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    Thread: How to: Repair or re-key door locks

    1. Member scirocco*joe's Avatar
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      10-16-2007 10:49 PM #1
      Tools needed:

      Philips head screwdriver
      Thin flat head screwdriver
      Pick or pair of tweezers
      Lightweight lubricant
      Common sense

      This thread is brought to you by sciroccojim, who thankfully took the time at the recent Fall Foliage Cruise to explain some of the basics for this process. It is only with his expertise that I am able to bring you this thread.

      So, perhaps you're the second, third, seventh, or eleventy-billionth owner of that sweet, sweet Scirocco that sits in front of you. It may not even drive yet. That's ok. Mayhaps one of the prior owners swapped the keys in one or more of the door handles. Perhaps you paid a locksmith to replace your ignition switch. Or, perhaps some local hooligans used a modified key (screwdriver) to gain access to your car, somewhat like this:

      Regardless of how you got here, you have keys that don't match, and you'd like to have a one-key system. Well, today is your lucky day!

      First of all, if you're just swapping the lock cylinder from one door handle to another, this is going to be an easy job. If you're re-keying a cylinder, you'll need to do some more work.

      So, we'll start where we always start - at the beginning!

      You'll need to get that pesky door handle off. First, open your door so that you have all of the hardware exposed. You probably have a silver metal or black plastic trim piece on the outside of the door. You'll need to take a thin flat head and gently pry at the rear of the trim piece while pushing slightly towards the front of the car. Here's the spot:

      There is a little tab at the front of the trim and a spring tab at the back. Once you free the rear tab, you'll be able to slip the front tab out.

      Now, take a look at the inside edge of the door behind the handle. There will be a philips head screw there. It looks like this:

      You can unscrew that, and place it off to the side.

      You might have noticed that there is another philips screw underneath the trim panel on the outside of the door handle towards the front of the car.

      You can remove this screw now as well. There might be a washer behind that screw, so be careful removing.

      Now, believe it or not, that's pretty much all that is holding this door handle onto the car. However, there's a little tab at the front of the handle you need to clear before you can remove the handle.

      Slide the handle towards the front of the car, and slowly pull it away from the car.

      Watch the rear, as the "push down" and "lock" levers can chip the paint if you aren't careful. Pull slowly and angle the handle down towards the ground to clear the mechanism.

      There are two gaskets that fit between the handle and the door, one at the front and one at the rear. The rear is the bigger one. Take these off the handle and save them. They will probably fit better than any replacement gaskets.

      You'll notice that there are two levers inside of the door where the door handle just was. The one closer to you opens the door. The one further in locks and unlocks the door. Go ahead and play with them for awhile. Bask in the mechanical simplicity of the 80s!

      Ok, back to work, you slacker!

      So, you've got this door handle in your hand. Go ahead and pull the lever. Watch how it actuates the lever and pushes it downward. If you have a key that works, take a look at how that moves the locking mechanism in the back of the handle.

      It is always a good idea to get a nice feel for a working mechanism before you go ahead and take it apart. Otherwise, you might not have as much luck getting it to work again.

      Now, behind the lock cylinder, you're going to see the lever with two paddles. This is the lever that locks and unlocks your door.

      In its resting state, one paddle points towards the rear of the car, level with the ground. The other paddle points about a 45* angle down and towards the rear. You are now going to remove that paddle.

      Place the handle with the mechanism face up and use a philips head to remove the screw holding the paddles onto the rear of the lock cylinder.

      Do pay attention to the fact that there is a loaded spring behind the paddles. It might jump out at you when you remove the screw, so don't let it get away from you. You're going to need it.

      Here you can see the spring behind the paddles. This is not where the spring should be positioned when reinstalling. Take the spring off and set it somewhere safe.

      Now, see that little box cut that surrounds the hole where the philips screw came out of? That is the end of the lock cylinder that we will now remove. Put the handle on its side and push that box towards you to slide the cylinder out of the handle.

      Here she comes!

      Now, you can carefully admire the beauty and complexity of the lock cylinder mechanism. It's really not that hard to figure out how it works.

      Neat, huh?

      Now, if you look closely, you'll notice a couple of things. First of all, there is a square notched at the top of the rear of the cylinder. This lets you know that the cylinder is face up. It will only fit into the handle that way. If you put it in upside down, it will not fit in flush with the outside face of the handle.

