In the Torture Chamber
© National Publishing Company, 1999. All rights reserved.

Greg was in a foul mood.

I think, perhaps, it was because White Castle had accidentally slathered his cheeseburger (known here as "sliders") with onions; you know, those little tiny shreds that not even Greg could fully pick off. He hates onions and specifically ordered his sliders without onions. When he pulled his freshly steam-grilled burger out of the box and saw the tell-tale signs of onions, he went postal.

Now, I had two options. I could fire Greg for his unprofessional behavior of threatening bodily harm on the individual who dared to cover his burger with onions, but this was an unacceptable option...first because I like his wife, second because it would mean that I'd actually have to do some work around here. That left me backed into a corner with my only other option: TORTURE TEST!

Looking wildly around the room, I spotted a group of shiny, new padlocks, still smelling fresh from their blister packs, not even a fingerprint on them. I began to chuckle and growl simultaneously. Greg heard the noise, and the hair began to lift on the back of his neck.

"Torture Test?" he inquired softly...menacingly...onion-dotted foam beginning to form at the corners of his mouth.

"Torture Test," I affirmed. Thus it was that Igor and I, umm Greg and I, began the preparations.

We decided to put to the rack a group of good locksmith-quality padlocks, and one El Cheapo brand imported lock to see how well they would endure.


1 Igor, uh I mean Greg, begins the process of arranging the locks in our Scientific Test Lab, otherwise known as the parking lot. Notice the weeds growing in the cracks. Don't let yourself be fooled into thinking this represents lack of maintenance. We planted them for atmosphere.


2 Here they are, nestling together for comfort...brand new, unbroken in spirit, not a mark on them. From upper left our subjects included: Mul-T-Lock model #13 with a 1/2" shackle diameter and protector; Abloy model #PL240 with a 3/8 shackle diameter; Abus Diskus model #24/70 with a 3/8" shackle diameter; in the middle is a Master model #5KDA with a 3/8" shackle diameter; APR model #BP50 with a 5/16" shackle diameter; Almont Re-Key with a 5/16" shackle diameter and finally on the bottom row two El Cheapos purchased at a local hardware store.


3 We put an emergency call into Dale Libby asking him to bring over his best lock picks. Perhaps he misunderstood, and lent us his four-foot bolt cutters instead. Wasting no time, Greg leaned into his work with glee, attempting to chop through both the APR and Mul-T-Lock padlocks.


4 As you can see, the APR lock took quite a lot of abuse, yet still refused to die. The shackle remains intact despite the mark, even after Greg and his onion-breath jumped up and down on the bolt cutters. The Mul-T-Lok, however, truly put Greg into a rage when it barely scratched after his best efforts.


5 That's when he went to work on the poor, defenseless El Cheapo brand, available at a hardware store near you. Greg merely placed the padlock into the bolt cutter shown here, and the shackle gave up the ghost. The sliced shackle is not shown as most of it will need to be removed from Greg's eye at a later time. We'll get around to scheduling that soon.


6 No, these locks are not cooling down on a comfy bed of snow after getting all sweated up about the tortures to come. They're actually laying on a mound of rock salt. We soaked these babies for a while in brine, and then tested their usability. All the locks worked rather well, except that the El Cheapo was a bit sticky after it's bath. Both Greg and I considered out corrosion attempt to be a failure, and we began to think desperately of how to harm these padlocks for real.


7 That's when we spotted our garbage dumpster. (Doesn't everyone have a dumpster in their Scientific Test Lab?) Locking the Abloy and then the Almont padlocks onto the dumpster, we attempted to use a pry bar to remove, or at least damage the padlocks. I'm ashamed to tell you that we merely blistered our delicate hands, and did little harm to the locks.


8 By now, Greg was very frustrated. He ran to his car, and brought out a propane torch and his Halloween mask. He began to grunt, and motion to me, using the universal signals which translated to: "Boss, I'm gonna burn these suckers into submission!" I looked at Greg holding both a torch, and a metal tin full of padlocks in his bare hands, and I began to ponder. I stared down at the lighter in my hand. Weighing out the possibilities in my mind, I argued to myself how much fun I could have watching Greg torch those locks, while holding the tin. Just then the Workman's Compensation bill came to mind, and I blinked.


9 "Greg," I said as gently as I could, "why don't you put that metal tin down and burn those pesky padlocks on the ground?" His reply came as follows: "Duh, ok Boss." And here are the results of that brainstorm...Greg down on the ground, next to a tin of flaming locks, his crazy eyes-and plastic mask-only inches from the flames.


10 As you can see, we got those babies really hot with the help of both the torch and what arson investigators would call an "accelerant."


11 "Igor!" I yelled! "Don't pick those locks up with your bare fingers!" ...but it was too late. In a frenzy to see the damage he had done, Greg picked up the locks and blowing on his hands, inspected the results. While the padlocks certainly did get hot, the results were mostly cosmetic...both, I might add, to the locks as well as Greg's fingers. (He can still type fine in bandages.)


12 By this time desperation was setting in. Greg picked an onion bit from between his teeth, and I scratched my head. Just as we were ready to throw in the towel, up walked Glenn Butcher, husband of our own ad saleswoman Debbie Schertzing. "A 300 pound gorilla!" I exclaimed, "Perfect!" After Greg peeled Glenn's fingers off my throat, we tossed him the Mul-T-Lock, showed Glenn our array of Torture Test Tools, and told him to take his best shot. Glenn looked at us as though we were pansies, snarled at us to get back, and he began the 300-Pound-Gorilla-Pull-Test. After straining and sweating mightily, Glenn threw the unharmed lock to the ground and stalked inside. "Maybe he broke a nail," Greg suggested.


13 That's when I got mad. Oh sure, up till now I was prepared to let Greg lead us through this editorial nightmare, but by this time something had to be done. That's when I spotted the sledge hammer. "What's that doing here?" I asked Greg. "I asked Dale Libby to bring over his favorite car opening tool," he replied casually. So here I am preparing to bash the locks which I had neatly arranged waist high on the trunk of Shipping Manager Sean Selby's new used Jetta. "Uh Boss," Greg offered, inspecting an onion shard under his fingernail, "maybe you shouldn't smash 'em on Sean's new used Jetta." "Harumph," I snorted, "I would have thought of that myself!" (I put the locks on the ground.)


14 Before I give you the results of the smash test, let me warn you not to try this at home kids. The locks persisted in flying through the air each time we struck them, narrowly missing parked cars, and vital body organs. Now you can see from the pictures that we wreaked a satisfying amount of havoc on the padlocks. Notice the scrapes on the Abus, the bashes on the APR, the marks on the Master, and the dents in the Mul-T-Lok! That's the good news...the bad news is that we did not succeed in breaking a single one of these locks.

15 Shown is the exciting conclusion of our Torture Test experiment. Yep, you guessed it! We broke the El Cheapo brand lock with a couple of taps of the sledge.


16 Although we're not showing all of the locks in this photo, you can see that the locksmith-quality padlocks passed the tests with flying colors. Oh they may be uglied up a bit, but we never did break them. Only the cheapie is shown in pieces.


17 In conclusion, let me point out the serious side of this story. There really is a difference between the locks you sell your customers and the locks many consumers pick off the rack at Harry Homeowner's Discount Emporium. You, the locksmith, sell a quality product designed to perform and to last. Harry often sells whatever is cheapest, but still looks secure. Consumers should look to locksmiths to purchase the right lock for the right application, one that will take abuse yet still function. Oh, yes, about Greg. Last we've heard, he's resting comfortably, and the therapists expect to get the melted mask off his face in another few treatments.