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Antique Safes/thermal barrier


QUESTION: I took apart my old safe door because the bottom pin was not retracting.  ( 2 door safe and the left door, thank goodness.)
The door is about 6in thick.  The front door has a fire clay/ about 3/4 in thick.  It had crumbled a bit and debris had jammed the bottom pin. The back panel of the door has a gypsum like material with a metallic surface facing forward. There is about a 2 in airspace between the the front and back of the door.

Should I try to add some new thermal barrier in the space. Should
I replace the clay or gypsum. Or coat the clay? how about just leaving the back panel off so I can keep the locking mechanism clean and lubed? I had a digital lock installed and it has LC on the face.  Should I have it replaced?



Your lock has an "LG", not LC, meaning "LaGard".   Hopefully you didn't get rid of the original lock as "if" your "old safe" is collectible or antique, you may have lost a significant portion of its value.

As far as the insulation material, repairing it is acceptable.   NOTE:   as your safe does not meet current standards for fire resistance, repairing it will not improve its fire resistance, all it will do is to keep it from deteriorating further.

If it simply has cracks, you can use a tube of concrete or mortar crack repair material.   If you actually have broken pieces or missing chunks, an actual mortar repair material will be better.

As far as keeping the locking mechanism (bolt work) clean and lubricated - clean and dry may actually be better than with a coating of lubricant.    Wet surface lubricant is little more than a dirt & debris magnet, which would eventually make the bolt work harder to operate.   Clean it, lube it, and then wipe it dry.   This will give you a smooth operating bolt work.

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

QUESTION: I figured that the fire rating was not up to current standards. Is there a new product I can put in that 2 in. open space?  Something not to repair but to add?

It is not collectible but is the LaGard good or should I up grade?  I see some youtube videos showing how easy some digital locks are easy to pick.

Thx for the quick reply


The "YouTube" videos are generally discussing the cheap imported digital locks.   The ones may in the US by companies like LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf (and others) must meet strict standards to receive a UL rating.   Your lock should have a tag that indicates a "UL - Type 1 lock", this means that it cannot be easily manipulated, picked or bypassed to open.

Generally speaking, most "YouTube" videos are done by moron's for moron's - while entertaining, they have little actual value.   Regardless of what you are interested in, do real research on the item to determine what is good or bad.

This is one of the reasons that I ALWAYS recommend that a "buyer" educate themselves on what they are purchasing, so that they understand WHAT a product is capable of and designed for.   Unfortunately most buyers (the majority of the moron's with cash in their pockets), simply buy the first thing that they are shown.   Regardless of if the items are in a big box warehouse, or used cars, or politicians - slick salesmen count on the fact that very few people will do the research necessary to become an "INFORMED CONSUMER"!

While mechanical locks are much more reliable than digital locks, LaGard locks are fairly reliable, and digital locks offer many features that mechanical locks don't.   For instance digital locks can have multiple users, audit trails, time lock and time delay capability, true dual custody, as well as numerous access options.

As far as adding another 2" of insulating material, you aren't going to improve the structure or capabilities of the safe.   You aren't improving the insulating capabilities of the walls.   Basically you are wasting your time, if you intend to make your old safe more fire resistive.    Repairing the cracks or broken pieces is one thing, but you are not going to make it more than it already is.

If you need a safe for either fire or burglary protection, then I would recommend that you buy one that meets current standards.   If your safe is over 50 years old, AND as the insulation is already cracked and broken, then it is definitely time to get a replacement.   This doesn't mean that your old safe doesn't have use - it just has none as far as proper fire or burglary protection.  

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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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