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QUESTION: ...I bought a Hall's Co. safe at an auction. It is a combination lock and has stamped on the handle Z18008. It is on cast wheels and measures 32"h x 21"w x 22 1/2"d. It has been sanded and primed and appears to be in good repair. I have two questions: Is this enough info to establish age and, of course, how can it be opened as it came without the combination....?

ANSWER: William,

question #1 - No!   Unfortunately, manufacturers NEVER publish serial number lists OR combinations for obvious security and liability reasons.   So this information by itself is not a lot of help.

question #2 - you basically have two options at this point - you can try all of the 1,000,000 (+) possible combinations or you can have a trained safe technician from a local safe company open the safe and either recover or reset the combination for you.

Trying 500 combinations each day, every day, will only require about 5.5 years to test them all.   Hopefully you would find the correct combination long before.
Having a safe tech open, repair and recover the combination should take around 2-3 hours total, and cost between $350 to $500.

As far as the "condition" of the safe - hopefully you didn't pay a lot at the auction, as locked up safes are "NOT" considered "in good condition" as they are locked up, and generally are considered to have a NEGATIVE value, until they are opened, repaired and working correctly.

Unfortunately, while I understand the nature of auctions, I wish that people would run purchases like this by me first before expending money - only to have to pay out more money later.   By the time the safe is operational, the total costs (including shipping) may be more than it is worth.

Hopefully yours is going to be a better end result.

I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   If you don't have a local safe company with a trained safe technician in your area, let me know where you and/or the safe are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I know in your area.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: ...Mr Andreasen, Thanks for the quick and concise response. I paid eightysix dollars for the safe. I am not averse to spending the dollars you mentioned in previous response as I would have an antique safe at a relatively low cost. My zip code is 33196. I am in far south west dade county. (Fla)....Of course shipping is not an   Thanks again .


Obviously the prices that I indicate are what "I" consider reasonable and in no way reflect prices at every company across the country.   You will have to discuss your safe with any company or individual that you might have work on your safe to find out what "THEIR" pricing is to decide if it is fair and/or reasonable.   Prices are generally reflective of each company and vary based on what their overhead costs are, and their profit margin is.
Smaller shops with little overhead can charge smaller fees and still have the same profit margin as a much larger shop with a much larger overhead.

First recommendation would be:

Worldwide Safe & Vault          about 14 miles
3660 NW 115th Ave
Miami, FL   33178

Second recommendation would be:

Apex High Security Safes        about 27 miles
12555 Biscayne Blvd #828
N. Miami, FL   33181

You can check with both of these companies to discuss having your safe opened and repaired.   If you have any questions concerning any proposed methods of opening, or associated costs, feel free to run it by me first.   There should be no hidden charges and you should understand any charges BEFORE you have them work on your safe.

Hope this helps,

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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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