      Also, you may (or may not) see a round black seal towards the outside of the cylinder. This seals the internals from getting filthy with outside dirt and crap. This is a new cylinder, so it is still there, but chances are your older one is either broken, severely worn, or totally gone.

      Now, it's time to understand how the cylinder and the tumblers work. Lets take a look at the inside of the door handle where the cylinder came from.

      If you look closely at the picture above, you can see two channels on both side of the hole where the cylinder fits. Now look again at the cylinder you removed from the handle

      See how it has five little brass tabs on the left and two little brass tabs on the right sides of the cylinder? Those fit into the channels on both sides of the handle. There are small springs the force the tabs away from the center of the cylinder. So, without any help, they are forced outwards against the walls of the channel. The brass tabs are the tumblers that need to line up in order for the cylinder to rotate and your door to open.

      Now that you know what it looks like, imagine that this cylinder is back inside of the handle. With all of those brass tabs or tumblers (I will probably refer to them as tabs or tumblers interchangeably) in the way, they cylinder cannot rotate to actuate the paddles in the back of the handle to unlock the door. The tabs are stuck in the channel. So, we need to have a key fit in the cylinder that is just right in order to pull the tabs inward enough to line the tabs up smooth against the sides of the cylinder so that the cylinder will turn and the door will unlock.

      Watch what happens when you have the wrong key in there.

      Lets take a look at the tabs from top to bottom. You can see that tabs 1, 2 and 3 actually fit well. They are flush with the sides of the cylinder. So, the key is very similar to the correct key. However, you can see that tab 4 does not fit well. The key did not pull the tab in close enough to be flush.

      Tab 5 is the first tab that normally sits on the right side. You can see that the key pulled it too far inwards, so that now it is sticking out the left side. Tab 6 on the other hand is the same as tab 4. Tab 7 normally sits on the right side, and has not been pulled inward enough, as it is still poking out a bit. So, we have a close match on three out of seven tabs. Not bad.

      Here's what it looks like with the right key in there.

      See how all of the tabs are lined up so that the outside of the cylinder is smooth? This will allow the cylinder to turn freely.

      Now, let's look at those tumblers out of the cylinder.

      You can use your forefinger and the nail of your thumb to pull each tab slowly out. You can also use a pick or a pair of tweezers. Since I'm planning on swapping all of the tumblers out of one cylinder and put them in a new cylinder, I will place them down in order so that I can replace them in the same order without playing a game of trial and error.

      So, let's pull tab 1 out carefully.

      Ok, not too bad. Onto tab 2.

      You can pretty much continue down the line like this.

      Please be aware of the tiny springs that rest behind each tab in the lock cylinder. They are the reason that the tabs "spring out" when the key is removed. They don't typically fall out when a new lock is disassembled, due to the grease in there, but they will probably fall out on older locks.

      Take care to make sure there's a spring in each section of the cylinder when you insert the tabs. There's a round hole on one side of the cylinder where the springs go in (not the same side for each one).

      You'll also notice that each tab has a "fin" that sticks out. The five tabs on the left have fins that point up and the two tabs on the right have fins that point down. Just so's you know.

      So, now that you've removed the five tabs on the left, it's time to do the same with the right.

      Now, when you're done, this is what you should have.

      You can see the tabs with the fins up on the left, and the tabs with the fins down on the right.

      Now, if you're just swapping tumblers, you can replace all of the tabs into the new cylinder. If you are re-keying an existing tumbler, you're going to need some extra tabs.

      This is what I have, courtesy of sciroccojim:

      No, that's not a baggie full of an illicit substance! Get your head out of the gutter! It's a baggie of brass tumblers!

      Now, I've heard you can get spares from the dealership, but perhaps local locksmiths or junkyards can find them, too. It's going to be a mixing and matching game to get the right ones you'll need. Unfortunately, it's a trial and error process. The slot in the middle of the tab is where the key fits, and how far it is pulled into the cylinder depends on the position of the fin on the tab and the offset of the center opening to the left or the right of the tab.

      In my case, I'm just swapping tabs, so let's do it.

      You'll put them in one at a time, same order you took them out in. When you replace them, make sure you add a little lightweight lubricant to allow for a long and useful life! The better lubricated the tumblers are, the longer the parts will last and the easier they will turn and unlock your doors! Plus, if the lubricant is coating the metal, there will be less of a chance of moisture taking up the space and freezing your lock in the winter. At least, that would be the case for those of us in the northern climes.

