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I have a remote property where the previous owner welded a steel sliding lock (see pic) onto the metal door of an outbuilding. The part that sticks out (handle) broke off.

  • the nearest/only electricity source is 120v and probably 5-10 amps max (15a circuit, but several hundred feet of underground cable that I suspect isn't sized properly for such a long run)

  • Welding the pin back on inside the narrow groove has to be done fairly precisely to avoid welding the sliding pin to the chamber (or door). I love the ASMR Tig pulse welding videos on youtube, but my best understanding is that a portable Tig rig (tig welder and large enough generator to run it) could be thousands of dollars - that's a lot for me, especially if I only need 2-4 pulses total for this project. Also, I've done a very small amount of (bad) stick welding, but never have had the opportunity to Tig.

It may be that the best option is to pay hundreds of dollars to a professional welder to drive out, set up, and tack the pin back in place... but before I do that, is there any DIY option that would be under ~$500 total that would allow me to DIY?

I did try JB weld (the part that sticks out is actually a pin that fits in a hole in the sliding rod) but that only lasted a few uses, so I think that a real weld is the only long-term solution.

I've considered a cheap wire welder from my favorite import store (~$100, works off 120v), but this is a large sliding bolt and I'm not sure the wire welder has the power to melt enough of the steel to be a permanent fix (I'm under the impression those cheap wire welders are for much thinner metal)

Thank you for your suggestions! If there isn't an option within my skills and price range, then I'll go with the mobile welder option.

sliding lock

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  • "Tig rig (tig welder and large enough generator to run it) could be thousands of dollars" [citation needed, by a welder please] Genset: $500 or less. Tig ~$800. (those are slightly above the bottom of the barrel, but sounds like the OP isn't trying to do 1/2" thick steel... bottom of the barrel would suffice, except the original caveat: you need to know how to weld)
    – Mazura
    May 19 '20 at 2:22
  • How much is a new door? Standard steel doors are not that expensive. The handle pin should have been screwed into the rod. Get a new rod (with handle), replace the old bolt, screw the handle back in. Alternatively, build your own rod. Tools to drill holes and tap screw threads are possibly less expensive.The handle can possibly be a standard hex screw, the only painful part will be drilling a sideward hole into a rod (tapping should be done manually, without a power tool)
    – Klaws
    May 19 '20 at 6:43
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    Seems to me simpler to slide the bolt out, since the knob is missing, take it away, buy another lock of the same dimensions, unscrew the knob, slide it in, replace knob. Nuts don't need sledgehammers!
    – Tim
    May 20 '20 at 7:49
31

I would look at drilling and tapping the hole then screwing a new handle in.

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  • Thank you all for the ideas! I have a tap set, so I'm going to start with SolarMike's idea and see if I can get that to work with some threadlocker. Since the pin that fell out isn't threaded, I'll have to get a slightly larger rod to thread into the hole, but I think that is do-able.
    – NormalJoe
    May 18 '20 at 16:51
  • If tapping doesn't work, I'll look search for the battery MIG - could still be within my $500 cap. Ecnerwal - I had considered thermite (made some as a kid) but hard to control :) I'll leave the addition of a new lock as my last resort, as it is welded on pretty thick steel - at least 1/4, possibly 3/8". Last time I had to drill through some of that (the original homeowner apparently had a good supply of it) was near an outlet where I had 120v for my regular drill, and it still took quite a while and several bits to make the holes I needed for that other project.
    – NormalJoe
    May 18 '20 at 16:58
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    @NormalJoe OT to the question, but... tips for drilling through metal (sounds like you may need 'em!): Slow drill speed. Bits intended for metal. Lubrication, lubrication, lubrication! The lube will allow the bits to cut better, help pull the swarf away and keep the bit cooler so it doesn't overheat and get dull too quickly.
    – FreeMan
    May 18 '20 at 17:50
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    I'd go with FreeMan's suggestion of remove & carriage bolts ... but if you really wanted it welded, it might be easier to remove the doors and bring them to the welder than bring the welder to the doors.
    – Joe
    May 18 '20 at 21:13
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Given your lack of welding experience and the tricky nature of the welding you'd need to do:

Bolt a new lock onto the door, forget this one / optionally cut or grind it off.

Welding options other than a generator/welder:

Oxy-acetylene torch weld it, but that's still at least hundreds of dollars and you have no training/experience with it.

There is at least one battery operated MIG welder which works well, but is several hundred itself without the batteries (golf cart/deep cycle highly preferred) needed to operate it.

Thermite (utterly inappropriate for the weld you need, but one heck of an option where it is appropriate.)

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  • There are also "torch-kits" that use MAP (Propylene and maybe some Propane) which run for a few dozen dollars. They are a bit cooler than Acetylene welders, but they might work. However, I strongly suggest a welding course instead of trying to pick it up on youtube. May 18 '20 at 22:37
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    What about using brazing rods? That's a fairly simple technology and seems like it would be strong enough for this application. Only requires the brazing rod and a gas torch to the the metal/rod.
    – Arluin
    May 18 '20 at 23:34
  • @Arluin: brazing is not "simple" and it is challenging to do it properly, especially without any prior practice. May 20 '20 at 19:27
  • Most likely result if first time out of the gate brazing successful - Hmm, now the rod is brazed into the channel and does not move...
    – Ecnerwal
    May 20 '20 at 23:46
7

I would consider epoxying this one into the unlocked position, then adding a new one with a carriage bolt through from the outside.

