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Dear Andy,

Thank you for this opportunity to ask for your help.

Please help and advise me of some options to get to my files, the thumb latch broke off today and I cannot open the draw!  

We have an old a Herring-Hall-Marvin Fireproof File Cabinet [probably bought new years ago]  for storing important permanent tax, real-estate records, etc. It has served reliably, until today!

Today while I was preparing to transfer files I succesfully opened the top draw using the thumb-latch, as usual, that releases the draw so I could pull the draw out.

It worked ok. unitl the phone rang. I closed the file draw to go answer the phone. When I returned to my work in the file draw, I pushed the thumb-latch latch to open the draw. The thumb-latch broke! Broke off entirely!!! I tried to open the draw anyway, but to no avail!  The draw did not budge!

Andy, What do I do? I need to get to these files.

I cannot open the draw. The cabinet is unlocked. I checked all the other draws, they worked; opened as usual, and each draw has a thumb-latch like the one that broke. Each draw seems the same. The top draw was probably used the most, but only once or twice a year.

Please: Can you advise me of what to do? How to open the draw without the thumb-latch? I need these files tax and real-estate records.

Thank you,



Unfortunately, mechanical problems like this require hands on repairs.   You will need someone from a local safe company or locksmith shop to open the container for you.

As far as repairs, if they can't repair or fabricate the broken piece, it may be time to buy a new one.   HHM has been out of business since they were acquired by Diebold in 1959 and the factory subsquently closed down between 1962-64 - so parts have not been available for these items for around 50 years.

If you don't have a local safe company or locksmith in your area, let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I know in your area.

Sorry there isn't a better answer.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 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. NOTE: I also answer safe related questions in the Locksmith and Antique Safe Categories sections.


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 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 Experts 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, including western Nevada

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