Here at Expert Lock and Key, we provide home and auto locksmith services in Columbus, Ohio and the surrounding areas. Obviously, we have learned a few things about how locks work throughout the years. The lock is actually an old invention, getting its first patent in the early 1800s. Since then it has seen some major improvements. If you are interested in learning a little bit of how locks work, we go over one type of lock, the combination lock, here.

What is a combination lock?

You have probably used a combination lock before. Unlike a pin and tumbler lock, which you would use a key to open, a combination lock allows you to input a specific set of characters in order to open the lock. Common for everyday uses like the school locker or gym, combination locks are prevalent throughout modern society. There’s a fair chance you’ve got one in your backpack of duffel back right now. But how do they work?

How They Work

Almost all modern combination locks use the concept of what is known as a “wheel pack”, which is just a set of wheels that work together and “know” the correct combination to open the lock. They all function on the same principle.

A combination dial is attached on to a spindle. Inside the lock, that spindle then runs through the wheels of the lock and a drive cam. The number of wheels on a lock corresponds to the number of digits used in the combination, and each combination number corresponds to a specific wheel. A drive pin is attached to the drive cam. When the drive cam turns, the pin moves and eventually makes contact with the wheel fly, a small tab on the adjacent wheel. Each wheel has a wheel fly on both sides, so that they all connect. When the right combination is entered into a combination locks, all the wheels and notches line up in sync. But that alone does not open the lock.

The fence is a metal bar that is attached to a lever, and it is essentially what holds the lock in place, or keeps it locked. It does this by laying on top of the wheels, so if even one of the wheels isn’t attached to the adjacent combination wheel fly, it will stay on top of them all and hold the lock into place. When all of the lock’s drive pins are connected to their adjacent wheel fly, however, a large gap is formed where the notches connect and align. The fence falls into this gap under its own weight, which then allows the lock to be opened.

That is the gist of how combination locks work. If you require locksmith services in Columbus, Ohio, whether it’s to get into your car or house, you need a new transponder key, or you need to rekey or replace your lock, we have got you covered here at Expert Lock and Key. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions. One of our representatives will be happy to answer you.