I started driving and passed my driving test at the tender age of 17. On that day when I returned home my dad gave me a car which was worth nothing to be honest at the time. The car was a 1977 Audi 100 LS a similar colour to this in red, faded red, orange and various shades of rust and sun bleaching.
His logic was that it had big bumpers and stop minor accidents. The car was also due an MOT and road tax, he wasn’t stupid. As an apprentice in my first year at the time it cost me a few weeks wages for some welding and a number of parts including an exhaust to get it through. It would have been cheaper to buy a newer car of my own in fact. The head gasket went six months later and it was then towed to a scrap yard! The ol’ man had his second car a Mercedes that he used from there on in. I then bought another Audi, a 100 5E Avant this time.
Anyway the same day he
dumped sorry gave me the car he also gave me a Krooklok which was my mother’s father’s. My grandad gave it to my ol’ man when he stopped driving due to illness. He said I was to have it one day when I started driving as I was there when he gave it to him. Luckily he kept my Grandad’s wishes and he gave it to me.
My maternal grandparents had nothing. They rented all their lives, lived in a flat in Battersea, London. The flat was a stones throw from Battersea park. I spent many treasured school holidays living with them, I loved it there and them. I remember going out with them as a young kid with my Grandad driving his Ford Anglia and then his Ford Cortina, he would park it up and use the Krooklok as well. Grandad was a Ford man through and through.
I kept that Krooklok and treasured it in all my cars except the last two as I lost the key when I moved house and couldn’t use it, I was gutted. But, I kept it safe as it is pretty much the only thing I have of my grandparents. I hoped that I would find the key one day.
I was speaking to Adam at Mustang Maniac who told me to give it to him as he knew a locksmith who would make a key for it. Sure enough, a few weeks later I had the lock back and now it was working. The plan now was to put it back in the Mustang as it was from the same year, almost. So I thought I would post about my restoration of the lock and little history of the company, “Krooklok”.
I have tried to find as much information on the brand and the company as I could, some of which may be subjective based on the tiniest pieces of information from the internet. (I would be delighted if somebody could give me some more accurate details and I will acknowledge your corrections.)
“Krooklok” is the brand name and originally made by a company Johnson and Starley Ltd. who were based in Northampton, UK. There is virtually nothing online about the company or who owned it. I have tried to find out with little success, a company of the same name in the same area is now a heating supplies company.
In 1964 the company designed a lock that was in effect a telescopic bar with a hook at each end that was linked around the steering wheel and the other end hooked either round the brake or clutch pedal. In the centre of the bar was a locking barrel that locked a sprung loaded ball bearing into a recessed top part of the bar. With the key locked design the telescopic mechanism couldn’t be extended to release from the steering wheel. This was a visual deterant to stop thieves driving of with the car. The design would stop the pedals from being depressed or turning the steering wheel. The thief would have to remove the lock before attempting to drive off, potentially exposing themselves to what they were doing. Let’s face it, security in the 60’s wasn’t great and these Krookloks exploded onto the market. This was not a little company release but advertising at top sporting events mostly car oriented, Formula 1, rallies and amateur classes of motorsport.
Advertising was quite widespread and appeared in many magazines and a number of football programs. The earliest advert I could find was from 1965 from the Halfords catalogue.
The cost was fairly hefty 47 shillings and 6 pence. That worked out at roughly £2.37 at the time. In todays money that is around £37.50 in modern day money allowing for inflation over the fifty odd years. The price wasn’t exactly at the cheap end of the market but was a substantial lump of metal to have in the car.
A selection of more adverts from the early days in the mid 1960s to the early 1970s just after UK currency decimalisation in 1971 where the prices show the new money GBP.
In 1968 it looks like Krooklok ventured across the pond to the USA and applied for and was granted a Patent for the “Krooklok”.
For the UK I cant find an actual date that they were stamped on the locks, but it looks to have been granted around 1965 or 1966 at the latest. On the back of the barrel section is the trademark and the patent numbers. The registered design for Krooklok is 914608.
On the left is my own personal Krooklok which was made before the patents were issued, making this a very early and rare example. On the right is a slightly later dated Krooklok with the granted patents applied.
Over the years the design changed. The first itteration was a metal bar with a vinyl sleeve at the lock end in order to stop the metal hook marking the steering wheel. This sleeve was a nondescript grey colour and not really visible when fitted. Again a picture of my own restored lock with the original grey sleeve.
From outside the vehicle the “visible deterrent” wasn’t very visible especially at night. After the feedback was noted Krooklok introduced a new improved bright red sleeve that replaced the grey.
Moving on around a couple of years, the red vinyl sleeve was added at the opposite end of the lock for the pedals. This was to give more visibility and to protect the cosmetics of pedals. Early models came with plastic sleeve packaging, later models came with cardboard boxes.
Much later variations replaced the the nice chrome lock tower with a matching red middle section. The design also took a distinctive “twist” (literally) and the “hooks” changed from the facing each other on the same plane, now they were being set at right angles. This was intended to make fitting easier and stop the twisting of the original design to make it fit. This twist was down to the fact that as safety improved on vehicles the pedal design and steering wheels made some fitting to some vehicles a little more awkward.
