Locksmithing/ahearn safe


QUESTION: Dear Sir;I have an old Ahearn safe that was poorly stored and the gold lettering has rusted off and most of the black paint is
flaked off.
What I would like to know is can I repaint this safe myself and have the lettering restored?
I also have one of the wheels that is broken but serviceable.Can I find a replacement?
I would also like to have an approximate value,for my children.
I would gladly send you photos,but I have no printer.However if you think it necessary,I will have a friend take photos,and send them to you.
I hope that I would not be too much trouble for you.
Thanking you in advance.
Jim Stewart


First I'll start with the company - I haven't found any documents to indicate that the Ahern Safe Company, LTD. was anything other than a distributor.    To date, every safe I've seen with their logo was actually manufactured by another company - J&J Taylor, Goldie & McCullough and the Syracuse Safe Company to name a few.

So one of our first orders of business, is to determine what you actually have, and about when it might have been made.

While the Ahern safe company was in business from around 1880 until the early 1920's, this gives us a "time frame" to look at for your safe, however they could easily have sold a used safe from that time period or earlier.

Arthur Ahern was an Irish immigrant, who came to Montreal when he was about 23 years old (around 1868 or so.   He worked for a number of companies and industries before beginning his business.   He died in 1928 at 86 years of age.

As far as replacement parts - identical parts are simply not going to be available.   This doesn't mean that you can't find something suitable, or you can't have something made, it simply means that unless you find an identical safe to use for donor parts, you aren't going to find them.
Can you adequately repair the wheel???   You might take it to a machine shop to see if they can repair it.

As for your making this a DIY project - I can't answer that, I don't know what your skills are.  If little kids with crayons have more artistic skills than you, then I would have to guess "NO" you can't paint the safe - hire someone who has some skills.   However if you have artistic skills, then I don't see why not.

As far as an evaluation, I would be more than happy to look at your safe, but I will need good quality digital photos.

In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, cabinetry and any special details or damage.  Note:  You may have to remove the back panel on the door to gain access to the lock & bolt work – I will need these pics.
If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.

I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe.  If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe.  Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance don’t help when we try to evaluate the container.  Note:  with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 12mb limit per email.  If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.

Please don’t send me “cell phone” photos, unless they are very clear and of sufficient resolution.   Also, please don’t use online, internet photo drops as most of these also don’t allow me to easily access the photos for examination.   Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.

Please send all of the requested photos to:  andy@securitysafeusa.com

Note:  As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity.  Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.

Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.

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

QUESTION: As I am not young anymore,I am trying to get a friend of mine to take photos of the sale,so I can send them to you.
This could take a little time,say a few weeks.so please be patient.
Thanks for all your help
Jim Stewart

Hi Jim,

I'm not going anywhere.   Take your time and make sure you get good photos.   I need them to be of a quality similar to my standing in front of the safe.    I need to be able to zoom in, to inspect details of the safe, so I am more than happy to wait for a good set of photos.

I'm just happy to help you.


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

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 - 2014 - 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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