Pin Tumbler Locks

What are pin tumbler locks?

Pin tumbler locks are lock systems that function with mechanisms of moveable pins with different lengths that allow the opening of the lock only when the right key is used. The locking bolt is retracted whenever the plug is rotated due to the elevation of the pins by the right key. The pins are organised in a special pattern to allow the cylindrical or tubular shaped key raise them up so that the plug can rotate to actuate the lock it unlock process.

The patterns can either be circular or linear. The circular variation of pin tumbler locks is known as Radial Pin Tumblers (RPT?) which normally employs a round key to unlock or engage it. The linear variation on the other hand, is called the In-Line Pin Tumbler (In-Line PT) which commonly requires a flat key to raise the pins that are ordered in a line format.

With the use of pins instead of discs, the pin tumbler locks are considered more secure than disc tumbler locks.

Pin tumbler locks are mostly cylinder based and their mechanisms are commonly adapted in radial locks – also called tubular pin tumbler locks – and cylinder locks.

A Pin lock

How does a pin tumbler lock work?

A typical pin tumbler lock comprises a mechanism where a spring holds down a series of pin stacks and also allows them move up easily. Each stack of pins must be elevated properly in order to make the separation of the pins at the shear line possible. When the stacks of pins are successfully separated,  it makes the rotation of the plug in the mechanism take place so as to allow the bolt to unlock or lock a door. As a result of the organisation of this design, only the right key made for the lock has the ability to initiate any locking or unlocking process. A wrong key will simply cause the plug’s rotation at the shear line to be blocked.

Whenever the right key is properly put through the keyway, its edges fit perfectly with the array of pin stacks in the lock’s mechanism and creates a line between the driver pin stacks and key pins that will align with the shear line to elevate the pins and allow the rotation of the plug. The plug’s rotation further makes it possible for the bolt to complete the lock or unlock process.

What is the pin tumbler lock’s history?

The earliest versions of the pin tumbler lock designs have been traced back to ancient Egypt in 4000 BC. The mechanism as at that period comprised of a wooden post attached to a door. An horizontal bolt was normally made to slide in and out of the attached post.

The lock made use of a series of single pins that would rest inside the bolt to prevent the bolt’s movement when it is locked. To unlock, the keys where used to make the bolt retract by raising the pins out of it. The set of singular pins fit through the vertical openings of the bolt. The Egyptian version of the pin tumbler lock was made of wood and had a length of about 30-60cm.

The ancient pin tumbler lock was used by various cultures through history and it began to be modified in modern times. In 1805, Abraham O. Stansbury, a physician from America, designed a double-acting pin tumbler lock and was granted a patent in England. In 1807, the US also granted Stansbury a patent for his lock.

The pin tumbler locks were not to be popularly adopted until Linus Yale, Sr. designed and introduced the modern version of the lock in 1848. It was his son, Linus Yale, Jr. however, that improved on his father’s work to invent and patent the the toothed edge style keys and, pins of differentiated lengths inside the lock proper. This mechanism is in use till this day.

How is the pin tumbler lock designed?

The design of an average pin tumbler lock involves using the edge of a blade as the main bitting area. Minor improvements and changes to where the components of the pin tumbler will be located has brought about an increased number of modern designs for this kind of tumbler lock.

Pin tumblers are prevalently fitted in cylinder locks. The typical cylinder lock is known by its external casing and has a cylindrical hole that can be easily merged with the plug of any pin tumbler. The plug, however, must be able to achieve rotation while inside the cylinder for the merged locks to successfully perform locking and unlocking operations.

Cylinder locks where pin tumblers can be installed in vary, they include the standard cylinders (Euro, night latch, Ingersoll format, American round, Scandinavian round, Key-in-knobset cylinders, and Scandinavian oval cylinders), and the digital/electrical cylinders that operate with electricity.

The main mechanism of pin tumbler locks comprises of some major components such as:

  • Driver pins – pins located at the top
  • Key pins – pins located at the bottom
  • Springs – they push down the pins and let them rise as well.
  • Plug – the rotating part of the lock that enables the bolt retract.
  • Cams – an extension that is attached behind the plug that controls the bolt to unlock or lock.

More detailed information about pin tumbler locks designs that are currently in the market and how they can best be used, can be easily obtained from Toplocksmiths.

Are pin tumbler locks secure?

Pin tumbler locks are designed against drill attacks and are known to have a high tolerance for extreme weather conditions. But the basic pin tumbler locks are known to be vulnerable to lock picking, lock snapping, lock bumping and snap guns. However, advanced modifications have been made to combat these weaknesses over the years.

Major introductions include the use of special pins known as security pins in security enhanced cylinders. Installing pin tumbler locks into the standard British cylinders have been reported to be an effective method to fight burglary.

Secure pin tumbler locks and cylinders that meet security standards can be gotten from Toplocksmiths.

What is the cost of a pin tumbler lock?

Pin tumbler locks are chiefly cost friendly. Their prices vary according to the sort of lock and components involved in the lock in question. Brand design and level of integrated upgrades also factor in costs.

More guidelines on pin tumbler locks, especially with installations, purchase, repairs and advice can be gotten swiftly at Toplocksmiths.