered such a kit. Von Duprin’s 6100 series are beasts of electric strikes; they’re rugged, of solid construction, and — by extension — expensive. Kudos to Von Duprin for selling replacement solenoid kits on an otherwise indestructible electric strike. I’d much rather pay for a solenoid replacement kit than a brand new 6100.

How Solenoids Work with Electric Strikes

Solenoids are essentially electromagnets. The main housing (Figure 3) of the solenoid contains coiled wire and works in conjunction with an armature.

Figure 3

Figure 3

Armatures, sometimes referred to as plungers or slugs, are cylinder-shaped and contain ferrous metal, which is magnetic. Like all electromagnets, when current is applied, the coiled wire generates a magnetic field. This causes the armature to move up or down, depending on the design or intended usage of the solenoid. For example, the Von Duprin 6100 series electric strike I am fixing is fail secure. When not energized, the armature rests in position that prohibits the electric strike’s keeper from moving. When the solenoid is energized, the armature is attracted to and therefore lifted by the magnetic field produced by the coil, and the keeper is then able to move momentarily.

The Fix

Luckily for me, I had a 6000 series solenoid replacement kit on hand (24VDC – part no. 050240). The kit, also available in 12VDC (part no. 050237) and 16VDC (part no. 050239) depending on the system requirements, comes with everything you need to get you back in running order: the solenoid, the armature, the spring and a plastic washer. One thing to note, however, is that if you ever have a broken solenoid spring on a 6000 series Von Duprin electric strike, they can be ordered separately (part no. 968713). This saves you quite a bit of money compared to ordering the complete kit itself. It should also be noted that the same solenoid replacement kit can be used on any Von Duprin 6000 series electric strike so long as the voltages match.
Now, installation can be rather straightforward or involved depending on the condition of the armature. Allow me to explain.

Fail Secure

Fail secure is a normally open circuit. The armature is only exposed to the magnetism from the coil briefly and intermittently (whenever someone swipes his or her card and the electric strike is energized). I compared the existing armature to the new one (Figure 4) and found no change in size or any associated wear or tear that warranted the process of its removal and replacement. Change in size? Read on.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Fail Safe

Fail safe electric strikes are continuous duty. The armature is exposed to the magnetism from the solenoid constantly until someone swipes their card and breaks the circuit temporarily, thus allowing the armature to move. When the timer on the system reenergizes the solenoid, it’s exposed to the magnetism again until someone else swipes a card. Why does this matter with regards to replacement? The constant exposure to the magnetism can actually cause the armature to expand and thus potentially cause the electric strike to malfunction. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing the first time I encountered this, but a phone call into Von Duprin’s tech support department confirmed that was the case.


Whatever your situation may be, the armature cannot be removed without first drilling out a roll pin (Figure 5). The roll pin holds a part that interacts with the armature and essentially locks it into the electric strike. From there, it’s a straightforward process. I didn’t need to replace my armature and, with respect to the readers of this website, I wasn’t going through the process just to show how it was done (If any of you want to send me a spare 6100, I’ll be more than happy to do a complete write-up for a future article!). With that said, let’s do a walk-through of a typical 6100 solenoid replacement installation that does not require replacement of the armature.

Figure 5

Figure 5

Remove the electric strike’s mounting screws and disconnect it from the power source. Solenoids only operate when current is applied, so — unlike a capacitor — you don’t need to worry about potential shock hazards when working with them once the power source is eliminated. Unscrew the solenoid (it should only be hand-tight and require no tools) and remove plastic washer and spring.
With the solenoid removed, it was time to install the replacement. Figure 6 shows an expanded view of how the kit should be replaced.
Figure 7 shows its installation on the armature itself prior to installing the rest of the solenoid.
Take note that the spring goes between the washer and the snap ring. With the parts correctly oriented, simply screw the solenoid back onto the electric strike. Reconnect the electric strike to the power source, and test for operation. If all checks out — and it should — you can remount the strike and consider the job done. It’s literally that simple.
Salvaging parts at this point is at your discretion. In my case, the previous washer and spring were coming back to my shop.

