How to Rekey the Abus 83/45 Rekeyable Padlock
Many padlock manufacturers offer padlocks that can be keyed alike regular door locks. That means you can have a padlock that opens with the same key that opens your house. The Abus model 83/45 is a good quality, modestly priced padlock that offers this feature.
Today a friend needed such a padlock keyed alike the door to their shed so I volunteered to help them out.
First I got out my keying kit. Mine is made by the LAB company. It is what they call an .003 increment pin kit. Pin kits made for use in the United States use pins that are measured in inches. ".003" refers to the difference between each pin size, that is, three thousandths of an inch.
Using a Phillips screwdriver, I removed the cylinder from the padlock. Although the cylinder has a retaining clip on the back, it needn't be disassembled to be rekeyed - a nice feature. Turning the plug about a quarter turn lines the pins up with a slot conveniently cut in the side of the cylinder they call a "pinning window."
To allow the plug to turn in the direction necessary to expose the pinning window, the pin that normally keeps the plug from turning in that direction must be gently depressed with the key inserted in the cylinder. With the retaining pin depressed, turn the key in the direction that will bring the pins in line with the window without allowing the bottom of the plug to pass the 12 o'clock position on the cylinder. At the 12 o'clock position the top pins will drop into the slot on the bottom of the plug and make what should have been an easy job much more difficult.
The padlock I worked with was shipped with an 0-bitted cylinder - that is to say it had a key with no cuts, or what we call a key blank, and all the pins were the same size, size "zero", hence the term "0-bitted". Shown below right is the cylinder with the original pins lined up with the pinning window. Notice they are all even with the surface of the plug. After it is rekeyed it must be that way, too.
To rekey the lock, I dumped the original pins and replaced them with new pins to match the cuts on the key for the shed. When all the pins are inserted, the shed key will also work the padlock. We will be able to say that the padlock and the lock on the shed are keyed alike.
To demonstrate the principal of keying, in the pictorial at right I have illustrated the difference between a pin that matches the cut on the key and a pin that does not match the cut on the key. If the pin sinks down below the surface of the plug or sticks up out of the plug, the plug will not turn and the key will not work. The pins must all be as precisely even with the surface of the plug as possible.
Caution: it is quite easy to ruin a cylinder while rekeying.
For example, if you do not have all the pins inserted and decide to test it to see if it works, the top pins (not shown) will drop into the pin shafts where there are no pins inserted and you will be unable to get your key out without a fight. If you use pin sizes that are not quite right, much the same thing could happen.
Keying is a skill that is acquired through practice and experience, and is usually best done by a qualified professional.