Locksmithing/mosler restoration



we have a mosler safe door and frame we would like to restore to operating condition and would like any information you can provided. What year it may have been manufactured? What material/ metal are used in the different components? Was the metal finished with any type of sealer? Suggestions for cleaning surface rust off? Where a serial # might be located if there is one? Where we can locate the round ship type handle or who might build a look alike replacement?

Hi Scott,

Man have you got a restoration job where your work is going to be cut out for you!!!

You are NOT going to be able to "surface" clean the rust of this bad boy until you completely disassemble it.    Trying to do the work with it assembled is simply not going to work!

There are several "RUST STOP" chemicals on the market that will stop the oxidation in its tracks.   It really doesn't matter what you use, but the steps are going to pretty much be as follows:
1.  Disassemble the door and bolt work - completely!
2.  Apply the chemical rust killer.
3.  begin cleaning and polishing every single piece.
4.  If items are badly pitted it may be necessary to re-plate, them, however if YOU don't get the finish smooth, then all you will have is really shiny, pitted parts!
5.  Reassemble the door.

Note:   Replating can add material thickness, so make sure you have room on each item so that after plating it will still fit, as some items may have really tight tolerances.

Generally - NO - they did not use a "sealer", except on painted surfaces, and then usually it was simply a varnish, used to protect the art work or paint.
Bare metal will stay more than shiny if you keep it clean and oiled.    after oiling, wipe it dry, it doesn't need to be "wet" to the touch.   Metal is porous and will keep enough oil on its surface to keep rust at bay.    Regular cleaning and oiling should keep it nice.

As far as the handle - sorry,  I talked to a couple banks that have this type door to see if they would sell me their handle for you, but after a short laugh the answer was "NO!"

Chances are you are going to have to fabricate one - hopefully you have a good relationship with a local machine shop, as you are going to need it with this project.

Good luck with your project - send me photos of the finished vault door.


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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 AllExperts.com

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)

©2017 About.com. All rights reserved.