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Antique trunks require some upkeep as they are too old.
However, they can easily break.
One of your best options is to call a professional locksmith.
Here we have identified the things you should know to open an antique steamer trunk.
Table of Contents
- Vintage Trunk Locks
- How to Identify Pin Tumbler Locks?
- Making Keys for Antique Trunks
- The Bottom Line
Vintage Trunk Locks
It is hard to imagine how people secured valuables and properties before the invention of locks.
And yet, we have come a long way since that time.
As we celebrate some benchmarks in our history, let us look back through the history of locks.
But, before you open an antique trunk, make sure you know the locking mechanism used
This knowledge will help you open the antique trunks.
What Are Warded Locks?
Warded locks became popular in the history of security and safety.
The design can be traced back in Chinese and Roman culture.
When people think of the type of keys they had in the olden days, warded lock keys always come to mind.
This antique locks do not have a lever.
Naturally, manufacturing these warded locks was easier than lever locks.
Nonetheless, if you were locked out of your trunk, do not worry.
Opening this lock is easy.
You only need to retract the locking mechanism to open the lock.
How to Identify Warded Locks?
Warded locks have rectangular grooves.
These have rounded shafts.
The usual designs are flat usually with rectangular cuts.
Keyways are wide open.
You will not see pins or wafers when you peek inside the warded keyhole.
The wrench can be occupied mainly by a cylindrical shape key used to orient the twist with a suitable hole in the shaft.
Opening Warded Locks
Go straight for the locking mechanism.
Any key inserted in the keyhole with matching notches will open the bolt.
Warded locks led the way to the development of skeletal keys.
With the basic lock shape in mind, anyone can design a key with short notches to open multiple locks.
This idea is the predecessor of our modern-day master key system.
These are just skeleton keys you twist to open the lock.
Only the last grooves will interact with the internal locking mechanism.
So, if you fill in the key to remove only the last notches, you can bypass the lock.
Pin Tumbler Locks
Pin tumbler locks have a simple lock and key mechanism used around 4000 B.C.
The first version of the pin tumbler lock was made from wood in ancient times.
Pins of different lengths inside the lock prevent a door from opening.
When a key is inserted in the keyhole, it will force the pin-up and the wooden bolt to slide over to unlock the door.
This key design was enhanced in 1861 by Linus Yale, Jr.
Yale made it flat with lateral grooves and a notched top edge and secured pins of different lengths.
The key notches would push the spring-loaded pins up to align correctly so that the cylindrical plug could rotate.
And finally, the key would turn and open the bolt.
Not all antique locks use a needle drum design, but with old and new you will deal with this type of lock.
However, you can find a modern steamer trunk dressed as antique or part of the original trunk were replaced.
The needle wheel design is more complex than the screw lock, but nothing too complicated to handle.
Unless the last user of the the last vintage steamer rack uses one of the best padlocks on the market, opening the lock will be relatively simple.
You will likely still need to know how to choose locks, but you will hardly be able to assemble them.
How to Identify Pin Tumbler Locks?
This lock is a mechanical unit containing pins of varying lengths.
Pin tumbler locks are called Yale locks.
This lock is a widely used mechanism lock with a cylindrical opening that opens when you rotate the plugin in a particular direction.
Beyond the keyway are levers that start a mechanism to stop locking.
The protruding ridges prevent specific keys from getting into the plug.
Opening Pin Tumbler Locks
You can open a pin tumbler lock, if you can pick locks.
Without proper experience, it is impossible to open the locks on the steamer hull.
Stick to raking when opening an antique trunk.
It is a simple method that requires only the right picking tools to lift the locks successfully.
The trick to unlocking tumbler locks with a needle is to use a lock and tension wrench.
Opening warded locks only requires a single skeleton, skill or luck.
It is unlikely to obtain a master key or a skeleton key to lock the hull.
Unless of course when the vintage trunk is using TSA locks, you may find some information online for that specific for that lock.
Sacrificing Your Locks
The thing about ancient trunks is that their main attraction is their quality.
If you have a steamer trunk, it may be good to sacrifice the lock.
Then again, you do not wish to spoil the lock of your vintage trunk.
But, if you cannot open the lock using the methods described above, or cannot contact a locksmith, you have to sacrifice the lock.
This method may also be the last option if the lock is not working.
Opening Steamer Trunk Padlocks
Opening the padlock of an ancient chest means you have to cut the hasp.
They have no hop space to provide a high-security padlock in the vintage padlock.
You only need a pair bolt cutter without damaging the steamer trunk.
And you use a different antique padlock with the same level of security.
If you twist or turn the padlock, there is a chance that you will damage the actual hardware of the steamer trunk.
Do not apply force to the walls of the trunk.
Opening Steamer Trunk Inset Locks
You need to break the lock to insert the stem of a vintage steamer to open it.
The chances are that antique boot hardware will mean that the steamer insert lock is secure.
Protective locks are rarely broken.
They were designed to withstand dust, weather, and dirt.
So this type of lock is very sturdy.
But you may need to open your chest quickly with no time to experiment, and need break the lock to open it.
Be careful when opening the lock, as a screwdriver may dig into the steamer hull material.
If you try to open a tree trunk, you can damage the trunk.
Go for the steamer boot hardware, but do not force the steamer trunk itself.
Making Keys for Antique Trunks
If you have the skills, the materials, and information to make your keys, it is possible with the help of a locksmith.
You have to find a professional locksmith who knows his way around the key cutter and antique mechanism lock.
In the case of the warded lock, they can only use a skeleton case as a template to make a new key design.
Know that with or without the original key, an honest locksmith can create a new key.
A locksmith can copy a broken key more quickly with an existing lock.
In the case of special locks, they can even use an existing key profile to establish a new key design.
Call your trusted locksmith to inquire about his service and fees.
If a company makes replacement keys for antique locks, they can also make keys for a vintage steamer trunk.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, as long as you know the antique trunk hardware of your lock, you can handle it.
You should first identify the lock then open it.
Whether you want to salvage the lock or sacrifice it, you can always open the lock.
You must have a key so you can go back to the antique trunk.
Call a professional locksmith if you need help.
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