Purchased a locked safe, and need advice on affordable safe cracking!


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leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 12:31 AM
A real adventure awaits! (Yes this is gun related because I may find a gun inside, and it also helps others protect their gun safes...).

I bought an old 1400 lb safe made by Gary. Appears to be a business style safe with a top access round door for small safe drops/access to top compartment, and also a main square front door, but that handle is broken off. Both are combonation style locks.

The safe appears to be steel with concrete fill for weight and/or perhaps fire proofing. It was stored outside for some time. Safe is rusty on the outside, and the owner said that when he moved it some water drained from the bottom. It's about 2'x2'x3' in size.

Safe probably has no more value as a 'safe' but I would like to preserve it as much as possible without total destruction. Cutting a hole in the back or prying the doors open IS an option if feasible. I definately need to access this bugger.

I'm thinking realistically this was probably a small business safe, designed for employee drops. So theoretically it could and most realistically would contain paper money and coin money. It could also contain some precious metals or gems, if it were in that sort of business. Perhaps some jewelry. And possibly a handgun for protection for the business if they were robbed. I know that's all likely fantasy, but it's a cool adventure.

If it contained any of these items, I fear that the paper money and any iron/steel metals would have been destroyed by the water. But coins, PMs, and jewels would survive...

Anyway, who here has any experience or contacts in the safe opening business or can give me affordable options for getting into this safe?

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Texan Scott
June 3, 2013, 01:28 AM
Thermite. 3:1 ratio Iron(III) Oxide and Aluminum, both finely powdered and mixed. Magnesium ribbon makes good fuse. A bit of Barium Peroxide makes great primer if you can source it. (Caution: VERY reactive oxidizer!)

Stuff burns ~ 2200 F. Light the fuse and stay WELL CLEAR.

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE REACTION.

Be safe.

mljdeckard
June 3, 2013, 01:32 AM
Not that the thermite idea isn't fun, because it is, and I would know,

I would get in the yellow pages and start calling locksmiths. Are the hinges exposed? I suppose you could torch them off.

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 01:41 AM
Locksmith will run me $450 per lock. Not worth it.

mljdeckard
June 3, 2013, 01:46 AM
Lay it on its back, torch, circular saw. :)

rondog
June 3, 2013, 02:02 AM
Can't help you, but I'm curious, how much did you pay for it? Seems like quite a gamble, ya pays yer money and ya takes yer chances.

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 02:07 AM
No torch. But for a saw blade, would a grinding style blade work best? And how many blades and hours of work would this take?

rondog
June 3, 2013, 02:15 AM
You'd probably need one of those blades for sawing grooves in concrete. Eye and ear protection and protective clothing/gloves would be wise too. If a blade comes apart it could be ugly.

tarosean
June 3, 2013, 02:18 AM
your not going to be able to preserve it cheaply...



if it were me.. a case of sawzall blades and a couple cases of beer... might be able to split it. The Beer is of course for your refreshment cause you will work your tail off...

Dope
June 3, 2013, 02:32 AM
I'd give it a go with an angle grinder with a metal cutting disc (or 10). They will probably wear down fast but they'll probably get you where you want eventually. I've cut through steering knuckles on fullsize trucks with them (1"+ solid steel). Maybe cut off those hinges, probably the fastest way without risking the contents.

Dope

rondog
June 3, 2013, 02:35 AM
I'd still vote for a thin blade in a good circular saw. A grinder disc is too thick, and he thinks it's concrete-filled. I wouldn't waste time or money on a sawzall.

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 02:49 AM
Now I'm thinking a worm drive circular saw and a few carbide bits for cutting through steel and concrete...

