Locksmithing/mosler vault door


QUESTION: built a safe with mosler door model 01 ser no 103550 has worked good for years but now wont open.ive tried everything i can think of plus called dealer who sold me the door and he said that there was a million to one chance it was the door malfunction. think he is wrong.he also said if it was the door it would take a skilled expert 10 hours to drill 3 holes to open it.ive been locked out for 6 weeks and have tried silicroil penetrating oil for last3-4 weeks.im ready to drill if i have to open it then weld stainless plates over holes.      do you have any ideas?   will gladly pay for any help to get in. if my dehumifier quits and it has before my stuff could be rusting     thanks


I'm not sure who your dealer is, or what training he has, but if he hasn't even checked the door out, then I'm not sure why he would indicate that nothing is wrong with the door.   And if he has no idea WHAT the problem is, why his next step would be to immediately go to drilling????   These are all red flags that say find a real safe technician!

I'm also not sure why you are trying penetrating oil, or what purpose you are trying to accomplish with it, as (based on your description), you don't know what the problem is.

Mechanical problems require solutions based on diagnostics and knowledge of the door.   Which DOES require hands on work.

Lets break it down into some basic items, and of course this WILL depend on what you actually have on the door.   Bank vault style doors, generally have a time lock which could lock the door down for up to 144 hours - if you have waited 6 weeks, then unless you have a snubber bar or bolt work issue, this is NOT the problem.   Chances of a three movement or even a two movement lock having all of the movements fail together is extremly remote, unless you have been using the lock with failed movements already.

If it isn't a time lock issue, then we move on to the mechanical combination locks.  Bank vault style doors generally have two locks.   These locks can be set up so that EITHER one will open the door, or BOTH locks have to be unlocked to open the door.   As you haven't provided any real information on the door and/or on the locks installed - I'm making assumptions at this point.   Chances of BOTH locks failing at the same time, is extremely remote.   If the door was set for dual custody, requiring both locks to operate, then it will only take one lock failure to keep the door from opening.

If you do NOT have a bank vault style door, but a fire resistive vault door, then chances are you will ONLY have a single combination lock, and no time lock.   If this is the case and your dealer thinks it will take 10 hours to open the door, then he really has no idea about this line of work, and you should never visit him again - EVER!

Assuming that the time lock (if installed) has run down, and that one or both combination locks have unlocked correctly - if the door still won't open you have a bolt work issue.   Again it will require hands on diagnostics to determine where the problem lies with the door.   If the handle doesn't turn, then the bolt work won't retract and the door won't open.   If the handle turns but the door won't open, then SOMEWHERE in the door, you may have a disconnected bolt, carry bar or other item, which is not allowing the complete bolt work to retract correctly.

So, my first recommendation would be to contact a safe technician from a real safe company to have them CHECK out the door.   Second item would be to actually identify what equipment you have installed on the door.   Third item would be to diagnose what the actual problem is.

If as you have indicated, you have been using this door for several years without any maintenance, then you may simply be overdue for a problem like this.   Vault doors require regular maintenance so that they work consistently.   Regular maintenance should be able to identify and repair potential problems BEFORE you become locked out.

If you don't have a local safe company, WITH a qualified safe technician, let me know where you are located (zipcode), and I'll see who I know in your area.

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

QUESTION: your right about dealer.he told me the door was set up for many years of trouble free service.penetrating oil was for locking plate.little rusty but last time i locked it it was harder to turn round handle.should have tested with door open first but was in hurry.two dials set same 4 digit combination the turn to 0 and stops.only use one or other dial not both. have taken big round handle off.1/2 in square stud sticks out but wont turn. been easy  trying to wiggle it while spraying in oil. if you can help me thanks.i know of 0 local companys to help. zip28086 thank you again


I'll give you some recommendations in order of preference, however you can contact them in any order, as some are closer than others.

Talton's Safes
919-779-3545     Ray Talton
5944 Fayetteville Rd     about 155 miles
Raleigh, NC  27603

Dowless Safe & Lock Repair
910-425-7619     Downie Dowless Jr.      about 137 miles
3705 Floyd Dr
Hope Mills, NC  28348

I did look at a number of companies much closer to you, however, I don't feel comfortable recommending them.   You can contact both Ray and Downie to see if they can help you, or they may know of someone closr to you, that they might recommend.

Hope this helps,


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


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.


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".

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

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

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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