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Mon Dec 28, 2009 2:52 pm Solomon
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Solomons disc detainer guide
Solomons disc detainer guide
These little locks are becoming increasingly popular and are pretty fun to
pick. I am not focusing on high security disc detainers like Abloy, DOM
Diamant or the ABUS Granit here. This is a guide for cheaper locks which
use the same mechanism. Companies producing these locks include Am-
tech, Blue Spot, Legion Tools, Silverline, and many other no-name brands. If
you search for "high security padlock" on ebay, at least in the UK, the vast
majority of the results are cheap disc detainers.
I've been getting into these lately and haven't seen any proper diagrams on
how the mechanism works anywhere, apart from a fantastic animation I
came across on youtube which I will link to shortly. I'm by no means an
expert on these locks and the diagrams aren't perfect, but they will give you
a pretty good idea of how everything works anyway.
When you insert the correct key into the lock, it will rotate 180 and the lock
opens. To understand how everything works, first you need to look at the
parts which make up the mechanism. It is fairly simple, comprising of three
1. The discs
2. The shell
3. The sidebar
Each disc has a lip on it, which is what actually prevents plug rotation when
we attempt to use an incorrect key or manipulate the discs. In the following
image you will see 4 discs, each with cuts at various positions. The
protrusion at the 2 o'clock position is the "lip".
To see how these lips interact with the sidebar, let's look at the mechanism
as a whole and how it fits together.
You can now see the DISCS, the SHELL and the SIDEBAR. The discs and the
sidebar are the moving components, and these are what we will focus on
when picking. You can also see a gate cut out of the disc.
Before we move on, let's have a look at how the key opens the lock. These
locks typically contain a series of between 6-8 discs, and each disc has a
gate at a different position. When the key rotates to 90, the gates in all the
discs are aligned and create a channel for the sidebar to drop into. When
this happens, there is nothing blocking the shearline and the discs are then
free to rotate the rest of the way, which actuates the latch and retracts the
ball bearings into their housing so the shackle can open.
If that doesn't make sense straight away, just keep reading. It'll become
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clear soon enough!
If you insert a blank key and rotate it, the discs will only rotate 90 and stop.
This is why:
As you can see, none of the gates are aligned (actually, at least one will be...
but more on that later) and the sidebar is blocking the discs from rotating
past this point. Now you can see what those lips are for. Our goal is to align
the gate in each disc with the sidebar so that it can drop into the channel,
like so:
And free up the shearline so we can rotate the whole way:
Sounds complicated, so how do we pick it? Well, there is actually a binding
order just like with any other lock. The reason these mechanisms can be
picked is their necessity for "zero discs". You see, when you insert a key, at
least one of those discs needs to act as a driver to keep the others in order.
Without a zero disc, the gates wouldn't align at the correct position and it
wouldn't open.
You don't need to worry too much about that though. All you need to know is
that there is at least one of these discs in there, and it is the key to the
whole picking process. The zero disc is almost always the very first disc, or
the one at the back.
Here is what happens when we apply tension to a zero disc. This is the disc
before rotating:
Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:05 pm bezza1
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Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:13 pm barbarian
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When we rotate it 90, the gate aligns with the sidebar. The lip binds against
the sidebar and prevents the disc from rotating any further. What happens
now, is that the sidebar will try and enter the gate. Because of tolerance
errors, just like any other lock, this causes the sidebar to bind against
another disc somewhere:
So, all we do now is feel for the disc which is binding and rotate it until the
gate lines up, then repeat the process until everything is aligned and the
lock opens! When you apply tension to the zero disc, most of the others will
feel loose and rotate freely, but the one which is binding will have a distinct
dragging feeling as you rotate it. Once it loosens up, it's safe to assume that
the gate is aligned and the sidebar is now binding against another disc.
- It is common practice to rotate all the discs 90 before picking. This is
known as "zeroing the discs", and we do this to align all the zero cuts with
the sidebar right off the bat, so there is less work to do. It's not necessary
but it helps, and if you need to be tensioning a disc other than the first one,
you'll find out much quicker if you zero the discs first.
