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Locksmithing/Replacing Winchester Safe Lock

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Question
We had a burglary a year ago where they damaged our Winchester gun safe and removed the electronic key pad... they scratched it up a good bit, but were unable to get inside the safe.  The only way for us to get into the safe at that point was to have it drilled to open it.  Winchester paid to have that done and sent us a replacement gun safe (metal guage a little thinner.. but hey.. we did get a replacement).

We still have the old safe though and are thinking about trying to use it again (probably more for important papers than firearms). but we need to put a new lock on it.  Is this going to be a problem since it was drilled?  My husband welds and is mechanically inclined.. so I don't think it will be a problem to deal with the actual holes in the casing.. but I don't know what brand/model of lock to purchase.. and if there are any special things we need to know since the safe had to be drilled to get it open.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks!

Answer
Sarina,

First off, concerning your keeping "important papers" in the container.   If it does NOT have a MINIMUM of 1 hour of fire resistance, then I wouldn't recommend it.   Obviously 2 hours of heat resistance is better, and less than 1 hour would be worse.

As for your husband repairing the safe, if he can weld, then I don't need to go over repairs.   My recommendation would be to repair the hole to EXCEED what the manufacture originally had in place for drill resistance.   welding ball bearings or hardened steel pins in the holes will make it slightly stronger than it was before.

Also, different locks require different opening techniques and/or holes.  So while repairing this hole to a stronger steel, will not make the surrounding steel any harder.

As far as the type lock that you install on the safe there are a couple really good brands, and a number of "cheap" brands.   Even some of the good brands have problems though.   My recommendation for ease of use and installation would be the LaGard Basic II.  AMSEC's ESL series locks are also easy to install and fairly reliable, though the instructions are not as well written as I would like to see.
S&G makes a couple good locks, however I see too high a failure rate in these locks.   Many of the manufacturers swear by them though.
Mechanical locks are much more reliable in the long run, though because of all the dialing back and forth to make them operate, they are fast loosing their apeal.

Hope this helps answer some of your questions.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 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.

Experience

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. 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 Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

Organizations
SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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 Expert 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 and Western Nevada)

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