Cut a square 1'x1' out of the side or back of the safe.

breakingcontact
June 3, 2013, 02:55 AM
Maybe I've watched Breaking Bad too much, is there a chemical solution?

mljdeckard
June 3, 2013, 02:58 AM
Or drill a hole in the top, fill it with water, and drop in a 1/4 stick. :)

Mike J
June 3, 2013, 03:09 AM
I'd vote for a side grinder with a metal cutting blade. It would get you in. A torch would be the easiest option if you knew someone you could borrow one from though.

gamestalker
June 3, 2013, 03:29 AM
I'm quite familiar with those safes and can can tell you right now that there is no short cut to getting that safe open. I've had a dozen or so different variations of those business safes and it will no doubt require you to have a professional get it opened. As for prying it open, good luck, those safes are pretty stout and have very heavy locking lugs, probably on all four sides, if it's like any I've seen.

GS

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 03:42 AM
If I'm able to get into the main bottom door/compartment (either using a professional locksmith or cutting my way in) will I be able to get the contents from the top section - for instance can I rotate a section to cause the items to 'drop' into the lower section?

I'm trying to determine whether I can avoid the need to crack/open both top and bottom sections separately.

JRH6856
June 3, 2013, 03:52 AM
those safes are pretty stout and have very heavy locking lugs, probably on all four sides, if it's like any I've seen

That is what I was suspecting and the lugs pretty much rule out going through the doors by cutting the hinges (that's why the hinges are exposed--they present no security risk). Burning through the back or sides might require some exotic cutting rods which can get pricey. But so can carbide or diamond saw blades. Do you know anyone with an airplane? You could try dropping it. :evil:

JRH6856
June 3, 2013, 03:55 AM
The two compartment drop safes we used were separate compartments. Really two separate safes in a single steel casing. Some of them even had a third locked compartment inside the lower safe.

xxjumbojimboxx
June 3, 2013, 03:55 AM
I dunno what steel is going for these days, but id certainly take it to the scrap yard when i was done... even at a buck a lb... nice chunk

beeenbag
June 3, 2013, 04:17 AM
Wow, lots of advice about metal with very little experience obviously. Here goes...

If the safe is carbon steel it will be easy to cut through either with an oxy acetylene torch or angle grinder cutting wheels ( they will not be too thick as a grinding wheel and cutting wheel are two different things, a standard cutting disk is very thin). Once you get through the outer shell you will come to meet either concrete or sheet rock, get a nice heavy hammer, a few flat chisels and go to work. If you contact another layer of metal repeat.

Now if the shell is stainless or something like that, you could still use a torch or a cutting wheel, just keep in mind the torch will melt it but not cut it and thewheels will exhaust faster. No "exotic cutting rods" required.

JFtheGR8
June 3, 2013, 04:36 AM
Would it be possible for you to drill some inspection holes in it first to see if there is even a need to cut it open? I don't know if you can get ahold of a fiber optic camera to look around inside or not. You might be able to get a cheap one from Harbor Freight. I'd want to know for sure before hiring a locksmith.


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buckstrucks
June 3, 2013, 04:38 AM
Be careful using a torch, if it is concrete fill the tiny air bubbles trapped in the concrete can pop and frag out particles n such. I would use a cut off wheel on an angle grinder, a 6incher will be good. Cut a 1'x1' one square out of the back or bottom then remove that layer of metal, then go to town with a bfh and chisel. I rate this as a 4 beer job.

blarby
June 3, 2013, 04:54 AM
Can you mechanically agitate the safe to see if anyting is sliding around in there ?

FWIW- any businessman worth his salts empties a safe before discarding it.

If you plan on being able to use it as a safe afterward, call the locksmith. No other way is going to get you admittance AND reuse.

If not, the bottom is always the weakest point, and there is very little additional hardening from corners, additions, etc. I would tap 4 holes using a good steel boring bit, and make 4 long cuts using a carbide recip saw.

After you find the contents, use your newfound riches to pay to have a locksmith reset the tumblers, and a welder put a new plate on the bottom. If its been outside in the rain, you may need new locks althogether. If thats the case, tapping the locks from the outide would likely do you no good for entry, as the release mechanism is likely rusted shut.

Last option : call your closest major PD with a bombsquad, and ask the senior officer to provide a nice training aid for his guys, and a case of beer for the story....

