Locksmithing/STAR lock


Hello Andy,

I have been having problems with a STAR/Amsec safe opening.  After an hour of repeatedly dialing in the combo, it did finally open.  I read a posting where you wrote, "the lever/fence assembly is binding up".  I am fairly technical and prefer to do most work myself.  Would it be possible for me to "service" this lock?  I am supposing it is a matter of cleaning and lubricating with the proper compounds.  If I were to (or could?) carefully remove the back cover, might I safely do this with proper instruction from you?  I do realize this would void my warranty.

Thank you for any assistance you can provide,


One of the first things that I ALWAYS tell people when they attempt to compare a safe or problem that they have WITH something that they read.   I don't do this as a professional in this business, so I have a hard time understanding why anyone else would also.   Unless you actually have the safe in question AND the safe you are comparing it to side by side to compare the problem to, then it probably ISN'T the same thing.

Unless your safe or door is under a year old, it has no warranty - period!   Manufacturers warrantee's on safes and/or locks is generally ONLY one (1) year unless specifically mentioned by a manufacturer.

As far as taking this apart as a DIY project, I would NEVER recommend this for exactly the same reason that I never recommend using a locksmith for safe work.   Lack of knowledge, training and tools can easily result in an expensive lockout.   You could easily be looking at between $500 to $1,000 to open and repair or replace the safe door if you make even a simple mistake.

That being said, I am more than "fairly" technical, when it comes to machinery or equipment including locks and guns, yet I have a number of "projects" in the garage, that I haven't got the time to finish, and/or got to a point that I couldn't go any further.   So based on personal AND professional experience, my recommendation would be to have you simply TAKE the door into a safe company to have a trained safe technician, check it out, clean, correctly lube and service it, and then reset the combination so that it works correctly.

As far as "proper" instruction - I don't provide training for several reasons.   First you have no background or training as a locksmith, and second, my "BASIC" safe training is a week of hands on work.    This ONLY would get you an extremely BASIC knowledge of safe locks.   I've been in this business for 41 years now, and ONLY consider myself a professional student of safes and safe locks.    So as far as proper instruction, my prerequsite would require you to already be a locksmith.

I hope you understand that I'm in no way discouraging your learing this trade, as this is basically how I got started for similar reasons.    However, instead of just questioning the operation of ONE lock, I questioned them all.

Sorry, while I know this wasn't the answer you were looking for, I'm sure that you can appreciate that the answer to your question is far beyond the scope of this site.


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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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