The Mysterious Bobcat Key. Unlocking the Secrets of This Cryptic Clue

Introduction to bobcat keys

A bobcat key is a specialized ignition key used for operating heavy equipment such as Bobcat skid steer loaders and excavators. Bobcat keys utilize an electronic chip that sends an encoded signal to the vehicle’s computer to enable starting and operation.

Bobcat keys serve both a physical function of turning the ignition as well as an electronic function for security. The computer chip inside the key must be programmed and matched to the vehicle’s system in order to start the engine. This prevents theft or unauthorized use of Bobcat equipment.

Unlike regular metal keys, bobcat keys cannot be easily duplicated. They must be ordered directly through Bobcat or an authorized dealer in order to match the key code to the vehicle. Proper programming and synchronization is required for the key to work.

History of bobcat keys

Bobcat keys were first used in 1996 by Bobcat Company in their loaders ( Prior to this, keys were needed to manually unlock and start construction equipment like skid-steer loaders. Bobcat pioneered the first keyless-start system in the industry with their patented technology.

This keyless ignition was an innovation that allowed operators to start Bobcat loaders without inserting a key. It provided more convenience and helped reduce potential key loss or damage. The keys contained an electronic chip to enable the keyless start instead of a physical key mechanism.

Bobcat continued improving their key technology over the years. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, they introduced options to program multiple keys for each machine. This allowed owners to have spare keys and assign different access levels or restrictions through the coded keys.

How bobcat keys work

Bobcat keys use a pin tumbler lock system to secure the equipment. The key has a series of grooves, called bitting cuts, that align the pins inside the lock to the correct height in order to turn the cylinder and open the lock. According to Heavy Equipment Keys, the pins are of varying lengths and must be raised to the proper positions by the bit heights machined into the key blade for the lock to open.

Inside the lock cylinder is a set of spring-loaded pin stacks. Each stack consists of two pins that rest on top of each other – a bottom pin and a top pin. When no key is inserted, the pin stacks block the shear line, preventing the cylinder from turning. When the proper key is inserted, its bitting lifts the top pins to align the pin stack at the shear line, allowing the cylinder to turn and the lock to open.

The position of the bitting cuts on the key correspond to the heights of the pin stacks. By lifting the top pins to just the right positions, the bitting aligns the pins at the shear line so the cylinder can rotate. Keys with incorrect bitting will fail to properly set the top pins, so the bottom pins will still block rotation of the cylinder.

Bobcat uses this pin tumbler system because it provides sufficient security while remaining simple and cost-effective to implement across their product line. The keys are relatively easy to duplicate while also being difficult to decode and copy without an authorized key. Overall, the tumbler lock system strikes a good balance for securing Bobcat equipment.

Key numbering systems

Bobcat keys come with a variety of numbers stamped on them that have different meanings. The numbering system helps identify which key goes with which machine. Here’s an overview of the key numbering on Bobcat keys:

The four digit number – This is known as the OEM key number, and it identifies the type of Bobcat model the key is for. For example, a key stamped with 6653 is for a Bobcat S185 model. Bobcat dealerships use this number to look up the correct key.

The code number – This 5 to 6 digit number is unique to each individual key. It allows Bobcat to track keys and identify duplicate/unauthorized copies. No two keys have the same code number.

The serial number – This is stamped on the steel part of the key and matches the serial number on the Bobcat machine itself. It serves as another way to definitively identify which key operates which machine.

The dealer number – Some keys also have the Bobcat dealership number stamped on them as well. This identifies where the key was sent when the machine was originally sold.

So in summary, Bobcat uses several layered numbering systems on their keys to designate model numbers, unique codes, serial numbers, and dealership codes. This helps ensure each key only operates the Bobcat it was created for.


Identifying Bobcat Key Numbers

Bobcat keys are stamped with a unique identification number that can be used to order replacement keys. This number is typically stamped into the plastic head of the key.

To identify the key number, you’ll need to examine your existing key closely. The stamping is small, but should be visible on the wider part of the key head. The number may be 2-4 digits long. Older keys often have a simple 2 digit stamping, while newer Bobcat loaders may have a longer 4 digit number.

The key number indicates the unique cut profile for that key. Bobcat uses high security keys, so you can’t simply copy them at a hardware store. The number links that specific key cut to the vehicle it was made for in Bobcat’s records. Knowing the number allows you to order a replacement key with the proper cut directly from Bobcat or an authorized dealer.

If the number stamping on your key is worn and you can’t read it clearly, the key number should also be available on the key tag or paperwork that came with the machine from the dealer when purchased new. You can reference these original ownership documents to find the matching key number.

