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Locksmithing/Champion Challenger 50


QUESTION: Wondering if you could help me with a problem with my safe.  When I turned my dial clockwise to open it something broke inside as I heard it fall inside and now I'm stuck with a safe that wont open!

Please advise as I'm ready to cry and hope you can help

Thanks a bunch

ANSWER: Hi Mike,

Unfortunately, that is NEVER good news.

Generally, something coming loose and/or falling inside the safe door, means that something has come loose or become disconnected.    There are about a dozen items that this could be, and none of them spell anything but trouble, and can keep the safe from opening.

Usually the first item that we see coming loose is the back of the lock case and/or relocker hold back plate.    This can happen due to loose or stripped screws (screws which may have been tightened too much during installation).   Screws can become loose over a period of time simply due to normal usage, opening and closing the safe - which is why we recommend regular maintenance.   Yearly for commercial safe usage and at least ever 3 to 5 years for residential usage.   However I always caveat these frequencies with - or as SOON as you notice ANY type of problem.

Things like this don't come loose quickly, which means that you have had some issues over a period of time, whether you recognized it or not.

If the back plate or relocker hold back plate fall off, chances are you have one or two devices activated which essentially have permanently locked your safe closed.    In order to open the safe, it would need to be drilled to deactivate the devices to open the safe.

Other items which we see come loose include pieces of the bolt work.    Disconnected bolt work may also require drilling to move the bolt work to the retracted position, however in this case the lock will still operate correctly.

Regardless of the problem, if you can't open the safe, it will require "HANDS ON" diagnostics and service to figure out exactly what the problem is, to open the safe and to repair it.    Sorry but there are no magic fixes I can give you here, this will necessitate a visit from your local safe man (not a locksmith).

Depending on how old your safe is, it may or may not be under warranty.   Champion Safe has a pretty good warranty on their safes and locks, and they have an optional "upgrade" lifetime warranty covering the safe and locks.

My first recommendation would be for you to contact them with your purchase invoice, date of purchase and serial number of the safe to see if your safe is covered.   Contact them at:   801-377-7199    
This could save you a VERY expensive visit from a local safe tech.

Note:   If YOU contact a safe tech first, to have them work on your safe, before you contact Champion, it could void the warranty.     The manufacturer reserves the right to have one of their authorized service techs work on the safe.    If they don't have one in your area, they may have you look for one - but don't do it first, or you may be paying the whole bill!

Hope this helps get you started in the right direction to getting your safe opened and repaired.

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

QUESTION: Well I have no invoice for this safe as my uncle bought it back in 2003 or 2004 so I guess I'm drilling it. Could you advise me where to drill. I have another identical challenger 50 and a 35. I removed the 35's carpeted panel from the backside of the door and based on that mechanism I'm guessing somewhere below the handle so I could reach inside to manually activate the lock mechanism(s) depending on where it came disconnected? Also, what size hole would you recommend?

Thanks Mike

Hi Mike,

That doesn't change my original answer.

1.  Contact the manufacturer to see if their warranty policy applies to your safe.   If it does let them handle it.   Again, their number is 801-377-7199.

2.  If it doesn't, then you will need to contact a local safe company (not a locksmith) to have their trained safe tech open your safe.

For obvious security and liability reasons we DO NOT give out ANY opening instructions other than the correct dialing sequence for the lock we suspect to be installed on your safe.   Even if you were a licensed locksmith or safe technician, this is a general purpose forum, open to the public.   As we have no idea who you are and/or your actual relationship to the safe, you can understand why we don't give out this type of info - to anybody!

While the safe is yours and you can do what you like with it, if you plan on reusing it after it is open, then I would strongly recommend your using option 1 and/or 2.   If safes were easy to open, they wouldn't call them safes.   Drilling large holes to "try" to get it open, when you don't actually know what the problem is may only exacerbate the problem and possibly ruin the safe.

With the cost of a similar size replacement safe being in the $2500 to $3000 range, ruining it doesn't seem like a very good plan, if you are simply trying to save money by opening it yourself.

Sorry we can't be of further help at this time.    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.  


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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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