Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Theodore Roosevelt, The Strenuous Life

By , on June 11, 2011

How to


Locks for non-automatic garage doors can simply be inadequate on a modern house, as mine was. It had numerous shortcomings:

  • It had a low security key, indicating the lock could be picked easily.
  • Removing two Philips screws and turning the tee handle and the flange together allowed entry without a key.
  • The old snap latch became smooth with use allowing the door to be opened when the latch slid over the catch even when you thought the door was locked.
  • The snap latch was sharp and the shaft of the tee handle protruded on the inside, snagging skin and clothing.
  • I wanted a higher security key, one that matched my other five locks on the house, cabin and pump house.

My goals in security are few and simple:

  • If someone is at home, an intruder must spend enough time and make enough noise prior to entry so that the occupant can be armed and ready to stop the intruder.
  • If no one is at home, there must to be visible damage to the house so the owner can understand the method of entry and, preferably, know something is wrong before entering.

The instructions for the new lock only included replacement installations, not those for a new installation. Based on the instructions and the lack of seeing the system I installed on newer homes, I suspect many homes without automatic garage door openers have low security garage door locks similar to the one I replaced. The new lock and handle remind me of how the garage doors worked in the houses of my youth, houses built in the forties through the sixties.

There are several feature that are convenient with the new installation:

  • You can see whether the door is locked or not from a distance. This is convenient for the owner, but a bit of a risk if a potential burglar knows the door is unlocked from afar.
  • There is no obvious way to defeat the lock without damaging the door.
  • You can re-key the lock to match your other house locks.
  • You can close the door without having the door latch each time. Closing the door and locking it are two separate actions.

The installation is a bit tricky. Install the new tee handle first. It is retained with a spring washer. Then install the sheet metal cam that has the notch for the bolt. Use washers for a tight fit, then install the inner handle and the pin to lock the inner handle in place.

Then mount the interior lock bolt assembly. Make sure the bolt fits in the cam slot well and that the cam clears the interior bolt assembly through its range of motion when the bolt is within the assembly. Remove the bolt assembly, draw a line on the garage door that connects the centers of the two top holes and mark the center of the line. Measure from this center point on the lock bolt assembly to the center of the lock operator, where the cylinder bar will enter the bolt assembly. Mark this spot on the door. Do not drill the cylinder hole at this point. The bar is not at the center of the cylinder. Measure the offset of the bar from the center of the cylinder, and transfer this measurement to the door. The new mark will be above the lock operator mark. This will be the center of the cylinder. Double check all measurements and visualize the relationship of the cylinder with the bolt assembly. Use a punch to dent the door to receive your hole saw drill bit. An error on drilling the hole for the cylinder will require installation of repair plates, not a pretty outcome. Measure twice and cut once. Doors that are thin will require a firm backer piece for the handle, cylinder and lock.  A good piece of hardwood will stay in place if secured by the tee handle and fastened to the door with two carriage bolts with the nuts on the inside for security.

I found the parts on line, but had to call the outfit to get what I needed – the website was light on detail and parts information. The long bars come in sizes for 8 and 9 ft. doors, assuming a center handle mounting. Mine is a double wide garage door, so I just used one bar. I used the other hole on the disk or cam for the spring. If you use two bars, attach the spring to one of them. Stretch the spring slightly when the door is unlocked, so that the door becomes unlocked smartly with spring force when the locking bolt is withdrawn. Do not forget to order the spring; they are made for this application and you may not find one at your local home center. Also, ask for the pins that connects the long bar with the disks or cam. The vendor forgot to include those in my order.

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