Being able to accurately identify your Bobcat key number is crucial for reordering replacement keys that will work properly in your loader ignition and door locks. With the number, you can shop for keys confidently knowing they have the correct cut for your equipment.

Cross-referencing numbers

Bobcat keys use a standard numerical system to identify each specific key cut, allowing you to cross-reference between bobcat’s system and other manufacturers’ systems to find replacement keys. The key number stamped on the metal bow of the key indicates the specific cut depths and angles required to work with that machine’s ignition switch.

For example, a Bobcat 873 skid steer uses key number GH106. By cross-referencing manufacturers’ systems using guides like the Construction Equipment Key Blank Reference, you can identify alternate aftermarket blank keys that can be cut to work with that machine, like Ilco GHO-107 or JMA GHO-1A.

Having the original bobcat key number allows you to identify the proper replacement key in various manufacturers’ systems. You can then have the replacement key cut using the same key number to match the original. This avoids having to replace the entire ignition switch assembly.

Copying bobcat keys

Many owners wonder if it is possible to copy a bobcat key to have a spare. However, bobcat keys contain special security chips that prevent unauthorized duplication. According to Heavy Equipment Keys, bobcat keys cannot be copied at a regular hardware store or locksmith because they use complex transponder technology for security.

Attempting to duplicate a bobcat key will not work since the equipment requires the exact configuration programmed into the original key. Copying the physical key shape without the proper security chip will not enable it to start the ignition. For this reason, bobcat owners should not attempt to duplicate their keys on their own.

If an extra or replacement key is needed, owners must contact an authorized bobcat dealer according to Bobcat Company. The dealer can provide properly programmed transponder keys specifically matched to the equipment. While more expensive than copying a regular key, this is the only method to obtain a working duplicate bobcat key.

Replacing Lost or Damaged Keys

If you lose or damage the ignition or door key for your Bobcat machine, you will need to get a replacement key made using the key number. The key number is stamped on the key and corresponds to the cut profile that allows the key to turn the ignition or open the door lock.

To get a replacement Bobcat key made, you will need to provide the key number to a locksmith or key dealer. The key number is typically 6-8 digits long. Some places that can provide replacement keys using the key number include:

  • Your local Bobcat dealership – They will have blanks already on hand and can cut you a new key.
  • Online retailers like – They stock common blanks and can ship you a replacement key.
  • A locksmith – Provide them the key number and they can order and cut you a replacement.

Lead times for getting a new Bobcat key made can vary. From a dealership or online retailer, expect the key within 1-3 business days typically. Using a local locksmith may be faster if they have blanks in stock.

Costs for a replacement Bobcat key can range from $10-$50 on average depending on where you source it. Dealers and online retailers will likely be on the lower end, while a locksmith may charge more for their services. To save on costs, try to have the key number handy when ordering.

Upgrading bobcat key systems

For older models of bobcat loaders, upgrading to a more secure key system can prevent theft and unauthorized use. Newer bobcat models come with advanced locking options like the Bobcat Standardized Integrated Control System (BICS) which uses digital codes instead of physical keys. Upgrading to BICS or other keyless systems provides several advantages over traditional keyed ignitions according to Amazon:

First, digital codes are much harder to copy than physical keys. This prevents thieves or unauthorized operators from starting the machine, even if they gain access to the cab. Second, upgraded systems like BICS allow owners to program access codes and set permissions remotely through a smartphone app or website. This makes it easy to deactivate lost or stolen key codes and authorize new operators. Finally, advanced systems provide usage data and alerts that can help monitor operator habits and prevent misuse of the equipment.

While upgrading does require purchasing new ignition modules and handheld programming devices, the added security and access control ultimately protect the investment according to reviews on Amazon. For older bobcats, switching to a more secure key system reduces the risk of theft and limits operation to only authorized users.


Some key points to recap about bobcat key numbers and replacement:

– Bobcat keys are numbered codes that allow the bobcat machine to start. Without the right key code, the machine will not operate.

– Key numbers are specific to each individual bobcat and determined by the manufacturer. There is no universal numbering system.

– If a key is lost or damaged, an authorized bobcat dealer can provide a replacement key that is coded for that specific machine.

– Upgrading to newer electronic bobcat key systems allows features like multiple user keys and usage tracking. But older mechanical keys can also be replaced.

– Always keep a spare key in a safe location in case the original key is misplaced. Never try duplicating keys yourself.

– Consult the bobcat manual or dealer for the exact replacement process. Provide the machine’s ID plate information when ordering new keys.

Following proper procedures for identifying and replacing bobcat keys will keep your machine securely operable.

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