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Always Something New...

Always Something New...

ONE OF THE BEST THINGS ABOUT doing my ‘Lock Man’ stand at autojumbles is that there’s always something new. At the last Beaulieu for instance, I made two discoveries.

The first came with a very nice German couple who wanted to match-up all the locks on their 1966 Jaguar ‘S’ Type. ‘Easy enough,’ I thought, but when I offered one of my standard barrel sets the man shook his head and in perfect English explained that his boot-lock was different. I tried to explain that both ‘S’ Type and Mark II used a clever little slam-action latch with an attached push-button poking through the body skin just under the boot lip. “Oh no,” he said, “on my car the lock is situated halfway up the boot.”
Well, I suspected he was wrong but we agreed to differ and they went away. But later that afternoon they came back proudly carrying a battered piece of metal which someone had sold them from a wreck. The couple had scoured the fields, bless them, and it was indeed a boot lock of a pattern completely new to me; goodness knows how it works or why it was fitted!
The story has a happy ending because I was able to take the barrel out of the lock – and a funny-looking thing it was, too, with a sort of semi-circular yoke at the end – clean it up and match it with one of my sets, so my new friends went back happily to Germany.
Then I had another one of those lost souls who go around looking for a particular key, clutching an old handle marked on the head with a four-digit number and the letters ‘SR’. With a sigh I went into a practiced recital; “You’ve got a Triumph Roadster, right? In which case I can’t help you.”

After the war, you see, almost every car manufacturer went to Wilmot Breeden for their locks and handles, using such key series as ‘MRN’, ‘FA’ and ‘FP’, which are still available today. Triumph, however, when they were designing the Roadster went to the much smaller Walsall firm of Sidney Russell, who went out of business in the 1960s. That’s why it’s impossible to get an original handle, lock or key (although the Roadster club has now repro’d the set using modern barrels).
This time I was wrong; he had an old Rootes model, which meant that Sidney Russell had got around a bit more than I’d thought. And here’s the second revelation; I discovered you could fit an MRN key-blank into an ‘SR’ cylinder! Whether or not Russell deliberately copied the key-style I don’t know, but it means that I could cut an SR key onto an MRN blank.
That’s no help of course if you don’t have a key, but just maybe, if someone takes an SR barrel out of a handle and brings it along next time I might be able to extract the tumblers and puzzle-out the coding.

It’s worth a try, anyway!

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from p. 20 of issue June 2017
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