Locksmithing/Mosler round door safe
QUESTION: Hi Andy
I'm trying to avoid an asbestos filled safe as in the event it ever needs to be breached, I understand that most pros won't touch it.
I found Mosler floor safe with a round door that is believed by the owner to be from the 1950's. It lists SMNA Group 2. There are a couple of other numbers on it that are puzzling that are "Spec 81", "10Y52578" and "Cat 2H". It's a round door and estimated by the owner to have been built in the 1950's.
The exxterior dimensions are about 26" W x 33" H x 20" D and the inter 12"x12"x12". Am I correct that the SMNA rating roughly translates to a UL TR-60?
I haven't really been able to identify what it is exactly, and I'm interested in the current standard of burglary resistance and if this type of safe offers any fire protection. I have a couple of photos I can email.
ANSWER: Hi John,
-You are almost correct, the SMNA group 2 safe would have been equivalent to a UL-TRTL-60 "PRIOR" to 1965, however as standards change over the years based on materials and equipment used, this container is NOT equivalent to that any longer.
This container was designed as a money chest, to store large amounts of cash overnight in.
Note: UL only considers labels to be current for up to 10 years UNLESS the manufacturer resubmits samples for regular testing under current standards. So while your safe IS a burglary resistive container it does not meet any current standards and it is considered an obsolete container.
As far as the "asbestos" issue, #1-Mosler never used asbestos, and #2-Asbestos was only used in fire resistive containers, which this is not. I'm not sure where you got the notion that most "PROs" won't touch containers with asbestos - the ones I know of routinely work on older safes with Asbestos in them. Contrary to the "ambulance chasing lawyers" and the Eco-Nazi Environmentalists, Asbestos is a great mineral with lots of uses. The only time that it becomes hazardous is when it becomes Airborne AND when you inhale it. If those two conditions are not met, chances of it being a problem are slim to none. Unfortunately the reality of the issue is that people will use, miss-use and not perform necessary maintenance to equipment to ensure that the asbestos stays confined and in good condition - hence the need for some HAZMAT measures.
As far as its "obsolescence", this is due to several factors including:
1. No one uses this type of container. Most commercial users need larger safes with FULL access to the interior, where as these containers were limited by the size of the door.
2. Parts have not been available since around 1970, other than from another similar safe as donor parts.
3. These containers were not UL approved regardless of the "SMNA / UL equivalent" thing. SMNA was out of business sometime around 1962-64, and their certifications haven't been any good for close to 50 years now.
If you plan on using the container for personal use and "IF" it is in good working order, then I think you have a great safe. On the other hand if you are trying to sell it to anyone, and if they contacted me about it, I would warn them to avoid purchase of it for the above reasons.
What other questions do you have concerning this container???
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
What does the construction consist of in terms of material and thickness? Can the lock be modernized with an available part? It's for household use of small items and papers that would be in a fire resistant binder. But is there anything that can be done to improve burglary resistance? Lastly I'm looking at this to buy for home use and am wondering about how much it weighs. The owner estimates it as 500 lbs +\-.
Thanks very much!
As I don't have enough information about your safe to come up with a weight, I would put it around 800 to 1000 lbs based on the photo that you provided. In general safes TL-15 and above which weigh LESS than 750 lbs MUST be bolted to a concrete slab floor in order for it to meet its burglary standard. As your safe does not appear to have the capability to be bolted down, I would surmise that it weighs over this minimum.
Basic weights (so you can do some calculations): Steel weighs around 42 lbs per square foot, one inch thick. So if the walls of your safe are two inches thick, each square foot would be about 84 lbs.
Concrete weighs around 150 lbs per CUBIC foot. As much of this container is what we term cladding, which is a sheet steel skin, with concrete for weight, surrounding a small steel chest for the safe. You will have to calculate the cubic footage of the concrete area, to come up with an estimate.
Unfortunately, as the SMNA has not been around for at least 50 years, there is very little information concerning construction "standards", so I can't tell you what specifications were required to meet that standard. For all practical purposes it really doesn't matter, as I explained before this safe would not meet ANY current standards AND as it is over 50 years old it is considered obsolete.
The safe also is NOT fire resistive - period! The concrete cladding is simply for weight, it is not designed to protect the contents from heat. Basically in a fire this safe would be very similar to a "Dutch Oven".
There is nothing that you can do to this container to update it to meet any current standards it simply "IS WHAT IT IS"!
As far as replacing the lock: possibly/probably not! Mosler used their own proprietary locks, with their own mounting foot prints and lock sizes. Other than finding a replacement lock from a donor safe (same as yours but in worse condition), you aren't going to find replacement parts. Trying to fit a new style, current model lock in place could possibly cost several times more than a new safe! It's not that it can't happen, its simply that the amount of time required to re-engineer the door and machine it to work with a new lock is not going to be cheap.
Bottom line, either use the safe the way it is (as long as it is serviceable and in good working condition), or find another safe. If you aren't getting this safe for free, then you are possibly paying too much for it. With the possible cost for a safe tech to completely service the lock and safe to make sure it is operational, and the cost to move it, (and especially if you are actually paying for it), my recommendation would be to save your money and invest in something else that will provide current protection for your items.
Sorry, I don't mean to seem obstinate, and I do understand what you are trying to do, however the problem here seems to be MONEY related. If you are trying to "SAVE" money by buying this old dinosaur, then it doesn't make sense to SPEND money to try to make it better!!!! If that is the goal, why not spend the money upfront on something that actually gives you the fire and burglary protection that you need????
If you need serious burglary resistance because you have valuables that need THAT kind of protection, and you also need fire resistance, then I don't understand why you simply don't buy a new TL-30x6 safe that has 2 hours of fire resistance. For the smallest model AMSEC, which isn't much bigger than the box you are looking at, you would also gain about 10 times the storage space. Obviously it will cost more than you are going to pay, but will seriously leave you with a whole lot fewer headaches!!! Just a thought.