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Antique Safes/U.S. safe


QUESTION: I need advise on how to move an old floor safe...from West Virginia to Iowa...can you help? I have a photo of it, if you need to see it. The door stenciling says "United States Safe Co.", "W.C. Clark, Gen'l Ag't", "Pittsburgh, PA.". It has a 2-stop Yale combo lock, which still works. I estimate the age of this safe at 100 years old. Any idea how much this guy might weigh?  I'm thinking of getting a U-Haul, but don't really know how to get it loaded / unloaded or secured properly in the trailer.  Whatever help you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: Hi Scott,

Basic History:

The US Safe Company or "United States Safe Company" took over production of safes at the old American Safe Company in Elizabeth, NJ around 1905.   They manufactured safes until sometime in the 1920's, but were out of business by the beginning of the Great Depression (1929).   There factory (building) was torn down during the early 1930's.

W.C. Clark Safe Company, was simply a distributor or manufacturer's sales agent, for the US Safe Company.   His business was found July 1909.

So this gives us some basic dates to work from, though chances are your safe may not be quite 100 years old yet.

As far as guessing weights - sorry but I'm married - I NEVER guess weights!    I may be old but I'm not crazy!    How does that story go???    Does this safe make my butt look big!   LOL

Sorry, I couldn't resist.     As you didn't give me any accurate dimensions to work from and/or an accurate description of the TYPE of safe, I have no way of guessing --  sorry, estimating the weight of your safe.    I would need some measurements (inside and out) and a few photos of the safe to "estimate" a weight.

A word of warning, if you are trying to move this safe as a DIY project.    Most people have NO concept of weight.    Once you get above 500 lbs its all the same.    Two big problems when moving "HEAVY weight safes"    #1 - Gravity is NOT your friend, and #2 - if things go wrong, they are going to go wrong EXTREMELY quickly, meaning possible "death, dismemberment and/or destruction"!

For liability reasons we do not give any instructions on moving heavy items like safes.    If you don't have the correct equipment and knowledge to load / unload and/or secure the safe on the trailer, you are simply courting disaster.    

If your safe is 40" to 50" tall and around 30" square, you could easily be in the 1200 to 1800 lbs range, depending on the type of safe and construction.   If it is larger than this, it could weigh much more.

My recommendation is to have some one that already has the capability and/or equipment to move heavy items.   The cost will far out weigh the consequences of an accident.

I would DEFINITLY discuss your options with the company that you plan on renting the trailer from.   They may tell you that their trailers are not equipped to load/unload or carry that type of item without using special equipment.

Hopefully this helps, or at least presents some ideas to mull over.    If you would like me to look at the safe, I will need measurements and photos to get a better idea of its possible weight.

Send them to me at

Unfortunately I won't see them until possibly Monday, though I may be in the field working until Wednesday!

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

QUESTION: Thanks for your response.  Sounds like I don't even want to tangle with this monkey.  Are there moving agencies that specialize in this kind of move, and if so can you provide contact information for one (or more) of them in the West Virginia area?  I can tell you that when it was moved previously - approx. 1 mile - it was strapped to the crane of a tow truck operated by a fellow my dad knew.  I doubt that's practical for a >700 mile journey, but it makes for a good story.

ANSWER: Hi Scott,

I can't begin to tell you how many stories I hear of antique safes being moved strapped to a tow truck or in the bucket of a front end loader or something similar.

First apart from this being dangerous, it doesn't even begin to address the unrepairable damage to a possibly antique safe, as well as the damage to its value, AND the cost to repair it, or fabricate replacement costs.    Even an undamaged antique safe with all of the components intact, can cost thousands of dollars to restore it to original condition, so you can imagine the additional cost for moving it incorrectly.

In answer to your question, there are companies that specialize in moving safes - correctly and safely, with due regard for no damage to the safe or the property it is being moved out of.

Moving heavy items like safes requires special equipment.   Also special considerations have to be given to the surface you are moving over.    For instance sub-floors may need re-enforcing to hold the additional weight.    Even on a concrete slab, marble and tile floors require special preparations to avoid damage.   Carpeted areas can easily be ruined if it is not protected.

To give you an idea of how things can go wrong extremely quickly - we have the capability of moving up to 10,000 lbs regularly.   On one occasion when we were moving a Diebold Bankers model which was in the 9,000 lbs range, one of our 20,000 lbs belts broke, dropping the safe through the edge of the bed of our truck, and punching a hole through about 8" of concrete.    Damage to this particular safe was minor - mainly scratch paint!!!!    But if one of our guys had been standing nearby, it could have been fatal.
Our industry recently lost a specialist, who during a safe move, several years ago, lost both legs when a safe lost balance and fell on him.   

Both of these events happened to trained professionals WITH all of the necessary equipment, taking necessary safety precautions.    So you can imagine the damage and injuries that are possible when this is done as a DIY project, without taking all necessary precautions.

Unfortunately, there are not very many companies in the country that specialize in moving safes, especially when you get above the 3,000 lbs range.   And not many companies in your area.   
Saying "West Virginia" area, doesn't give me much of an exact area to work from, so I have several possibilities - depending on where the safe is at and where it needs to go.  The nearest would either be from the Lexington, KY area. or from a couple companies in Virginia.

As you mentioned you plan on moving it around 700 miles, so you may need someone to load it up and then a second company to unload it and install it at the new location.    I would need zip codes for the pick up area and delivery areas to actually provide you with some contacts.

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

QUESTION: The zip codes are: 26143 at the pickup point, 50208 for drop-off. I sent a photo of the safe to your e-mail account and will try to get more and dimensions as soon as I can.  I appreciate all the time you've taken so far to respond to this and provide so much very useful information.

Hi Scott,

You have a couple options -

1.   Have a safe company pick it up, and arrange shipping to the drop location, and a second safe company install it.

2.   Have a safe company assist you in loading and unloading at each end.

Unfortunately, with the distance, I'm not sure any single company is going to be involved - at a reasonable rate.

Possibly the closest company around that might help with either of these two options is about 2-1/2 hours away in Finleyville, PA - problem is they list a 1500 lbs limit.

Technical Services Inc.
725-969-2595          Tom Demont
6174 State Route 88
Finleyville, PA   15332

So we definitely need to establish a better "weight" to see if he can assist, and it would be worth your while to contact him to discuss it as well.

Unfortunately you have pretty much the same problems on the receiving end, as they are about 3 hours North of Newton.

Sellers Lock & Safe
507-433-2787          Jeffery Sellers
704 19th St SW
Austin, MN  55912

I would recommend contacting both companies to see what they can offer to assist you.    You could still to the U-Haul rental using these safe companies for onsite moving and loading assistance.

Generally moving companies like North American Van Lines and/or Bekins won't handle items like safes as they do not have the means of loading / unloading and properly securing it in transit.

Hope this helps,

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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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