76shuvlinoff
June 3, 2013, 05:33 AM
Would it be possible for you to drill some inspection holes in it first to see if there is even a need to cut it open? I don't know if you can get ahold of a fiber optic camera to look around inside or not. You might be able to get a cheap one from Harbor Freight. I'd want to know for sure before hiring a locksmith.


^ This would be the cheapest first step to indicate the level of further investment.

lemaymiami
June 3, 2013, 08:31 AM
I actually have a bit of experience cracking a safe (one only and it was in the line of duty....) some years back when I was in charge of my Department's property room. The safe in question was a fairly simple "fire safe" with a combination lock on the door...

Occasionally I'm smart enough to know how little I know so I went to the biggest dealer for safes in my area (Miami) and talked to an old gent who really knew what to do. Once he knew the make/model we went to one for sale and he was kind enough to show me exactly where to drill to access the dial mechanism. He then described in detail exactly how to align the wheels under the dial to unlock the safe (and provided exact measurements so that I'd only have to drill one hole...). Worked like a charm and was my one and only safe job..... Of course, nothing inside but papers.... and none of this would have been necessary if the owner had just opened the safe for the guys with the warrant....

Now for the best part (I couldn't make this up...). The nice old guy that was so helpful and really, really knew his stuff.... He was the lock man for the Watergate burglars who'd served his time and lived a quiet life as a local Cubano.... It was a treat to meet and talk with him, even just briefly....

Now for some practical advice about your safe... If you don't care how it's done, make a trip to you local fire station. If they feel like it any fire outfit can cut into that safe in just a few moments. Yes it will be messy but those guys really know how to cut through stuff -and have the tools to do it without breaking a sweat... That's the route I'd have taken if I didn't want to do the job without making a mess...

By the way... this is the first time I've ever publicly told this story. I'm sure that the old boy I dealt with has long passed away... I'm long out of police work but the stories stay with you. Some of them are actually true...

Torian
June 3, 2013, 08:49 AM
Thermite. 3:1 ratio Iron(III) Oxide and Aluminum, both finely powdered and mixed. Magnesium ribbon makes good fuse. A bit of Barium Peroxide makes great primer if you can source it. (Caution: VERY reactive oxidizer!)

Stuff burns ~ 2200 F. Light the fuse and stay WELL CLEAR.

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE REACTION.

Be safe.
Thermite is great if you don't care about the safe or anything inside. I've seen it used and wouldn't recommend it for your application.

The only thing I could recommend is having a qualified locksmith give you an estimate. You can pull some tricks with the cheap imported stuff from China, but this safe looks like neither.

EDIT: saw your estimate. Have you considered drilling into it and using a fiber optic camera to see what's inside to see if it is worth your while?

heeler
June 3, 2013, 08:58 AM
Being that it is an old safe I would be careful cutting and grinding because it just might contain asbestos as part of it's insulation fill.
Have a qualified safe & vault guy drill it and make back your money after selling it to the metal recyclers as was already mentioned.
Hopefully something of value is still inside.

shaggy430
June 3, 2013, 09:22 AM
Tagging for future reference. I want to see what is inside!

Zeeemu
June 3, 2013, 09:42 AM
Have you considered dial manipulation to open the safe? There are procedures available if the dial is in working order. Paladin Press used to sell a booklet describing the procedure. Good luck.

a1abdj
June 3, 2013, 10:53 AM
That safe is actually two safes in a single concrete block, and both are rated against a professional burglar. In addition to the 99.9% odds that it is empty, getting into it is going to be very difficult (or expensive as you have found out).

Would it be possible for you to drill some inspection holes in it first to see if there is even a need to cut it open?

This would be the least expensive, and easiest way to determine if it was empty. It's too heavy to shake. There may be other compartments inside that rattle around themselves.

idoono
June 3, 2013, 11:15 AM
Finally, I was waiting on one of our professionals to weigh in.

