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Locksmithing/New to me Diebold CashGard- Elec lock questions


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QUESTION: I recently found a deal on a used Diebold CashGard TL-15 rated safe (Model 271-95) and have a few questions before I pick it up.

1. The safe comes with a LA GARD electronic entry lock (appears to be 3000 series, but not sure) with time delay capabilities. After years of research I was set on a safe with a mechanical dial to avoid electronic lock failure at some point in the future. Knowing that this is a commercial quality safe that was used in a bank previously, are the LA GARD electronic locks more reliable than the one used in Liberty, Cannon, etc type RSCs? How likely is it that the parts of the lock that are housed inside the safe (not just the keypad) will fail requiring drilling the lock to open the safe (my main concern)? Is it worth changing to a mechanical dial? If so, which ones do you recommend? Reliability is my main concern as I do not want to pay big $ to have this thing drilled out down the road.

2. The safe weighs in the neighborhood of 3,000lbs with the included multiple interior safes/cash drawers. It will be placed mostly inside a walk-in closet with a portion going through an interior wall and protruding into the master bedroom. I will frame around the bedroom portion, but only anchor the framing to the wall as to not destroy the carpet (I want to replace the wall if I ever move). Is it still necessary to bolt this safe to the concrete slab down? The safe mover has expressed that he would highly prefer it to be set on 4x4s for ease of installation, and I would like to keep the install costs to minimum. Have you ever seen a safe this size stolen from a residence?

3. The safe comes fitted with 5 interior safes and 8 locking cash drawers. 2 of the interior safes have electronic locks that also act as a the lever (you twist the keypad to open)(appears to be LA GARD 3035 model). The battery for these are inside the safe, what happens if the battery dies? How would I open it if the battery gives out?

4.  I've read somewhere that removing the inside panel of the door will trip the relocker, is this true?  I would like to visually inspect the condition of the lock mechanism if possible.

Many thanks in advance for your wisdom!  I love your thorough answers to people's questions!

ANSWER: Hi Josh,

I'll see if I can't answer some if not all of your questions.

#1.  The "KEYPAD" is a LaGard 3000 - NOT the lock.  Early on, LaGard identified the complete lock package by a model number, after they were acquired by Kaba, they kind of changed their identification numbers around to reflect the individual ITEM.    While this was done originally as well, many of the items were known by the complete package name or number, unfortunately this continues today - I guess some habits are hard to break.

The LaGard 3000 keypad is one of the more commercial type, durable keypads that LaGard makes.

As far as comparisons - are you comparing locks to safe makers???  If so, I can't answer the question as many safe makers have locks available from various manufacturers.   You need to be more specific.   If you have specific locks that you have questions about then I can do a comparison.

Concerning your questions about lock failures - in general mechanical locks are going to be much more reliable in the long run than electronic locks, though due to the designs mechanical locks will require more maintenance to keep them lasting longer.    Just as between the mechanical lock makers, some locks are better than others, some electronic locks are going to be much better than others.   Even when comparing locks made by one manufacturer there are going to be some models that are more prone to failure than others.    Also, even amongst professional safe technicians many have their own favorite locks or lock makers.

If you are looking to avoid lock failures there are simply too many varying reasons to even begin to go into here in a comprehensive manner, so I'll try to keep it simple.   Keypads with rubber type buttons like the LaGard 3000 are more robust and function better in commercial type environments.   Keypads with membranes tend to be a bit less expensive, but they are also subject to shorter life spans.    Using long finger nails, ball point pens, etc. to press the membrane buttons can damage the surface.   You can easily damage a button and never see an indication of the damage, but as far as the lock is concerned instead of the button indicating a momentary contact, it is showing a continuous contact leading the lock to see it as numerous incorrect combinations.

