You are here:

Antique Safes/Hall's safe co. cinncinati lock dial


QUESTION: I acquired a large hall's double door safe. It in in good condition except the lock dial is of the safe and broke. The safe opens and closes. What can I replace the lock dial with and where could I acquire parts? Could you change to digital? Thanks

ANSWER: Kevin,

As this company has been out of business for over 80 years, parts are not available, and installing new style parts could ruin in possible antique or collectible value that the safe may have.

Before attempting to have it upgraded, I would have it checked out by a professional safe technician, familiar with antique safes to see if repairs can be made.

NOTE:   Be aware that these old safes do not meet any current standards for fire or burglary resistance, and should not be used for overnight storage of cash, jewelry, valuable documents or weapons.   If you need storage for any of these items, then I would recommend getting a current model safe with the proper security rating.

Upgrading your safe to a newer lock, will not increase its level of security substantially, it would simply be an old safe with a new lock.

1.  Have it checked out for proper repairs.
2.  If you still want it upgraded, or the lock replaced the safe technician from your local safe company, SHOULD be able to do this without destroying the safe.

You would have to discuss the problems with the safe tech to determine if the repairs would be acceptable.   Without seeing the safe (in hand), I can't advise you one way or the other.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I know in your area.

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

QUESTION: Andy, Thanks. I am located in Bloomsburg, Pa. 17815. Can you explain why these safes would not be secure. If working properly I would have thought the opposite.


It's fairly simple - tools which are extremely common at all local hardware stores today didn't exist even 50 years ago.   Simple battery operated tools can shred many of the older safes.

Manufacturers 50-100 years ago built safes, designed to protect against tools that were available AT THAT TIME.   For instance, if you ever looked into your grandfathers tool box, you would have found an "egg beater" type drill.    This isn't even an apples and oranges comparison to the drill motors available today, its more of a raisin to a watermelon comparison!

Using a safe which is over 50 years old to protect your documents and valuables, would be similar to hiring your great grandfather as a guard at your factory, rather than younger well trained guards.

While there ARE exceptions to this basic rule, they are few and far between, and would be identified INDIVIDUALLY, and NOT with any group comparison,  HOWEVER they still fall into the SAME category called "OBSOLETE CONTAINERS".    As repair parts are not even available for many safes which are only 50 years or so old, older safes are even more effected by obsolescence.   What few parts which MAY be available, are also probably in someone's collection.    Unless you have a machine shop available, and a bottomless pocketbook, keeping the safe repaired and operational could be extremely expensive.

While upgrading to newer locks is also a possibility, you also stand the chance of ruining any antique or collectible value of your safe.

Using older or antique safes on a regular basis is not something that can't be done, but it is something that I caution against for all of the above reasons.   I personally have several that I am using right now - however there is a big difference between me and you.   First I am a professional, trained safe technician, and I service the locks regularly.   Second, I have my own machine shop, and can make many of the parts which I need to keep them operational.   Third and MOST IMPORTANT, I do not use them above their level of protection.    All of my important papers and documents are stored in a NEWER, CURRENT model fire resistive file cabinet.    All of my cash, jewelry and hard to replace valuables are kept in a NEWER, CURRENT model burglary resistive safe, with enough security rating so that "I" feel comfortable leaving my house on a weekend or vacation.    Yes I do have more than one safe at home - 13 to be exact, but some of these are antiques which I'm doing restoration work on.  7 of these safes I do not use for any type of storage.

What you do with YOUR safe is ultimately up to you.   All I can do is to point out problem areas and make recommendations.   How you store your valuables and protect them from fire and burglary is a personal decision that only you can make.   BOTTOM LINE, (as I say many times), if you go away for a weekend or an extended vacation, when you come home to find your home in ashes or burglarized, if your really important "STUFF" is still there an unharmed, then you properly protected it.   If it isn't then you didn't make the correct decision when you had the opportunity.    Its kind of like the man who gambles all of his money away in Las Vegas, and then wants the casino to give him a "Do over", because he thinks he has a better way of gambling or simply wants his money back!    Sorry but it doesn't work that way.

Ok, I've kind of rambled on about a simple answer for long enough, so I'll get off my soap box for now.    You decide on what and how you need for your security.

If you need a good safe company you might try Wilson Safe in Philadelphia.   They have a large show room with a good selection to choose from.

Wilson Safe Company
3031 Island Avenue PO Box 5310 Philadelphia PA 19142 United States
Phone: 800-345-8053
Fax: 215-492-7104

A smaller, closer company is Torbik Safe & Lock, they have a much smaller assortment available:

Torbik Safe & Lock, Inc
570-825-0013,          Lee Torbik
575 S Main St.
Wilkes-Barre, PA   18701

Feel free to check out our website also, we do ship all over the country.   At a minimum it will give you three sources to look at to get some ideas on what is available, and what different levels of protection you can choose from.

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.