Idoono

gym
June 3, 2013, 11:53 AM
Use a torch while running a hose on it in an old tub of somekind, like a bath tub, that way it won't burn up the contents. The other way is to "peel it", Google it. It's done by professional safe crackers, using hammers and chissels, it is what it sounds like, you get a hole started and keep banging and peeling qway the metal, It works, and many a vault has been opened using this method. You should be able to do it in a day or less, especially if you have a friend to help hit the chisel in and bend the metal.
I saw a body shop open one using the torch method when I was a kid, with the hose running on it. There was just some pocket change in it. But it's always a mystery, which is the best part.
The old pro's who cracked the safes in the diamond district, often used torches and peeling 'combinations', over a long weekend to achieve their goal.

JRH6856
June 3, 2013, 12:09 PM
No "exotic cutting rods" required.

Yeah. It's a safe, not a vault. Don't know what I was thinking. Shouldn't type in my sleep.

blackrussian
June 3, 2013, 12:17 PM
Make a post here:
http://www.reddit.com/r/WhatsInThisThing

CB900F
June 3, 2013, 12:23 PM
Leadcounsel;

Trying to open it by cutting off the hinges will not work. I think that $450.00 per lock is pretty expensive, but shipping it to me might be more so.

Therefore, obtain the HD power head & carbide wheels. Take your time & make nice straight clean cuts. That will help if you want to reweld and restore the unit. This may become a summer project, depending on your patience level

900F

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 01:09 PM
Thank you all for the input so far.

Okay, some updates, clarification, and answers.

1) I techically purchased the rights to the contents of the safe. I found an ad on craigslist where a guy had acquired this closed safe from an auction or antique store, history unknown. I agree that it's almost certainly empty. However, the potential for something awesome to be inside was too tempting to resist. He wanted $260 for the safe delivered to my home (10 miles away), and that would have required significant additional time and effort investment, (for instance the main door handle has been broken off, both dials are quite seized up and don't do full revolutions, and who knows about the hinges, it's rusty, etc.) and I really have no desire for the thing because I've concluded that it is not salvagable except at significant expense, and not worth it. So for $160, I entered into a written contract to access the safe on his property and I own the contents. We have agreed that I will do as little damage as necessary to the safe, because I think he wants to use it as some back yard ornament or something. I doubt there is much scrap value given that steel is like 15 cents a pound, and most of the weight is probably concrete.

2) This safe is very heavy, easily 1000 pounds. The owner says it's 1400 lbs. I've pushed hard on this and cannot budge it (I fantacize that this is filled with solid bricks of gold...). With many people, we could probably get it on it's side or back. I'm hesitant to go doing that, but could if necessary, especially if the bottom is the weakest point, and would leave it to be 'usable' cosmetically for the owner.

3) I've considered the fiber optic pinhole camera and light option. However, I if it's like most safes there may be drawers and compartments to open and/or search. this option may work for the top section, but the bottom section almost certainly has compartments and shelves if it's like most safes, and if it were used for a business.

4) Other options are a couple hundred dollars in high quality circular saw and blades, or reciprocating saw and blades. Or both, and an afternoon next weekend. Given that the locksmith I've interviewed wanted $450 per door, I will likely try myself. Anything more than $400 total to open it and I'll just work on it myself. I just don't want to get half-way done, and have to leave it exposed.

5) I had not considered calling the fire department or police or even other locksmiths or even a locksmith school and see if they have someone that wants the training to bust into a safe. This might be a great resource and I'll call around today.

content
June 3, 2013, 01:55 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // You mentioned water coming out of the door at one time and it has been sitting on the ground.

I'd pull it over on its side, with a truck if needed, and see if the bottom has rusted at all.
The bottom seems like it might be the weakest point to cut or drill.

This would also leave the rest of the safe intact for the current owners "project".

Hope it is full of vintage Colts covered in grease and wrapped in plastic.
Good luck and Enjoy the search

a1abdj
June 3, 2013, 02:25 PM
So for $160, I entered into a written contract to access the safe on his property and I own the contents

I have a whole pile of locked up safes in my warehouse that need to be opened. For $150 each, you can have the contents, and I'll even do the openings at no additional cost to you. ;)

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 02:40 PM
I have a whole pile of locked up safes in my warehouse that need to be opened. For $150 each, you can have the contents, and I'll even do the openings at no additional cost to you.