Other Brands

In addition to the 6000 series, Von Duprin offers replacement solenoids for the 5100 series electric strikes (part no. 050034). Folger Adams offers replacement solenoids for all 300 and 700 series electric strikes. Adams Rite also offers replacement solenoids for its 7100 series electric strikes. These replacements can all be made in field and do not void the UL Listing of the electric strike. HES, unfortunately, does not offer replacement solenoids for its product line. If you run into a defective HES out of warranty, the only solution is to replace it with a new one.


A failed electric strike doesn’t necessarily mean that a new electric strike is the only solution; a simple solenoid replacement might be the required fix, and replacement parts for multiple manufacturers and models exist at a fraction of the cost of a brand new electric strike. One word of caution, however: Replacement of a solenoid using parts not sold by the manufacturer may fix the electric strike in question but it absolutely voids the UL Listing of the electric strike, and that should never, under any circumstance, be done.

By |2020-04-13T09:00:01+00:00April 13th, 2020|All, Electric Strikes|0 Comments

Major Manufacturing's HIT-66 System


Major Manufacturing’s HIT-66 System is one of the most ubiquitous installation tools in the locksmith industry. It allows locksmiths to perform professional installations of the most popular cylindrical and mortise locks with amazing efficiency.

HIT-66 Clamp System

HIT-66 Clamp System

The basis of the HIT-66 is it’s clamp system. All other tools in the HIT-66 family attach to these rubber-lined clamps. The clamps fit doors ranging from 1-1/4” to 2-7/8” and are machined from aluminum.




The HIT-66-100 is, for all intents and purposes, an installation template for any lock requiring a 160 or 161 prep. It can perform fresh installations or enlarge existing crossbores. It works on wood and steel doors and can accommodate 2-3/8″ and 2-3/4″ backsets. It features 5/16″ holes for through-bolts at the 6 and 12 o’clock positions. The latchbore can be drilled with either an auger, brad-point, multi-point, or hole saws with the supplied adapters.




The HIT-66-200 is an attachment that mortises pockets for mortise locks. It directly attaches to the HIT-66 clamp system and can be used in conjunction with nearly all other HIT-66 templates at the same time. This allows you to perform a fresh installation of almost all popular mortise locks currently on the market. It comes with a 1″ carbide-tip mortising bit along with stop collars.

HIT-66 Templates

Mortise lock templates are the shining stars of the HIT-66 system. These templates allow you to accurately and quickly drill cylinder, thumbturn, trim, and all other auxiliary holes for the most popular mortise locks. The following templates are available from Major to work with the HIT-66:

  • HIT-66-210 (Alarm Lock DL3500)
  • HIT-66-230 (Best 34H/37H/45H/47H)
  • HIT-66-235 (Corbin Russwin ML2000/ML2200)
  • HIT-66-240 (Falcon MA)
  • HIT-66-248 (Hager 3800)
  • HIT-66-250 (Kaba E-Plex/5000)
  • HIT-66-251 (Kaba 660/760/770/790)
  • HIT-66-255 (Marks 5/DORMA M9000)
  • HIT-66-263 (Onity CT)
  • HIT-66-264 (Onity HT)
  • HIT-66-266 (Saflok MT)
  • HIT-66-268 (Salto XS-4)
  • HIT-66-272 (Sargent 7800/7900/8200/9200)
  • HIT-66-280 (Schlage AD)
  • HIT-66-281 (Schlage CO)
  • HIT-66-282 (Schlage L)

Using the HIT-66

The HIT-66 is one of the easiest installation tools to use. In this example, I’m going to show you how it works by using the HIT-66-282 template for Schlage L Series mortise locks.
This door has a Schlage L9070 (Classroom function) mortise lock. It needs to be converted to a L9050 (Office/Inner Entry function). This means that the hole for the thumbturn hole needs to be drilled.

