Locksmithing/Saf d posit 1180


QUESTION: We have an 1180 Saf D Posit which we lowered into a hole in the ground.  Now we can't get it opened.  Didn't think to open it in the laid down position before lowering it into the ground.  Does the safe in this position pose a problem for opening the door?


First off, these safes were NEVER designed to be placed in the ground!!!!!   This container was simply a small document safe, to protect documents from fire (ABOVE ground).   It is NOT a burglary resistive safe, and installing it in the ground would NOT make it any more secure!

Chances are the insulation has swollen and jammed your safe door.

"IF" you can still dial the combination, and "IF" the handle still turns, then the door is unlocked.   You may have to use some wedges or small pry bars to "UNJAM" the door and open it.

"IF" the insulation is swollen, you will not be able to dry it out or repair it, so basically you are going to be left with "hole in the ground"!

There are safes which are designed to be installed in the ground, in concrete, which "IF" installed correctly will give you years of untroubled operation.   I have one that I've been using for around 30 years now - it has no rust issues, no moisture issues, and it doesn't swell.

Sorry, I wish you had consulted with me, or a local safe company before you made this mistake.

If you still can't get it open, you may need to have a local safe company check it out to see if they can help you.

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QUESTION: I may not have been clear enough in the original question.  The safe is currently on its back in the ground, not on its feet.  Does the lock rely on gravity to unlock as we turn the dial through its combination?  The safe was just lowered into the hole yesterday which is surrounded by cement and sand and we left a gap on the sides.  Hope this question is a little more clearer.



ANSWER: Hi Joni,

No, I pretty much figured that you had installed it on its back, to have access to the door.

The part that you left out was that you had just installed it - I assumed that it had been installed for some time - which is why I indicated that the insulation was probably swollen.

With the new information, it really doesn't change the end result, that the door is jammed, its just from a different source.

As the concrete dries it expands.   As your container is only built out of a very thin sheet steel over a gypsum or plaster of Paris type of insulation, the walls of the safe do NOT provide any real support against the pressure of the drying concrete.   This pressure, even with your slight gap, can cause the walls of the safe to collapse slightly to bind or jam the door.

Also if any of the concrete was allowed to "spill" onto the door or in the door jamb, it would also swell during drying and jam the door.

Back to the original answer -

Question 1:  Can you still dial the combination???   and if so,
Question 2:  Can you still turn the handle to retract the locking bolts???

If so, then the door is jammed into the body.   You can possibly pry it loose, and then with some "body work", open the gap so that the door works sufficiently well.

If you can't turn the dial or correctly dial the combination, then you have another possible problem.   If after correctly dialing the combination, you still can't turn the handle, this would either be due to the combo NOT being aligned correctly, and/or the bolt work being jammed by the stuck door, swelling in the body, or concrete in the bolt work.

So while I have a slightly clearer picture of the installation now, it doesn't really change my original assessment and/or problems that need solving.   In answer to your question - NO, the lock does not rely on "gravity" to operate.

Make sure that you are dialing slowly, and smoothly.   Do not whirl or spin the dial.

Hopefully it is simply a dialing error, and not swelling caused by the concrete.

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

QUESTION: Thank you for your quick response.  Again, to clarify, the cement is not up against the safe.  We poured the concrete & let it set.  We left a gap all around the safe so it lowered down into to hole nice and clean.  We left sand on the bottom just in case any water was to have gone down in the hole so it has drainage.  Our safe does not have a handle on it.  You turn the dial for the combination then turn the key.  Our main concern was that the dial wasn't working properly because it was on its back and gravity played a part.  But you cleared that up.  So, after about the 10th try, we were able to open the door wedging a big flathead screwdriver and lifting the door and getting another screwdriver to open it.  So, after all this, it finally opened.  Thank you for getting back with us.  I really appreciate the time you took in answering our questions.


This is why I always say that "in general" mechanical issues always require "hands on diagnostics and solutions".    It is extremely hard to diagnose by descriptions of the problems.

Now that you have it open, I would ensure that it is clean, serviced and operational.   I would also recommend installing some type of pull handle.    most hardware stores have pull handles for drawers or gates, that could easily be installed on the door to give you that extra "pull" capability.

After all, you don't want to be continually fighting with the drawer.

Also be careful with the door.   As it was not designed to be used in this position, gravity CAN be a problem.   If the door is allowed to slam shut, it could cause damage to the door, your possessions or your fingers.

Good luck with it, and glad I could help.


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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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