Locksmithing/identify safe



Hello Terry,
    First I appreciate your offer to answer questions. I belong to a Fraternal Organization in the Pacific North West.  We have a Mosler Floor Safe in a small locked room in the back of our building. (hard to get good pictures)  If you could identify the approximate age,  weight and manufacture of the safe body we would appreciate it.  I'm sure this is not easy with just two photographs.  I'm thinking the door and lock-set are an early hand change Mosler 302 lock.  I'm guessing that the safe is in the 1930's or earlier time period and around 400lbs with wheels that allow right or left movement.  The dimensions are “body, 40 5/8” high, with wheels 45”, 23” deep and 22” across.  Because of the weight I think this safe is a “Inner and Outer wall safe with concrete filler for fire rating.  Hopefully it does not have any additional plating.
    We unfortunately had (and still have:>) a individual that locked some receipts in the safe, not knowing that we did not have the combination. We are trying to decide if it is worth paying a safe technician to open it or cut an access hole in the back of the safe body to get to the receipts, wheel pack and locking bar to open the door. This wall breach would be welded back in after the combination is determined  (cutting wheel on the outside plate, hammer drill on the concrete filler, metal saw on the inside plate.  We have a couple of members that have metal fabrication shops plus I also have the tools).  The body seems a little rough, especially the hinge assembly's, also the safe has been painted in gunboat Grey and this would make anything look rough.
    We have ask for and received a quote from a local lock smith.  However the quote is far more than the receipts in the safe amount to.  I am not trying to belittle the skills of Lock Smiths or Safe Technicians.  I think this is a skill that takes a lot of time to acquire (Actually I have had a lot of fun looking at the mechanics of safes, I find it  quite interesting.) I would appreciate any information that you could provide.  I can also provide more pictures if required .  Again, thank you for your time.
Best Regards,


The manufacturer of the safe is the "Mosler Safe Company" of Hamilton, Ohio - no longer in business.   You are correct in that the safe is probably from the 1930's or early 40's.   However the lock is NOT an MR 302, which wasn't developed until about 30 years later.   Chances are the lock is a B101/103 or something similar.

As far as the "weight" goes, I don't have enough information to give an estimate, however based on your "sizes", I would have to guess that it is probably around 1000-1500 lbs - but that's just a guess.

A fair price for a safe technician to open the safe - without destroying it - so that it is opened, the combination recovered, and left in operational condition, would be around $350-$500 plus any necessary parts.

You have to understand that the cost for the labor has nothing to do with WHAT is inside the safe, and/or how much the safe is worth.   The cost for your time to ruin the safe, and use metal shop tools, time and material to open and repair it, aren't going to be any cheaper - if you are honest about the costs, and even if you do the work yourself, as your time has value also.    The difference is going to be similar to having open heart surgery - While every doctor on the planet has an idea of where your heart is, and can surely cut you open, get to your heart, and possibly repair it - the question has to do with the amount of damage done compared to having a specialist open and repair the safe without damaging or destroying anything, AND the safe will be open AND repaired in a very minimal amount of time.

while this is only a fire resistive safe, and NOT a burglary resistive container, doesn't mean that they are:  #1 easy to get into, and #2 easy to repair.   If you don't plan on using this container again, then ruining it is certainly an option, however if you expect to be able to use it again, I think you will regret all of the work involved, when you could have easily had it opened and repaired, in a VERY minimal amount of time by a trained safe technician.

The best that I can offer at this time would be to refer you to a safe technician in your area.   Note:   I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work, as they generally do not have the training, education or skills to work on safe.    Same reasons that I don't recommend this type of work as a DIY project.    Let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I might know in your area.

Good luck.  


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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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