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Locksmithing/Protectall safe lock lubrication


I have a "Protectall" safe with a "mosler" lock, I believe (4l,3r,2l,r to 0 left to stop). Can I lube the tumblers? and with what? (graphite lock fluid or something else). The bottom door hinge has some play in it. Can I repair the hinge? If, I can, how?  I would also like to lube the hinges...again how, and with what?
Thanks in advance for your help and expertise. Sincerely, Bill

Hi Bill,

In order to correctly clean and lubricate the lock it will need to be completely disassembled.

I NEVER recommend lock disassembly as a DIY project for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   Lack of training, knowledge and tools can result in a very expensive lockout!

Lubricants are made for different purposes - using the wrong type is worse than not using any at all.   Combination locks require clean, dry surfaces to operate correctly.   There are a number of independently moving parts involved.    Too much or the wrong type of lubricant can act as a "fluid friction" surface, causing parts to move in tandem rather than independently.   

In general the lock wheels and components should be cleaned and lubricated with a liquid Teflon or Silicone lubricant and then wiped dry.   The material that most combination lock wheels are made from are fairly porous materials which will hold all the lubricant they need, even after wiping dry.   HOWEVER some areas of the wheel pack have bearing surfaces which need a slightly thicker lubricant, like a silicone or lithium grease.   Again, only tiny amounts of grease are necessary.   Too much will run into areas where it isn't needed causing the lock to have problems.   Also, the wet surface of most lubricants tend to be little more than dust or dirt magnets, becoming more of a grinding compound over a period of time.    
Lubricant also has a time limit - that's why automakers tell you that your oil should be changed every 3 months or so.    In general safes in commercial use should have the locks cleaned and relubricated on an ANNUAL basis.    Safes in residential use should have serviced performed every 3-5 years maximum.

The hinges are a bit different.   They should be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated with a bearing grease every three years.  
Hinges that are worn need repair or replacement.    In many cases hinges that are "attached" to the safe aren't replaceable.    If the hinge pin is removable, you may be able to ream out the hole to return it to a round hole.  You can use a larger pin or install a bushing to bring it back to its original size.    Problem with your safe, is the cost to repair the hinges may out way its value.   As this container doesn't meet ANY current standards for fire protection and as it isn't a burglary resistive safe, its doubtful that this would be worth while.

Again my recommendation would be for you to have the safe actually looked at by a trained safe technician to give you an honest assessment as to the repairs or servicing of your safe.

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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