As far as the various types of locks go - while the solenoid tends to be the simplest design with fewer things to go wrong, these locks still have components that can fail.    Remember any item is ONLY as strong as its weakest link.    Locks with motors are more positive and may be stronger - less prone to bolt side pressure - however this also brings problems.   If the lock bolt is bound up (for whatever reason) the motor will still attempt to retract the lock bolt.   It doesn't take many times like this for the motor to "strip a gear", like losing a transmission in your car - the motor can run all day long but the wheels don't turn.

Electronic locks also offer many features that mechanical locks don't like:   Multiple users, audit trails, True dual custody, time locks and time delays, etc. etc.  

Long story short, most of the manufacturers have made different models to work with most safes and under most conditions to provide options that will give the end user the best results.    Problems is that the majority of the safe makers, locksmiths and safe technicians DO NOT take the time to ensure that they have the best lock installed for the safe it is installed upon.

Another major problem is the misconception that the CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!   Unfortunately EVERYONE is susceptible to the guy who walks in with the fat wallet who starts buying everything in sight.    When the shop order comes into fabrication it simply states MAKE the lock work on THIS safe.   This may mean modifications etc. etc. etc.

The Diebold CashGard type safes were designed to be used with a mechanical lock with a fairly large bolt extension which blocks the bolt work retraction during the unlocking phase.   Most electronic locks are NOT made to work with any type of bolt extension, much less the added weight of the extension.    This means that in order to make the lock work, the bolt work has to be modified to accept and work with the lock bolt.

A possible option to your dilemma would be a redundant lock.   LaGard has several models offering from the basics up through the SmartPoint series with biometric capabilities.   The redundant lock is both digital and mechanical.   Digital offers ease of use, and the redundant ensures that you have a back up means to open the safe if the electronics fail.   As this lock uses a standard lock bolt and a dial to retract it, adding the bolt extension is not a problem and ensures that the safe operates in the manner that it was intended.    While there are a couple minor issues with this lock - just as there are with every lock - it tends to be much less of a problem as you always have a back up method of opening the safe - so that YOU don't get locked out.

#2.  UL's only requirement for bolting safes down does have to do with safe weight.   In order for the UL listing to be active, if the safe weighs less than 750 lbs it HAS TO BE bolted down, adequately to a concrete slab.   Weights over 750 lbs are recommended.   At 3000 lbs, and built into a wall - I wouldn't worry about it, unless you are going to be keeping some serious cash or valuables in it.   As this is only a TL-15 your storage value limit should NOT exceed about 75K WITH a good alarm system as a back up ($40K without an alarm).   If you are going to be in excess of this amount you may want to reconsider this safe.   

As far as the "leaving it on the 4x4's or not - of course the safe movers want it left on the blocks - less work for them.   Another word for less work would be "friggin Lazy" (if you get my drift).   Any safe movers that don't have the tools or skills to put the safe flat on the floor and/or get it back up when you need it moved, are NOT real safe movers.   You may want to reconsider this company.   There should be NO PROBLEMS installing the safe where you want it.   The only issue - and this would be on your part - is cost.   Extra work requires extra costs.   If you are trying to keep the costs down and/or you have quibbled with them over the cost - then leaving the safe on the blocks is reasonable on their part.   If they are charging you by the hour and you have given them a tasking list, at the end of the day the cost is what it is.   If it takes two hours to install your safe then the bill should be two hours at what ever rate they quoted.   If it takes four hours to install the safe, based on your requirements, then the bill should be four hours at what ever rate was quoted.   Easy Peasy simple math!   You have the safe where you want it and they made the EXACT amount they quoted.   Everyone is happy.

#3.   If the LaGard keypad twists and the batteries are inside the safe, the keypad will have two small silver round points on the face of the key pad.   These are the emergency battery ports.   You simply hold a 9vdc battery to the terminals, and while holding the battery there do your code and turn the key pad.   When the door is open you can remove the battery and then install it in the battery pack on the inside.   Note:   if the lock has a time delay, you must hold the batteries in contact with the terminals until the time delay runs down and you complete the opening sequence, turning the key pad and opening the door.   If you remove the battery prior to opening the door you have to start all over again.

