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Antique Safes/York Safe & Lock Co


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My mother recently passed away and in her home is a Safe that we have always wondered about. It is a York Safe & Lock Co. It is rather large and very heavy. The door opens but I do not know ht combination. All the casters work like they should and over all it is in one piece. Can you help me figure out just what it is. I may be interested in refurbishing it if worth it. Kind of a nice safe. Any info will help. I have more pictures if needed.
Thank you in advance for any help.

ANSWER: Hi Damian,

Your York Safe was a late model safe, (late 1940's to late 1950's).

While your safe is not an antique, nor is it considered collectible, this doesn't mean that you can't fix it up and/or use it for something unique.

As far as restoration, these were pretty much "plain Jane" office safes, designed to protect documents from fire.

It doesn't meet any current standards for fire resistance and it shouldn't be used for overnight storage of cash, jewelry or valuable documents.    General purpose use only.

If you plan on keeping the safe and using it, I wouldn't hesitate to fix it up so that you feel good about using it.    Go ahead and give it a nice paint job, and do some lettering on it.    If the interior is simply metal shelving, maybe get rid of it and put some nice wooden cabinetry in it - maybe some wine racks or something similar.

Hope this helps give you some ideas.

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

QUESTION: Thanks so much for the fats response. Do you know where I can find instructions on setting a new combination? I am in fact going to rebuild it. I really like it and think it will work perfect for a gun safe.

ANSWER: Hi Damian,

Instructions WILL depend on the lock that you actually have installed.    NOTE:   I NEVER recommend anyone reset or change a lock combination as a DIY project for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   Lack of training, knowledge and tools can result in a very expensive lockout.    It would be WAY, WAY cheaper to have a trained safe technician inspect the lock to ensure PROPER operation and reset it, than for you to try to reset it.

Second item, You must have missed the part where I explained that your safe was designed as a fire safe, however it NO LONGER meets any standards for fire resistance, and it should NOT be used for overnight storage of cash, jewelry or valuable documents.

While I didn't include "guns" in the listing - this would include Not storing guns.

Fire Safes were designed to keep HEAT out of the safes - NOT people.   While it would resist simple tampering attacks, it would NOT protect against a burglar attack.   And I'm sure that you noticed the "WHEELS" attached to the bottom of your safe.   If it has wheels, then it can be moved.   If it can be moved then it is NOT going to be secure.

So while it is your safe, and you can do with is as you will - it is my job to try to talk you out of making a foolish mistake.    If you still plan on using it as a gun safe, then at a minimum, you need to bolt some angle iron or channel iron to the floor, setting the wheels inside the angle iron, so that the safe CANNOT be rolled away.  

While the walls of the safe APPEAR to be thick, they are made of very thin sheet steel with a light weight insulation material.    containers like this are very easy for someone to break into.   Again, they ONLY provide "TAMPER" resistance - NOT Burglary resistance.

If you can identify the lock that is on your safe, I can tell you if instructions and/or changing tools are available, how much they might cost, etc.

Hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: I completely understand where you are coming from but the chance of someone moving this without a Tommy Lift is very unlikely. I understand you say the walls are thin but I am not sure we are talking about the same safe. This thing weighs an enormous amount and could not even be picked up by 4 of my largest friends. Also I have hit the side of the safe with a 5lbs sludge and nothing just a scratch in the side. I honestly had to rent a truck with a tommy lift on it to move from my mothers to my home.I would have a hard time thinking it was so light duty. Is there a chance there is another model of this safe made more durable? I hope you do take this as I am trying to argue. It just seems that your description and mine differ. Let me know what you think.

Hi Damian,

Nope, I don't take any offense to your argument at all, and hear the same argument almost daily.    While I'm ok with the fact that you are satisfied with safe, as mentioned, it is my job (of 43 years) to point out the potential short falls of your safe.

As far as the weight of your safe is concerned and the fact that 4 of your largest friends can't move the safe, doesn't change anything I've previously indicated.    For instance, years ago, I had to open a "Market" safe which was possibly 4 times larger than your safe.   I needed to move it to have better access.   As this site was under construction, the construction crew chief indicated that 4 of his biggest guys had tried and couldn't budge it.   When the got back from lunch, I had opened the safe for them, and had it moved about 10 feet from where it was.   They of course wanted to know where my "crew" was.

Trust me when I say that your safe only weighs between 800 to 1200 lbs, and can easily be moved.

I've given you information to make your decisions, I can't make them for you.   It's no different than playing Roulette in Las Vegas.   While choosing to bet on either odd or even may be a semi-difficult decision, determining how much you are willing to risk is a different matter.    Similarly with your safe, you can choose to ignore the information that I've provided or not - its up to you.     

The labels that you provided originally should answer and substantiate all the info I've provided.    The container was a "York - Two Hour - certified Fire resistive safe.

The UL Burglary classification "T" which indicates "Tamper Resistant", NOT burglary resistant.

Sorry, that I can't give you more information,  

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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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