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Antique Safes/Hinge Adjustment on Antique Safe


I have an antique Hall's floor safe (1906 model, double doors) One door is sagging just enough to prevent closure of the 2nd door. Can the hinges be adjusted? If so, how?


Older safe manufacturers never planned on having maintenance done on their safes.   When it left the factory that was it!   Many of the safes had the lock and bolt work sealed under insulation material, so no access was available.   Items like adjustable hinges didn't become standard on most safes until the 1960's.    Prior to this, only the really expensive safes, or safes with really tight tolerances like round, lug door safes, money chests, and cannonball safes had adjustable hinges.

As there were no "safe technicians" at that time, it fell upon local locksmiths to perform any repairs or maintenance on safes.

Bottom line, your safe does NOT have adjustable hinges.   There are TWO distinctly different types of wear on the hinge - horizontal or a rotational wear, and vertical, or hinge casing wear.
Vertical wear (wear is ONLY up and down in a straight linear motion), can be corrected by simply adding thrust washers between the hinge blocks.   Open the door to a 90 degree angle and remove the door (lift off the hinges).   Clean and lube the hinges, and place the correct amount of thrust washers between the hinge blocks to slightly raise the door.

Horizontal wear or rotational wear, allows the door to "sag" from corner to corner.    This is fairly easy to see if you use a pry bar or large screw driver under the lower open edge of the door.   Simply pry up slightly and watch the hinges.   If you see the hinge blocks move back and forth, then the problem is a fairly major one.    Observation of the hinge pins and pin holes can reveal how much wear that you actually have.
Depending on the amount of damage or the shape of the wear (egg shaped), the holes may have to be redrilled and bushings or larger hinge pins used.

NOTE:   Incorrectly drilling MAY wind up with holes which are NO LONGER in line, causing more problems with the alignment of the hinges and operation of the door.

Unfortunately there are very few safe companies in the country that will even take on hinge repair jobs, and they tend to be expensive.    Generally hinge repairs that we do, can easily run from $1000 to $2500, depending on the safe, the problems, the hinges, and the required repairs.

Hope this helps.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

Past/Present Clients
US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

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