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I'm hoping some pitlock users out there can help me out. I've installed these on a pair of new bikes to add some protection for some expensive wheels. They seem to be a decent deterrent. My problem is that I can't seem to remove them without splitting the thin, notched spring washers that sit beneath the pit nut (and engage its grooves).

I've been super careful to press in on the socket/pit when loosening to try to depress those sprung notches. I've also got the hardware on correctly (nylon washer, etc.).

I've seen no internet trail of failure for these things, so my assumption is that I'm the problem, but I've busted 3 now despite trying pretty hard not to, and I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I've watched Pitlock's YouTube videos of install/removal, and they're pressing the same way I was during removal (thumb on socket, fingers behind stay, squeeze in, and rotate with tool). Doesn't look like they're cranking that hard.

I have installed about the same as they do and explain in the instructions (finger tighten, then 1 to 1 1/2 turns with a lever/tool). I don't think I've overtightened them, and in the last couple of re-installs (with the partially wrecked washers, since replacements haven't arrived yet) I've been erring on the side of a bit looser yet.

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I encountered the same thing with them and had the same experience of it being maddening and inexplicable. Don't go too far with installing them looser; one thing I did learn is that Pitlocks are perfectly good at coming loose if the initial torque is low. My "solution" was to order a stack of them, which Peter White in the US has. I feel like the one I have on now has held out a long time while others blew apart instantly, so there may be a randomness/QC element at play.

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  • Thanks. I planned to order another stack since they are, at least, not expensive. I was hoping there was some technique I was missing, like making sure to stop the initial tightening at a click (or not at a click). I'll double-check the ones I've installed a bit more loosely to make sure they're still "locked" enough on the washers that they can't back out on their own. I didn't blow the washers apart too completely. They still provide some friction on the nut, but I figure they're not going to survive another removal. I should have some replacements today, but I'll need more! – WPNoviceCoder Jul 13 '18 at 14:04
  • When you're doing your original tighten, how tight do you do them by hand before reverting to the tool for the final 1 - 1 1/2 turns? I figure that's a spot with potential for wide variation. At first, I would tighten as much as I could with fingers (1-3 clicks) then do a full turn. I'm no brute, but I thought maybe I was going too much by finger before the final turn. I went to the first click, then a full turn. FWIW, I don't fell like I could do 1 1/2 turns even with the tool after finger tightening. They feel pretty bottomed out after the single turn. – WPNoviceCoder Jul 13 '18 at 14:09
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I reached out to Pitlock DE about this question specifically (I'm an authorized North American retailer since 2006) and heard this back:

Regarding the question of your customer about the spring washers, I talked to our technicians. The spring washers are wearing parts in theory but they shouldn’t break that easily. If you press the key firmly into the lock when opening and closing it, the washer should really last a long time. We’re in close contact with a lot of customers here and seeing their and our own bikes, the washers have lasted years with fairly regular mounting and unmounting. The thing really is to press the washer down with the key when opening the lock. Of course, there can always be an issue with the washer itself.

So while this is a part that is expected to wear over time, the experience you (and the respondents in this post) are seeing is unexpected.

We do offer replacement spring washers on our site, here: https://www.urbanbiketech.com/collections/accessories/products/replacement-lockring

If anyone else is having an issue with unexpectedly high failure rate, please feel free to reach out to me directly (via our contact us page), and I can help rectify the situation with the manufacturer and/or provide an appropriate discount on replacement products.

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There is a reason why these washers break so often. I have only used 2 pitlocks for one wheel pair - and already broken both: but I discovered why and can share it with you. I think the problem occurs during improper installation. The hexagonal cutout in the middle of the washers fits exactly over the hexagonal rise in the "pressure washer" when this rises up through the "conical locking ring". I found the hexagons did not align exactly so the spring washers were forced down unevenly by the pit and therefore bent. This is very easy to overlook. I used 8NM - with a proper torque wrench. The solution was to install the pitlocks with the bike on the side to make sure once aligned the washer hexagons will stay flush outside the hexagonal recess - making one flat surface. Screw down the pit slowly by hand, gently to make sure the washer sits in the hexagon - then once tight apply full torque with a torque wrench (7-10NM). I suspect that the force of unlocking will break some spring washers occasionally as the pit must rotate against the "teeth" - but this should make it rarer. Perhaps the instructions should be more explicit.

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I understand that the reason for the Pitlock lockers installation is anti-theft protection.

Have you considered Zefal Lock'N'Roll QR Antitheft Skewers (use your favourite search engine for the details and availability on the product, I'm not affiliated with Zefal anyhow).
Those are the typical QR skewers that can be opened only when the bike is upside down (some may be discouraged to purchase them, see http://www.velominati.com/the-rules/#49).

It allows you to replace the wheels without using any specialised tools, adapters, etc. You only have to make sure that when your bike is affixed with a bike lock, it cannot be turned upside down.

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  • Looks like a good product in its own way, but this doesn't address OP's question about frequent breaking of pitlock spring washers. Probably better as a comment not an answer. I agree that at some point, replacement will be the best answer. – Criggie Nov 7 '18 at 2:38
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    I thought about it initially, and if I add my answer as a comment, it too long by 51 characters. And yes, I agree it doesn't answer the OP's question directly - it's rather a solution to "what can I do not to break Pitlock spring washers so frequently". – Mike Nov 7 '18 at 7:49

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