Options:   Move the battery pack to the outside of the door.   drill a small hole, run the battery wires through it to the pack now on the outside and you are done.

Yeah, I know this sounds and looks ugly and unprofessional - it is!    But wait, there is a better way!   Simply change the key pad out to a LaGard 3750K key pad.   When mounted correctly the battery is underneath the keypad - outside the safe door - and the key pad will rotate to correctly retract the lock bolt.   Keypad cost - about $93 plus any cost to install it.

So this gives you three options - 1. use the key pad you have, 2. move the battery pack outside the door, or 3. put a better key pad on.

#4.   Diebold had a reputation for being Diabolical with their safe designs, all the way from one of the most misunderstood locks the 180-55 tri-bolt locks to the CashGard series.   The CashGard series utilizes the back of the safe door as part of the locking mechanism.   All of the door locking bolts become relocking devices if the door is forced.   Disassembly, even to inspect the locking mechanism will activate every relocking device on the door.   Reassembly means that not only are you trying to put everything back together, but you have to deactivate each device as you go along.    If you don't have at least three hands (possibly four) then you are in for a battle.    I routinely get calls from locksmiths who have disassembled these safes for service and can't reassemble it.

RULE:   If you don't have the training, knowledge and tools then you should NOT be disassembling ANY lock and especially diabolical Diebold equipment like the CashGard.    Incorrect reassembly can (and usually does) result in very expensive lockouts.    Cost to open and repair one of these safes if you make even a simple mistake could easily be $1000 to $1500 depending on where you and the safe are located, who is available and how badly it is locked up.   It's WAY, WAY, WAY cheaper to simply have it serviced correctly by a trained safe technician.

Bottom line, yes I would recommend inspection and service of the safe, locks, bolt work before placing it into service and locking your valuable "stuff" inside it.    However the caveat to this statement is "you need to have it serviced by a trained safe technician"!!!!
Inspection should include hinges, etc. etc.    Many of these old safes have worn hinges which are NOT easy to repair.

There, I think I have managed to answer most of, if not all of your questions, and to spend a minimum amount of time on my soapbox!   LOL    If you have any further questions let me know.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much for taking the time to formulate such a thorough and insightful response.  I have some follow up questions for you as well:
1.  Do the electronic locks (not keypads) give warning signs before they fail or just one day they're dead?
2.  Is this lock likely a solenoid driven unit or motor driven? Is it likely a swingbolt design?
3.  Do you know when Diebold introduced the Cashgard line of safes or perhaps can you tell this safe's approximate age by the pics?
4.  I read another response you gave regarding approximating the age of the keypad based on the wire color and shape.  Is it possible for the newer keypads to attach to an older lock or would a newer key pad (black round wire iirc) suggest a newer lock as well?
5.  I absolutely love your suggestion of the redundant lock!  Do you know if a redundant will fit this model safe?  The pics I found online make it look twice as thick and I believe the lock cover plate holds one relocker in place?  Also, can you recommend a good redundant lock for this model?  I really liked the pictures of the ones used by AMSEC that have the dial and keypad next to each other, but would prefer to keep the LaGard 3000 style keypad based on your information about the rubber buttons being more reliable. Is that possible?  Not looking to go too crazy price wise either.
6.  Currently the entry lock is set for dual combination I believe.  It requires a 6 digit code then beeps, then requires a second 6 digit code to open the safe.  Is the first code the master code that I could use to change the setting to single user access and then reset that single code?  All of the locks on the safe are currently set to 1-2-3-4-5-6 as if someone reset them to factory. The entry lock is that code then another.

Thanks again for taking the time to help not only me, but everyone on here as well!!!

