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Antique Safes/Drill points for cannonball safe


Cannonball Safe
Cannonball Safe  
QUESTION: I have acquired a cannonball safe that is missing the combination. The previous owner had the combination and had it unlocked but could not get the door to screw open and has since lost the combinations. This unit is not in the best of shape as someone before beat the heck out of it. I went in thru a hole that was already drilled in the back with my scope and was able to determine that there is a time lock inside along with another combination dial. At this point Im hoping to get help with drill points as an attempt to get inside to at least get the timelock. I am not a safe expert by no means but have had success getting a few old safes open by drilling and using a scope in the past. There is no name on the safe other than Yale on the outer end of the two dials. Ive added an image of the front and can provide better detailed photos if needed. Any help or advise with drill points would be appreciated. Brady

ANSWER: Brady,

While I understand and empathize with your situation, you have to understand two things - first that this is a "general forum" for answering basic questions concerning safes by owners, and second, it is not a technical help page.    For obvious security and liability reasons, we do not give out ANY instructions or information of a technical nature, to include drill points.   This is regardless of your relationship to the safe and/or whether or not you are a licensed locksmith or safe technician.
Other than proper dialing sequences for the lock in question, or identification of the safe and lock, this goes for all questioners.

we have no way of verifying that you are the proper person to request this type of information, and/or that you are even authorized to work on or open the safe.

In this case the safe appears to be an Ely-Norris Safe Lock Company, patented Manard Manganese Steel, Cannonball safe.   The lock that I would expect to find on this safe would be a Yale 101-1/2 model lock.

If you are not trained in working on antique safes, and PARTICULARLY, these Ely-Norris safes, then I would recommend that you don't start at this point.   You are potentially looking at destroying a safe, a dual combination lock, and a time lock that are NOT repairable or replaceable.    Literally this would be equivalent to doing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to this safe.

Sorry, I can't be of more help at this time, but I'm sure you understand our liability reasons if we provided improper information, that possibly compromised the security of someone's safe.

The best I can offer at this point, would be to recommend someone, possibly in your area, to direct you to, who might be able to assist you, or open the safe for you.   Let me know where you and/or the safe are located (zip code), and I'll see who I can recommend.

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

QUESTION: I appreciate the help and do understand the concern about not knowing if Im truly the owner. I will see if I can locate someone near Tuscaloosa Al who might be able to get it opened other wise I have a machining center with a table capacity of 8K lbs. and will open up a opening large enough to access the time lock etc. The unit has been beet up and drug around the ground by some type of heavy equipment and isn't worth much more than a conversation piece. I look at it like the time lock isn't worth 2cents if its not accessible. I might sand blast it when I get it open and let it rust as a landscape ornament rather than the scrap yard. Thanks again for the help!!


If you are going to use it as a conversation piece, then cutting off the back to gain access is not necessarily a bad idea, however, while this will gain you access to the time lock area, it will not give you access to the lock.    As I doubt that the time lock is active (meaning it has run down and unlocked, the Yale 101-1/2 lock is probably what is keeping the door from opening.

This lock can be set up as a dual custody type lock, or as a redundant type lock.    If it is dual custody, then BOTH combinations must be dialed to open the safe.   If it is set up as a redundant lock, then only one needs to be opened.

Word of warning, concerning cutting away a back portion of the safe; the doors of these safes are extremely heavy, removal of metal from the rear of the safe, which acts as a counter balance can result in the safe being able to tip over, when the door is opened.   As gravity is not necessarily your friend, if it tips it will tip really fast - be careful!

Restored, the safe could be worth between $5k to $25K, depending on the restoration, so counting on it as scrap or a landscape ornament, may not be in your best interests ultimately - but your choice.

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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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