Thanks for the note. I'm suddenly a lot less confident in my decision... :(

So, is it your overall experience that these locked safes that are 'abandoned' or however you acquire them, are always empty?

Any experiences or stories to share where a locked safe is opened by a new owner and something impressive is inside? I need a good story...

Resist Evil
June 3, 2013, 03:04 PM
I'm going to guess a1abdj's line of work has something to do with his post, leadcounsel. ;)

leadcounsel
June 3, 2013, 03:11 PM
I'm aware that he's one of the resident safe experts and actually had PM'd him for his insights...

JRH6856
June 3, 2013, 03:27 PM
Thanks for the note. I'm suddenly a lot less confident in my decision... :(

So, is it your overall experience that these locked safes that are 'abandoned' or however you acquire them, are always empty?

Any experiences or stories to share where a locked safe is opened by a new owner and something impressive is inside? I need a good story...
Maybe not a good story, but a story nonetheless:

The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mystery_of_Al_Capone%27s_Vaults)

a1abdj
June 3, 2013, 04:00 PM
So, is it your overall experience that these locked safes that are 'abandoned' or however you acquire them, are always empty?

The vast majority of the time. One is more likely to find something left in a safe that was used in a residence, or office, but even that is rare. The type of safe you have is designed to store cash. It would have likely been used in a grocery store or gas station. The odds of somebody forgetting cash, in a business safe, is almost unheard of.

Any experiences or stories to share where a locked safe is opened by a new owner and something impressive is inside? I need a good story...

Last year we were opening safes in my pile, and one of them had $600 in cash (newest bills printed in the 80s), and a very cool letter signed by August Busch (the original) himself.

On the rare occasion we find stuff in safes, it is usually of no value: Paperwork, keys, and similar.

But there is the occasional story of people finding a lot of money. If you want me to track down the stories for you, I know of a few.

waterman1971
June 3, 2013, 04:01 PM
I cut through my tl15 about a month ago. Took me several hours using traditional power tools to access. The material was 1" plate. I will post pics if there is any interest.

As a1a mentioned, your safe is constructed with concrete. I would think cutting it would compromise the integrity. Perhaps letting a pro access it would be a strong consideration. I probably spent north of $100 on blades alone. Please post pics.

CB900F
June 3, 2013, 05:16 PM
Lead;

Over all the years that we've been opening "mystery" safes, only one had anything of value. That was about $2.00 in pennies. Good luck, I think you're going to need it.

900F

zxcvbob
June 3, 2013, 05:30 PM
You're sure it's had water in it? Fill it back up *completely* with water (submerge it until no more bubbles) and then freeze it. Probably won't bust it wide open, but it should weaken it considerably and will not hurt the contents any more than they already are.

I like the idea of drilling a small hole so you can peek inside with a fiber-optic.

I also think you got taken for $160 ;)

xxjumbojimboxx
June 4, 2013, 01:51 AM
You know what they say, you cant win if you dont play... By the way.. The safe may be ancient, but the safe itself may be the traesure!. Think about it. Us gun guys pay roughly 500-3500 for our safes, most of them are simply not as hearty as that one. that things a beast. I bet you to a business owner.. (restored) that safe could be worth thousands... I mean its metal, rust can be removed!. 260 for that specific safe is a steal!, if you had to give a safe guy 1000 bucks to open and restore it.... Youd still be looking at a hefty profit. The opening of said safe would likely be the most exepnsive part of the journey! the rust you could handle yourself.

leadcounsel
June 4, 2013, 01:55 AM
You're sure it's had water in it? Fill it back up *completely* with water (submerge it until no more bubbles) and then freeze it. Probably won't bust it wide open, but it should weaken it considerably and will not hurt the contents any more than they already are.

How does one fill a 1400 lbs safe with water and then freeze it. This isn't really that movable conveniently. It realistically takes expensive equipment and lots of man power.

