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Tommy Mallory

1931 Pontiac

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I just bought a 1931 Pontiac that has been sitting for several years. I do not know much about how the ignition key works. The key is in the car and it looks like the coil is right behind the dash behind the key. My key does not turn. Is it suppose to turn to the right? Can someone give me some insight on how this is suppose to work? Thanks.

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Yes, it should turn to the right. I have one like that on my '31 Dodge. Sometimes the pot metal swells and they are hard to turn. Did you try to push the key in a little or pull the key out a little while turning it??

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Disconnect the wires from the coil, undo the clamp that holds the coil in place and pull the coil and ignition switch out of the dash and take it to your local locksmith. Easy fix for him most likely. If you can't make it work reinstall it for appearances and mount a regular coil behind the dash and put a switch in the cowl kick panel or somewhere inconspicious.

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Hate to ask but if just purchased, are you sure you have the right key ?

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I am not certain about the key. The car has been in storage for up to twenty-five to thirty years and that is the key that has been in it. But if I take the whole thing to my locksmith, he will be able to cure that as well. Many thanks for the responses. TM

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I am not certain about the key. The car has been in storage for up to twenty-five to thirty years and that is the key that has been in it. But if I take the whole thing to my locksmith, he will be able to cure that as well. Many thanks for the responses. TM

He will indeed be able to help you out. I just got two keys made for this one. Didn't know if it worked or not. At least it turns now...

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Hate to throw cold water on a locksmith's ability to make things right, but some of those pot metal lock cylinders swell up so badly that they have to be destroyed to remove them. I have had experience with Model A Ford cylinders, and have on occasion sacrificed a door handle, cutting it away just to save a swelled cylinder. Good luck with your cylinder.

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No problem with the cold water....as I was removing the lock, and that thing shattered like glass. I had to rig up another switch. Thanks for the info and thanks to some JB Weld I don't need the lock. Thanks.

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There are an awful lot of pot metal locks out there from the 20s and 30s that don't work due to "zinc rot". One of the causes of this was factory workers sweeping up scrap from the floors and dumping it into the vats to be reused. This actually changed the composition of the metal. A type of corrosion that results from the use of improper mixtures of alloying metals is called intergranular corrosion. Small particles of certain metals can create electrochemically active cells in moist environments. This results in swelling and "rotting" of the metal rendering it not only unusable, but unrepairable. It actually disintegrates from within itself.

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