Locksmithing/Ahern Safe


Ahern Safe
Ahern Safe  
Hi Terry,
I have a Ahern Safe.
The numbers 334 on it.
It is equipped with a time lock .
I can't get it opened .
Can you help me ?
Cinzia ,
I can send you pictures but I will wait for your reply .
Thanks again

Hi Cinzia,

The Ahern Safe Company began about 1880 by Arthur Ahern, who immigrated to Montreal from Ireland.   It only lasted until sometime in the late 1920's.

This company was not a manufacturer, but only a distributor or general agent for several other companies including J&J Taylor, Goldie & McCullough, and Syracuse Safe Company.    The labels and/or graphics he put on the safes was simply for advertising reasons.

In general, time locks ONLY provide protection for periods between 72 to 168 hours, depending on the movements installed.    Once the time period set (from 0 to the max) has run down, the time lock is disengaged.   The ONLY thing holding the door shut is the standard combination lock.

The ONLY way that the time lock would be holding the bolt work in check, would be if it had completely failed with time on all movements.
Time locks were installed with from two to five movements (3 being more of a standard number).   The extra movements were back ups, so that you would be guaranteed of the locks opening at the prescribed time, even if one of the movements failed.   Chances for ALL of the movements failing is slim to none, unless there is some other mechanical issue with the lock.

So the first question that I have, since you didn't provide the info, would be - DO YOU have a combination for the safe???

If you have a combination, assuming it is correct, and it won't open, then I would assume that YOU are possibly making a dialing error.   If you have the correct combination AND are dialing it correctly - if it still won't open, then you may have a mechanical issue with the door or the lock.

If you don't have the combination, and/or if you still can't get it to open, then your options are pretty much limited to contacting a trained safe technician (not a locksmith), at a local safe company, to have them check out and/or open the safe for you.

Check under "safes & vaults" in your local phone book.   If you don't have any reputable companies in your area, then let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend.

If you would like me to look at the safe to see if I can ID it for you, I will need much better photos.    I generally need all of the requested photos to fully ID a safe, however in this case I understand that you may not be able to provide many of the interior 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.  


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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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