Schlage L9070

Schlage L9070

To start, the existing lock must be removed.
Mortise Pocket

Mortise Pocket

Once the lock is removed, we can begin attaching the HIT-66 and template. We start first by attaching the positioning plate. This helps orient the rest of the HIT-66 tool.
Positioning Plate

Positioning Plate

With the positioning plate install, we can now mount the rest of the HIT-66. The HIT-66 slides over the post of the positioning tool and is then pressed against the edge of the door. The clamps can then be tightened.
HIT-66 Mounted

HIT-66 Mounted

With the HIT-66 mounted, we can now drill. Since we only have to drill for the thumbturn, we identify that hole and drill.
Drilling For Thumbturn

Drilling For Thumbturn

With the hole drilled, the thumbturn can be installed.
Thumbturn Installed

Thumbturn Installed

It’s that simple and that quick. Professional quality results in seconds. Cylinder holes can be drilled as quickly and professionally as well.
L9080 Cylinder Hole

L9080 Cylinder Hole

L9080 Cylinder Hole

L9080 Cylinder Hole

By |2020-04-06T09:00:40+00:00April 6th, 2020|All, Cylindrical and Tubular, Mortise|0 Comments

DIY Sargent 700 Series ET Trim Conversion

This article originally appeared in the April, 2015 edition of Keynotes.


This article can be digested in 3 ways: a DIY method to change the function of the 700 Series ET trim used on a Sargent 8800 rim exit device, an example of the thought process associated with thinking “outside of the box” and using it in the field effectively, or a combination of the two. It is intended primarily for institutional locksmiths because it requires benchmark testing in the field and I cannot imagine that is cost efficient for a locksmith company under most circumstances (unless you have a spare door and hardware at your shop). Not to mention, a locksmith company is more inclined to provide a solution with a warranty; that is a selling point after all. Can all locksmiths take away something from this? Absolutely, but for the most part an institutional locksmith is going to benefit a lot more from this article.

The Situation

We have 3 residential halls on campus that use Sargent’s 8800 rim exit device with the 700 Series ET trim (Figure 1) on all mechanical, electrical, and transformer rooms; 10 doors in all. The problem is that when these buildings were renovated the contractors chose to use Sargent’s 13 (ANSI 08) function: key outside unlocks/locks trim. Essentially, it’s a classroom function trim. We all know the potential problem with classroom function locks: employees forgetting to lock up. This creates potential safety and liability situations, especially considering the contents of these rooms, which we should always do our best to avoid.

Figure 1

Figure 1

The solution is simple, right? Use storeroom function trim. Sargent sells a kit just for this called the 607-2 Locking Slide Replacement Kit. A 607-2 slide kit costs me $64.11 and is retrofit-able. 10 doors, that’s a total of $641.10. You may be thinking, “$64.11? I get it for far less than that!” I’m an institutional locksmith at a small college. I’m not a large volume costumer; I don’t get the good pricing (not that I would expect or demand it – I understand why things are the way they are). That’s a good bit of my monthly budget, however.
What if I could modify the existing 700 Series ET trimtrim to accomplish the same goal of converting it to storeroom function but at a substantially cheaper price? It’d have to be reliable, cost efficient, and easily crafted in order to be worth the effort.

Warranties, Underwriter Laboratories Listed Hardware, and Other Considerations

Before we touch on any field modifications, let’s discuss potential implications and liabilities. First, the trim and slide kit carry 5 year warranties. Altering either voids the warranty. My trim was out of warranty already. What did I have to lose? Ruining one slide and buying the kit? It was worth the tradeoff.
And without turning this into a primer on the difference between Underwriter Laboratories (UL) Marks, I’m only going to hit on a few points with regards to them (UL Listed, UL Certified, etc.). The absence of a UL Mark, usually a sticker, does not mean that the hardware has not been evaluated and met UL requirements and you have free range to make any field modifications.
Fortunately, UL has an online database that will allow you to determine if the hardware has met their requirements. There are a number of fields in the search area of the website that can help you find the product in question very efficiently. Of course, so will product literature from a manufacturer. I have found in my own experience, however, that it’s much easier to go straight to the source (UL) to avoid scouring a manufacturer’s website for that information. That’s just my preference though.
If, for whatever reason, you determine that a modification is necessary to a UL Listed product you can request a Field Evaluation from UL. In fact, if you’ve ever see a “Field Evaluated Product” badge, that was a result of this program. More information can be found at
And hopefully you’re all well versed in field modification requirements of the publications adopted by your state, NFPA 80 for example. If not, please do your homework. It’s only a matter of time before you encounter a job that requires a code adherent field repair or modification.
For the record, the Sargent 8800 rim exit device on this door is UL Listed but the 700 Series ET trim is not.

