Safes & Security Containers/9041 safe


i have montgomery ward 9041 safe dial worked fine when i closed it now dial so stiff can hardly move it closed it two weeks ago to stiff to turn to ##s?????????? if its trash can i open it by cutting off hinges ?or is there away to losen dial ?vr

Hi Rodney,

Montgomery Ward didn't make safes, they got them from 2-3 different manufacturers and simply had them painted with their logo.   Chances are your safe may actually be one of the "inexpensive" Meilink fire safes.

The locks used on these containers were basically of pot metal and plastic.   If the lock has never been serviced then it may be bound up with dirt, debris and old grease.   This is a pretty common problem with these locks.    I doubt that it happened overnight, so you probably should have gotten this problem taken care of way before it got to a point where you can't turn the dial.
Also, as this type of fire resistive safe relies on moisture retained by the insulation, the dial spindle may have rusted, causing it to bind.

As far as cutting the hinges off to open it - sorry, but safe makers figured this trick out, about 150+ years ago.   In addition to the active bolts holding the door closed there are usually 2-3 inactive bolts on the hinge side.   The hinges are NOT part of the security, they merely hold the weight of the door when it swings open and closed.    Cutting them off will not allow the safe to open.

You might try laying the safe on its back and trying to flush some penetrating liquid under the dial, then try to move the dial back and forth to get it to free up slightly, just enough for you to get the container open.

NOTE:   This is NOT a fix, as eventually it will harden up worse than before.   The bolt work and lock WILL need to be disassembled, cleaned and lubricated correctly for it to continue to operate.

If you can't free the dial up without BREAKING it off, you basically have two options - you can destroy the safe to get it open, or you can have it taken care of correctly by a safe technician.   Problem is that the cost to have it opened and repaired correctly may be more than it is worth - especially as it is at least 30+ years old.

Sorry, wish the answer was better, but this is simply a lack of maintenance problem.   Generally we recommend annual maintenance for safes used by businesses or in commercial applications and every 3 to 5 years for residential.   The caveat to both would be "or until it STARTS to be a problem, or not function correctly".     Your safe should have had at least 5 services since it was new, which would have prevented this lockout.

Sorry I can't be of more help at this time, but hopefully you are able to get it open by flushing penetrating fluid or liquid lubricant under the dial.

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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

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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, including western Nevada

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