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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    994
    Country: Wales

    Default Large Handmade Bridge Ward Keys in Brass

    Made a few of these some years ago for the main doors of one of the famous Welsh castles.
    All handmade and silver-brazed but nothing overly fancy- they were working keys cut to fit the main lock and had to withstand not only heavy use but also the inevitable abuse from contractors, being dropped, thrown around etc.

    Roughly a foot long (30cm) and just under a kilo so about two pounds in weight, theyre the largest keys I've made by a substantial margin.

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    All solid brass, the shafts were made as one-piece with the collars integral, all turned between centres on the lathe, and the bows turned from slices of thick wall pipe. The ends of the shafts are turned down to a projecting male pin for a very strong interlocking joint into the bow.

    The wedge shaped bits were roughly hack-sawn from a solid block about 5/8 of an inch thick and then hand filed to shape. They have an interlocking tongue and groove type joint projecting into a slot milled in the shaft for strength.

    All the joints were silver-brazed using Easy-Flo, a key this size does take some heating but it's made easier enclosed in fire bricks to reflect the heat back in, and of course using the largest torch nozzle available on the Propane kit. Forget the small portable torches that sit on top the gas can for this- a large Propane torch at full throttle will take your hat, beard and eyebrows off from five foot away!
    The last picture shows as much as I dare let it rip in my workshop which is only 8 foot square- the heat hits the far wall and roasts the ceiling even at this setting.

    This one blank thankfully escaped being cut and has made a nice memento up on a wooden beam in our back room ever since.

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    Last edited by Huw Eastwood; 12-03-17 at 10:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    994
    Country: Wales

    Default Here's a couple more normal size...

    Back in the 1980s if you wanted a double bitted Mersey key blank then you pretty much had to make them. Not really difficult, but getting the exact angles perfect on the two open 'v' bits was the tricky bit. Before Blanks became available I made quite a few like this, all silver-brazed with JM Easy-Flo. Still fiddly keys to cut afterwards too, A small turn of the key action produces a big arc of lift of the levers, so precise radiused chamfering is essential- the later 14-Lever versions are even more critical than the earlier 10 Levers.
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    This steel round bow example is actually from one of my own safes- a steel John Tann Grade 1A I've silver-brazed into a modified brass Mersey bit.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Posts
    13
    Country: UK

    Thumbs up

    Hello Huw,

    Cripes !! those are works of art, absolutely beautiful (and the first ones are REALY BIG !!)
    Thanks for the pictures and information.
    Alan.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    leeds
    Posts
    45
    Country: Great Britain

    Default

    Craftsman at work, why the cutout on the secondary bit of the Mersey key?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    994
    Country: Wales

    Default

    Thanks Alan!

    Gary the cutout in the bit fits over a ward in the curtain. That was the solid brazed key, the other has a unique stem and detachable bit.
    Attachment 17373 Attachment 17374
    I've made a lot of specials over the years, here's another solid brazed version in all-brass, difficult to see the joint it's about halfway, male-female pin joint silver-brazed.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Heres my favourite- a pipe key version
    Attachment 17375
    Made delrin curtains with stainless pins for these- pretty pick proof!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    994
    Country: Wales

    Default

    Here's the detachable bit Merseys
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    994
    Country: Wales

    Default

    Here's the pipe Mersey- the stainless pin fixed in the curtain extends about 15mm up the end of the key.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    leeds
    Posts
    45
    Country: Great Britain

    Default

    so were the pipe key version and the warded version specials made by you Huw, or original locks? have never seen either of these versions.
    Gary

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Posts
    994
    Country: Wales

    Default

    Yes I made all of these I've shown here Gary.
    The pipe key versions had machined delrin curtains with 316 stainless drill pins, although the first few experiments I machined in brass.

    Mersey locks on Grade 1A safes? Most will say never...
    Apart from my specials you might encounter full length Tann Mersey keys- just like the brazed steel stems I've done but full length keys. They were special conversions done as part of Grade 1A refurbs by Thomas Fox in the early 90s. They are very rare though, when I mentioned it to them ages ago he couldn't believe I'd actually encountered one. They were standard Mersey locks though, albeit fitted with micro-switches, they weren't modified locks like mine.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    leeds
    Posts
    45
    Country: Great Britain

    Default

    I have seen Mersey locks on 1a safes Huw (rare but made sure my Mersey tools were long enough just in case), assumed they were made like that though as they didn't look like later conversions, quality work if they were though.

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