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Antique Safes/Safe Information

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Question
Terry,

I am assisting a recent widow with her estate.  A part of which includes a safe with the following markings -RC Allen Business Machines, The Military Line, Grand Rapids, MI, safe #496658, fire class "C", T-20 tamper resistant door.  The widow has no idea what if anything the safe may contain, that information passed on with her husband.  She is trying to clean out the garage where this safe in located but is hesitant to sell it for scrap prior to determining if it contains anything.  Obviously, she does not know the combination and from what I can determine, the RC Allen company either does not exist or been acquired by another entity.

Any suggestions as to how to proceed would be appreciated.

Thank you,

Mike Lundgren

Answer
Mike,

I have no information of this company as a manufacturer of safes.   Chances are they were selling other items and the "safes" were simply a side line - as indicated by the "RC Allen Business Machines".

The container will have very little "scrap" value, as it has very little metal in it.   Usually a thin inner and outer skin, sandwiching insulation media, for the fire resistance.   The "T-20" rating is (as indictated) a tamper resistant rating, and NOT burglary resistance.   Chances are this safe is from the 1950's or early 1960's, so it also doesn't meet any current standards for fire or burglary resistance.

The only problem with some safes from this "era", some manufacturers MAY have used asbestos in some of their models.   We would need to ID your safe to determine whether or not yours may be affected.   Another method would be to have the insulation material tested by either a HAZMAT test facility (check with your fire department, they would have a number), or you can order a "home" test kit at:   lowes, home depot, CVS Pharmacy, etc - or by going to:    http://www.prolabinc.com/asbestos-test-kits.asp.

Cost to have the safe opened and repaired could easily run $350 to $500, which may be more than the safe is worth.    If the safe has asbestos, you may have disposal fees to deal with.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

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

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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