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Antique Safes/cannonball safe


  I am contemplating buying a Cannon Ball safe made by the Manganese Steel Company circa 1904.I live in Australia and will need to ship it out of the USA by sea freight.I am concerned if the transport would harm the combination tumblers or time lock mechanism.I am told it works fine now.Do you think there is a possibilty it may not work when it gets to me.
Best regards


Your guess is as good as mine.

While transporting on the ship, in the sea air, is NOT a concern that I have - I would still recommend having it thouroughly serviced after you receive it to make sure there are no problems.

What I worry more about, would be the way it is packed / crated.

I'm not sure if you've had any time at sea or not but I have.   Ships don't really travel very fast, which means that the longer they are at sea, the more chance of running into rough or inclement weather and/or storms.   At a minimum, things which are NOT securely tied down WILL tend to move.    One ship I was on had a D9 Cat break loose.  By the time we got it tied back down, it had destroyed several other large vehicles including a mobile crane and several containers!
It is estimated that nearly 10,000 shipping containers are lost at sea every year.

So you can immagine that your 6,000 to 10,000 lb ball of steel, could easily become a missle of destruction if it is not palletized and secured correctly.   Even if it is NOT lost at sea, if it breaks loose it may be severely damaged bouncing around in a container for several days or weeks.    I can also guarantee you that the vessel crew will NOT open the container to resecure or tie it back down.

Assuming that it is pallatized correctly (over packed), AND the pallet is secured and or shored up, inside of a container so that there is NO WAY for it to come loose or move.   AND assuming that it doesn't get lost at sea, I think that you will be all right.

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

QUESTION: Thank you for the quick reply.
Just another quick question.
The guy I'm buying it from said he can get it secured to a pallet by straps.I'm assuming by the look of it this safe could be 'top heavy' and I am concerned that it may want to, like you said, move around.
If it was layed down on top of the pallet then strapped ,it would be a lot more secure.
Would it be ok to lay the safe down on it's back for the transit time of approximately 5 to 6 weeks while at sea?


The base is probably cast iron construction, and the ball may not be as secured to the base as it looks.   Remember it is designed to "SIT" on the base.

It needs to have a solid wooden pallet constructed under and around it to hold it in one piece, not just strapped to the pallet.

The seller obviously doesn't under stand the whole - shipping at sea concept!

Once the safe is totally secured in the Palletized container, it will need to be placed INSIDE of a shipping container, and braced in place so that it cannot move.  

If the ship completely rolled over, it should be braced so well that it doesn't move inside of the container.

Remember - you ONLY get one chance to do it right, and its better to have TOO much bracing than not enough.   Once its loaded into the container and on the ship, there are NO do overs!

A number of years ago, we were hauling a load of military vehicles on an open deck boat from Seattle to San Diego, and got caught in a large storm.   Twelve 20,000 lb steel tie down cables snapped and we had 1/4 million dollars worth of cargo damage.    We had a chance before the storm to add some extra lashing gear and tie downs, but we assumed that we had more than enough.

DON'T ASSUME - and don't "skimp" on the tie downs.

Obviously the seller isn't going to have your best interest in mind when they tie this safe down, so YOU need to have someone as a freight forwarder who will ensure that it has a proper pallet, AND is properly braced inside of the container.    

Hopefully, the ship will make the trip with calm seas and following winds, and the safe will make it to you without a scratch, but if you don't have it crated correctly it won't make it.

If the ball will come off of the pedestal, you could have two separate pallet containers built, which would make it easier to ship, but you would need to have a professional safe company inspect it, to see if it can be disassembled for shipping.

Hope this gives you some ideas - don't wait until the last minute to make a decision.

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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

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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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