Saturday, April 30, 2016

You Want Me To Do What?

This was probably my most popular post. This was originally posted on June 13th, 2009,

When I said we make keys to all kinds of things at Steve’s Lock Out  I mean ALL KINDS and this job we took on proves it. I would consider this job probably the most unusual I’ve ever done.

JR Brown Mausoleum
I was approached by a local organization that had been given the responsibility of being care takers of a Mausoleum at Oakwood Cemetery. Over the years the key had managed to disappear and it was time to do some maintenance and cleaning and without the key they had no way of entering.

Just an interesting note, atleast to me, my great-grandfather was caretaker of this cemetery.

I considered this a unique challenge and jumped at the chance although not sure exactly how to tackle this job. I had not worked with a lock of this type and age before. I managed to find another locksmith in another part of the US that had opened one similar to this and had a little infomation on the construction of the lock.

Bronze Mausoleum Doors
To replace these doors now would cost in excess of $6,000 so I made careful planning as to how I was going to do the opening. I tried picking the lock for some time to no avail. Between the shear size of the bolt and picking deterrents built into the lock it was futile. This lock is similar to the lever lock we wrote about making the key to on the 8th of June only this one was much larger and had “teeth” on the levers that meshed together so when one lever was picked it was nearly impossible to move the next one to the proper position. It made it obvious that we were going to have to drill an access hole to be able to pick this lock.

A closer picture of the keyhole
The date on the mausoleum and what we could see here are the only clues that we had about this lock. From what information that was gathered we took our measurements, checked them again and then began to drill.

Access hole drilled
Although it is hard to tell from the picture we came in within 1/32 of an inch of where we needed to be. This was close enough for what we needed to do.

Door Opened
After we got the hole drilled it took about 10 minutes to get the lock picked. Here is a picture of the door opened looking at the edge of the lock.

A big lock
As you can see this is a rather large lock. Being solid brass I estimate it weighed about 7 pounds.

The Lock Removed
Here the lock is removed and the screws are placed back in the door as to not loose them.

Temporarily secure
We needed to temporarily secure the doors while we made the key. I had this cable lock in my service vehicle. It worked out pretty well.

Key for the mausoleum
We did not have an appropriate key blank to use in this situation. We made this key from some flat stock with a washer welded to the end for a head and then proceeded to put the cuts on the key.

Hole plugged
Here we have plugged the hole with an appropriately sized piece of metal rod and sanded the sureface. It stands out now, however, with weathering will soon blend in.

Door and key are finished
Here we have a picture of the finished job with the key inserted into the lock.

Thursday, April 28, 2016


Just to introduce myself, my name is Stephen Passwater. I am a locksmith/security tech in Parsons, Kansas. I have been locksmithing as Steve's Lock Out for over 17 years. I also am a big fan of many aspects of history which will be reflected here.
I have documented some of my more interesting jobs and some day to day things, however, due to circumstances beyond my control my blog was eliminated. I was able to retrieve many posts curtesy of the Wayback Machine.
I will be reposting many of those articles and adding new ones here from time to time.
I also run a fun place called Cosmic Castle. The photo below is me and some of my crew at Cosmic Castle on Steampunk Saturday. I'm on the right. My wife Anna is sitting in front of me. My youngest son Joshua is to my right. My oldest son Andrew is on the left. And a good friend of mine, Mike May, in black between my sons.

Steampunk Saturday at Cosmic Castle