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Barry Yuill, 78th CES locksmith, demonstrates replacing a lock core at a pinning work station in his office in Bldg. 1555. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jenny Gordon)
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A secure job: Base locksmith keeps things safe and sound

Posted 12/6/2013   Updated 12/6/2013 Email story   Print story


by Jenny Gordon
Robins Public Affairs

12/6/2013 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Barry Yuill has the keys to your door. That's because he's the base's one and only locksmith.

He's the go-to guy if you lost that extra key to get in your office ... the one who has the answer if combination numbers have long been misplaced. He can help you get into your office, maintain exterior and interior door locks ... yes, he knows how to do it all.

"I'm responsible for them," said the Michigan native. "I do anything from cutting keys to certifying and drilling high-security safes."

The 20-year Air Force veteran stays pretty busy, not only in his office in Bldg. 1555, but also while he's driving out and about in an unassuming white utility truck.

"My truck is my shop," The 78th Civil Engineer Squadron employee said. "I probably spend 80 percent of my time in there going from job to job."

Did we mention he stays pretty busy? Currently his job order report is about five pages long, with 30 jobs on each page. There are jobs that take priority over others. But one thing is certain - there's always something to be done.

"People ask me why I get so carried away about a lock, but think about it - that lock is what's keeping your facility secure, keeping you safe," he said.

There's more to a lock than what you see when you turn a door handle. Inside each lock is a core component which contains little chambers that hold pins. Yuill meticulously works on changing these pins as needed at his desk station. It's tedious and time-consuming work which must be done by hand. "Every code on a key correlates with a number, and the codes correlate with the pins," he explained, pointing to his pinning station outfitted with tiny springs and hardware. "Each core probably takes about 15 to 20 minutes."

He will replace locks this way from time to time if the numbers don't get too high, but due to his tight schedule sometimes new locks must be ordered instead.

Don't ask him to pick your car lock either as this isn't something he is allowed to do. Among his credentials, Yuill is a General Services Administration-certified locksmith who maintains all classified containers on the installation.

Those can range from tall file cabinet-style safes to large vault doors.

He admits it's a very unique job that allows him a bit of freedom and independence. While in the service, he eventually retired from Robins, moving into his current position after performing the same type of work downrange.

"If you like to tinker and work on gadgets and things, it's interesting," he said.

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