Hi Josh,

1.  Yes, generally the warning sign is "you can't open the safe"!   Electronics either work or they don't, there isn't much in between.   The only "warning" they might give you is of a low battery, however most people don't pay any attention to the beeps until the lock doesn't work.   I probably get 2-5 calls every day concerning "My lock doesn't work", when the problem is simply low batteries.    Some people simply refuse to change them until they get a $150-$200 bill for me to come out.  

2.  The lock associated with your key pad is most likely a swingbolt design.   While these are very reliable locks, they are not designed to work with the bolt work of your safe.   The bolt work would have been modified in someway to work with this lock.   Without seeing the lock label or examining the lock, I can't tell you whether or not your lock has a solenoid or a motor - depending on the age of the lock, it could be either.

3.  Nope, sorry there are no records available to indicate when your safe was made.   If it is important to you, I would recommend your contacting Diebold directly to see if they have any records and/or can answer this question.   Manufacturers RARELY if ever, release ANY information, other than simple product guides, relating to their equipment, for obvious security and liability reasons.

4.   The type of wire on the LaGard key pad has less to do with its "age" as much as it has with its generation and/or compatibility with any given lock series.   If the ribbon cable is flat and about 1/2" wide, it's really old and needs to be replaced.   The next generation was a smaller gray cable.   The current version is a small round black cable.  As far as keypad / lock compatibility - don't waste your time.   If you are replacing one part - replace it all, it simply isn't worth the head ache if you can't open your safe.

5.  I'm not sure that the dual lock presented by AMSEC is available.   It was pulled off the market about as quickly as it was introduced.   At the time I could only get my hands on a couple of them.    There were some problems with it (or the manufacturer) so it wasn't long lived.    If it is back on the market I haven't seen it, though it is still shown in AMSEC's 2015/16 catalog.     The two redundant locks that are available and have few problems are LaGard's and Securam.    LaGard offers the widest variety of options with their redundant lock spanning almost their entire line of locks from the Combogard Pro series, the Auditgard series, and the SmartLinc series.    Securam has two versions, the Safelogic Xtreme and the ProLogic Xtreme.   a unique feature that Securam offers is "Bluetooth connectivity".

As far as your comment about "not wanting to go crazy - price wise", just like anything else you get what you pay for.    Do you go shopping for the cheapest cell phone that you can get and expect it to give you the same features as the latest greatest I-phone or Samsung Galaxy???    Do you shop for a used, 1970's Volkswagen bug and expect it to get Maserati performance???    I didn't think so - and you shouldn't have that attitude concerning safe locks, in fact just the opposite.    Your safe lock is the item that is going to give you consistent access to the stuff you lock inside of the safe.   I'm sure that you aren't trying to save a couple hundred dollars on a safe lock (not wanting to go crazy) just so that you can eventually pay thousands of dollars to have the safe opened when it fails.   If you are then I missed something somewhere.

The lock on your safe IS the most important item on the safe.   It IS the key to your having access WHEN you want it, EVERY TIME you need it.    If it will guarantee your having access to your "stuff" every time, then the most expensive lock on the planet is not too expensive!

What I would EXPECT from you, is for you to test dial the locks to determine what is best for you.   If you are focused on cost, then you have missed the entire boat.    You know what they say about crying over spilt milk???    And a locked up safe would be REALLLLY expensive spilt milk!

6.  Generally on most of the LaGard locks that have features like multiple users, dual custody, time delay, etc. etc.   You can't change the features from the key pad.   The lock has to have a hard reset and then be reprogrammed by an authorized service technician.   As your safe is open, the lock would have to be removed and either reset by your safe tech, or sent to an authorized service center.
While you can reset "THE" codes, you can't reprogram the lock.

Bottom line, my recommendation would be for you to visit a safe company that can show you some or most of the locks that you are interested in.    Actually touching and playing with the locks can help you decide.    I would expect you to do this if you bought a car or a new cell phone, and safe locks are no different.    Get off the internet, and get down to your local safe company.   If you don't have a local one, let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see if I know of anyone in your area.  


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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

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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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