Epoxying this one unlocked eliminates it as a source of nuisance lock-ins or having it slide open and preventing the door from closing. (Effectively removing the lock without actually removing it. i.e. the lazy way out. :D) You could also use a battery- or 120v-powered grinder to actually remove this latch.

A carriage bold has a smooth, round head that's (nearly) impossible to get a wrench on, and instead, relies on a square shoulder under the head to hold it in place in the hole while the nut is tightened on the inside. That would prevent someone from opening the door by using a wrench to remove the latch. You would have to square up the holes in the latch plates and make square holes in the door and frame for the shoulder to slip into and grab on to. This may prove to be a bit of a difficult task (and may prompt a whole new question!)

This wouldn't be quite as pretty as having this one repaired, but might, for a remote building where a sliding-pin lock is aesthetically sufficient in the first place, be aesthetically sufficient.

Of course, if sliding-pin latch is just to keep the door closed and not to offer a theft deterrent, then using regular bolts to attach a new one above, below, or instead of the existing one without worrying about the carriage bolts would be the much easier solution.

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    Or, if it's like the one pictured, the pin will probably just slide out and be discarded
    – Caius Jard
    May 19 '20 at 11:09
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I think you might be waaaay over-complicating this

The pictured shoot bolt can't possibly be for security, as it could probably be pried off with pliers, or defeated in a couple of minutes with just a hacksaw blade, so I surmise its only purpose can be to hold a door shut in the wind etc

  • You take a battery grinder or a hacksaw, a pair of pliers and thick nail bent at 90 degrees
  • You cut the back part of the lock that retains the shoot bolt, as per the red line in the first picture
  • You bend the back part out of the way
  • You slide the bent nail in and bend the metal back to retain it
  • Trim the sharp end of the nail to the correct length so that it operates as per the original shoot bolt

enter image description here

Gravity will help retain the nail in the open or closed posisiton if the "handle" stem is long

Note, if your picture doesnt adequately convey the "heavy duty"ness of this shoot bolt (you've pictured the sort of lock I would expect to find on a washroom door in typical domestic setting) and the real lock is bigger/thicker, take a bigger nail (or stainless steel rebar etc), bigger pliers and a decent hacksaw/grinder. The technique is applicable to all size of shootbolts

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  • In fact from the picture, it looks like it can just be slid open regardless, because there's no provision for locking it. Some bolts have a "handle" which swings over a hasp; put a padlock through the hasp and you can't move the "handle" to disengage the bolt. Of course that's only effective against casual thieves who've neglected to bring bolt croppers, but that's all you generally need on a shed in your back yard. For a remote property, I'd be considering something which would slow them down a bit more.
    – Graham
    May 19 '20 at 15:17
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As others mentioned, bolts are better option in your case.

But for other purpouses:

Where I live (Bulgaria, Europe) it is pretty much popular to rent a generator, welding equipment, concrete mixer or other tools and equipment that costs more than 100 EUR and one would not buy it for one-off job.

You pay like 1/30 to 1/10 of the equipment price for a day (you leave a deposit or they block like 70% of the label price of the equipment on your card) and you are expected to return it in more or less working condition.

You can check with local retailers.

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  • And if the gate is in a place where someone might wreck it or steal it (yeah it happens) then excessive use of permanent locktite on the threads makes it harder for the miscreants to undo.
    – Criggie
    May 20 '20 at 6:43
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For the ultimate in danger and minimum in life expectancy, it is possible to do some janky stick welds using a couple car batteries wired in series. Some off-roaders are known to carry along a couple sticks in order to fashion janky repairs in the field using only jumper cables and the batteries from all of the convoy's vehicles.

No links because...extremely danger... but who am I to tell you how (or how long) to live your life.

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  • Short current bursts should be okay, A prolonged short can, however, cause lead-acid car batteries to "explode". Obviously, "explosive leaking" of sulfuric acid is no fun. The construction should be some with a possible "emergency shutdown" option. Jumper cables are easy to disconnect. However, attempting to be "more perfect" and screwing cables to the battery posts might be bad idea.
    – Klaws
    May 19 '20 at 6:35
  • There are options of using a car alternator as a welding current source. It works, but requires a lot of altering and knowing what you do.
    – fraxinus
    May 19 '20 at 15:35
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    +1 for Jankiness. This is brutally hard on your car batteries, and you need two as a bare minimum to strike an arc. Three is much better, but perhaps have another around to start your car later.
    – Criggie
    May 20 '20 at 6:42
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One option is brazing, i.e. soldering with brass or other semi-hard metal. Its durability is somewhere between epoxy and welding.

First you'll need to clean the pin and the hole really well, with a small wire brush or sandpaper. After that, further clean with acetone or other solvent (avoid hitting any paintwork nearby). Do this step meticulously, as proper cleaning has very high effect on the brazing strength.

For brazing itself, you'll need flux and suitable filler metal. In this case, brazing paste is probably easiest to apply, and it contains both the flux and the metal mixed together. I assume the lock is made of steel - then just pick any brazing paste meant for steel, the exact type doesn't matter that much for this.

Apply a small amount of paste in the bottom of the hole and on the pin. Push the pin into place. After that, you'll need to heat it up to the brazing temperature indicated on the paste, which is typically around 800°C. You can estimate the heat by the color the steel glows, 800°C is red hot. The heating can be accomplished using e.g. a portable propane torch, which can be bought for less than $50 in most hardware stores.

Because the brazing paste is only applied to the hole and the temperature is lower than welding temperature, there is no risk welding anything else together even if they heat up.

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