Let's keep in mind that I realistically will get zero back on my return on investment, and even if the safe has something in it, it's likely under a few hundred bucks...

So spending $500, $1000, $2000 to move, manipulate, hire high priced safe crackers, ship it to the national institute of safecrackers, etc. just makes no sense.

I am looking for a way to bust into this sucker for like $100 and a few hours of work...

So far, drilling a small hole or using a reciprocating saw, and/or circular saw with proper bits, and a chisel and sledge appear to be the winning options.

I did get a quote for $100 total to punch out the two locks and open the safe that way from a locksmith assistant, but the actual smith didn't call back yet so I need to confirm... that would be the best option.

leadcounsel
June 4, 2013, 01:57 AM
I have no better way of identifying this safe, other than thinking it's a TL 15 or TL 30 safe. Perhaps someone here can tell me exactly the model number. I think it was made in the mid-1970s, and the serial number is 6567x.

a1abdj
June 4, 2013, 09:34 AM
I did get a quote for $100 total to punch out the two locks and open the safe that way from a locksmith assistant

Punching those locks will likely make opening those doors that much more difficult.

Make sure you get a guarantee, in writing, from whomever proposed that idea.

anothernewb
June 4, 2013, 10:37 AM
Not sure about how the contents might suffer... But..... for a couple bucks worth of fun, haul it out to a place where you've got some room to work with and empty a case of 7.62x54R or m2 ball surplus at it.

500 rounds of steel core bullets hitting it at 200+ fps outta give you some real insights to how tough it is...

a1abdj
June 4, 2013, 12:16 PM
I have no better way of identifying this safe, other than thinking it's a TL 15 or TL 30 safe.

Gary did build safes with ratings up to TRTL-30 levels. Chances are the round door is a TL-15. The square door is likely a C rate or TL-15.

Although every manufacturer uses model numbers, on safes like this, I would refer to the round door by it's diameter: A Gary 8" or 10" round door.

You will know for sure once it's open, as Gary put the UL tags on the insides of the doors. :D

SDC
June 4, 2013, 01:20 PM
I'd definitely want to drillsome smal inspection holes just to make sure any further effort is even necessary, but if it contains anything valuable inside, I'd stay away from things like torches, plasma cutters, etc., and go with one of those gas-powered chop saws with a friction blade. On one of those "Auction Kings" shows, they found a safe with some valuables inside (including an H&K P7), and used a torch to cut it open, but absolutely TRASHED the finish on the pistol while doing so.

rondog
June 4, 2013, 01:45 PM
Supposedly, here in Denver in some building there's an ancient "ball" safe that's been there forever. It's too big and heavy to move out, so everyone's just left it there as tenants come and go. Every locksmith in town has tried to open it with no luck, I guess it's one of the most secure safes ever made. Nobody knows what's in it, if anything. Probably been there since the 1800's or early 1900's, nobody knows.

FAS1
June 5, 2013, 10:00 AM
I'd definitely want to drillsome smal inspection holes just to make sure any further effort is even necessary, but if it contains anything valuable inside, I'd stay away from things like torches, plasma cutters, etc., and go with one of those gas-powered chop saws with a friction blade. On one of those "Auction Kings" shows, they found a safe with some valuables inside (including an H&K P7), and used a torch to cut it open, but absolutely TRASHED the finish on the pistol while doing so.

I like the gas powered cut-off saw as well. Makes lots of noise and sparks will be flying! :D

You could even fire up the pit and make a party. I'm sure you will get plenty of friends to take turns.

wolf695
June 5, 2013, 10:06 AM
If its all legal, then a 4.5" or 7" dewalt grinder with a waffer wheel blade(metal cutting blade). A dozen should get you in!

plainsbilly
June 7, 2013, 02:37 PM
Small air hammer and chisel set commonly called a zip gun. 4 1/2 angle grinder and a stack of cutoff wheels. Cut a starter opening with cutoff wheels zip gun the opening bigger 3 hrs tops and 2 cases of beer. :rolleyes: don't act like its a vault or a laminated steel antique.

