Safes & Security Containers/Gary safe


Gary  safe
Gary safe  
I  have  a  Gary safe  s# 221920      0181 It is  5'6" high 38" wide  and  30" deep I don't  have  the  combination  for  it .  I  got  it  from  people  who  bought  a  business  and  the  safe  was  in  it  I was  wondering  if  it  is  worth  keeping  or just  good  scrap  iron  

Hi Patrick,

I'm a firm believer in salvaging and restoring most safes - obviously though the restored safe HAS to be worth more at the end of the project than the cost to replace it.

This rusty paper weight has a lot of issues that need to be addressed - is it repairable?   Yes it is, but YOU will have to decide if it is worth keeping or not - not me.

Problem #1.   Based on your description, it appears that the safe is locked up and you don't have the combination.     As the Gary Safe Company has not been around since the early 1980's records are non-existent.    This means that in order to even repair the safe it will have to be opened first.   You will need a safe technician from a local safe company to open it for you unless you plan on test dialing all of the possible 1,000,000 possible test combinations.    Cost will depend on what the safe rating is, but I would say that you are in the neighborhood of around $400-$800.   Fortunately, while original parts are not going to be available, there is little on the safe that can't be replaced to keep it operational.

Problem #2.   The condition of the safe.    All of the old paint and rust can be removed and the safe refurbished.    Again this is simply time, material and money.   If you can do the work yourself, it will save a lot of this and make the transformation more palatable.  

Problem #3.   This is a very large, heavy safe - so getting it moved to a location for it to be used will require special equipment and of course money.

So, bottom line the "answer" will depend on what YOU are planning on doing with it.    This container was designed for business use, as in a supermarket.   It possibly has interior compartments which give you cash tray storage, bulk coin storage and possibly a depository area for money which is held prior to going to the bank.

Cost for a new similar sized safe would be in the $3000 to $4000 range, though similar used units could be 1/2 that amount - $1000 to $2000.   If you are planning on keeping it, then you will possibly save substantially over purchasing a similar size safe.

If you are planning on restoring it and selling it, you probably aren't going to recoup your money, time and effort, though you may break even - IF you can find a buyer.    Used safes like this tend to be specialty items, so unless you are willing to let it go for a premium discounted price you may wind up setting on it for quite a while.

So, back to the bottom line - what are your plans???    That will pretty much give you a direction.  

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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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