Lock Safari NYC – New York, New York!

I recently had the chance to spend a few days in New York, New York.  This was a personal trip, and I covered a lot of ground. This time, I actually managed to focus on the locks I saw, and I saw some good ones on Lock Safari NYC. I noticed some interesting things about New York’s locks. First, there are a LOT of high-security locks on the street. In Manhattan (LES, SoHo, Midtown, Theatre District) and Brooklyn (including DUMBO and Red Hook), where I spent most of my time, the numbers of high-security and “standard” locks seem almost equal. I also noticed, as expected, a ton of Medeco locks. What surprised me was the huge number of Mul-T-Locks. They probably rivaled the number of Medecos I witnessed.  Finally, I did not see the diversity of locks I had hoped to.  New Yorkers seem to buy a lot of Medecos or Mul-T-Locks, and little else.  With that said, let’s look at some hardware! Continue reading “Lock Safari NYC – New York, New York!”

Lock Safari Salt Lake City, UT

I recently had the opportunity to explore another city in my search for rare and interesting locks.  Lock Safari Salt Lake City took me through quite a few neighborhoods over a long weekend.  Over three days a close friend and I covered the Marmalade, 9th and 9th, Temple Square/Downtown, and Sugar House areas of SLC.  I found quite a few interesting locks, but not as many as I expected from a city of this size.  But I didn’t come up totally empty-handed, and I visited a major landmark: the Mormon Temple.  I always enjoy seeing what locks are used on noteworthy buildings, though they rarely fail to disappoint.  Without further ado, here’s what I found on Lock Safari Salt Lake City: Continue reading “Lock Safari Salt Lake City, UT”

Real World Example: Physical Insecurity

I recently ran across this door and lockset in the industrial district of a major US city.  Seeing an old, ramshackle (or abandoned) commercial building with a padlock hasp on the door is not all that uncommon.  However, I was close enough to notice something interesting.  Look at the photo.  This door presents an excellent example of physical insecurity – but why?

Physical InsecurityIn case you have trouble seeing the mortise cylinder, below is a close-up shot.  It’s a Medeco mortise cylinder.  Though the keyway is badly worn, it is a Medeco Original (first generation).  This is a beautiful old lock.  It has probably served this building for twenty-five years or more.

Physical InsecuritySo, what is wrong with this picture, and why is it so interesting to me?  It is interesting to me because the Medeco is a UL 437-Listed  high security lock.  Medeco locks are extremely popular and prolific, and are even trusted by the US Government.  There are  problems with Medeco‘s security, but they are still a huge upgrade over standard door hardware.  In spite of this, this door is protected with a $12 Master padlock.  Master Locks are used by BosnianBill as bad examples for every lock-defeat technique imaginable.  This padlock has four pins.  It is vulnerable to picking, bumping, and padlock shims.  It can be cut and pried, as can the hasp.  And look at the stack of washers holding the hasp on.  It’s not hard to imagine a hacksaw blade slipping into the stack and cutting the bolt.  The Medeco has five rotating pins and a sidebar.  It can still be picked or bumped but this requires much greater skill.

Why is this so?  I imagine the Medeco key has long since been lost, but it is also possible the Medeco is broken.  In this example I have no way of knowing, but it is interesting to think about.  Instead of tracking down a locksmith and having the lock decoded or repaired, the owner decided to implement his own system of access control.  In doing so he or she reduced decent security to gross physical insecurity.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC – Part II

In Part I of my “Lock Safari Vancouver, BC” I covered the common (but very secure) Abloy and ASSA offerings, as well as the Medeco locks I saw.  All three of these brands are owned by the ASSA-Abloy conglomerate, and  I will lead off again with another ASSA-Abloy product: the Israeli Mul-T-Lock.  I saw several of these in mortise cylinder form-factor.  I also saw a handful of switch and cam locks, none of which I was able to adequately photograph.  The photos below show, in order: a switch lock, a close-up a mortise cylinder, and a wider shot of same.  The mortise cylinder was largely hidden behind a protective plate that I am unfamiliar with – if you know what it is, I’d like to.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Mul-T-Lock 1 Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Mul-T-Lock 2 Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Mul-T-Lock 3








