All in a Day’s Work for a locksmith

The variety we get here at Linacre Locksmiths is enormous. Many people think all locksmiths do is open locks, and maybe replace broken ones. While that is certainly part of our day to day job, there is plenty of other things we do.  Here are a couple of recent examples of the variety we get asked to deal with.

This still makes me laugh even after 14 years – the Fountains of Doom. Gearbox had failed due to stress caused by misalignment of this upvc door – it had dropped due to the weight of water within and was half an inch out at top.  This meant the rollers didn’t engage correctly with the keeps on the frame so more and more force was being applied to the lifting the handles up and so eventually the internals of the mechanism gave way, causing the lock to jam and not be able to be opened.  After opening the door i started to remove the screws on the strip, ultimately reaching the last two, and lo and behold, jets of water came streaming out. Took a good 10 minutes to drain although was still still dripping slightly when I left half an hour later.

Customer was going to speak to a upvc repair company to get the seals replaced and drain holes cleared.

Another of this week’s jobs saw a customer try his hand at doing it himself. He knew his upvc door gearbox had broken in his front door and had attempted a DIY removal and replacement. He had removed the entire mechanism from the door, and opened up the lockcase and diagnosed which small part had broken. Put it all back together, measured to order a replacement gearbox, refitted the mechanism back in the door, shut door then couldn’t re-open. He tried all sorts of drill bits to figure out why it wouldn’t open. Drilling into the latchbolt assembly didn’t help him of course. He had to call a locksmith in the end (me) to open door and then fit his eBay ordered lock.

Seeing this sort of variety certainly keeps me entertained and makes an occasional change from the humdrum. And it is what makes this job so enjoyable.  I wouldn’t want to do anything else!


Yale nightlatch – safety without compromising security

Many main entrance doors to a block of flats, for example, have a basic Yale nightlatch or similar fitted. While this is convenient for the tenants it fails to meet two criteria…

Meeting insurance approved security levels

Allowing for easy fire escape in emergencies

A standard Yale type nightlatch arrangement is easy to use but also vulnerable to being picked/slipped or bypassed by people who should not be entering (non-keyholders). If you want to improve the security of the lock a BS3621 nightlatch can be fitted. It features an armoured cylinder escutcheon and automatically deadlocking latchbolt when the door is closed. However these nightlatches also have the ability to have the inner handle deadlocked with the key, stopping it from being operated if someone smashes the glass.

This is fine for a domestic property but totally unsuitable for a communal entrance door.

The reason is that in the event of an emergency the residents need to escape quickly. It can potentially be fatal if someone has locked the inner handle, as without the key it cannot be unlocked and therefore allow the lock/door to be opened and escape made. You cannot have the residents being forced to go back into their smoke filled flat, for example, to find a key in their panic.

So Yale make a version specifically to cater for this requirement. Depending on the size of the lock it is called the PBS3 or PBS4.  The British Standards these locks adhere to is BS8621 (as opposed to BS3621 for the lockable version). Here is a picture of a PBS4 fitted by Linacre locksmiths.

Yale PBS4 nightlatch
yale PBS4 nightlatch fire escape version
Yale PBS4 nightlatch armoured cylinder


The inner handle has no keyway so cannot be deadlocked – fire escape regulations will always override security. The safe evacuation of residents is always the first concern.

So if you are concerned what is fitted to your own communal doorway, or if a landlord looking to check you have the right lock in place, give Linacre Locksmiths a call and we can give the correct advice.

Masterkeying and keying alike lock cylinders explained

A very useful system is masterkeying and keying alike lock cylinders, where multiple locks are required to be operated with the minimum of keys. On a simple level a homeowner may want their front and back door locks to be keyed alike to save having two different keys. This means that both locks are keyed alike, and share the same key, so one key can operate either door. Many upvc french doors (double doors) have a keyed alike cylinder in each door. Linacre Locksmiths often get asked to do this for homeowners who need locks changed due to lost or stolen keys for example.

However this advantage of keying alike locks is also useful to landlords who may have 3 or 4 bedrooms let out to students for example. Each student wants to lock their own door of course and also have a key to the entrance doors. Which means normally one key for front door, one key for back door and one key for their room. Three keys. Why not just have one! Here is an example of a simple masterkeying and keying alike lock suite.

masteryed lock cylinders
a simple lock suite of 4 bedroom locks

The house has four bedroom doors, with front and back entrance doors. These entrance doors have been keyed alike (the same). As can be seen, the landlord has 3 master keys which can operate every lock in the house. But the students have their own keys which can do only their own bedroom but also either entrance door.

A similar suite is in the following picture. However in this instance the landlord also wanted 3 keys that just operate the entrance doors only. This is so they can give a tradesperson one of these keys (for instance a gas boiler service engineer) so they can enter the property to do the work but not be able to access any bedrooms. Again the entrance doors are keyed alike, and again the tenant has a key that does their own room and entrance doors but no other. The landlord has master keys which can operate every door.

masterkeyed cylinders
masterkey suite with common entry keys

These are simple examples of course but are ideal for landlords with a house of multiple occupancy. There are many higher levels of masterkeying and keying alike such as those found in hotels for example. Locks can be grouped into sub-groups each with their own master keys, and with a set of grand master keys to open them all.

Linacre Locksmiths can provide this service and the benefits to homeowners and landlords is obvious.

Linacre Locksmiths can cover most lock scenarios

Although many jobs we locksmiths do are fairly routine and commonplace, occasionally we get to do rare stuff too. It is quite common for many properties, especially those in more rural areas, to have very thin wooden doors.  These are typically at the rear of the property.  The thinness of the doors however means that traditional mortice locks cannot be fitted, of it they can then only very basic 2 lever ones due to the thin width of the lock case itself.  But many insurance companies these days insist on 5 lever locks (and often also conforming to BS3621 insurance standards).  This is the door we were called out to recently…

thin wooden door
thin wooden door

Although the options in the marketplace are limited there is a way of fitting a BS3621 5 lever deadlock to the door.  Not only that but a Chubb one too which is about as good as you can get domestically. A specially made rim lock box is fitted to the back of the door at ‘kick height’ that cannot be removed from outside and the deadlock is fixed into the box. The keep plate/box is added to the frame with reinforcing bolts too for extra strength.  We also added a kickstop (also known as a London Bar) to reinforce the staple box on the frame even further.  Here is a picture of the lock fitted…

20170208_115808 (2)
rim lock box fitted

So if you think your door is too thin to have a decent lock fitted (and also meeting insurance standards) then give Linacre Locksmiths a call on 01603 408528