Locksmithing/old Mosler safe


We are looking at an old 1938 Mosler safe.  It does have some rust on the outside but looks in pretty good shape structurally. It is not locked so we can get to the inside. However, the combination lock does not turn. It seems to be frozen. I don't want to invest in it if the lock doesn't work or it it will cost alot to get a new combination lock. Advice? Thanks.

Hi Randy,

First question would be - where did you come up with the 1938 date????

Obviously without seeing the lock itself (hands on) I can't comment on whether or not it is simply a service issue, or whether it will require replacement.    It could be a simple rust issue or could be a bad lock.   

Lock cost will depend on the lock installed - again as I haven't seen any photos of the lock, I can't comment on whether or not they are even available or retro-fitable.     Mosler tended to make many of their own locks so if it isn't repairable, locks may not be available.     New locks are not going to exist, if your safe is as old as you believe.  

As far as the condition of the safe - most rust can be removed if it hasn't eaten completely through the skin.    There are products on the market that are rust converters or rust killers.   This causes a chemical reaction to stop the rust and allow you to paint a primer coat onto the safe.

Generally mechanical problems and/or issues are "hands On".    So at this point, I would recommend that you contact a local safe company to have their trained safe tech check the safe out to see what the problem is.

If you would like to send photos of the safe and the lock to me, I can try to ID the lock to see what is available, and if you actually have a serial number for the safe, I can try to narrow down about when it was made.

Hope this helps,


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


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

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

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)

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