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Locksmithing/Cannonball Safe (Ely-Norris


I purchased an Ely-Norris Cannonball safe on EBay and it is on the way to me from Albuquerque.  It has dual Yale Combinations on the outside, another Yale on the drop down door on the inside, and a triple Yale timelock.

I have never owned a cannonball with a timelock, and I would like to know if there is someplace to research its care and maintenance.

How do I learn how to use it?  How to care for it?  Is there a way to "trick" the timelock mechanism into thinking it is locked with the door open so that I can test it out?  I would hate to close the door and hear a click and never get it open again.

Any hints on restoring the paint?  It is pretty nasty on the outside.


Jody Sims

Hi Jody,

Congratulations on your purchase.    Cannonball safes are neat display items.    I am very familiar with the locks on your safe, and in fact have a set on my desk for service at this time.

As far as "researching" the care and maintenance of your time lock - unless you plan on making it a career (time lock repair), then the answer is no.    We don't even do service on the time lock movements ourselves  -  and neither do the majority of the lock and safe companies in business.    We have someone that specializes in doing the movement servicing and repairing - ESPECIALLY on antique movements!!!!

While we will still do our own repair and service to the mechanical portion of the time lock body, we don't service the movements.

Similarly I never recommend anyone doing any type of lock repair as a DIY project for the same reason.    If you don't have the training and knowledge you can wind up with a VERY expensive locked up safe (or paper weight).    Just as you need a specialist to work on the time lock movements, you need to have a trained safe technician who is familiar with working on your safe locks.    The safe tech will give you any recommend care and maintenance frequencies.

Bottom line - if you have a problem with the safe - DO NOT CLOSE OR LOCK IT, until after you have service done.

The service tech can easily show you how to operate the locks and safe after it is serviced and everything is operational.

Restoration is another exceedingly long subject.    If there is any art work on the safe which you can still make out, take good photos of it so that you can possibly recreate it.   If not don't worry about saving the paint.     Take all of the locks etc. off the safe and take it down to bare metal - sand or bead blasting is a good method.   After cleaning it, you need a base coat of rust preventative paint.    You can then use a fairing compound to give it a smooth finish, and then painting it.    When painting it, there are areas around the door that will not get any paint, this is a smooth metal to metal finish that can have no rust, so it needs to be lubricated.

Art work would be done after the final base paint and before any clear coat finish.

hope this helps,  


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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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