ERA Nightlatch

I’ve stopped using ERA products. Their high-end nightlatch isn’t too bad, however. The version pictured does have one major design fault, though. (I’m talking here about the auto-deadlocking lock, top of the range but one; where there is a keyway in the inside handle and where there is an anti-slip trigger – the tiny little projection above the main latch bolt, but no kite mark. The very top of the range – the one with the kite mark – has four fixing screws (actually two machine screws and two wood screws) and doesn’t normally suffer from the problem.)
ERA Nightlatch
The bevel on the latchbolt is the wrong shape. Because it’s a latch, i.e. it locks as you pull the door to, one side of the latchbolt is sloped. Well on this latch it’s not sloped enough. Instead of being smoothly pushed in as the door is shut, the latchbolt resists being pushed in. The result is that gradually, the lock is hammered off the door.

This can be compounded if an inexperienced carpenter or locksmith has not secured the lock to the door with screws placed in the outermost fixing holes of the lock, but instead has used the innermost holes that ERA, also inexplicably, provide.

So if you recognize that you have this lock, once a month you should put a smear of heavy grease — car grease will do nicely — on the bevel of the lock’s bolt where it hits the keep’s strike. The lock will be on the door and the keep will be on the frame (unless your fitter was really incompetent). In the picture above, the bolt is at the left and the flat is facing us; the bevel is behind. The extra little dingus sticking out of the lock on the left is the anti-slip device that stops the commonest way of opening a latched front door without a key.

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18 comments on “ERA Nightlatch
  1. The Locksmith says:

    Lubricant helps. Someone asked if WD40 would do. I’m afraid WD40 isn’t a lubricant though; it’s a water dispersant; hence the name. And disperse water is all that it does effectively, at least in the long term. Any immediate lubrication is lost as the lighter oils in the WD40 evapourate, leaving just the heavy sticky oils. Teflon spray or silicone spray are more appropriate.

    • Bernster says:

      Hi, what would you recommend as a quality alternative to the Era 1930 that is available in a satin chrome/chrome finish ?

      • The Locksmith says:

        I like the Chubb 4L67 but it’s only available in brass finish. And you can’t get replacement cylinders so if you need to change keys, all you can do is change the whole – very expensive – lock. I also like the Chubb (or whatever it’s called now, Yale or Union) 4L71 but once again, it’s only available in brass. And once again you can’t get cylinders any more; you could up until a few months ago.

        If I had to fit a chrome finish, then I would fit the ERA 1930. As I hope I said in the original post, it’s a good lock. You must, however, ensure that you use the backplate fixing holes nearest the door edge; and you must ensure that you leave enough gap between the lock and the keep. And a smear of grease on the latch’s “bevel” face every couple of months helps a lot.

        • Bernster says:

          Thanks for reply, actually I am replacing a Chubb 4L71 which is old and brass, I also changed cylinder so it is no longer keyed-alike. I have a glass panelled door which is triple glazed but I suppose I still need the internal key capability. Always worried about getting out in an emergency if the key was not close to hand so I suppose it is a trade-off between security and safety.

          Seems main choices are the Era 1930 and the Yale PBS1, thoughts on the Yale ?

          • The Locksmith says:

            I’ll fit the PBS1 if people ask but I’ve stopped recommending them. Guessing at numbers, about 1 in 20 seem to suffer problems with the autodeadlock trigger – mostly not deadlocking the bolt when activated but once or twice deadlocking the bolt when not activated. For the vast amount of money, that’s not robust enough. At the top of the Yale latch range, I prefer the Yale #1.

  2. George says:

    This was very helpful, thanks for posting. Our front door was having exactly this issue.

  3. Nick says:

    I have exactly this problem, stripped the lock down, the internal springs etc went every where when I opened the back up to have a look inside. Got it back together again, but it was never the same its’ dead now and so I purchased a brand new identical lock as a replacement, I thought I must have had a duff one, but oh no got the same problem again a few weeks after installation.

    Many thanks for the info, just need a pot of grease!!!

    Thank you for publishing this much need information.

  4. Pete says:

    My Nightlatch was jamming due to the cold affecting our wooden door. therefore we had to slam it shut just to try and close it. I eventually got it closed but the pull down leaver wont go all the way so not pulling the latchbolt? wont draw in even halfway to open the door. what can I do?

    • The Locksmith says:

      Well, the lock pictured above has an anti-slip device so unfortunately you won’t be able to manually get the bolt back if the lock is working.

      Sometimes with a tight door there’s so much pressure on the face or the top or the bottom of the bolt that it’s very difficult to pull back. From your description it doesn’t sound as though that could have happened. Even if that has happened, with the door completely stuck you won’t be able to relieve the pressure, pulling up or down, or in or out via the letter slot, for example.

      Perhaps the repeated heavy slamming has simply damaged the internals of the lock.

