Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ignition Keys


It’s not a good idea to lose a Heinkel ignition key because they’re difficult to replace. Even my local locksmith, who has keys to almost everything, including 50 year old scooters, couldn’t suggest a replacement. Because a key from one any car will fit another you’d think there’d be a lot around, but that is not the case.

I only had one key (from the English club); I thought I should have one for insurance. I ordered one from the German club. It was a bit of a tight fit but it worked, but the big surprise was that it once I put it in the ignition I could not remove it! I couldn't pull it out with my hand, and when I tried to pull it out with a pair of pliers I busted it.

Busted and re-glued ignition key
So, I thought I’d make myself another key. I used to cut keys when I worked at a hardware store, and it didn’t look too hard.

These keys are really just flat brass stock with some d├ętentes ("Security" for your car is accomplished with your door key, which is a typical pin-tumbler key). I went to the K&S Metals bin at my local hardware store (the same place I got my dashboard switch tubes) and got some stock that was slightly thinner but wider. Slightly thinner is not an issue, as a spring inside the switch engages the key as it is inserted.

Top to Bottom: English Key, German Key, Brass Stock
 I marked where I wanted to remove material with a Sharpie, then used my grinding wheel and Dremel with a cutoff disk.

Marking key with a Sharpie to indicate cut areas

Grinding key blank with grinding wheel
After I completed the grinding I drilled holes in the blanks so the grip would attach securely, and hopefully avoid the problem I had with the German key.

Keys grounded to shape

Marking where to apply key grips 
I used 20 minute epoxy to make the key grip.I glued it on a flat surface, then folded it over on itself and flattened that.
Epoxy on key blank
I trimmed the epoxy grips to the desired shape with a bandsaw. I used a fine tooth blade (which I also used for cutting my windows, more about that later).
Trimming Epoxy with bandsaw
I sanded and shaped the key, then drilled a hole for a key ring. The hole goes directly through the brass, so the key should never fall apart. 
Completed key, German club key, English club key
If you decide to make keys, make sure you smooth out the grooves and cut them with shallow angles. Otherwise you'll have trouble getting them out! 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shawn!!very good job!! I´m Rodrigo from Mendoza, Argentina. I´m restoring one heinkel and I have not this ignition key. Can you give me the measures please?

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