      Also, when you press the tumblers in, push lightly to ensure that they spring back easily. Their resting position should be the same as when you took them out, sticking slightly outward as before. Take a look:

      Ok, you're almost finished. Make sure that when your key is inserted, all of the tabs are flush against the cylinder. You might as well be sure.

      In my case, the first tab had worn so much that it left a little bit sticking out and wouldn't allow the cylinder to turn. The old handle had a little groove in it from use, but the new handle was unforgiving. Since I knew the two keys I had were the same for tabs 1, 2 and 3, I just grabbed the new number 1 tab and used that instead of the old number 1 tab. Good as new.

      Now, I sat the cylinder pointing upwards like this:

      and slid the handle down onto it like this:

      Now we're ready to replace the spring. The spring forces the lock cylinder back to center whenever you lock or unlock the car. You feel it every time and it keeps the cylinder opening level with the ground when the handle is mounted in the car. So, this is where we are at:

      Now, you're going to take the lock return spring and sit it on top of the square at the back of the lock cylinder. You'll put the spring so that one bend is against the tab like this:

      and then push the other bend over the top of the tab so that it is "loaded" against the other side of the tab like this:

      It will take a few times to get set just right and if you get it on the first try, you were just lucky.

      Now we're ready for the locking paddles. The underside of the paddles has a box cut that will fit perfectly into the rear of the cylinder's box tab. All you need to do is make sure that the fin tab on the mounting side of the paddles sits right between the bent edges of the spring, just like this:

      Now don't let go, because that spring will want to force the paddles off the cylinder. Grab that philips head screw and driver and secure the paddles back to the cylinder.

      This is what it should look like now:

      You might as well check that key again. You don't want to attach it to the car only to find out that it won't turn.

      Looks good to me!

      Now, back to the car! You'll slide the rear in first, and again, don't forget to put on the little gaskets on the front and rear!

      The bigger gasket has a small notch and a large notch. The large notch fits on the side closest to the door opening lever. If you install backwards, its going to look warped. Here it is the correct way:

      Alright, slip the rear in first, then the front, and slide the handle towards the rear of the car to lock in place.

      Install and tighten the front screw and then the rear at the back side of the door.

      Now, install the trim piece, and you're done!

      Now, be proud of what you've accomplished today! YAY! Aren't you glad you did this yourself?

      Now, go drive your Scirocco!

      Fin.


      Modified by scirocco*joe at 9:19 AM 10-17-2007

      Quote Originally Posted by punchbug
      Not wanting to select a wheel style, I chose to go with three different wheel and tire options, sourced from our extensive collection. (criteria was: not currently on another car, 4X100 bolt pattern, tires must hold some air.)
      1981 Scirocco
      2010 Sportwagen TDI

    2. Member G-rocco's Avatar
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      10-16-2007 10:59 PM #2
      Great informative post. Timbo needs this as a technote!

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      10-16-2007 11:05 PM #3
      Very nice write up!

    4. Member DrFraserCrane's Avatar
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      10-16-2007 11:34 PM #4
      great write up... sucks that the reason it got written was what it was though.
      -Dictated but not read to expedite report.

    5. 10-16-2007 11:58 PM #5
      Thanks. Bookmarked!

    6. Member Mtl-Marc's Avatar
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      10-17-2007 12:25 AM #6
      Nice!
      Quote Originally Posted by Mk1Madness
      Back when making your car faster and better handling was the big thing.
      Quote Originally Posted by Eistreiber
      Yeah, I prefer slow-cooked bacon; and bacon grease saved is great for frying other stuff, adds some good flavor to almost anything. Except maybe tofu, that stuff is beyond help.
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    7. 10-17-2007 12:47 AM #7
      Very well done, great write up/tech procedure there joe


      Modified by 53BGTX at 12:48 AM 10-17-2007

    8. Member MK1roccin77's Avatar
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      10-17-2007 12:50 AM #8
      Great write up! I'll definitely keep this in my "file-o-rocco-stuff" for future reference.

    9. 10-17-2007 06:27 AM #9
      That's awesome, because I've got three locks and only one key, and it only works for the driver door and the ignition. Now I can lock my hatch.

    10. Member bigtavo's Avatar
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      10-17-2007 07:38 AM #10
      Mighty fine information and timely for me as I am about to replace my chinese handles for the more traditional handle to correct a sticking passenger handle.

