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Locksmithing/Gun safe bolt mechanism misalignment


Hello. My stack on 8 gun combination safe has 3 x 1" bolts that have become misaligned, where the top bolt sticks too far out and the bottom one doesn't emerge much at all. I can physically push the bar back into vertical position, but do not trust it enough to close it again. I appreciate whatever help you can provide.

Thank you,

Hi Ian,

Unfortunately I have some bad news for you - starting with the Benjamin Franklin quote:   "The Bitterness of Poor Quality remains LONG after the sweetness of Low Price is forgotten!"

Unfortunately inexpensive safes are built with inexpensive bolt work.   The thickness of the carriage bars is too thin allowing for too much flexibility and possible misalignment of the bolt work.

This leaves you with a few options for you to try.

1.  Contact the manufacturer to see if the safe is under any kind of warranty.    While this may get immediate relief, I doubt they are going to build it better or exchange it for a better safe.

2.  Contact a local safe company to have the bolt work "beefed up" to eliminate any problems with the bolt work.

3.  Make it a DIY project to make it better.   Of course this will depend on YOUR skill levels and availability of tools including a welder.

4.  Get rid of it and buy a better quality safe.

While option #4 is possibly the easiest option, this option also would require you to do some homework to learn what makes a good safe good.    I'm sure that when you go out to buy a car, you don't simply walk on to ANY lot, and take what ever car a salesman "STEERS" you toward, you possibly have some very specific specifications that you are looking for and willing to pay for.    Similarly you should apply this to purchasing a safe.    In General MOST manufacturers have some good quality safes and some cheaper safes because they know that while the majority of buyers are purchasing a safe to PROTECT their items - They also realize that the MAIN purchasing inducement is "THE AMOUNT OF CASH IT"S GOING TO COST!", NOT quality of the product.

I do warranty work for ALL of the major safe manufacturers, and while most of them do have some quality products, they ALL offer some really cheaply made safes.    

While it would be easy for me to simply point fingers and comment about manufacturers that I don't like, that information wouldn't assist you at this point.

My first recommendation would be to discuss the problems with the safe manufacturer to see what solutions they might offer.   I would suggest that you read over your warranty info so that you have an idea of where you stand - BEORE calling them.    It doesn't do any good to be out of warranty, and then get mad because the safe maker isn't offering any help.    Kind of gets back to the "crying over spilt milk" thing.    What you are looking for is positive solutions.    If the manufacturer can't or won't help, then you at least have three other excellent options above, to fall back on.

Hope this helps, and sorry you are having problems with your safe.  


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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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