      If everything is completely stuck, the only thing you can do, provided you can access the inside of the door, is cut into the keep – the part on the frame – such that the bolt is exposed, and then from the outside of the door, push it back open again.

      Then, apart from fitting a new keep, you’ll have to get the door trimmed if the weather has seriously expanded it. Usually it’s the door that’s affected by weather but occasionally it’s the frame.

      In the longer term you’ll also have to find out how much moisture is in the door; and if it’s a lot, how it’s getting in.

  5. Nav says:

    Hi there, Thanks you for a really useful article…I’ve just had this lock fitted and it takes a bit of force to close the door because of the latch…it’s even a pain to turn the key and open the door!

    Although I got a bit lost about where to put the grease….

    • The Locksmith says:

      Any difficulty turning the key will be something else: for one of several possible reasons, the door is tight in the frame. It can be draught strip that’s too thick, seasonal changes expanding the door or even a bit of rubbish stopping the door closing fully.

      For the strike problem, the grease goes on the face of the bolt that strikes the keep. Or, once the banging has made a mark on the keep, smear the grease where the mark is.

  6. James says:

    Hi.

    Sorry to ressurect an old thread! I’ve had a bit of a search around online and unfortunately can’t seem to find anywhere else that covers similar issues with ERA locks. Would be really grateful for any help you’re able to give!

    As far as I can see, we have the ERA BS Keyless Egress Nightlatch, and the anti-slip device you mention above seems to have stopped working – it just doesn’t connect with the other side of the lock and it means that the lock won’t close without manually turning the lever to close it. Is this a common problem? Is there anything we can do to fix it without purchasing another lock?

    Many thanks,

    James

    • rick wakeman says:

      By “the other side of the lock”, do you mean the keep – that’s the part that is fitted to the frame and that receives the bolt? If the anti-slip trigger doesn’t reach the keep, that implies that it’s stuck inside the lock. I can’t remember if this is true for the Keyless, but with the ordinary ERA BS when the anti-slip is activated it doesn’t just lock the bolt against being slipped, it also causes another 5 or 6 mm of bolt to extend. And that extra bit of bolt is flat rather than bevelled, and without a bevel being presented to the keep you wouldn’t be able to just push the door shut.

      You might be able to clear whatever is causing the trigger to stick, but be careful: most of these nightlatches have springs that want to escape when you take the back plate off. Take two or three pictures as you take the plate off so you know how everything should go back together, especially if a spring does sproing.

  7. James says:

    Hi Rick,

    That is exactly what was happening – after a bit of manipulation and WD40 I managed to get the anti-slip trigger to fully release and now we have a fully functional Nightlatch again. That should save the keep from the battering it’s been getting (it’s on a communal door).

    Thank you very much!

  8. Graham says:

    I’m so glad I came across this piece, thanks very much for great advice, I was wondering if this stiff closure was normal…

    I’ve just done as advised above and smeared a small amount of silicone grease on the latch bolt – WOW, what a difference that makes, that house used to rattle when closing the door, now I can creep out to for a pint!!

    If I could ask another question? The lever of the inside latch is a bit wobbly, like a loose bearing, and the key-slot in the outside lock seems loose, is this normal or should I take it back to replace (read the thread above about taking it pieces so will avoid!)

    • The Locksmith says:

      Thanks.
      It’s normal for the handle to have some play. If it didn’t then wear would eventually create play anyway. Better to design it in in the first place.
      If it’s the usual ERA cylinder with the big escutcheon, then the first slot the key goes through is actually a spin plate and again is meant to be loose so it spins around and defeats a drill bit.

  9. denise cooper says:

    I had this lock fitted at the total cost of £354 on 14 November 2016 on the 24 November it locked me and my 78year old husband in an empty, cold and unfurnished 1st floor flat, 4/12 hours it took to get us out using an angle grinder.
    A colleague he called for advice said he no longer used this lock as he had had multiple failures. I then heard the ERA technical department say to the locksmith he had known them fail because a piece breaks off and falls down behind the lock he suggested that if we kept tapping on the underneath of the lock it just might shift that broken piece and unlock well it did not work.
    I later rang ERA Tech department and spoke to the same person he covered his tracks and told me it must be due to poor fitting and I was ripped off as the whole job should have been around £120. They would send me a replacement. But I must tell the locksmith that the connecting bar is very important and must be at 6-7mm. Well I dont think its me who should tell the locksmith how to fit it and this suggestion gives me no confidence to have the replacement fitted. So I will not be using it.

  10. Spike says:

    I have had one of these break on me. An ERA 193-60 auto deadlocking night latch. It started sticking about one week ago, requiring the key to be used to close it. Today it has failed completely. The anti slip trigger is jammed or locked in the “out” position, meaning the door will no longer close. I suppose it is lucky it didn’t jam like that with the door closed, so at least I can give a locksmith access and the locksmith can work on the lock from the inside.

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