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Locksmithing/Diebold round vault door


I am working on a diebold round vault door from late 20's early 30's. It is and has been swinging very hard for at least 10 years. I removed the lower weight baring hinge pin. To find there is no, and appears to be no possible way to ever have been a thrust barring. So all the weight pivots on bare of the hinge pin. Tried packing it with grease to no avail. Any suggestions?


Sorry, but Mechanical issues require hands on diagnostics and solutions.

My first recommendation would be to contact Diebold to see if they have any specs on the door and/or hinge, so that you have a better "technical" idea of how it was intended to work.    You may also want to see if you can get onsite help from a Diebold Maintenance rep.    While they may not have any more knowledge than you, they WILL have access to all of Diebold's records, technical drawings, specs and any other items which may be necessary to complete this job.

Without actually seeing the hinge assembly first hand, I would need some REALLY good photos and a technical drawing of what you have found, to come up with some possible solutions.   The best I can offer at this point would be some thought processes or ideas for you to follow.

My initial thoughts are - obviously this design WAS intended to work correctly when it was designed.   So what are the issues which could be keeping it from working, and/or difficulties that you would experience during maintenance.

1.  Old dried up grease
2.  Rust
3.  Dirt & debris
4.  Metal on metal or galling.
5.  Worn hinge pins, bushings or bearings

So far the only info that you have given me pertains to the lower hinge pin.   If this is a pressure bar or crane hinge type door, you still have three other hinges that need maintenance.

Simply packing one with new grease would have zero effect on any of the three issues above.   All of the hinges need to be stripped down - completely!   Cleaned and polished, and relubricated correctly.   

On large crane hinge doors this is NOT going to be a simple task because of the weight of the components involved, meaning that the door needs to be closed securely (not necessarily locked), and the crane hinge, pivots and bearings completely disassembled, cleaned and inspected (including measuring for wear), then lubricated appropriately and reassembled.

Look for any signs of scoring which would indicated metal on metal or seizing.   These areas would need polishing and/or special attention.   Check for bushings - while they may not have any thrust or roller bearings, they may have had bronze bushings - which are a sacrificial piece.   These should be changed out with new ones, which may have to be machined to fit.

With all of the right equipment and two men, this would be a couple day job to do under the best conditions.   If you don't have parts and/or have to fabricate them, this will drag out the job, so make sure that your customer isn't expecting something like a couple hour quick fix.  If they wanted simple service, they should have had regular maintenance performed annually, since the 1920's to have kept it in top condition.

Obviously without actually seeing the door and its current condition, I have to speculate that "other than the hinges", it is in proper operating condition.   Several years ago, we were called in to restore three extremely large crane hinge doors from around 1905.   Fortunately the customer was not using the vaults, and we could work on it on OUR schedule, but it took almost a year, working 2-3 days each week to bring all three back to life - however this was a complete restoration and not just a hinge job.

If the door is in an operating bank, or the customer needs access, you may only have enough time to work on one hinge & pivot per day, to do a good job.   If you find a problem with a particular hinge or pivot, you can at least clean and lube it, to keep it operational, while you get the necessary repair or replacement items.   Again, as parts are NOT going to be readily available, you may have to have them machined or fabricated.

While I applaud your efforts to work on this door, this is one of those cases where if you don't know what you are doing - you possibly shouldn't be doing it.   While we all have to learn in order to become better at our trade, it isn't ethical to learn (and charge) at your customer's expense.

I'm not sure what your warranty or guarantee period is, but this is one of those cases where if you touch this door for repairs, you may be marrying it for a considerable period of time.   Think through what you consider reasonable, and discuss it with your customer.   They may want something more than you are willing to offer.    While 90 days is more than reasonable in most cases - this is the type of repair that needs a MINIMUM of a 1 year warranty for service.

Hope this helps somewhat.   In order to be of more help, I would need the requested photos, technical drawings, etc.  and then you would also be into the realm of consultant fees.    Sorry, but if you are charging for your services, I'm sure you understand that after a certain point, I have to charge for mine as well.


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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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