Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Key Requirement

Wheelhouse Key, 4/30/2007

You'd think that having keys duplicated would be the easiest task on the list. But when you're dealing with a 20-year-old skeleton key for a boat whose builder no longer exists, it gets a little more complicated.

The wheelhouse on our Cape Dory takes just such a key, and unfortunately, the prior owner had only one. The folks at the local hardware store looked at me kind of funny when I presented it and asked for a copy. The nice man at the key cutting machine kindly suggested consulting a locksmith. I did, and he looked at me kind of funny too.

I spoke with some other Cape Dory owners, and one identified the blank for me as an "Ilco 53B". I was able to buy a few (well, four) of these on Ebay, and returned to the locksmith. He was skeptical, and offered 2 things: 1) to try to cut it for me, and 2) no guarantee. It didn't work. The main problem was the key is thicker than the original, and won't fit in the lock.

Here's the original:

Other than that, it's not really a complicated looking key. I since found a drawer full of miscellaneous blanks at the hardware store as well, and one of them looked pretty close. I decided to have at it with a dremel tool, and see what I could do on my own. After a reasonable looking attempt, I took a grinding stone to one of the Ilco blanks, and worked that one down a bit as well.

The results:

The top one is the Ilco, and the bottom one is what I found at the hardware store (also shown above on the keyring). It only took a year. Let's hope they work!


Anonymous said...


Trawler Joe said...

The bottom one, from the hardware store, works fine. The other one... not so much.