Cabinets come in various brands, sizes and types. While information is gathered, here, we'll focus on the two common brands; Motorola and GE. Among these there are two basic types:
While the Motorola types generally use a 2135 key, there are older varieties with the 2253 2252 key numbers as well. For the GE types the most common is the BF-10A, while others use the GE-1000, plus a "shorty" version of these, with the number unknown. Older GE types use a LL801 or LL201 key as well. Most of these keys are limited to 2-way shops of the 70's and later vintage. However with millions of them out there these keys are pretty much available to anyone. Therefore to increase security of one's station the lock can be replaced with a unique key. Ideally the front and rear doors (or panels) should be keyed alike.
Here's an example for the Motorola micor "compa" station cabinet. Stock they use the 2135 key. Removing the core requires cutting off the cam, since it's pressed one, unlike others which have a screw to remove them. Most of the holes in the door/panel are a 5/8" diameter hole, but with a flat edge on each of two sides. This helps keep the tumble housing from turning for installation or possible future tampering. Use a 7/8" wrench to lightly tighten the housing, otherwise any "crescent" wrench will work fine, too.
One brand of cam locks is UScan. In this case two housing depths can be used. For the 5/8" install the offset cam, favoring the inside direction. For the 7/8" use the straight cam. (See pictures). These locks can be physically "programmed" for a position best suited for the user. For example some prefer the key's teeth pointing up, when in the lock position, while others prefer turning the key CW to lock it, etc. Most any arrangement will hold the cover closed, however, there is only a small area of the cam tip that does the locking/jam. One way to correct this is to add a little metal on the tip of the cam, perhaps welding some extra, flat metal, then grind/clean up, to insure a good cam lock. On the right shows the bar code and number code on the package indicates the depth of the housing. For example, "23078KD" is a 7/8" depth as the image indicates.
Motorola had a fairly nice idea by designing "clips" that go on the 19" rack side rails for the older style cabinets. However did you ever try to pry one of those suckers off? Argg!
The Author designed a cool tool for removing those rail clips. You could do the same. Either grab an old, cheapo screw driver or make the complete unit out of steel you have lying around the shop. To use the tool, first start by inserting the end into the hole and wiggle the clip out a little as to exposed one edge
With an edge exposed, take the point into it and just pry it out. A flat "foot" welded onto the shaft helps to hold a surface (the rail) when prying. And out that little clip comes !
Here's some more examples of refinishing cabinets. The blue one on the left is for the local E.I. Club's 88 repeater. The right is a rough coat for a SRG project in 2010.
This is the old "MSY" type indoor Motorola cabinet, repainted gray on the out and a nice white on the inside to see easy.
Same colors here with this Motorola "Compa" cabinet of the taller version. Many times old cabinets have holes drilled in them from the previous installation. Sometimes they are excessive for you new installation. You'll need to plug them up, to keep rodents out. The small holes can be pugged with a nut and bolt. The larger ones need a piece of sheet metal and either bolted or riveted to the cabinet. If you have access to welding equipment makes a cleaner repair as shown on the right, before grinding, sanding and painting.
You'll need to clean the surfaces before painting.
For a lighting isolator pad out of wood, make two of the mounting holes slightly larger for the floor bolts. This will make on-site installation easier.
I have an inventory of empty cabinets available to repeater owners for a very modest price; pretty much to cover the gas for delivery to your choosing.