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Antique Safes/yale safe


Hello Terry, I have an old safe given to me and it was sitting outside for a long time. I can turn the dial till it stops which is when I know I should turn the handle. It will not turn. I used antisiesing liqid for a month and sill will not turn so then I thought I could turn the handle using a pipewrench It will turn it, which it only turned the handle not the pins inside.(STUPID idea I know) The question is now what to do. Is there a way to drill something or try to take to door pins out? the safr number on it is 30167 ane the only nunber on the safe I could find. The safe is made by the national yale safe company. The dial is five and one half inches to the right of the handle centre to centre.Is there any hope for this safe or is it scrap now?


Sorry, but manufacturers figured out the "taking the hinges off" trick, about 150 years ago, and added dead pins to the inside of the door, and in many cases 3 way bolt work, so that the door is effectively locked on ALL four sides.   The "ONLY" function the hinges serve is to carry the weight of the door when you open it - nothing more, nothing less!!!!

So while you would "think" that removing the hinge pins would allow you to open the door, if it were that simply they wouldn't call it a safe - now would they!

My first guess would be that your combo lock is possibly NOT retracted all the way.   Second would be that either the bolt work or the handle is simply rusted.   metal will rust to about a 12:1 ratio, which means that 1" of metal could easily produce 12" of rust.   In a closed area, like the handle, spindle hole this means that it could easily bind it solid.    Similarly the bolt work rusting would create enough binding that the handle wouldn't turn.

While your lock may be a "Yale" lock, the safe is made by the National safe company (two different companies).   If the dial is to the right of the handle, then you may NOT have a National safe, as usually the dial was above the handle on National's.

As far as "is there any hope?"    Yes there is, but this has become a hands on project, not something that can be diagnosed over an email.

Step one - ENSURE that the lock is unlocked completely,
Step two - Is there any play in the handle - or did you break it off already???
Step three - it may be necessary to drill the safe to punch the lock bolts back, to open the door.
NOTE:   If you get to step three, you definitely need a trained safe technician that can do this without destroying the safe.

Any further destruction without having a plan, may result in the ruination of the safe.  

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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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