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Antique Safes/fixing a vandalized safe


J. Hillsburg safe
J. Hillsburg safe  

J. Hillsburg safe
J. Hillsburg safe  
Hello Andy,
    My wife has re-acquired a house she lived in years ago & after her former husband died & the town needed the house cleaned out (she was under the assumption he lost the house in foreclosure... apparently not).Inside was an old safe (J. Hillsburg Safe Co. - Syracuse, NY)that came with the house when she first bought it (can send what pics I can get). the house was empty for at least 5 years & every crackhead in town was inside doing the party thing. The safe was never opened (although they tried. They tried smacking the dial off with a hammer & pry bar, tried drilling through the dial. So, the question is there any way it can still be opened, and do you know if any replacement parts from the era are still available?

Hi Jack,

Your safe is NOT a "J. Hillsburg Safe Co." safe - while it may have been sold by them, it is actually from the "Reliable Safe Company" of Covington, KY.   Safes were built between 1916 to 1941 when it was acquired by the Mosler Safe Company.

From you photos it does appear that the dial is still on the safe, so depending on the damage it may be repairable.

As far as getting the safe open - yes, but you will need a safe technician from a local safe company.   

As far as parts available - NO!   There are no aftermarket manufacturers and as the company has been out of business for about 75 years - unless you have a time machine - good luck finding parts.

Recommendation 1:    Get the safe open so that you can determine the amount of damage.

Recommendation 2:    Look at repairs afterwards.    You can discuss the repairs with your local safe company.   If they can't do the repairs, I may have some recommendations for companies that may be able to help.

Sorry about the damage.

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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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