It’s official, I’m tired of sorting keys! Which strikes me as sort of odd, as I actually like locks and keys. It’s something about how the right key fits precisely into the lock, and if it’s cut just right the precision pins in the lock line up just right and it opens – its mechanical poetry. But right now I’m tired of keys. You see, a while ago I bought a surplus lot of key blanks for the store from a hardware that went out of business. It was a great deal, and the store has already more than recouped its investment. But it’s got to end somewhere, I’ve now sorted over 3000 keys of over 300 different types, and I’m still at it. I mean, do we really need this many types of keys? Hill Hardware stocks about 400 types of key blanks on pegs over our key machine, and I have several hundred more in boxes, and we’re not even a locksmith!
One of the problems is that many of these keys are obsolete. They were made to fit locks that were made many years ago by companies that have long gone out of business. But people still come in sometimes and ask for them. “What do you mean I have to have a new lockset installed, it’s only 70 years old?” Car keys are worse, at least you sell old house keys once in a while, but how soon am I going to need to copy some keys for a Yugo? Or a Renault? Or even an old American car? Unless its old enough to go to a cruise-in, there just isn’t much demand. Plus they keep changing them. The oldest key that I stock says “fits GM, ’35-’66”, now that’s interchangeability! The new cars have new keys almost every year, and different ones for the different models. I must have 20 for late model GM’s alone.
Plus, why when cars are getting smaller are the keys getting bigger? The key on the left in the picture fits a 3-ton Caddy that is 20 feet long, the one next to it fits one of the new econo-boxes half its size. It’s twice as long and three times as heavy, want better mileage? – just downsize the keys!
Don’t even get me started on the new “chip” keys, these, if you don’t know, have an electronic chip in the key, and the car won’t start until the key “talks” to the car to say it’s alright. Don’t ask what happens if their not on speaking terms, it happened to my wife’s car when we first got it, “no tickee, no washee”, the car just won’t start. Plus they’re expensive as all get-out, tens to hundreds apiece, and when you buy a used car it seems like there is a rule that they won’t give you more than one. I have to tell people that all the time, boy do they get mad…
Well I feel a lot better now, I’m well into the second box of keys now and the end is in sight (I might even finish this month). So remember, if you need keys, we’ve got them (and how!) at the Old Hardware Store.