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