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Compatibility Issues

What’s wrong with this picture?

When specifying door hardware I understand that it can be like being an kid in a candy store.  But like that kid, you may not be able to always get everything you want.   Sometimes “this” might not go with “that.” There are some examples that should be obvious, such as fire rated exit devices with cylinder dogging, since fire rated exit devices must positively latch each time they close without exception and any kind of dogging could prevent that.  But other combinations of options are less obviously incompatible.

One elusive combination of exit device options that pops up sometimes is delayed egress with electric latch retraction.  In most electric exit devices this is almost a contradiction in terms because they use the same mechanism for delayed egress as they do for electric latch retraction, except it works the opposite way.  For example, the Von Duprin Chexit uses the same kind of motor that the Von Duprin EL devices use, except that the Chexit motor pushes out on the latch mechanism while the EL motor pulls in.  What would be necessary I guess would be to build a little transmission so one could shift gears from push to pull to switch from delayed egress to electric latch retraction and back again.

But since no one has yet invented this miniature transmission neither the Sargent Electroguard nor the Von Duprin Chexit currently offer both delayed egress and electric latch retraction in the same device.  The only device I have encountered so far that does offer these two options together in the same device is Detex.  There could be others.  Check with individual factories to be sure.

Two options that are offered together in many, but not all exit devices, with varying degrees of availability, are cylinder dogging and electric latch retraction.   For example, Sargent offers cylinder dogging with electric latch retraction, but only when factory installed.   Von Duprin offers “Special Dogging” (SD prefix) with electric latch retraction.  In this case the effect of cylinder dogging is accomplished by a cylinder operated latch holdback feature in the center case of the device.  (Not quite the same as traditional cylinder dogging.)  Precision can offer cylinder dogging and electric latch retraction in the same device without complication because their electric latch retraction and cylinder dogging mechanisms happen in different sections of the rail altogether.  Corbin and Yale offer devices with cylinder dogging and electric latch retraction in the same device.   Yes, the electric latch retraction and cylinder dogging combo is all over the charts when it comes to availability.

 





As in all facets of life, when in doubt, contact your friendly door hardware genius.

 

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Compact Electric Strikes

A common problem with installing electric strikes is cavity depth – that is, how deeply you need to cut into the frame (or wall) so that the electric strike will fit. For most of the twentieth century electric strikes were, and most still are, designed without consideration for this factor. Instead they are designed for burglary resistance and durability.

VD6211

Von Duprin 6211 Electric Strike

Click on  the dimensional diagram of the Von Duprin 6211 electric strike at right.   You can see that its total depth is 1-11/16 inches. All of its internal parts are heavy duty, and it has a heavy cast body and a thick, finished face plate. Most of the parts are individually replaceable. To install the 6211 in a hollow metal door frame, the dust box must be removed and often material inside the door frame – sheet rock, wood, masonry, whatever – must be removed in order to accommodate the strike. If the strike must be installed in a grouted door frame the installer is in for perhaps an hour’s worth of work that may involve a masonry drill, a 2-1/2 lb. sledge hammer, a masonry chisel and safety goggles.

HES 5000 Dimensional DrawingsIn more recent years a new generation of low profile (shallow depth) electric strikes has become available, offering unprecedented ease of installation. The HES 5000 (illustration at left) was one of the first strikes on the scene to offer a depth of only 1-1/16 inches, and advertised that it could be installed without even removing the dust box from the frame. I have found it is usually much easier to knock out the dust box for wiring reasons, but it is true that the unit will fit neatly inside most original equipment dust boxes in hollow metal frames.

More recent offerings in the shallow depth electric strike department include the Trine 3478, the HES 8000 and the Adams Rite 7440, illustrations shown at the end of this article.  All are UL Listed burglary resistant. The HES 8000 offers 1500 lbs. holding force, the 3478 offers 1200 lbs. holding force and the Adams Rite, with its innovative double keeper design, offers 2400 lbs. of holding force.  The Trine 3478 offers an install with a very tiny lip cutout, and the HES 8000 offers the advantage of needing no lip cutout at all. Each of them fit in a strike cavity only 1-1/16 inches deep.

These strikes have revolutionized electric strike installation. Before, a good installer might install six or ten electric strikes in a day. Now a really fast installer might be able to install 20 or more, greatly reducing labor and other costs associated with installation.

What’s the Trade-Off?

None of the internal parts of these strikes are available. When these strikes break, you throw them away and buy new ones. Also they do not last as long. Whereas it is not unusual to see a Von Duprin 6211 or a Folger Adam 712 still in use after 10 or even 20 years, 6 years of service is a long time for a low profile strike. In ten years you might be replacing a spring or solenoid in a Von Duprin, but you might be installing your second or third low profile strike in the same door frame in that same amount of time. This is a small inconvenience.

