The last couple of nights we have had heavy frosts and morning temps
around the 28-F mark. Padlocks on the sheds have been frozen and I
have had to warm them with my hands for a couple of minutes. Not a lot
This is the first time in 10 years that they have frozen and it has
been a lot colder and damper than this.
Anyone suggest a good oil to use to keep the moisture out?
I'll second the silicone spray. I sprayed with BrakeClean first to
totally remove all dirt. Works to -45 in MN.
WD40 will work for a while, then it will be even worse. It leaves a
sticky gum behind.
Desperation causes action. As in the Army, DON'T SIT STILL! Even if you
have to do something that later proves to be stupid, do not just sit there.
PS, I'll check the instruction panel tomorrow, but I figured I had more
locks, a 4' bolt cutter, and I needed to get into my container now, and the
two by four wasn't having any effect.
There is several things low temperature and inclement weather does to
First if they have been lubed with an oil that thickens in the cold
that can gum things up a bit, then there is thermal contraction
(usually not a big factor) and then there is water freezing on the
What worked really good for padlocks that truck drivers use for there
snow chain racks is to put a couple of nice O-rings on the shackle
with a dab of crazy glue so that water can't leak into the shackle
holes, and then cover the key hole with electricians tape.
The lock itself is lubricated with a Teflon spray like Tri-flow or dry
powered graphite. I will note that graphite can be flushed out with
water so keeping the guts dry is key.
Another suggestion for padlocks on sheds, is to make a little
enclosure that will keep rain off the padlock,
Also a trick for a frozen lock is to heat up the key with a lighterand
insert it int the key hole. The hot key usually will then have enough
redidual heat to thaw the guts of the lock enough to open. If it
doesn't then apply heat to the key that is inserted into the key hole.
In my experience, silicone lube is next to useless for locks (it is
great as a mold release agent or for lubricating food machinery but in
the cold and wet it does not wick into the mechanism where it needs to
be. also be careful about spraying it anywhere near a car with an
oxygen sensor. It takes only a small wiff of the stuff to kill an O2
They thaw quicker if you warm them between your thighs or in your
armpit. Maybe even quicker if you enlist more ample thighs that
you promise to reheat later.
It's a shame to waste good alcohol on thawing a lock, eh?
Most common oils are adequate for locks, but they're most effective when the
locks are clean and dry.. when new.
Applying some oil into the key passageway (padlock turned upside-down) and
also applied to the locking and other shackle hole, will leave a coating of
oil on all of the internal parts. Working the lock from locked/open numerous
cycles will distribute the oil over the surfaces of the moving parts.
With the parts oiled, water won't stick to the moving parts. Some of the oil
will at least partially fill cavities that could trap water, preventing
water from accumulating where it would cause problems.
Oiled parts are less likely to be completely fouled by superglue vandals.
Padlocks that have been outdoors with no protection will generally be
problematic eventually. Those locks would benefit from being flushed with
solvent, blown out with compressed air, dried, then lubricated with oil. If
excess oil comes out dark with dirt, repeat the flushing, etc.
For the best results, as suggested already, put a shield in place to deflect
water and dirt, and prevent it from entering the lock.
One of the cheapest and most effective shields I've seen, has been a rubber
flap cut from an inner tube.
Mowing and trimming often kick up a lot of dirt, and it's likely that some
of that dirt can find it's way into unprotected padlocks. The fine dirt
particles will cause wear of the internal parts.. then the lock gets fiddly,
and eventually it won't unlock.
Antique locks generally worked fine without lubricants, which I attribute to
better choices of metals, better designs and more precise part
More recent locks are generally made as cheaply as possible with rapidly
produced parts, which aren't reflective of a precision, high reliability
One of the PB Blaster penetrating oil products contains teflon, which I've
found to be useful in lubricating locks and door
latches/mechanisms/hardware.. it needs to be shaken well to suspend the
teflon into the solvent. I've replaced the spray nozzle with a spray head
that accepts an extension tube.
This has been very effective at lubricating commercial entry/exit doors,
exposed to the outdoor elements, and difficult to access locks/latches,
without removing the locking mechanisms from the doors.
I've found the best solution for padlocks is anti seize compound.
We do enough of these that I filled a glue injector ( like a big
oversized hypodermic without a needle) with the stuff. Makes it
real easy to fill a padlock, lasts for years on locks that are
totally exposed to the elements.
You should see it when it's -28 F. The propane won't come out of the
bottle unless you warm it up. Lighters are completely useless. The
best I've found so far is to do preventative maintenance after beating
the crap out of them and heating them how ever possible. I hang them
open in the blower outlet of the wood stove all day , then oil with a
light oil, and tie a plastic bag around the locked lock.
I use LPS 2 on my disc locks on the sheds. Has water displacement
features and sticks around, unlike LPS1 and WD40. On regular padlocks
in subzero, sometimes you've got to boil out the moisture with a torch
first, then lube. Heating a key with the torch works, once, if you've
just gotta get in right now. There's usually still moisture in the
lock that will refreeze later. Have used that method on car locks.
They used to have a little pocket-sized gadget that had a hot probe
you could stick in the keyway to warm the lock cylinder, used a AA
battery. The disc locks seem to have pretty good weathering
characteristics, barring hurricanes, flood and such. The shackle
openings are pretty well shielded and opening it doesn't depend on a
spring. I've had some out for 15-20 years and they still work like
new, given lube once a year or so.
Hold them up with a stick and hit 'em with a small deadblow hammer.
This is the same method used by perps to open them, BTW. ;)
Make the best use of what is in your power,
and take the rest as it happens.
You know, I'm not sure what is in those little tanks about the size of
a football, but they don't work for me. There where times that I had
to run the vehicle just so the tank could set in the air flow of the
heater and then wrap a flannel shirt around it just to heat the locks
on my simi trailer.
Lighting a cigarette takes time cause you have to hold the bic lighter
in your hand for awhile so that it will light. Ha, almost a year now
of cold turkeying cigs.
-45, yeap been there done that. I almost positive that it doesn't get
like that here anymore, use to back in the '70s & '80s only down to
the low twenties so far. Back then I found out blow dryers don't work
@ -45 and fingers stick to head bolts. Now that I think about it that
was when I finished a truck in an unheated garage. Had two bad spark
plugs and two leaking valves and had to pull the head back off and
replace the plugs , not fun at all. Took forever to trouble shoot an
engine that was completely rebuilt while , well you know, that
desperation of trying to do something when it is that cold and telling
yourself to THINK while running out of time before hypothermia sets
Hmmm, that's strange, to think I use to work in 120 + F. I wanted to
move to TX or NC, but NOOOO.
Thanks to all,
I only have two of the suggested lubricants on hand. I think that
prior to this last bout of cleaning and lubing I used wd40. I have a
can of LPS 2 here so will give that a try. If that fails then I will
start running down the Hardware Store list of suggestions.
The locks, all 7 of them, are keyed alike and are also on the front
gate etc so building covers is not an option. I am not a member of the
disgusting lung-killers-and-die-early brigade so I do not carry a
lighter to heat the key, thus warming padlocks with my hands is the
Thanks to everyone.