- Heavy tension provides excellent feedback, but is not a good idea. If you
must use heavy tension, do so only to locate binding discs and loosen up
before actually rotating them. I've found with practice that the less tension
you use, the better.
- Rotate discs slowly and pay attention to what you're feeling. It's a good
idea to rotate them fully CCWand all the way back again because there can
be zero discs in the middle of the pack.
- One disc at a time! You can't rush these locks. Haphazard twisting of the
pick back and forth while moving it in and out of the lock won't get you
- The more the lock tightens up, the closer it is to opening. You need to
exercise gentle tension and careful movement with your pick as it tightens
- I've found that sometimes the front disc will seem to spin but there is a lot
of friction and the lock won't open. The lock is almost open at this point, but
if you get this kind of feedback it's a sign that you're using too much tension.
Lighten it up and keep picking. When the gates are aligned everything will
turn very smoothly and gently. Don't try to force it... when it's open, you'll
know about it. There's no guesswork with these things.
I hope you guys enjoyed this, and anyone who wasn't sure how they worked
before has had a eureka moment somewhere along the way. If my diagrams
suck and make no sense, here is that animation I mentioned at the start
Last edited by Solomon on Sun Apr 04, 2010 8:08 am, edited 2 times in total.
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
good tutorial mate and those pics explain it all thanks a bunch this will help
me heaps
keep going dont look back allways achive your goals
and follow your dreams................
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Very nice write up.
The pictures are great. Must have been a lot of work.
Well done.
Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:34 pm ToolyMcgee
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Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:48 pm veiviser
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Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:27 pm Warder
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Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:47 pm KokomoLock
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Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:17 am uklockpicker
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Tue Dec 29, 2009 1:44 pm rxfiller
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Tue Dec 29, 2009 2:30 pm Solomon
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Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Excellent! I've a few minutes experience with that tool, and I was wondering
what the snag was that gave the strong click in the blue spot I was trying to
pick. The loose gap must be the sidebar groove then.
The heavy tension gives good feedback, but is bad for setting/picking is a
good observation. I'm new to the discs locks, so I was dialing it in this
afternoon. The point where the friction created against the binding parts you
want to manipulate is creating enough of a bind that they slide smoothly
without you having to force them along. Variable tension. Well put solomon,
and thanks for the images.
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Nice tutorial, thanx
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Great work on this tutorial. Thank you.
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Outstanding Job Solomon !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank you very much.
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Many thanks Solomon, i can see me reading though this many times
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Wonderful write-up! Any advice as to the best pick to use? (Sources, etc)
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Cheers everyone! I appreciate the feedback.
rxfiller wrote:
Wonderful write-up! Any advice as to the best pick to use? (Sources,
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Yep, one of these. There are 2 types, one for tensioning the first disc, and
one or the rear disc. Most of these locks can be tensioned from the front,
and apparently it's possible to tension the front disc even if it's not a zero
cut... but it's very tricky, so it would be wise to get both variations to save
any hassle.
Before I got the proper tool, I tried making a custom tensioner and picking
the discs with a medium hook but it proved to be extremely tedious. I've
seen a couple of decent homebrew versions though, so I'll be speaking with
an engineer at some point to find out what kind of machine parts are
needed to make a proper one.
You can purchase a range of disc detainer picks from UK lockpickers. They're
available in front disc, rear disc, and there is even a pair of them available at
a discounted price.
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Excellent post solomon. Makes a lot more sense to me now looking at the
diagrams rather than wathing it on you tube being picked. Seems like a fun
lock to pick.
5***** from me .........oooops not on youtube Agh well 5**** anyways.
[A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory..
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Someone mind reuping the pictures?
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Any chance re-upping the pics as this is a great informative post
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
Yes, please somebody re-up them.
Dad, are you space? -- Yes son, now we can be a family.
Re: Solomons disc detainer guide
hi guys got here to late again just my luck please please re up for little me
btw is there a home brew for these anywhere cheers guys l p m
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