Thinking Outside of the Box

It was time to find out if a field modification was plausible. The 700 Series ET trim with Sargent’s 13 function operates like a safe combination lock in some respects. The handle has a notch in it just like a gate in a combination’s wheel. The cylinder’s cam interfaces with the stainless steel locking slide (according to a Sargent exit device tech) that has a protrusion, much like a fence, at the bottom. When this protrusion enters the notch, the handle is locked in place. Figure 2 shows the 700 Series ET trim unlocked and figure 3 shows it locked.
Simple enough, right? Therefore, it would stand to reason that if I could force the slide into the notch consistently until retracted manually by the cam then I would have my storeroom function. A compression spring could accomplish that job but what kind of compression spring did I need?

The Physics

Thinking outside of the box is one thing but having it work with physics is an entirely different thing. I could have found a spring, altered to make it work, and hoped for the best. But, I’m a calculative person and I would hope any outside the box thinker is as well.
All springs eventually fail but their fatigue, or failure, limit’s likelihood can be reliably calculated; almost predicted. This is accomplished by a mathematical equation known as the Soderberg Criterion. It calculates a spring’s failure limit using known attributes such as minimum and maximum forces applied, wire diameter, the outer diameter of the spring, spring free length, etc. It even goes so far as to consider the material’s yield stress, which can be found for any and every metal and it’s alloys you’re likely to find at the local home center or online. Suffice to say, it is a comprehensive equation.
I purchased a spring I believed would work, cut it to a length I had determined would fit inside the trim, and ran it through the equation. Did it pass Soderberg’s muster? Yes, with room to spare. If you’re not good with math don’t worry, there are online calculators just for the Soderberg Criterion. I used one and if you find the need to test the failure limit of a compression spring in the future a simple Google search will produce the online calculator.
This is an example of using math, physics, engineering, etc. to help figure out if a field modification is going to work reliably long term. Graphs, equations, tests, etc. all exist that can assist with field modification assessments. In this case, my only concern was the spring’s failure limit. I would recommend that any locksmith replacing a compression spring in the field that did not come from the manufacturer use the Soderberg Criterion equation to determine if the replacement will work. If you only take one thing from this article, let it be that.

The Engineering

If facing the 700 Series ET trim from the inside, or the side containing the internal parts, there is a perfect spot between the trim body and the right side of the locking slide (Figure 4). I decided that would be the best place for the compression spring.

Figure 4

Figure 4

Before I started drilling and making alterations, I needed to do a bit of measuring and math. As seen in Figure 5, the mortise cylinder’s collar determines the distance between the cam and the part of slide it interacts with. Likewise, it controls the distance between the cam and the portion of the trim body I wanted to install my spring. As it was currently installed, I couldn’t fit my spring in the area I determined would be best. I simply changed out the collars and I had my needed space.
Figure 5

Figure 5

Now, how to anchor the spring so that it stays in place and works as it should with the slide? I was limited at the top by the mortise cylinder’s nut. I figured that would be the top point of the spring so I drilled and put a spring, or roll or tension, pin there. Next, I “Dremeled” a notch into the locking slide to accept the compression spring (Figure 6).
Figure 6

Figure 6

I didn’t get careless; I needed a snug fit that could hold an ample portion of the spring. Also, remember it’s a stainless steel part. I don’t have to really worry about sacrificing the strength of the slide by removing the portion of material I did. I also knew the compression spring didn’t have the force to shear the spring pin. With all that done, I now had a place to put my spring and have it hold reliably (Figure 7). (Note the file marks on the cam; that was done to clean up burrs created due to incorrect cylinder spacing via the collars).
Figure 7

Figure 7

Bench and Field Testing

With the modification installed I, like any manufacturer, performed benchmark tests in shop prior to field deployment. 500 in all. Did my fix hold? Yes. Was that the end of my testing? No. In hand or in vise is one thing, on door in conjunction with device is another. That got another 4000 cycles before I determined the fix a success. 4000 key turns via Best’s ED211 Mortise Cylinder Wrench (Figure 8). This was a very tedious and mundane process but it was worth it. I pulled the 700 Series ET trim off of the door and brought it back to the shop to evaluate its performance.

