Imperial Home Page -> Imperials by Year -> 1961 -> Trunk Lock Details
Click on photos to see larger versions
External view of trunk latch
A question was posed to the Mailing List Members in October of 2017:
Dave G. said:
Has anyone ever drilled out a Trunk Lock Cylinder with any success? This one functions just as it should but unfortunately is now disconnected from the Latch assembly, so the Cylinder simply spins around with the Key without any resistance.
My bad for not addressing the quite-tight Latch adjustment for all of these years since that's root-cause of the failure I'm sure. Must be that the small flat-blade Link between Cylinder and Latch has sheared? Or a part of the Cylinder itself?
Whatever, I now need to get into the Trunk without the Cylinder usage. Car has beautifully finished Trunk Liner panels, including the one right up against the aft face of the Trunk-mounted over-axle Air Conditioning unit, ugh!
Anyone have an recommendations about how to proceed? Was thinking that if I could just get the Cylinder out of the way (by drilling a large hole thru it?), I might use a long straight-blade Screwdriver to manually rotate the Latch assy just fwd of the Cylinder inside?
Thanks in advance for any expertise!
John Corey said:
"He are are pix that show the innards of the trunk latch and related bits. I think it precludes success with the punching out of the cylinder, as the wall between there and the actual latch will still prevent access to the latch to release it, unless the cylinder can fall away within, so the tang or the latch slot for the tang, could be reached through the cylinder hole after it falls. That said, I don't think there is enough room in there for it to fall. Drilling it out may be the only option."
Click on photos to see larger versions
Trunk lid with cylinder and escutcheon removed, shows inner wall and latch hole for tang
Side view of underside of trunk lid, shows latch and escutcheon screws
Looking up with trunk open, shows nuts that hold escutcheon, and rear view of latch
Key cylinder and escutcheon removed, showing extension tang, and missing key cylinder screw
Extension tang removed
Looking out from inside the trunk, showing latch bolts and extension tang coming through the latch
Looking down with trunk open showing catch bar, bolted to body, for trunk latch
Dave G. said:
John! Those pix are the bomb for revealing what-the-heck is going on inside there, Thank you!! That bezel looks just like the one I'm dealing with from the outside on this '61...
What I think I see is that the exterior Bezel and the Cylinder w/Link ('tang' as you call it) are a sub-assy. Can't see what actually retains the Cylinder/Link to the Bezel itself but will guess it's the small screw Bob H mentioned, screwed into the back of the chrome bezel somewhere. So that arrangement would mean that if I'm trying to drive the Cylinder in with something, i'd risk cracking the pot-metal Bezel with sharp blows, so I probably won't try that method.
What you say is probably best - remove as much of the cylinder metal as I can from outside by drilling. Then hopefully that I can pull any bits that might remain between the drilled hole and the Latch hole outside thru said hole (maybe up to 5/8" diameter on center w/o destroying the Bezel??), including the steel 'Spade Link' piece. If I can get the Link out of the Latch, I'm sure I could reach straight into the latch assy's notch with a maybe 10" straight-blade screwdriver, then turn it to unlatch the trunk...(??)
Other helpful suggestions offered by Club Members :
Bob H. said:
The lock assembly is only held in there by a small screw. When I get into a trunk I would take a bolt or punch that is a little smaller than the hole. Then hit it with enough force to just pop the screw out. Don't get to aggressive and make sure you fish out the lock cylinder before you lift the lid all the way up. Or it slides down on the inside of the trunk and is very hard to retrieve. If you do it right it takes about 3 seconds to open your trunk. Or find a small kid and pull out the back seats and let him crawl into the trunk with a 1/2 inch wrench and just take the latch off.
GB Baker said:
The easiest way (if no small kid is available) is to take out the back seat and using 2 or 3 very long extensions, remove the bolts that hold in the trunk latch. They are a 1/2" size I have done this several times to get into trunks. Harbor Freight has the long extensions.
David G. said:
This is an A/C equipped trunk, it's not that easy to access with a child or extensions.
Joe J. said:
A broom handle with a long flathead screw driver will pop the latch open. Or to drill through the key cylinder, you can very carefully drill through the lock in the center ... start with a 1/4 inch drill and carefully go up in size, just take your time and tape off the paint and bumper, so you don't damage anything. .... (Using the broom handle, you would need to tape on a small flathead screwdriver with a head small enough to fit into the slot where the extension tang comes through the latch, and turn the tang and latch with the screwdriver.)
John C, said:
Try a Lock Pick tool first ... easily found online.
Mark M. said:
Call a locksmith, He might pick the lock and remove it and make a key for it, or he may be able to simply impression a key. Some old timers have a string of keys to try, but I always started out at the wrong end of the string - making it a very time consuming job. There may be a code number on the glove box or remove the glovebox lock and make a key to it (if it has one). I wouldn't kill the lock with a drill just yet.
Many Thanks to John Corey for providing the detailed images and descriptions, and to Dave G. for his initial question. This page might help someone in the future with a similar problem.
This page was last updated February 2018. Send us your feedback, and come join the Imperial Mailing List - Online Car Club