You are here:

Antique Safes/Alpine Safe



I just came upon an old Alpine safe today. Not really sure what I'm going to do with it, but it is quite heavy to deal with. Are these old safes solid metal (cast iron?) or do they have a concrete core? I was wondering if it would be possible to lighten it up by removing the concrete core, assuming it has one? Any suggestions about how to go about removing a core? I hate to even think about it, but would this safe have any value if taken to a scrap yard?

ANSWER: Hi Mike,

it is against federal law to intentionally ruin an antique safe!   Well if it isn't it should be!

I'm not sure why you would possibly see more value in scrap metal than in a possibly antique safe?

while you are free to do with it as you wish, I'm not sure how to answer your questions!

They are not solid cast iron, only the door frame is.  The rest is a thin sheet steel skin, with a motar or fire resistive insulation.

The time involved in stripping it for scrap value is pretty much wasted time.   You can probably make more money with a regular job than you will get after hours of back breaking labor stripping the steel.

As far as how I would go about it - I wouldn't.

Sorry,  I'm not sure what answer you were hoping for but I can't be of much help here!

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

QUESTION: Yes, I agree that it should be against the law! The intention of my original question was more about how to make the safe less heavy. I live in a beautiful old 1930's home with original wood floors, and my plan was to put the safe in the corner by my desk, but after finding out just how heavy the safe is, I don't dare bring it inside my home for fear of destroying/bending the floorboards. Even the door itself is a work of art, and I considered mounting it on the wall, yet the door's weight prevents that plan as well. Living in Hawaii, there is extermely limited demand for such an item, and shipping anywhere else becomes prohibitely expensive. So at the moment my only option is to keep the body of the safe outside where it will eventually start rusting. I fell in love with this safe from the moment I first saw it - I am merely trying to evaluate options, no matter how distasteful they may sound. There is a name hand painted on the safe that I intend to research further, along with "Honolulu, T. H." (Territory of Hawaii), so the safe comes with a century of history from before Hawaii was even a state. If you have any suggestions regarding my predicament Terry, I am all ears.

Hi Mike,

Couple ideas for the safe (we do this all the time), cut one inch plywood, about 6" larger than the area the safe sits on, and place the safe on this.    This will prevent damage to the floor AND spread the weight out more.    

If you are worried about the wheels turning/rolling, get a piece of channel iron and slip it under the wheels (front to back), so that two wheels are captured.    Again this will help spread the weight and keep it from rolling.

The floor will handle much more weight than you probably believe.    While there are math calculations for floor construction, generally you can figure about 200 lbs per square foot.   So a safe which is 24" wide by 24" deep would cover a 4 square foot area.   With 6" of extra plywood, all the way around, this covers 9 square feet times 200 is about 1800 lbs.    Depending on the size of your safe, the floor shouldn't have a problem supporting this weight.

Clean it up and make a nice display.

Welcome to safe collecting.

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.