This lock was marked “US-1 LOCK” and had a keyway that looks quite similar to a Mul-T-Lock.  Unfortunately I can’t confirm that, and it is possible it is a copy of the Mul-T-Lock.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Mul-T-Lock 4

I was very pleased to find a DOM dimple key lock in the wild; these are uncommon in the US.  Unfortunately, I was unable to get a better photograph.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC DOM

I also witnessed several examples of Schlage Primus in the large-format interchangable core configuration.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Schlage

That covers all of the high-security locks I was able to find on this trip.  However, I did manage to find some other, more interesting stuff.  Some of it is truly unique, and I have seen it nowhere else.  The first is this rim-mounted lock.  The keyway is familiar to me; I ran across a padlock with a strikingly similary keyway that was extracted from Kenya circa 2013.  BosnianBill has done a video on another padlock with the same keyway here.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Rim Lock w Smiley KeywayI found a very nice 7-lever padlock.  This specimen was on a gate over a storefront and has seen some use.  This large 60mm padlock appears to be marked “PLAZA”.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC LeverI also saw exactly one disc-detainer lock, in fairly poor condition.  It appears to be an inexpensive Chinese knock-off of Abloy or Abus rotating disc locks.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Chinese Copies 1 Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Chinese Copies 2








Finally, this is perhaps the most interesting security feature I saw on my trip.  This appears to be hardened steel cover for a cylindrical knobset.  I’m not totally sure what the purpose of this is, save to prevent someone from knocking the knob off the door, but it certainly is interesting.

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC Weird Knobset ProtectorI hope  you’ve enjoyed Lock Safari Vancouver, BC!  Some new cities are coming soon, so stay tuned!

Lock Safari Vancouver, BC: Part I

I recently had the opportunity to spend an extended weekend in Vancouver, BC.  While there, I indulged my desire to run around the city and its seedier parts to look for interesting locks.  “Lock Safari Vancouver” was a success – I found some very interesting stuff!  This post will be divided into two parts.  This first half will cover the more “pedestrian” Abloy, ASSA, and Medeco products.  Part II will cover the more odd and interesting.

Abloy: I found quite a few Abloy looks, but frustratingly none of them were door hardware.  I found only switch locks and cam locks (on apartment call boxes and mailboxes, respectively) and padlocks.  Most were Protec or Protec2.  The newer Abloy 330 padlocks of varying shackle-length were seen almost everywhere.  I was unable to closely observe the keyway on the large grey padlock in the center photo (below) but believe it to be an older (but still excellent) “Exec” model.

Lock Safari Vancouver Abloy 1 Lock Safari Vancouver Abloy 2 Lock Safari Vancouver Abloy 3








ASSA:  I was also quite pleased to find the ASSA Twin is fairly popular.  This design is one of my favorite high-security mechanisms (just behind the Abloy).  These presented on both residential and commercial applications.  Locks in the deadbolt or mortise cylinder form-factors were most common.  I also did not see any newer models like the V-10.  Rather, most of these locks were in the 6000-series.  Interestingly all the ones I was able to photograph did exhibit the “sneaky” key profile Han Fey talks about in page 9 of this document.

Lock Safari Vancouver ASSA 1 Lock Safari Vancouver ASSA 2 Lock Safari Vancouver ASSA 3







Lock Safari Vancouver ASSA 4

Medeco: Unsurprisingly I saw quite a few Medeco locks.  These were installed on both residential and commercial applications and came in several form-factors.  I saw deadbolts (residential), mortise cylinders, and one key-in-knob (KIK) cylinder.  The KIK was marked “GUNNEBO” – if anyone can give me any information on that I’d interested.  All Medeco locks were all of the latest m³ variety.

Lock Safari Vancouver Medeco 1

Lock Safari Vancouver Medeco 2 Lock Safari Vancouver Medeco 3







Stay tuned next week for Part II of Lock Safari Vancouver!