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Locksmithing/broken old floor safe


QUESTION: I have an old circ. 1982 floor safe that was flooded years ago and rusted.  Some one I guess attempted to open it but twisted the combination dial off and also twisted the release lever off . I don't know the type of  safe but it was a lock made by sargent and greenlee.   Ive tried local locksmiths but no one wants to work on it.  I have some time being incapacitated and thought I would give it a go.  So I drilled through the combination area first  good grief it was 2.5 in. of steel, but im not able to open it.  Any suggestions

ANSWER: James,

First mistake - never use locksmiths for safe work as they generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes.   You are fortunate that they all turned you down.

Second mistake - I never recommend projects like this as a DIY item, for the same reasons I don't recommend using locksmiths.

Hopefully you haven't ruined the container to a point that it can't be opened or repaired.

Recommendation #1   Contact a local SAFE company, that has a trained safe technician on staff, to have them open the safe for you.

Recommendation #2   If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

while I applauded your efforts, if safes were easy to break into, even by owners, they wouldn't be called "safes", they would probably be called piggy banks!

I've opened a lot of safes which were in similar conditions to yours, and because of rust and corrosion, none of them were easy, even for me, which would make it doubly hard for a locksmith or as a DIY project.   I even had to open one up that was STILL under 6 inches of water - let me tell you that was an interesting job.

"ONE" inch of solid steel can grow to about 12" of rust, as it corrodes, which means that the worse the corrosion, the more the door can be stuck or bound up.   While using a rust killer and penetrating oil to flood the door can help, until the lock and bolt work are retracted the door will never open.

contact a local safe company to see if they can do to help you.   Warning:   Unless you absolutely have to see what is inside the safe, cost to open it WILL possibly be more than buying a new one and having it installed.

Hope this helps

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

QUESTION: Thanks do know anyone in lexington ky

Hi James,

I would recommend you contact Joe Cortie, he was the president of the Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA), and is a master safe technician.   If he can't help you, he WILL know of someone in your area who can.

J Cortie Locksmiths
Lexington, KY 40514  


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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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