Replacing a Skeleton Lock

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  #1  
Old 12-06-10, 01:17 PM
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Replacing a Skeleton Lock

Hi,

Total newbie here and seriously need your help!

Because of a suddenly malfunctioning skeleton key lock, I am now unable to access my home office. When I insert the key into the 6:00 position, I am unable to turn it past 4:00 p.m. I've tried WD-40 and 3-in-1 oil to loosen the mechanism. Useless. I've tried all kinds of brute force moves in a futile attempt to alter the position of the lock (e.g., jiggling the doorknob or trying to change the whole position of the door by attempting to pry it up, down, or sideways with with a screwdriver). Nothing works.

Before giving up altogether and calling in a locksmith (and spending $$ I don't have), I'd like to try and remove this lock myself and take it to the locksmith for repair or replacement. But. . . I don't how to do that! So far, I've removed the strike plate and door knobs. What next? :-)

TIA!
 
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Old 12-06-10, 03:43 PM
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Welcome to the forums! Most likely you have a spring broken inside the mortise. I am gathering, too, you can't access the "box", since you are locked out, and only have a hole in the door to get the key in, right? Is the dead bolt part extended into the door jamb? How did you remove the door knobs without access to the other side? Strike plate, too, since you can't open it.
 
  #3  
Old 12-06-10, 04:28 PM
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Thank you so much for the welcome, Chandler! You are totally correct that I can't access the box because I am, indeed, locked out and "only have a hole in the door to get the key in."

I'm figuring that the dead bolt part must be extended into the door jamb as there seems to be no way to force action by way of the door knobs and no room to get a screw driver or credit card into the space between the jamb and frame. As you can also imagine, this is a very old house. So the door has 5 panels. One of the panels is broken and I was holding it together with duct tape. (For shame! Do I have to reveal all my dirty secrets? :-) So, I was able to punch through the broken panel and reach in to access the inside door knob. (However, the now-missing panel is not large enough for a human being, especially of my size, to fit through; it if was, I would have entered the room and removed the hinges that are located, of course, on the inside of the door! LOL!) As for the strike plate, it's attached to the door by 4 screws -- easy enough removal.
 
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Old 12-06-10, 05:09 PM
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The strike plate should be on the "box" side, and that is why I asked. Can you reach through the panel and unscrew the 4 screws holding the box on? If so, it will fall off and you're in.
 
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Old 12-06-10, 06:55 PM
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uh. . . I unscrewed everything on the inside strike plate and it fell off! However. . . the box did not fall out! The box is still securely lodged within the door cavity because, even with the inside strike plate removed, there is no space on the door large enough for the box to be simply removed or to fall out. IOW, I am looking at the same key and door knob -sized holes on the inside as on the outside. So I still can't get in. Sigh
 
  #6  
Old 12-06-10, 07:29 PM
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I just realized that I'm not using correct terminology here. I did not remove the strike plates. What I removed were the door knob plates! In fact, the actually strike plate is inaccessible.
 
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Old 12-06-10, 08:45 PM
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Okay. Problem solved! Sometimes, when you don't know what you're doing, it's best to calm down, be patient and just continue to mess with a thing. After a whole lot more jiggling and poking and prodding, as well as the use of a differently configured skeleton key (not meant for this lock), I finally got the lock to release! Which allowed me to finally be able to push the door open, and to unscrew the strike plate. Which, of course, allowed me to retrieve the entire lock assembly. Woo hoo! Off to the locksmith tomorrow for a replacement lock. In the meantime, I'm now submitting this post from the PC that is in my home office.! All's well that ends well.
 
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Old 12-07-10, 04:10 AM
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OK, yeah terminology is the key. I was thinking you had an externally mounted lockset, but you had a mortised lockset, so apples and oranges. Glad you got it out and can either get it repaired or replaced. They are readily available at most older hardware stores, too, so if your locksmith doesn't have access to one, you may find one there. Now, we have to fix that panel.......
 
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Old 12-07-10, 12:02 PM
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When you go to the locksmith remember that you usually get what you pay for. The director of the historical museum where I sometimes volunteer bought several brand new mortise locks like you describe because they were inexpensive. Every one of them is a piece of crap and you need to be VERY careful when turning the knob or the latch (the beveled latch, not the deadbolt) will slip inside the case and get stuck making the lock useless except as a deadbolt.
 
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Old 12-13-10, 04:01 PM
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The common problem with many of these style of mortise locks is that any pressure on the bolt mechanism (if the door alignment is out) will jam the bolt from releasing correctly.

You need to take pressure off the bolt to enable the key to turn completely.

get a wedge and slip under the door to lift the whole door slightly. This will take pressure off the bolt to allow the key to work.

I suggest that your door probably dropped due to weathering.
 
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