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Hello Andy,

I recently obtained a Hall's Safe & Lock Co. Safe from a friend of mine. I have reviewed many posts that you have answered to see if I could get this answer without contacting you.

I had two questions about the safe I figured you could answer:

1. The serial number located on the access handle is 96509 could you give me a range of dates that the safe was manufactured in?

2. The safe is locked open and the access handle is broken off. I took the inside backing plate off of the inner door to reveal the inner dial tumbler mechanism. I feel confident that I can repair the handle and would like to be able to access the locking lugs mechanism. I cannot determine how to remove the cement insert in the door so I can clearly access the internals and remove them for repair and restoration.

If you would like I can forward you the pictures of the safe and the door for your inspection.

Thanks for your help in advance,


Hi Paul,

Based on your serial number, your safe would have been manufactured between 1880-1883, so it would be considered antique (over 100 years old).

There is no "easy" way to remove the insulation mortar.   You can either simply chop it out, using an air hammer with a chisel point, or you could use an angle grinder with a diamond blade to give you a cleaner cut.   

There may be a "metal dam" covering the bolt work to keep the mortar from entering the bolt work cavity.   You will have to remove any mortar that keeps the dam in place.   Don't damage the dam as you will need to reinstall it, if you plan on replacing the mortar that you removed.

Once the mortar and dam have been removed, you should have clear access to the bolt work and handle cam.   Generally the cam was held onto the handle arbor by means of a nut, so removing it is usually fairly straight forward.

While you have this area open, I would recommend that you clean it thoroughly and paint the interior cavity with a rust preventive paint.    While you can paint the bolt work, there are areas that have a metal on metal connection, which should be left unpainted, but lubricated.

I don't necessarily need to see photos of the safe unless you have specific questions or need an evaluation of it.

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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