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Locksmithing/Can't open internal safe in old HHM safe



I have an old 48" x 28" x 28" Herring Hall Marvin safe with an exterior Yale lock which I can open.  There is a small interior safe which I have the numbers for but the handle & dial won't budge so I cannot try to open it. Does it just need WD40 or what?  I am also interested in a value.  The only info I have is UL inspected safe, Class B Fire, Class T-20 Burglary, No. 73661. I have found no reference for the serial no. Pictures attached. Thanks so much.

Hi Jan,

The Class B Fire & Class T-20 Burglary (Tamper Resistant) is for the exterior safe.   The interior chest is an actual burglary chest.

WD-40 is not a lubricant, and while it works as a penetrant, I don't recommend using it.   Without actually identifying WHAT the problem is.

Unfortunately mechanical problems generally require "hands on" diagnostics and problem solving.   My first thoughts based on your description of the problem is that you have jammed the door some how, possibly something inside the safe has gotten caught in the edge of the door.

You didn't indicate whether or not you have ever had the door open, and when was the last time it was opened.
Did you have any issues closing it?

As far as the "value" of the container at this point - it is a negative value - that being the cost to have the interior chest opened and repaired.

If you can't open the chest without causing any damage, then I would recommend your contacting a safe technician from a local safe company.  


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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

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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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