Figure 8

Figure 8

Each door gets between 1 and 2 uses per day. Let’s assume 2 a day, 365 days a year for 5 years (my anticipated usage vs. Sargent’s warranty period). By testing the fix 4500 times, I’ve essentially benchmarked just over 7 years of use and it still works. I’m confident with that; that exceeds what Sargent would have warrantied by at least 2 years. Now it was time to take it off the door and see what, if anything, occurred and if anything needed to be altered.

The Results

Figure 9 shows the benchmarked compression next to a brand new, unaltered spring of the same make. You can see that the spring used in the benchmark tests is slightly more compressed but that’s to be expected after 4500 cycles.

Figure 9

Figure 9

Figure 10 shows the inside of the ET trim. There are two very faint wear marks. The mark indicated by the pointer is from the spring and the mark to the right of that is from the portion of the spring mounted to the slide.
Figure 10

Figure 10

Figure 11 shows the slide. The only wear marks I see are where the cam interfaces with the slide but that is what one would expect.
Figure 11

Figure 11

Figure 12 shows the spring pin. Enough wear to remove the coating but not much beyond that.
Figure 12

Figure 12

Figure 13 shows the spring with the side that interfaces with the slide. Again, very little wear. If this is what I can expect after 4500 cycles, then I consider this field modification a success.
Figure 13

Figure 13

The Math

One spring and one spring pin cost me $0.95 and $0.12 each, respectively.
Remember, we have 10 of these devices on campus. That brings my total, parts only, to $641.10 for the 607-2 kits and $10.70 total for the springs and spring pins. The difference is $630.40.
Now, I did have labor involved. In all, I spent nearly 4 hours creating and testing the modification over the course of a month. For argument’s sake, the average locksmith in America makes $19.15 an hour according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s $76.60 additional labor just to create and test this field modification.
It takes me 30 minutes to perform my modification per ET trim (that’s taking it off the door and reinstalling included). I’d guess I could replace the 607-2 kit in half the time, or 15 minutes. So, labor wise, that’s 5 hours for the field modification; 2.5 hours for the 607-2 kit. Using the same average wage, that’s $95.75 vs. $47.88, respectively.
In sum, the 607-2 slide kit costs me $688.98 (parts and labor) and my modification cost me $183.05. Do you see why it’s worth at least considering altering a non-UL listed, non-fire rated piece of hardware to change its function, repair instead of replace it, etc.?
Furthermore, let’s assume the spring from a 607-2 slide kit and my spring breaks at the exact same time, outside of the warranty period. These are the only two I can imagine breaking; the rest of the slide assembly is darn near bullet proof. Of the two, which is more costly to fix? Which is easier to fix or which can be fixed faster (I don’t have to remove any parts to replace my spring – the 607-2 kit has installation instructions for a reason)? Which spring is more readily available? I may be partial but I’m going to go with my field modification on all questions (apologies if you have the 607-2 slide kit or their unique flat spring en masse on hand). Regardless, these are questions you should also consider when considering a field modification to a product.

So what’s the point of all this?

Well, it saved me over $500 but I hope it got your brain juices flowing. When a fix or hardware change is necessary don’t assume the right answer is to go straight to the manufacturer or distributor’s catalog. We’ve illustrated that with a bit of outside the box thinking, math/physics/engineering, and testing we can create our own solutions. My fix was not an isolated case; this sort of stuff happens on a daily basis to all of us. Do you think I toss defective Sargent 8200 series and Best 40H mortise locks or harvest them for their working parts? Are you guilty of the same? We’re hoping to fix a lock problem without buying a direct replacement or use the good parts elsewhere, which is the basis of most field modifications.
Our trade was started by individuals who hand crafted locks. Don’t be afraid to modify hardware so long as it doesn’t sacrifice its life safety and security qualities. Warranty voiding is at you and your customer’s discretion. Math, physics, engineering, etc. are rarely a gamble. With the right knowledge and tools, outside the box solutions will rarely be a gamble either.

