Sunday, June 1, 2008

Changing the Lock

Tanya made fun of me for this picture. She agrees with my grandfather’s “Don’t stand and admire the stook, make another one”. But it was a four hour job to change the lock on the garage door so warrants a story.

The garage door is made of steel plate with an angle iron frame hung on heavy hinges. It is lined with Styrofoam and covered on the inside with 5/8 particle board. The key was missing from the old lock so we could only lock and unlock the door from the inside. Our neighbour Zhenia found an identical lock for $10 and bought it for us as he was concerned about me leaving the garage unlocked in the daytime if we went into Zhovti Vody. Security is an obsession here. People without a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out, will have a high fence and a guard dog to protect it.

The lock had two steel deadbolts that took four turns of the key to drive fully home. The key was a 5 ¼” long skeleton and made from three pieces of metal.

Tanya said “Don’t do it yourself. You’ll just break it and then the door won’t lock at all”. I ignored her and went ahead anyway, knowing in my heart she was likely right. Saturday seemed like a good day. Zhenia was home to bail me out when I got into trouble. I cut away the particle board, unbolted the old lock and pried it off. There were four bolts holding it. They were not drilled through the door but were spot welded to the inside of the steel panel.

Tacked is the word. One broke off as I tried to straighten it. I have seen some good welding in Ukraine but only consistently on pipe joints. Good welding seems not to be so much an art or science as an accident. Whether it is the quality of the metal, the rods and welder or the technique, I don’t know. Most of the welding looks like something my father did. He was a self taught farm welder who, in the words of John Graham, our local blacksmith, could “put a few gobs of weld on it”.

Zhenia came to see how I was doing, just in time to take his angle grinder and remove an extra flange on the new lock. We slide it onto the three bolts and tightened them up. The two steel deadbolts didn’t line up with the holes in the angle iron. Three hours of fooling around trying to shim and file our way to freedom and we did what we should have done from the beginning. Cleaned all the old welded junk out of the way, drilled four new holes according to the template and we were home free. Why we didn’t do that in the first place is a mystery.

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