Com­bi­na­tion pad­locks

With so many mov­ing parts, can com­bi­na­tion pad­locks re­ally be suit­able for use in a damp, salty marine en­vi­ron­ment? Ben Meakins crunches the numbers

Practical Boat Owner - - Contents -

Do the numbers add up to keep your boat se­cure?

There is noth­ing worse than dis­cov­er­ing that your boat keys are at home, in the car or in some­one else’s pocket when you’ve just rowed out to your moor­ing on a dark and stormy night.

Com­bi­na­tion pad­locks are a great way to save your san­ity and stop you hav­ing to kip in the cock­pit, but are they re­ally suit­able for use on a boat? Salty, damp en­vi­ron­ments can play havoc with dis­sim­i­lar me­tals, es­pe­cially on some­thing with as many mov­ing parts as a com­bi­na­tion pad­lock.

We tested weath­er­proof keyed pad­locks back in Novem­ber 2015, and dis­cov­ered that there was a trade-off to be made be­tween weather- and marine en­vi­ron­ment-proof locks and se­cu­rity, with the most corrosion-re­sis­tant locks some­times the eas­i­est to break into.

With our past ex­pe­ri­ences in mind, we set our­selves to test­ing a range of weath­er­proof com­bi­na­tion locks that would be suit­able for most wash­boards. We sourced these with the as­sis­tance of spe­cial­ist sup­plier Noth­ing But Pad­locks (www.pad­, ad­ding to these a cou­ple from B&Q and Screw­fix.

How we tested them

We sub­jected them to our salt­wa­ter corrosion tank, which sprays a fine mist of warm, salty wa­ter over its con­tents ev­ery hour. We left them in for a month, after which time we took them out and tried to un­lock them. This sim­u­lated a very wet, salty en­vi­ron­ment – far worse than would be ex­pe­ri­enced in most yacht cock­pits in a year, even on the most ex­posed swinging moor­ing.

This done, and the re­sults ex­am­ined, we tried to break in against the clock. For most this meant a pair of bolt crop­pers, but on some, where the shackle was suit­ably pro­tected or where it re­sisted the best ef­forts of the crop­pers, we found a hack­saw was of more use.

The pad­locks in our salt­wa­ter corrosion tank, which sprayed a fine mist of warm, salty wa­ter over them ev­ery hour

We re­moved any sur­face salt be­fore see­ing whether each pad­lock worked

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