By |2020-04-02T09:00:51+00:00April 2nd, 2020|All, Exit Devices|0 Comments

How Sargent's 6300 Large Format Interchangeable Core Works

Sargent 6300 Large Format Interchangeable Core History

Sargent began producing their proprietary large format interchangeable core, the 6300, in the late 70s. It isn’t Sargent’s only core, they’ve actually manufactured 4 different core designs. It is, however, is the newest design they’ve manufactured so you’ll sometimes see/hear it referred to as a Sargent “new style” core. A predecessor to the 6300 was Sargent’s removable core, which is referred to as the “old style”. Sargent still does sell “old style” removable cores.

Sargent 6300 Large Format Interchangeable Core Function

Sargent 6300s utilize a control lug found in the 3rd and 4th chambers of the core. Control keys will contain the same cuts as either the operating/change key OR top master key in all positions except the 3rd and 4th. The coded difference between the operating and control shearline is .160” or 8 increments. This means that certain control bittings used in conjunction with certain operating/change key OR top master key bittings can result in key interchange. In other words, operating/change OR top master keys functioning as control keys or vice-versa. Sargent avoids this risk with factory systems by not using depths 1 and 2 for control key bittings and depths 9 and 10 for operating/change OR top master key bittings in the 3rd and 4th positions. 

Sargent 6300 Large Format Interchangeable Core Servicing

The Sargent 6300 utilizes the Sargent .020” key bitting specification that has depths 1-10 (shallowest to deepest), sometimes labeled 1-0. It is available only in 6 pin versions. On some cores the keyway and direct bitting are stamped on some of the capping strips from the factory. 
All Sargent 6300 cores manufactured after January 1, 2009 should utilize “hollow drivers” in control chambers. These Hollow drivers have a portion of the driver/top pin “hollowed out” to accommodate special hollow driver springs. This re-design was to correct potential operational problems. Because control chambers have a uniform stack height that is 5 increments larger than non-control chambers, the 3rd and 4th chambers will be .100″ (5 x .020″) larger than non-control chambers. By removing a portion of the driver, the risk of premature spring wear in control-chambers is drastically reduced.

Additional Literature


By |2020-03-23T09:00:32+00:00March 23rd, 2020|All, Cores and Cylinders|0 Comments

New Safe Manipulation Graph Paper Added to Tools

We have added new graph paper specifically suited for Kromer 14a safe locks to our Safe Manipulation Graph Paper page in the Tools section. The Kromer 14a is a unique safe combination lock. Rather than numbers, the dial used letters (upper and lower case).

Kromer 14a Dial

Kromer 14a Dial

Kromer was a leading safe lock manufacturer in Germany from the early 20th century up until the 1980s. They had a very good reputation because of their Protector lock, which was the only lock certified by the German national bank for use on their safes for many decades. Kromer also sold Novum locks across Europe, many to the U.K. who equipped them on Tann safes.
Special thanks to Martin Hewitt for putting this together for us.

By |2020-03-19T09:00:59+00:00March 19th, 2020|All, Combination Safe Locks, Safes|0 Comments

Exit Alarms, Part 2: Standalone Units

Standalone Exit Alarm Units

As a quick recap from Part 1, compared to integrated units, standalone exit alarm units are usually the more cost-efficient option. They are surface-mounted and generally do not require any modifications to the door or frame beyond the mounting screws for the hardware. Additionally, the existing lock(s) and door hardware are able to remain untouched.
There are plenty of options for standalone exit alarms. Here are some of the most popular:

Alarm Lock PG Series

The Alarm Lock PG Series is compromised of 4 unique exit alarm models: LL1, PG10, PG21, and PG30.

Alarm Lock PG10

PG10 is door-mount standalone exit alarm that provides keyed arming and disarming from either side of the door. The PG10 is available for single or double doors. An optional AC power supply is also available. Other features include:

  • 95 dB alarm
  • Battery back up and test button
  • The alarm can be bypassed from inside or outside by the use of a key
  • Two separate tamper switches

Alarm Lock LL1

Alarm Lock LL1

Alarm Lock LL1

LL1 is a PG10 with an additional strobe light for easy identification as well as a choice of system controllers.

