Replacing Our Front Door Security Gate Lock (aka How to Remove Pop Rivets) My Life 30 MAY 2012

I enjoy the small, self-contained DIY jobs around the house, and my toolbox was called into action a couple of weeks ago, when inexplicably the lock on our metal front door security gate seized, leaving us with no way of opening the gate, meaning no access via the front door and therefore a bit of an inconvenience (though probably not so much when one considers just how much we make use of the front sliding door to gain access to our abode).

Anyway, we phoned up some locksmiths to get a couple of quotes, recoiled at the prices given, and then stepped back to ponder how we were going to proceed.

A day or two into this saga, I received an excited call from Chantelle telling me that a) I need to take her out for an expensive meal or b) I need to feel less manly about myself, as she had managed to get the gate open after lots of patience, prodding and Q20 lubricant, super convinced that she had now fixed the lock as it appeared to be operating smoothly once more.

Sadly for her though, on my arrival home and subsequent test, the lock once again seized, this time with the key stuck in the lock, but thankfully with the gate open, meaning we now had access to the lock mechanism.

Deciding that it would be far cheaper to just replace the lock ourselves, I set about freeing the trapped keys with a set of pliers. As it turned out, I could apply just enough pressure with the extra leverage afforded by the pliers, freeing the key without the extra hassle of breaking it off.

Anyway, next on the agenda was the removal of the pop rivets which hold the lock in place within the metal gate. Some Googling plus a conversation with Monty led me down a path where I combined two of the primary methods used in removing pop rivets, first taking off the heads of the pop rivets with a few hard bashes to the back of a well placed, good quality paint scraper, followed by drilling out the remaining stem of the pop rivet through the use of a metal drill bit just wider than the pop rivet body. (You’ll note that pop rivets come in standard sizes, in my case the ones in use were 4.8 mm pop rivets, meaning I needed to purchase a 5 mm metal drill bit to get the job done.)

Of course, I didn’t have the necessary tools on hand, and so a trip through to Builder’s Warehouse was in order, where of course I spent far longer than intended, and walked out with a whole lot more for my toolbox than intended!

With the rivets removed, I then needed to purchase a similar lock for the security gate, and taking the old lock with me, I returned to Builders Warehouse and purchased a nice middle of the range, well priced 7 lever lock which best fitted the old lock’s dimensions. (Again, the locks are fairly standardized in size, though it is always best to take the old one with for comparison purposes!)

Of course, life doesn’t make things easy for one, and the joy of discovering that these locks are fairly inexpensive turned sour when I discovered that some small differences in rounded ends meant that the new lock couldn’t simply slide into the hole that used to accommodate the old lock – no it was back to Builders Warehouse for a third time in order to purchase a round metal file, needed to make the slot bigger so that the new lock would fit.

So with my new round file and a borrowed straight file from Monty, I set about rasping away at the gate, taking away enough of the messy weld work so that my new lock could smoothly slide in, after which I grabbed my sparkly new pop rivet tool and secured it in place.

Yay, success (and a working security gate) at last!

(And yes, I know the lock is upside down, but only because the original lock was in upside down as well. What, you didn’t think I was going to take off the whole bloody security gate just so that I could flip it the right side up did you?!)

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.