My Krooklok on the top with the polished chrome lock tower, and the latest design at the bottom. The red locking section didn’t last long and was replaced with a contrasting yellow locking section, but this was just a cosmetic change. The steering wheel end has also seen a further modification to add plastic wings at the side hook to make it even more visible.
The pedal end was simply double indented or punched both parts together on one side and not the other. As the material construction is hardened steel this seems to be adequate but not ideal. This design hasn’t changed over the years and was hidden with the later pedal sleeve cover mentioned above.
The locking design was quite ingenious with a simple spring loaded ball bearing. The ball bearing is then locked into one of a number milled recesses that matched the diameter of the ball bearing. My lock before and after the cleaning to remove 50 years of grime.
Sliding the center section out to allow for a generous length of adjustment makes a very solid clatter as the bearing lifts and is sprung back into the next hole. The unit feels very strong and sturdy once fitted.
As the krooklok became more popular a couple of years later the advertising was added to the car window which stated that the vehicle was protected by “Krooklok”. The design saw a few variations of a the window sticker design, size and colours that warned potential thieves of the fitted Krooklok. The design started with a simple red warning design to more eye catching multi colour designs.
As time marched on Krooklok made other products, like locking wheel nuts, wheel clamps & tow bar clamps.
The Krooklock success still continues today with other companies making similar designs with similar sounding names to jump on the band wagon. Companies like, Stoplock, Disklok, Autolok, Xlock etc. The designs vary from pedal to steering wheel locks, to the more common bar through the steering wheel design.
After all the years the “Krooklok” still remains a strong brand name that started and set the standards of third party vehicle security.
Click here for a link to my own Krooklok that I restored for my own vehicle. The best part is that this particular model is period correct for my ’66 Mustang.
This Krooklok is 55 years old being made in 1965 from what I can work out. It had never been cleaned in all that time and needed some serious pampering to get back to its original condition. The state of the lock was rusted and the extension was very stiff and not free running. The rust was so bad on the back I couldn’t see any marking and wondered if it was an original Krooklok. The original coating was a dull steel colour but that had been replaced by rust and oxidisation.
The first thing I decided to do was to apply a little metal polish to see what happened.
Some serious rubbing and multiple applications removed some of the grime, enough to show me the marking on the back of the chrome locking tower. But, it wasn’t man enough to remove the pitting. I got out the Dremel and attached a nylon buffing pad to the base of the locking tower which removed plenty more before it eventually disappeared to nothing. When I saw the markings were there and the “Pats Pending” I realised this was a rare early model.
I started to buff the rest of the shaft and although it came up better it still wasn’t good enough.
I now started to move up the aggressive scale until I found something that was just enough to do the job back to bare metal. This is usually the wrong way round of course as you start aggressive and then work back to finer grades to remove the previous marks. I settled on a light buff of 180grit sand paper to take the worst of grime and rusting off, then followed with 240grit.
I could see that the steel would buff to a really nice shine. Although this wasn’t original I kept going. Starting with the Dremel 240grit sand paper discs which are very fine and took ages to go over the whole thing, using only the lightest pressure as the discs were much smaller and delicate. I then used 320grit to 400grit by hand to finish the look.
Once the sanding had finished it was back again to metal polish and the Dremel felt buffing pads which would flick the polish everywhere when I used too much.
The Metal bar both inside and outside started to polish up like the chrome and looked great. I had to keep working the notches with the Dremel and a small pointed buffing pad to clean them out.
A number of passes would bring the steel almost to a mirror finish. Which pleased me and saddened me at the same time. The cleaning also took the patina away from the lock and it’s age. Due to the rusting and pitting there wasn’t much choice. The item will never be worth a lot of money so it’s not as though I ruined it. As the inside of my Mustang has a lot of chrome brightwork inside it wouldn’t look out of place, but would even compliment it.
The steering wheel end sleeve was very dirty, I allowed a citrus cleaner to soak a rag in order to loosen a lot of the grime off. This was done by wrapping the damp citrus soaked cloth around the hook. Once that was wiped of after a few minutes the heavy duty cleaners were applied and the handle came back to its almost original colour. The chrome locking tower only needed a little metal polish to bring that back to its former glory.
The completed item gets more buffing and an application of wax to prevent the atmosphere tarnishing the metal again.
The only thing left to do was lubricate the mechanism, a thin application of light oil to the sides and drop into the first few holes. I worked the lock in and out a few times and some dirty oil ran out. I cleaned the lock up again and repeated until the oil was clean. Now the extension moves in and out smoothly. The lock remained free and little squirt of Gibbs in the lock for the tumbles allowed the key to slide in effortlessly, turn and remove just like a good lock should do.
In total it took me around 4 hours to clean and buff to a shine. I am well delighted with the lock.
The lock will now be with me in my Mustang at car shows. I can now think how proud my Grandad would have been to see my restored Mustang and his Krooklok sitting in it looking all sparkly and shiny.
After all, I’m now Classic Ford man through and through with my Grandad’s blessing.