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Antique Safes/Weight of old safe for upcoming move


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Mr. Andreasen,

I'm a U.S. Marshal in Los Angeles, CA. My current assignment is a Judicial Security Inspector which carries with it an enormous array of duties, of which is the security for all federal courts in my district. I am heavily involved with the planning of the new downtown LA federal courthouse and everything that goes with our space. I have a farely large collection of USMS memorbillia, and in our new lobby museum I am designing / creating will be the old safe I have sent pictures of. This safe appears to be an old DIEBOLD, late 1800's, dimensions (H-4')(W-3' 2 1/2")(D-2'5"). The safe is in our old courthouse since it was built in 1932. The clerks office has the exact same one, in better condition, and has "US District Court" lettering accross the top. The structural engineers for the new building need a fairly accurate weight of this safe for the move and because the USMS is on the 3rd floor, which will have to be re-enforced for the safe. The courts told the engineers the safe weighs 1200lbs... but my locksmith who opened the safe for us gave a guess of 3500-4000lbs... which will create some huge issues for me.
SO.... do you have any idea what we are looking at for a weight??
Any help would be great.

Hi Adam,

This is a beautiful safe, but it does need some cleaning and restoration work - especially if it will be a display item.   Your locksmith definitly has a better handle on the weight than the court people, however there are a lot of items that can really effect the actual weight of the safe.

Unfortunately I can't see the interior, so I don't know what is built inside.   If it contains a jewelers chest, then I would estimate possibly 3500 to 4000 lbs.   If not, then it probably weighs closer to the 2500 to 3000 lb mark.

In order to come up with an accurate measurement - the safe would have to be weighed.    As that may not be reasonably possible, the next best "guestimate" would involve my doing some calculations.   To do this, I will need much better photos, and much better measurements inside and out.

rough measurements can be made using the following numbers -

basic concrete or mortar figure 150 lbs per cubic foot - so if the walls are about 6" thick, you would calculate 75 lbs per linear square foot.

Basic steel weighs in at 42 lbs per square foot one inch thick.   so if the inside and outside walls are both 1/4" thick, you could figure about 21 lbs per linear square foot.

If there is a jewelers chest inside, do the math for the amount of steel using the above numbers and add to the weight of the safe.

Add 10% for the additional items, like the lock, bolt work, cabinetry, castor supports and wheels, and for a safety factor.

Then add in the weight of any items which might be stored in the safe, to give you a rough estimate of the weight of the safe for the engineers.

If necessary, send me the following requested photos along with measurements - inside and out, so I can do the calculations for you.

In order to answer questions, identify, evaluate or appraise the “current condition” of your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos (close-ups) should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, cabinetry and any special details or damage.  Note:  You may have to remove the back panel on the door to gain access to the lock & bolt work – I will need these pics.

If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.

I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe.  If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe.  Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance don’t help when we try to evaluate the container.  Note:  with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 10mb limit per email.  If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.

Please use a “jpeg” format, not a bitmap (bmp) image.   Also, I don’t like “website” photo dumps.   While it may be an easy place for you to store them, retrieving photos which allow me to zoom in to look at details, takes a lot of extra time.   Please send the requested photos directly to me.

Please send all of the requested photos to:

Note:  As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity.  Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.

Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.

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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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