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Locksmithing/herring Hall - Marvin safe



herring hall-marvin safe
Approx, 48 in tall, 3 ft wide, 28incges deep.
double doors, very old,
you answered a question on Feb 8, 2013 that the safe seemed to be just like mine.  But my problem is different,  my safe will open but the the inside doors won't.   I use my safe and we stored our work computers in the while on vacation and now can't open those doors.  It has a key that seems to be the issue which I have never used when closing doors before but it was turned accidentally.   Now doors won't open.   78606 is my zip code.
I personally think key lock is an issue but I think that I forced doors to close and the latch may be blocked, but the lever won't turn at all so I also think the key is an issue.  
Any suggestions? Would a slim Jim work if I could get between doors? There is a little room
Really need to get to my work computers. If you need more info please let me know.
Thanks for your help.

ANSWER: Stacey,

In general, lockouts and most mechanical issues require hands on servicing, diagnostics and repairs.   This means that you will need to have a trained safe technician check your safe out, to determine what the actual problem is, get the safe opened and possibly repaired.

My guess is that you've got something jammed!   Whether its the inner doors are not closed completely, or the outer doors and bolt work were not closed correctly, it will have to be examined.

I do have names for two companies that are nearby that you can discuss the problem with to see if they can help you.    I don't personally know either company well enough to recommend one over the other, so you will have to decide who seems better.   If you do have questions about their proposed methods or charges, feel free to run it by me before having them do the work!!!

Fortress Lock, Safe & Security
14213 Running Deer Trail
Austin, TX  78734

Fuller's Alamo Safe & Lock
3723 West Ave
San Antonio, TX  78213

I hope that one of these companies will be able to help you out.

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

QUESTION: Thanks for your quick reply.
If we think the key has been slightly imperfect with one of the points/teeth do you think that it is worth trying to get a replacement key and having them lengthen that one point to see if that will possibly unlock all the tumblers.
It clicks when we turn it, so I am not sure if there could be more "tumblers" not opening therefore not allowing the safe to open.  
Or if you think if we are hearing the bar click open then if the bars are blocked on the back is there something like a flat metal tool (like a slim Jim) that we could slide between the doors (which may fit) and push up the bar to release it?  
I am not sure of the lever diagram on the back side.

Hi Stacy,

Unless you know which "tooth" of the key is "bad", AND which direction it is bad (+ or -) AND exactly how much to adjust it, you are simply guessing.    There is no way to tell from the outside which "lever" is currently out of alignment, and/or which direction it needs to go.

Most of the key lock on safes have "anti-picking" serrations on the leading edge, that will engage the two or three teeth in the lock fence.   If the key is not correct or has a bad cut or slot, then it will allow THAT lever to be misaligned, and the serration will not allow the fence to enter the lever gate, and open.

Depending on the lock that you are dealing with, it could have from 5 to 9 levers - any of which could be out of alignment.

The lock itself, is a single entity, the locking bolt work (bars) are a separate item.   Each of this items works independently of the other.   The only interaction would be in the locked condition, where the lock bolt, restricts the movement of the door bolt work.   If the lock and/or bolt work are currently jammed, using something like a "slim Jim" will probably NOT affect the operation.   The lock must be unjammed or operated correctly BEFORE the door bolt work will move.

While you can surely try some small metal objects to try to retract or force the bolt work to the retracted position - if the lock bolt is blocking the bolt work, it will not move.

Again, mechanical problems require hands on diagnostics.   As I'm not there, and can't tell WHAT the clicking nose is, or where it is coming from, I can't answer the question concerning what is currently happening.    All I can do is to explain the action and interaction of the lock and bolt work, and what SHOULD happen.

Sorry I can't be of more 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

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

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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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