I have a safe that is being given to me by my niece tha t was left in the house they purchased. It is a Mosler-Bahmann & Co safe that is open and I can determine the combination. It is 35" tall from the ground with wheels. It is approx 24"x24" in width and depth. The key to getting this safe from them is that they want me to remove it from their basement. I am guessing it weighs in around 500 lbs. I want to lighten the load to help in moving it so I though that removing the door would help with that. This safe has rounded outside corners with some nice painting on the front and inside. I tried lifting the door off of the hinges and all I was able to do was to somewhat lift the one corner of the safe off of the ground. So my question is, is there some special way to remove the door off of the hinges? The door opens and closes smoothly so I don't think it is a issue with rust. I was wondering if using a small jack to lift the door would work or is there something that is holding the door on the hinge pins other then weight?
Answer Hi John,
I'm afraid you are probably way light on the weight. I've got a couple safes that are a bit larger than yours and weigh about 1200 to 1500 lbs, and I've got a smaller bankers safe that weighs in at 2200 lbs. Mosler, Bahmann & Company safes were beefy little monsters. yours is probably in the 800 to 1000 lb range.
While you are correct, with the door open at about 90 degrees, you "should" be able to lift the doors off the hinges, though I'm willing to bet that your hinges have a fair amount of rust and/or old grease, so they are pretty stiff. Instead of simply "sliding" off, as you lift it is binding and lifting the corner of the safe.
What you need is to get some lubricant or penetrating fluid up into the hinge and hinge pin. Then work the door back and forth to work the fluid into the hinge.
Using a floor jack on wheels makes this easier as you can put some pressure on the door and still wiggle it back and forth to use the motion and the weight of the door to slowly lift it off. Alternately as you lift the door slightly, spray fluid on the hinge pin and then release the jack pressure and wiggle the door back and forth to allow it to drop back into place. This will work the fluid up into the hinge and help to lift the door.
WARNING, WARNING, WARNING: The door is going to weigh about 1/4 to 1/3 of the weight of the safe. This means if the safe weighs around 600 the door could easily weight around 200 lbs. Lifting the door with a jack its very easy to lose control of the door and have the jack roll out from under it, leaving the door on the floor or worse yet on your foot. I knew of a professional safe man who was doing a similar task years ago when a falling door crushed both of his legs - he never recovered!
We use specially made equipment to support the door when we lift it off, so that it can't fall over AND more importantly to aid us in realigning and reinstalling the door later. Rather than a floor jack a cherry picker (engine hoist) might be a better choice, though you can still use the floor jack in conjunction with it.
With the door off, thoroughly clean the hinges and pins, polishing them as much as possible. Relube them with a good bearing grease. You don't want the hinges being metal on metal as they WILL wear out and be very difficult to repair.
While removal of the door WILL remove some of the weight, moving heavy safes up or down stairs is still NOT a job that I would recommend without special equipment and knowing what you are doing. Remember that gravity is NOT your friend and you don't get any second chances. One mistake or slip will severely injure or kill anyone below the safe.
My recommendation would be for you to call a local safe company, experienced in moving heavy safes - safely!
Knowledgeability = 10
Clarity of Response = 10
Politeness = 10
Thank you very much for the information. Yes weight of the safe is a concern, that is why I want to remove the door. The estimate you give for the safe seems high because of the fact when I tried lifting the door off the entire safe tipped up off of one wheel. It is hard for me to believe that I would be able to do that if it weighed that much. Thank you for all of your information and I will be extremely careful in removing the door and getting the safe out of the basement. My plan is to build a ramp for the cellar concrete steps to go up to the outside. I plan on using a come-a-long to do the pulling up the ramp with the safe on its back and possibly carpet on the ramp to allow it to slide easier..
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
Organizations SafeCrackers International and the
National Antique Safe Association
Education/Credentials 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)