      Quote, originally posted by scirocco*joe »


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      10-17-2007 07:55 AM #11
      That's the most awesome write-up I've ever seen!!

      Mind if I put it up on da tech site?


    12. Member sciroccojim's Avatar
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      10-17-2007 07:59 AM #12
      Nice writeup, Joe!

      I'd like to add that one needs to be aware of the tiny springs that rest behind each tab in the lock cylinder. They are the reason that the tabs "spring out" when the key is removed. They don't typically fall out when a new lock is disassembled, due to the grease in there, but they will probably fall out on older locks.

      Take care to make sure there's a spring in each section of the cylinder when you insert the tabs. There's a round hole on one side of the cylinder where the springs go in (not the same side for each one).


    13. Member Lord_Verminaard's Avatar
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      10-17-2007 09:06 AM #13
      Very nice Joe! When I worked at the dealer I probably sold a "lock kit" about three times a week but I never paid any attention to how the procedure was done. At one time I had the part numbers memorized for the pieces.

      Having one key for the whole car is one of those "simple pleasures" I get from VW ownership.

      Now, for the eleventy-billion dollar question, is the procedure similar for the trunk lock and even *gasp* the fuel cap? My departed '84 had a very worn copy of a key but it worked on everything, including the gas cap- and my '81 has a cheap parts store gas cap and I'd like to get an OEM locking one and key it correctly.

      Brendan

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      10-17-2007 09:23 AM #14
      Quote, originally posted by timbo2132 »
      That's the most awesome write-up I've ever seen!!

      Mind if I put it up on da tech site?

      Thanks, Timbo! Please feel free to add to the Technotes. After all, "I learned it by watching you!" Plus, it was a fun adventure!

      Quote, originally posted by sciroccojim »
      Nice writeup, Joe!
      I'd like to add that one needs to be aware of the tiny springs that rest behind each tab in the lock cylinder. They are the reason that the tabs "spring out" when the key is removed. They don't typically fall out when a new lock is disassembled, due to the grease in there, but they will probably fall out on older locks.

      Take care to make sure there's a spring in each section of the cylinder when you insert the tabs. There's a round hole on one side of the cylinder where the springs go in (not the same side for each one).


      Edited, as per your request. I also needed to fix a couple of the punctuation errors.

      Thanks to you for explaining this thoroughly enough for me to be able to write this up.

      This will work on all of the A2 chassis cars as well, so it's a useful note in general.


      Modified by scirocco*joe at 9:27 AM 10-17-2007

      Quote Originally Posted by punchbug
      Not wanting to select a wheel style, I chose to go with three different wheel and tire options, sourced from our extensive collection. (criteria was: not currently on another car, 4X100 bolt pattern, tires must hold some air.)
      1981 Scirocco
      2010 Sportwagen TDI

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      10-17-2007 09:31 AM #15
      Quote, originally posted by Lord_Verminaard »

      Now, for the eleventy-billion dollar question, is the procedure similar for the trunk lock and even *gasp* the fuel cap? My departed '84 had a very worn copy of a key but it worked on everything, including the gas cap- and my '81 has a cheap parts store gas cap and I'd like to get an OEM locking one and key it correctly.

      Brendan

      Now that I don't know. I need to replace the seal on my hatch lock, so I might just dig into it and see if it is a similar set up.

      As far as the gas cap goes, I'm at a loss. I do have a working cap that fits my ignition key, but I've never taken it apart.

      Quote Originally Posted by punchbug
      Not wanting to select a wheel style, I chose to go with three different wheel and tire options, sourced from our extensive collection. (criteria was: not currently on another car, 4X100 bolt pattern, tires must hold some air.)
      1981 Scirocco
      2010 Sportwagen TDI

    16. 10-17-2007 10:12 AM #16
      NOTE: A super easy way to keep the tumblers inside the cylinder when you pull it out of the handle is to just stick the key in before you pull it out. This way you don't have to worry about losing springs. (Don't ask me how I know)

    17. Member sciroccojim's Avatar
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      10-17-2007 05:52 PM #17
      Quote, originally posted by gt40mkiv »
      NOTE: A super easy way to keep the tumblers inside the cylinder when you pull it out of the handle is to just stick the key in before you pull it out. This way you don't have to worry about losing springs. (Don't ask me how I know)