Alarm Lock PG21

Alarm Lock PG21MSS

Alarm Lock PG21MSS

PG21 a narrow stile, door-mount standalone exit alarm with two selectable arming modes:

  1. Always armed mode – The key is unable to removed when in the disarmed position. Key must be rotated back to the armed position  for removal.
  2. Standard arming mode – The key is able to be removed when in the disarmed position.

Other features of the PG21 include:

  • 95 dB alarm &/or strobe
  • Low Battery Alert
  • LED Status Indicator
  • Exit Delay Time Options of 15 seconds; 1 min. 15 sec. & 3 mins 15 sec.
  • Dual Tamper Switches

While narrow-stile, the PG21 can be mounted on standard size doors as well. It is available in metallic silver and duronodic finishes and is armed/disarmed by a standard mortise cylinder (exterior control is possible via an optional rim cylinder). Other options for the PG21 include continuous alarm, minute shutdown with auto reset and exit/entry delay, a strobe light, and an AC power supply.

Alarm Lock PG30

The PG30 is very similar to the PG21.
Rather than cylinder control, the PG30 offers keypad control in addition to the following features:

  • 95 dB alarm with 3 programmable styles: sweep, pulsed, and steady
  • Audible low battery warning
  • Digital codes for master, management and passage (used for auto-arming)
  • 3 security levels for: a) high security b) unattended applications c) flexible control for delivery doors, etc.
  • Logo key is dual function test button

Arrow 130N Series

Arrow 130N

Arrow 130N

The Arrow 130N is perhaps the most economical standalone units currently available on the market. It’s features include:

  • 105 dB alarm
  • 9VDC battery operated with Low Battery Alert
  • Exit Delay Time Options of 7, 10,15 or 20 seconds
  • LED Status Indicator
  • Manual or automatic alarm reset adjustable for 2, 5 or 10 minutes

Detex EAX-500

Detex EAX-500

Detex EAX-500

The Detex EAX-500 is arguably one of the most popular and recognizable standalone exit alarms in North America. Features of the EAX-500 include:

  • 100 dB alarm
  • 9VDC battery operated with Low Battery Alert
  • Tapered cover that allows for installation on narrow stile doors
  • Intelligent circuit that senses the external magnet location automatically and sets the correct door handing
  • Secure, tamper resistant housing
  • LED visual and audible arming indicators

Detex EAX-2500

Detex EAX-2500

Detex EAX-2500

The Detex EAX-2500 is a hardwired exit alarm that will fit in a standard 4″ x 4″ outlet box. In addition to a battery back up, the EAX-2500 offers the following features:

  • 100 dB alarm
  • Field selectable low battery alert
  • Field selectable silent arming, status indicators and auto rearm options
  • Tamper resistant housing and cover protects electronics
  • Patented cam assembly that automatically adjusts for different size cylinders without spacers
  • Extended bypass that allows alarm to remain silenced when door is open and automatically rearm upon closing of door

Safety Technology International Exit Stopper

STI Exit Stopper

STI Exit Stopper

Safety Technology International’s Exit Stopper is a standalone exit alarm that can be door or wall-mounted. The Exit Stopper uses a polycarbonate housing available in red and green. Features of the Exit Stopper include:

  • 95/105 dB alarm
  • Low battery beep and flash; extended battery life mode
  • In exit alarm mode, alarm can be set to sound for 30 seconds, 3 minutes or indefinitely (unless disarmed with key supplied or until battery is drained)
  • In annunciator mode, it announces door entry/exit with 2 beeps repeated 5 times
  • Programmable 30 second entry delay or immediate alarm
  • Arming delay allows unit to arm following authorized exits

The Exit Stopper comes in a variety of options. These options reflect a variety of solutions and include:

  • STI-6400WIR supervised wireless (requires 8-Channel Receiver or Voice Receiver).
  • STI-V6400WIR4 supervised wireless with 4-Channel Voice Receiver.
  • STI-6402 protection for double doors.
  • STI-6403 remote horn can be located 300 feet from the door.
  • STI-6404 protection for double doors, has remote horn capabilities.
  • STI-6405 resettable alarm.
By |2020-03-16T09:00:41+00:00March 16th, 2020|All, Exit Alarms|0 Comments
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