Upon installing that third strike in the same hole, you probably will not yet have equaled the price of a single Folger Adam 712 or Von Duprin 6211. If price up front is the primary consideration, low profile is definitely the way to go. But if in about 12 years you are installing the fourth replacement strike in the same prep, those expensive, harder-to-install, heavy duty strikes start to look like a much better value.

strikethree

HES model 8000, Trine model 3478 and Adams Rite model 7440

Thank you.

Schlage CO and AD Series Mortise Lock Parts

Schlage AD Series

Schlage AD Series

This just goes to show that there is no substitute for field experience. In the quest to provide the best service to his customer, this locksmith went past my advice and the advice of factory tech support to find the best solution.

The locksmith inquired about a replacement latch for a Schlage CO200MS mortise lock. I called Schlage Tech Support and they said that there were no replacement parts available for that CO-200 Series mortise lock chassis; that the entire mortise chassis had to be replaced for a hefty sum and I relayed this info to the locksmith. The locksmith, however, knew that Schlage advertised that the CO series locksets incorporated the Schlage standard L-series lock chassis “for durability and dependability.” Based on this, the locsksmith took a chance, went to the parts list for the L-Series mortise lock with the same function and ordered the replacement latch. He reports that is identical and works fine.

Good to know! One can assume that many parts from the L Series mortise lock with the same function will work in all AD and CO series mortise lock bodies. Like I said, you learn something new every day.

Thanks for stopping by.

The Scary Spec

hellspec

If you are a door hardware professional you’ve seen them: the stupid specification, the dumb door schedule and the hardware take-off from hell. If I had a penny for every dollar I’ve saved customers by debunking bad specs, I’d probably be a gazillionaire today.

Where do they come from? There are a couple of sources. One is software problems – i.e. bad software or architects who don’t know how to use their software. Another is ignorant or incompetent architects. A third is inept or misinformed hardware consultants. However, what really allows the bad hardware spec to go forward is lack of communication.

Dysfunctional Software, Architect or Industry?

I was working with a systems integration company on delayed egress systems for schools in St. Louis. The salesman from the integrator sent me the door schedule from the architect and right away I noticed that there were two electromagnetic locks on each door. “This spec won’t work,” I said to myself, but when I called the salesman, he replied in the typical attention-deficit manner of many salesmen, “Listen, I don’t care, just price it out and send me the quote. The bid goes up in an hour.”

Since Murphy’s Law was written by a locksmith named Murphy with the hardware industry in mind, this fool of a salesman won the bid and the project manager and I were left to figure out what the architect may have meant. I spent some time trying to devise a system of relays that would allow the redundant locks specified for every door to work together more or less in compliance with life safety and building codes, but the more I tried to make the cockamamie conglomeration of hardware fit the application, the more I realized I needed to speak to the architect and find out what he had in mind.

Perhaps because the project manager was afraid that my company – a hardware distribution company – would sell to his customer direct, he would not give me the architect’s contact info. Luckily, as I had him fax me more and more documents to try to figure the spec out, he finally sent me one with the contact info on it by accident.

When I called the architect it turned out that the new software he was using did not delete the old hardware when he added the new hardware. Half the hardware was on the spec by accident. After the architect removed the redundant hardware (with a little help from me) the spec was rewritten and the job went forward with few problems, all because of a little communication.

Electrifying

A project manager called me to get a quote on about twenty fail safe electric strikes. He said that he needed fail safe because the doors needed to be unlocked in the event of a fire to comply with life safety code. So, naturally, I asked the obvious question: “Are these fire doors?”

“Yes, they are,” he replied.

“Then the strikes must be fail secure, not fail safe,” I said.

“But they can’t,” he countered. “The Fire Marshall said they had to be unlocked if the fire alarm went off.”

“Ah,” I said. “Are these stairwell doors?”

“Yes!” he said. “They are all stairwell doors.”

Of course, stairwell doors are fire rated because a stairwell tends to become a chimney in a fire. So they must remain positively latched. Yet, because they are stairwell doors, life safety code dictates that at least some of them (it varies by locality) must be also unlocked.

There are two ways to lock a fire door so that it is both positively latched and unlocked in the event of a fire emergency. It can be done with an electric lock or with an electromagnetic lock; it cannot be done with an electric strike because an electric strike works by releasing the latch bolt of the lock. If the latch bolt is released, the door is not positively latched.

