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Ignition Key


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1971 Spitfire MKIV

Hello all,

On the last couple of occasions it has been a little difficult to get the key into the ignition but today it refused point blank. 

Whilst fortunately I do have a spare (untested so hope it works) does anyone know what would stop the key going in, how to fix it or if you can actually swap the barrels?

On initial inspection of my spare there doesn’t appear a simple way to remove the barrel, which would make sense as if you could easily remove it whats the point of having it!

Thanks all. 


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It may come back to life with a good squirt of WD40, and keep gently trying the key. But if one of the tumblers has turned, you are out of luck.

You are best swapping the whole thing. The security screws are not usually very tight, and may undo using a small centre punch and knocking them around until mole brips or similar will undo them, or I tend to use a grinder to cut a slot and use a screwdriver. 

Make sure the whole thing is well lubricated and teh column lock bit is free. The wiring plug is just held in with a grub screw (or 2??)

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Sounds to me like the lock barrel is on its last legs, but its 50 years old.

As Clive said it could just be dry and a little WD40 lubrication could keep it going - but remember sods law states it will finally die when you're out and jump in the car to drive HOME from a trip, not when you start it earlier in the day. As there isn't much driving to be done at the moment I'd recommend going ahead and replacing.

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The early Mk4 locks are not that reliable, keep it well lubricated as replacements Are not that's cheap.

If you need to have to remove it, put tape over the hole in the column, fit the ignition switch to the dash and pretend it never had a steering lock as a missing one is an MOT fail.

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I believe I'm right in saying (but please contradict me if you know better!) that you should never use a wet lubricant on locks. This is because the lube combines with the dust and swarf accumulated over the decades to form a grinding paste which gums up inside the mechanism.

Traditionally, graphite powder was used, because of its dry lubricating properties. More recently, people seem to recommend "Micronised Teflon" sprays. This is PTFE dust in a solvent and I've had great success with all the locks around the house. The garage door is better than it's been in years. Some padlocks which had been given 3-in-1 (spawn of the Devil) came back to life as if by magic. And the Spit boot lock is smooth again - haven't tried the ignition though, but I expect it would be the same. The solvent carries the PTFE into the lock, and my guess is that it also washes out all the contamination that's built up.

I used this stuff, but several people make the same sort of thing. Do make sure it's a dry lubricant, not a wet lube with PTFE added.

Cheers, Richard

PS: The other thing about wet lubes in locks, is that you get an oily key in your pocket!

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That PTFE WD stuff is excellent, works a treat on curtain runners (but great care needed!)

Yes, oils not ideal on locks, but WD40 is great for washing crap out of stuff, and tends to dry almost completely. Thinking about it, once/if the lock frees up, a squirt of brake cleaner to wash the WD40 out, then PTFE spray. 

Colin, I have seen new locks quite cheap (sub £50) for the early cars. But even the pictures suggest questionable quality.

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