Locksmithing/J. Baum lock repair


J. Baum lock
J. Baum lock  
QUESTION: I have a J. Baum antique safe, #80995, that I had restored about 15 yrs. ago.  I use it frequently. The last few times I opened it, I noticed it more difficult and would need to jiggle the handle until it came unlocked.  Yesterday, it took me probably 50 attempts before I got it open.  A locksmith (yes, perhaps this was a mistake) came over and took the 1" brass cover off (2 screws) and came to the conclusion that the outermost brass sprocket had worn to the point that the metallic piece of metal would not catch in the teeth of the sprocket.  His suggestion is to pry out the metallic piece and make another one a bit longer which would then properly catch in the teeth.  I haven't had him do anything yet.  Any help/suggestions you have are greatly appreciated.

ANSWER: Jerry,

NEVER, EVER, EVER use a locksmith for safe work!!!!   While Safe Technicians are generally locksmiths, rarely are locksmiths also safe technicians.   This is born out by the locksmiths lack of knowledge in the operation of THIS particular lock.

On this particualr lock, there is NO relationship between the operation of the handle, and/or gravity lever - and the operation of the lock (wheels), other than if the combination is dialed correctly, the gates in the wheels WILL line up allowing the gravity lever to engage the wheels - moving out of the way of the bolt carry bar.   The handle can then retract the locking bolts.

IF the wheels are not dialing correctly for the numbers that you are using, it may be necessary to adjust the numbers that YOU are using slightly, to ensure that the gates in the wheels are aligning correctly.

While wear and age, MAY cause your combination (or the numbers you are using) to no longer line up correctly, resetting the combination, or simply observing WHAT numbers actually cause the wheels to line up correctly is all that is necessary.

His suggestion to try to "pry" out the end of the lever, or in any way damage the lock should be a RED flag NOT to use him.   If you took your car to a mechanic to have the oil changed, and they indicated that they would have to damage the engine to change the oil - you wouldn't hesitate to take your car to someone else.   Just because someone indicates that they work on safes is no guarantee that they actually have the training or knowledge - ESPECIALLY on older safes like this.

I'm glad you checked in on this one, before having him ruin your lock, as this should be a relatively easy adjustment to make.
BOTTOM LINE:  the numbers that YOU are using may not be the CURRENT correct ones to operate the lock.   Simple observation WILL reveal the correct numbers.

While this will not correct any wear in the lock, without having the lock in my hands or available, I can't make a determination of any other work that needs to be done at this time.

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

QUESTION: Thank you so much for your help and advice.  Do you have any recommendation as to a Safe Technician in my area?  I live in the 80634 zip area (northern Colorado).


Unfortunately, there aren't a lot of really good safe techs in Colorado, but I'll provide you with the names of a couple you can talk to.

J & R Safe and Security, Inc.
7857 Scarborough Drive
Colorado Springs, CO 80920-7117

SEAHORSE Safe & Lockout Svc, Inc
P. O. Box 2123
Longmont, CO 80502

Hopefully one of these can help you.


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

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 - 2014 - 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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