      Ditto


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      10-17-2007 05:53 PM #18
      Quote, originally posted by jr_certs »
      Thanks. Bookmarked!

      same here

      Deal with it.
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      02-28-2008 02:40 PM #19
      Bump it baby!
      Quote Originally Posted by punchbug
      Not wanting to select a wheel style, I chose to go with three different wheel and tire options, sourced from our extensive collection. (criteria was: not currently on another car, 4X100 bolt pattern, tires must hold some air.)
      1981 Scirocco
      2010 Sportwagen TDI

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      02-28-2008 02:45 PM #20
      Timbo, did you ever add this to the Vintage Watercooled Technotes?
      Quote Originally Posted by punchbug
      Not wanting to select a wheel style, I chose to go with three different wheel and tire options, sourced from our extensive collection. (criteria was: not currently on another car, 4X100 bolt pattern, tires must hold some air.)
      1981 Scirocco
      2010 Sportwagen TDI

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      02-28-2008 04:43 PM #21
      W00t I can has 1key percar now
      Its hard to make a comeback if you've never left

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      02-28-2008 07:08 PM #22
      Quote, originally posted by scirocco*joe »
      Timbo, did you ever add this to the Vintage Watercooled Technotes?

      Totally forgot about it!!

      Technoted:

      http://www.vintagewatercooleds.com/tech/2008/re-keying-doorhandle-locks/


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      02-28-2008 07:23 PM #23
      Quote, originally posted by Lord_Verminaard »
      When I worked at the dealer I probably sold a "lock kit" about three times a week but I never paid any attention to how the procedure was done.
      Brendan

      What did this kit consist of for parts? Do you, or anyone know if it is still available? I really need to do this on the '88, but don't have any spare handles to rob pins from.


    24. Member scirocco*joe's Avatar
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      02-28-2008 08:47 PM #24
      Quote, originally posted by timbo2132 »

      Totally forgot about it!!

      Technoted:

      http://www.vintagewatercooleds.com/tech/2008/re-keying-doorhandle-locks/

      YAY!

      Quote Originally Posted by punchbug
      Not wanting to select a wheel style, I chose to go with three different wheel and tire options, sourced from our extensive collection. (criteria was: not currently on another car, 4X100 bolt pattern, tires must hold some air.)
      1981 Scirocco
      2010 Sportwagen TDI

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      02-28-2008 10:03 PM #25
      Quote, originally posted by scirocco*joe »
      Bump it baby!

      Thank you for doing so! Excellent write-up!

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      04-21-2008 11:49 AM #26
      Another vote for "excellent write-up"! I was soon going to try the same process with mine but have found that all the tumblers (with the exception of the gas cap) in my recently acquired parts car are the same with a new, unworn key to match. It will be just as nice to be down to two keys for the car, though, for I can live with having a separate gas cap key.

      Well done!

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      10-16-2008 01:41 PM #27
      ^^^ i agree with you excellent post saved me alot of head aches.......

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      10-16-2008 02:23 PM #28
      Thanks for the great write up!
      When I bought the Scirocco, I was always guessing whether or not I would be able to get back into the car cause neither door lock worked everytime with the ignition key. The drivers side was worse! Had to crawl in through the hatch more than once. I decided to try to clean them and the locking mechanism, long story short didn't work. Bought two new door handles with new locks and now I have an ignition key that starts car and opens hatch and a seperate key for each door making 3 keys total...
      Now I can fix that!!!
      Mark it ZERO

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      07-04-2011 08:43 PM #29
      This is an old original post, but still helpful. I just rekeyed my pass side lock with parts from two extra tumblers I had. I did have to leave one wafer out, but it works perfect, so I'm happy.

      Now I just have to do the hatch and glove.
      Ich meinen VW
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    30. Member keeton's Avatar
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      01-27-2013 05:33 PM #30
      Good info.

    31. Member Louie Bricants's Avatar
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      05-05-2013 04:11 PM #31
      subscribed: Good stuff
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    32. Member rabbitnothopper's Avatar
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      05-07-2013 08:12 PM #32
      oh hmm never posted it up in heer

      i used this thread to visualize the process needed to repair 2 door locks
      and then moved onto the hatch lock for the golf, very similar on the rear hatch lock

      now 4 locks match to ONE key

      i also found a proceedure to manufacture your own tumblers from a sheet of brass
      i made about 4 tumblers per day.....by hand

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