Brass padlocks or “cast heart” locks have become the most popular form of
padlocks used today – and the reason for this is obvious. Brass locks, which were introduced on account of the fact that they were tougher than the original wrought-iron “smokehouse” padlocks that were originally to be found in the United States, are also the most weather-resistant type of lock; its high resistance against corrosion, both internally and externally, places it above both the smokehouse and the Scandinavian style cast-iron locks which were strong and highly difficult to break, but a lot less weather-resistant – suffering as a result of prolonged exposure to extreme weather conditions and high levels of salt.
Around the 1930’s, the process of die-casting became very popular – and revolutionized the padlock making procedure. It gave designers the newfound ability to put together locks using an extensive range of baroque designs and geometrical features – which the more traditional methods, like sand-casting, wouldn’t allow. At the same time, it became such a popular method of use (if not the only method of use) because of how cheap it was in comparison to the other methods that were formally available to designers.
Padlocks are defined by their portability. When in need of any form of protection – as a result of threat of robbery, vandalism or sabotage -- a brass padlock will provide a decent amount of protection to any form of forced entry, harm, unauthorized use or disruption, and it can be carried around in a coat pocket, a bag or even a wallet. When trying to define what “forced entry” actually means, it is best concluded with any form of entry that requires the use of a hammer, a chisel, a drill or any other tool or piece of appropriate hardware. Other forms of unauthorized entry that a padlock can help avoid may involve the use of shims, picks, cards or bump keys. This is commonly known as surreptitious entry.
These nifty little devices operate in a very simple way; the reason being that they are also constructed in a very simple fashion. All padlocks are made up of a body, a shackle and a locking mechanism – which will differ depending on the type of lock that is constructed and purchased. The shackle is present in all brass locks. It is that U-shaped metal steel loop attached to the padlock, which completes the process of keeping the padlock securely fastened. Interestingly, the mechanism of these shackles tends to differ – distinguished by the motion of swinging away from the body of the padlock, or sliding out of it. Shackles can also differ in shape and size – providing those in need with a rich selection to choose from.
As stated above previously, there are also two different locking mechanisms depending on the padlock. These two systems have been appropriately termed “integrated” and “modular”. The former simply and directly engages the shackle with the lock tumblers. Examples of this system are rotating disks – which are usually found in “Scandinavian-style padlocks – and level tumblers. This system is quite old-fashioned, and has given way to the more modern “modular” system. This locking system is the one most similar to most people today. It involves a plug within the lock, that turns and releases itself from the shackles with the use of the right key.
When it comes to padlocks, it’s also possible to find combination locks – which do not utilize keys at all. Instead, the lock is opened when the user places the right 3 or 4 digit code into the body of the lock by turning the inbuilt wheels. These padlocks are often used on luggage, on laptops, and on lockers and come in a wide variety of sizes and designs. They have also gained popularity due to the lack of a key – which is often seen to be a burden to carry around. External keys can be lost, or can simply be unpractical to carry around.
A wide variety of brass products are available to the general public. The standard body brass padlock is made of the highest quality of brass, providing corrosion-proof internal mechanisms and an extensive number of differs. As well as this, a plethora of variations on the original are now available, including the long shackle padlock, which allows for higher flexibility and is made using stainless steel – adding to its weather-resistant quality. In addition to this, other, less mainstream variations can be found, including the completely rust-free standard and long shackle weatherproof padlocks, perfect for all sorts of weather conditions – including exposure to salt water, and extended use outdoors.
Another variation, which can be bought if high levels of safety and protection are required by the consumer, is the “octagonal shackle” combination padlock. Octagonal shackles, when compared to rounded ones, are generally known to be a lot stronger and a lot less easy to break. For instance, tests have shown that this alternative shackle is more resistant to the use of bolt cutters and other tools used. At the same time, this padlock is fully weather-resistant and comes at a relatively low cost.
For more extra-protective options, it is also possible to opt for the “closed shackle” brass padlock. This lock is best characterized by the extended walls that rise around the shackle, offering maximum protection from attempts at getting through the metal with the use of a saw, or a bolt cutter. Alongside the pure brass casing, the hardened internal mechanism and the extra-thick shackle, this is a highly secure, highly weather-resistant all-purpose lock.
Due to the depletion of the stocks of copper, which originally manufactured and distributed brass, the material has now become somewhat rare. For this reason, other alternatives to the brass padlock have started being advertised. One example of an adequate alternative is the Titalium range of padlocks now being produced – it is though that in the years to come, Titalium locks will actually end up replacing brass locks, as a result of the low levels of brass still being produced today.