View Full Version : Bent Keys, Any Hope?

02-27-2013, 08:33 AM
I have a very special key at work [ electrical interlock] that was bent almost 90 degrees in an explosion. It's one of those 'do not duplicate' keys and I cannot find a local locksmith that will make me one. It shows signs of tearing on both edges at the bend, so I suspect that I will have to have the lock company make a new key But I also wonder if anyone has a magic solution for straightening severely bent keys. I have never had any luck, but it doesn't really come up often, so I have little experience.

02-27-2013, 08:55 AM
You may be able to straighten it after annealing it but with tearing already evident, it may just bust in half in any case. Don't try to bend it hot, heat and then let it cool.

02-27-2013, 08:55 AM
If it is brass and you have nothing to loose, anneal it before making any attempt to straighten. Heat to red heat and allow to cool or quench in water. Clamp in a vise at the bend point and gently twist in proper direction. Final straightening can be done by clamping the entire key shank in the vise and tightening the jaws.

Jaakko Fagerlund
02-27-2013, 10:43 AM
"Do not duplicate" text on a key has no legal meaning and almost all of the locksmiths that I know of (from here, all over Europe and frm the USA) will duplicate the key if it is possible.

Possible, meaning that the key blank is NOT patent protected or trademarked, which would mean that the key blanks are only available to the lock makers certified locksmiths and/or require proof of ownership and/or a keycard.

Edit: And keys are usually brass (cheap ones), steel or nickel silver and maybe plated with nickel or in some cases chrome.

Edit2: What brand of locks you have and what type? Medecos? Abloy? Kwikset? A picture of the keys bow helps.

02-27-2013, 11:11 AM
These are Kirk brand locks. They are called 'trapped key' interlocks for electrical equipment.


We had a rather major air compressor failure a few months ago. The key in question was trapped in an interlock on a 480 volt distribution panel main. The force of the explosion blew debris into the panel door, which in turn smashed the key and folded it over. The blast also blew all four concrete block walls out, leaving only a few steel supports standing. It pretty much wasted anything that was on any wall. By the way, the failed compressor was one of four 500 HP, 2000 SCFM screws.

I'm sure the company will make me a duplicate, but as we are in a kind of rural area, we don't have a locksmith on every corner. I have entered a purchase order to replace the keys from Kirk, but just thought I'd ask around if there was a 'magic solution', but I really expected none. I have broken several in the past. But hey, it was worth a shot.

The building has been rebuilt, and now it's time to re-install these interlocks to new switchgear and get the air back on. We have been renting huge air compressors and dryers for a few months. And I assure you, they don't come cheap!

02-27-2013, 01:30 PM
If its of safty consern and the key was bent while inside the interlock, what are the chances the interlock itself may be physicaly damaged?

02-27-2013, 01:42 PM
Get a hold of Kirk they will make you a new key if you send them the bent one.

02-27-2013, 02:02 PM
The locks are on my desk. They are massive things and received no damage. The concussion knocked the walls down, and the power panels were of course attached to the walls. It just laid everything flat over, but chunks of debris hit that panel just perfectly in that spot. The 400 amp molded case circuit breaker was also pulverized... but not the lock. It was fairly catastrophic, but no one was in the building at the time [right at shift change]. I wish I could post the pictures, but I'm not sure that posting them is good for my job, since all photos are proprietary.

I went ahead and contacted Kirk; they are cutting keys from the numbers. Should have them in a few days. We will just have to rely on procedure if we should have to open the transformer compartment (4160/480-277). It is unlikely to happen, but no one could open the doors without me being there anyway.