In this small conversation I may have saved the project manager’s company several thousand dollars or maybe more. If, for example, I had asked no questions, but simply quoted and subsequently sold him the electric strikes he asked for, and then his technicians installed them, and then the Fire Marshall demanded they all be removed, at the very least the strikes would have been non-returnable. At worst, the Fire Marshall might have demanded that they replace every door frame they cut to install an electric strike, because the letter of the building code says that a fire rated door frame can only be altered in a fire rated door shop. In short, I saved that project manager from a potential hardware fiasco.

In conclusion, the hardware you choose as an architect, project manager or security professional is no joke. So take your time, and take it seriously. A moment of careful consideration can avoid major problems. Remember, when it comes to hardware, “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.”

Quest for the 24-Inch Exit Device with Electric Latch Retraction

Yale7100I had a lot of fun recently trying to meet a customer’s requirement for a 4-foot by 7-foot pair of doors in a hospital that needed to be fire rated and automated.   I found that Corbin and Yale (sister companies whose exit devices are almost identical) offer fire rated surface vertical rod exit devices with electric latch retraction that meet this need.   The installer will be able to put some kind of little power operator on each 24-inch leaf of this four foot pair and cram two fire rated surface vertical rod devices onto these same narrow leaves.  Doubtless it will look odd, but it will work.

Admittedly the whole idea is a bit dubious.  True, by having both leaves opened simultaneously by power operators will provide amply more than the minimum 32-inch clearance demanded by the American Disabilities act, but if anyone manually opens either leaf it certainly will not.

Sargent and Von Duprin offer 24-inch fire rated exit devices, but neither offer them with electric latch retraction.   It is unfortunately necessary to call these companies’ tech support lines in order to verify this information, since their price lists both show 24-inch possibilities without disclaiming the electric latch retraction option.  Neither the Sargent nor the Von Duprin has a note to say the 24-inch device is not available with electric latch retraction that I could see; if that is in fact the case, the buyer is left to beware the exit device order that bounces back because it was ordered with options that are mutually incompatible.

It’s good advice anyway to always call the manufacturer’s tech support whenever there is a question.  Waiting on hold is a lot better than storing thousand-dollar exit devices that didn’t work out on the job.

Note:  A reader named Rick writes in with this about Sargent electric latch retraction:  “Tom, I just stumbled across your site this evening, while doing a search for Fail Secure mag locks of all things (IR says there is one).  But I saw your latest article on latch retraction units and had to clarify the Sargent restrictions. These can be found within the catalog pages, specifically the page showing the 56 option (toward the back). It says:

         MinimumDoorWidths:
              -Wide Stile Door 28″
              – Narrow Stile Door 26″
Thank you, Rick, for this bit of info.  I should add that it is always good to check all the literature at your disposal for any information you are looking for.  Some manufacturers have more detail in their price list than in their catalog, and others vice versa.  Thanks again.


Exit Device Checklist

See also Exit Device Basics

Here are a few questions you need to be able to answer before you order exit devices:

  • Is the door made of wood, hollow steel, Fiberglas, aluminum and glass, or all glass?
  • Is the door is fire rated or non-fire rated?
  • Door width if single door or pair of doors with center mullion?
  • Door width and height if for a pair of doors without mullion?
  • Door thickness?
  • Exit device finish?
  • Will this be an exit-only device, or will there be outside trim?
  • If there is outside trim, what function is it?

It will save you time and aggravation if you know the answers to these questions before you call your hardware vendor.

You may also want one or more of these or other mechanical options:

  • Cylinder dogging (not available on fire rated devices)
  • Less bottom rod (for vertical rod exit devices)
  • Double cylinder (trim locked or unlocked from inside secured space)

There may also be electrified options:

  • Does the exit device need to have electrified trim?  If so, fail safe or fail secure?
  • Does the exit device need to have electric latch retraction?
  • Does the exit device need to have push pad or latch monitor switches?
  • Do you need a delayed egress exit device?

Save time and money by gathering the necessary facts before shopping for exit devices.

The “Passage Set”

Often, when customers say they want a “passage set” they really want a cylindrical lock that actually locks.  This is because they don’t know (and often don’t want to know) cylindrical lock functions.   Therefore, the next question I ask is often, “How do you want this ‘passage set’ to work?”

Of course, “passage set” is the name of a cylindrical lock function.  The function of a passage set is that the latch can always be retracted by turning either handle.  It always latches but is never locked.   So when customers order a passage set with an electric strike, I am doubly suspicious.  Do they really want a passage set with that electric strike?

Passage sets are used in non-locking applications like corridors, closets and some offices, and in non-locking fire rated doors to meet the positive latching requirement for fire rated openings.

Therefore, if you want to sound intelligent as you order your cylindrical locksets, don’t call them passage sets unless they are.  Thank you.

 


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