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Old 11-10-2011, 07:27 PM   #1 (permalink)
pjf
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Default Graphite Lubricant for Locks

Last month, during a Colorado snow storm, I was unable to unlock my car because the locks were frozen. After I finally thawed my door lock with a hair dryer, I drove to a gas station only to discover that my gas filler door lock was also frozen. I ended up taking the bus to work that cold morning.

Here's the graphite lubricant, Max-V-Lube (Max-V-Lube Dry Graphite for Pinewood Derby Cars) that I am using to prevent future lock freezing this winter:



I like Max-V-Lube because the metal probe on top of the squeeze bottle can push open the thin metal hinge of the lock. A quick squeeze will send a puff of graphite powder into the lock. I follow up by inserting my key and turning it back and forth a couple of times in the lock.

I don't think that the graphite lubricant can thaw a frozen lock but I hope that it can prevent the lock from freezing. I'll let everyone know if the locks continue to work through the next major snow storm.

If anyone else knows of another way to keep a lock from freezing or to thaw a frozen lock, feel free to post your solution.
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:36 PM   #2 (permalink)
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uhh - just my opinion - I don't see the graphite as helping prevent the lock from freezing - although I suppose it might depend on where the freeze is occuring.

The graphite is an excellent lubricant in that it allows sliding parts to move freely (for example the pins or tumblers in the lock), but I don't think it will displace moisture, which is what actually freezes, preventing the parts from moving.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:36 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My impression is that graphite being a form of carbon is hydrophobic, just as oil another carbon-based product is hydrophobic. By blowing a puff of graphite powder onto a glass of water, I can tell that it forms a film on the surface of the water just as oil would. In other words, just as oil and water do not mix, graphite and water do not mix. The advantage of graphite powder over oil is that the graphite does not attract dust.

This winter will tell. If anyone else has used graphite powder to prevent locks from freezing, please share your experiences.
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Old 11-11-2011, 07:34 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Ever heard of surface tension? If I floated (and yes I can do it) a needle on water would that make it less dense than the water or perhaps hydrophobic?

What perhaps needs to be determined is where the freeze is occuring - is it the lock cylinder (for which graphite appears to the preferred lubricant, because it does not trap dust - oil does not attract dust, however it will trap any dust that settles), or is it the internal linkages within the door cavity?

Have you considered a silicone lube - which in addition to not trapping dust, will actually repels the mositure.
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:43 AM   #5 (permalink)
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this is a long and old issues. door locks.
old cars.
the window seal leaks, and water (cascades) down the glass and soaks the lock
constantly .
then freezes.
in a new car this is way less. or one with new seals (replaced mine day one)
so, on old cars, , and no gasket fixes (repairs)
what some do is:
on a hot summer day
BUY spray white grease in a can.
then remove the cards (door skins, RTM , the fsm is linked, read it,for how !)'

and spray all the moving parts inside door.
now water will not ingress to the locks. (really you have 2 choices stop source or protect the victims, ? right?)

or
as most do, never lock the doors, or set the parking brake.
in cold freezing weather.


if car is dry , gaskets good (window channels and seals)
then lock smith magic , graphite works, but in the real world, not at all.


tricks,
hair dryer melt.?
or heat key real hot, and insert it, count to 100 and pray it unlocks.
never lock rear. (as posted)
dump liquid salt water down the window bad gaskets. (not me, i hate salt)
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Old 11-11-2011, 08:48 AM   #6 (permalink)
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the graphite myth, is from locksmiths that are what i call TUMBLER centric.

they forget, it is a vehicle. (
and all the complex issues related to a vehicle.
not some protected home door, or desk drawer lock.

the vehicle is subject to driving and freezing rain. and 100mph speeds, not found else where.
sometimes it's not the tumbler that freezes. so where is Graphite magic now?

get weather.com and dont lockup with mercury drop.

ever been in an airplane and the front landing gear don't drop? "ice" (out of Montana) more than once too.
no graphite here,
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Old 11-11-2011, 10:47 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I wouldn't call the graphite a myth - it does lubricate the lock, and that is based on personal experience - and your suggestion that it may not be the tumbler that freezes, well, I've already made that point in a previous post - all I'm saying is, you need to use a solution appropriate to the problem, if the problem is a binding pin or tumbler that needs lubricating, graphite is an acceptable solution, if the problem is moisture in the door cavity, graphite is not the answer.
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:04 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Thanks for the suggestions for thawing a frozen lock and for preventing a frozen lock.

To thaw a lock that is already frozen, suggestions include:
  • Thaw with a hair dryer
  • Heat the key prior to insertion
  • Spray de-icing solution into the lock
For prevention of lock freezing, suggestions include:
  • Replace door and window seals
  • Apply lubricant on door mechanisms
  • Leave door unlocked when freezing weather is anticipated
For lubrication of the lock cylinder and tumblers, silicone-based oils and graphite powder have been suggested.

To complete this discussion, I’d like to solicit answers to the following questions and get your product observations:
  1. Do silicone-based oils attract dust?
  2. Do de-icing solutions (isopropyl alcohol & mineral oil?) attract dust?
  3. Does graphite powder keep moisture away from the lock tumblers?
  4. If you have used any products to unfreeze a lock or to prevent a lock from freezing, please tell us how effective that product was.
Thanks!

Last edited by pjf; 11-11-2011 at 11:26 AM.
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Old 11-11-2011, 11:35 AM   #9 (permalink)
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I just want to ask one question - have you ever had a door freeze shut?

I don't mean the lock frozen - I mean the door frozen - as in you can insert the key and turn it, you can lock & unlock and watch the lock button on the inside move up & down through the glass, you can pull the handle & release the latch - and the door still does not open?

It is possible to have the rubber door seal freeze to the body - a shower of rain, followed by a drop in overnight temperature will do that - I got into the car through the passenger door, after figuring out which direction the rain had come from.
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Old 11-11-2011, 02:36 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fordem View Post
I just want to ask one question - have you ever had a door freeze shut?
This has certainly happened to me. But didn't think that this was possible in Guyana???
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