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Locksmithing/small Protectall safe being difficult


My old Protectall safe has worked well until a few months ago.  Yesterday it was particularly difficult.  When I finally got to zero successfully, the knob was difficult to turn.  The safe is still open because I'm afraid if I close it I won't be able to open it again.

Numbers on inside of door are:  Spec F1-D, Safe 534136, and Y404950.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.


"Old" is being polite!  

Protectall manufactured safes during the 1930's until it was acquired by Mosler in 1941.   Mosler continued the label (logo) under their name until the factory was closed down in 1949 and all fabrication moved back to their headquarters in Hamilton, Oh.   During the 1950's while they still used the "logo", these were NOT the original Protectall series of safes.

As you have referenced a Safe Manufacturers National Association (SMNA) testing label, this tells us that the safe (specification F1-D) was simply a fire resistive safe.   Also as SMNA did not rate or test safes after the early 1960's, your safe has to be a minimum of over 50 years old - probably closer to 60 years old.

As I doubt that this safe has had regular maintenance done on it, it isn't much of a wonder that it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate.    Several issues could be causing these problems, including combinations of wear, tear, abuse, lack of grease (lubricant) or old grease, etc. etc. etc.

In order to evaluate the safe for continued future use and/or operation, you would need to have it inspected, cleaned, lubricated and reset by a safe technician from a local safe company (NOT a locksmith).

Note:  In general, safes over 50 years old DO NOT meet any current standards for fire or burglary resistance.   As your safe was only designed for fire resistance, and is NOT a burglary resistive safe, this again limits it use.

Cost to have it inspected and maintenance done should be in the $150 to $250 range plus any necessary replacement parts.   Note:   as this container is over 50 years old, replacement parts may be limited, and depending on WHAT the actual problem is, parts may have to be fabricated.

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

You made the correct decision to leave the safe open and NOT use it, until after you have had it serviced or inspected.

Bottom line recommendation - I would recommend that you save the money you would be spending to have this safe serviced and use it to buy a new safe which will meet your fire and burglary protection needs.    DO NOT buy cheaply made safes which are found at most of the local big box stores.   As with anything, you get what you pay for.   if you want your new safe to last as long as the Protectall, then you need to get a good quality safe.

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

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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