MtnCreek
June 7, 2013, 03:29 PM
I have no idea how to open it. It would be fun to go to this guys place (when he's there & watching) and take gray playdough and start attaching it to the safe, attaching some type of timer and a 9v. When he asks "What the...", just say "don't worry man, I got this." :)

Edit: He may even give you the $160 back.

Trent
June 7, 2013, 04:15 PM
Edit: He may even give you the $160 back.

HAHAH!

Oh that was good. :)

Geno
June 7, 2013, 04:21 PM
I had a small safe that wore out about 16 years back. I wanted to get rid of it, but couldn't open it to see that there were no valuables inside of it. This one weighed a couple hundred pounds. When the trash collectors wheeled by with the massive trash truck, I asked them if they could help open it. They did.

They sat the safe on the end of the truck, and closed the hydraulic door / gate / whatever you call it, onto the safe. With about 5 seconds of hydraulics applied, they had "crushed" the safe enough that the door feel off. :D My daughter's birth certificate was all that was inside. You know, the one from the hospital with foot and hand prints at birth?! Yeah. Glad they were able to help me.

Geno

leadcounsel
June 7, 2013, 10:47 PM
Great ideas everyone.

Keep in mind the safe is essentially immovable due to the weight, within the small budget I'm willing to commit.

So far, drilling inspection hole(s) appears to be the best approach. Then cutting from there.

a1abdj
June 8, 2013, 10:26 AM
So far, drilling inspection hole(s) appears to be the best approach.

Look that safe over good before drilling holes, especially around the top part that appears to be filled with dirt. Some of those safes have drops in them to allow them to deposit money without opening the door. You can snake a camera down those with little effort.

leadcounsel
June 8, 2013, 01:57 PM
Look that safe over good before drilling holes, especially around the top part that appears to be filled with dirt. Some of those safes have drops in them to allow them to deposit money without opening the door. You can snake a camera down those with little effort.

Great idea. This area appears covered in moss, and under the moss, some concrete or fill of some sort. I could perhaps chisel that out.

The safe was moved to it's current location, and the owner said that water funneled out of the safe or perhaps the walls... that means there must be a way that water got in. So it would make sense there is a hole somewhere, probably at that point in the top.

Field Tester
June 8, 2013, 07:40 PM
Have you personally gone over the safe for a good inspection? Any updates?

marv
June 8, 2013, 08:26 PM
I have an old Cary safe and can give you a clue what to expect. Mine is 2 ft square and 3 ft tall. The interior is about the size of a big shoebox. Those walls are THICK. The door is 6 in thick, tapered all around with stepped sides. It goes into a tapered stepsided hole. It has fixed 1 1/2" lugs on the hinge side and retractable 1 1/2" lugs opposite. So don't even think about popping the hinges and dropping the door. I think I would go in thru the back and/or the bottom. Wear a Good mask because they weren't afraid to use lots of asbestos back in the day. Good Luck.

xxjumbojimboxx
June 9, 2013, 02:01 AM
Can we find out whats in this safe already!

leadcounsel
June 9, 2013, 11:50 AM
Anyone know about the safe layout... shelves, drawers that open to the front, etc? So if I cut the side or back off, would I be able to access the drawers?

What about the top compartment? Does it drop down into the safe, or is there another drop down area? Can you access the top compartment from the bottom, or is there a wheel that can be turned to drop the top down into the bottom, etc?

Unexpected work came up that prevents me from attacking this until next weekend.

nyresq
June 11, 2013, 10:41 AM
Thermite. 3:1 ratio Iron(III) Oxide and Aluminum, both finely powdered and mixed. Magnesium ribbon makes good fuse. A bit of Barium Peroxide makes great primer if you can source it. (Caution: VERY reactive oxidizer!)

Stuff burns ~ 2200 F. Light the fuse and stay WELL CLEAR.

DO NOT LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE REACTION.

Be safe.
"...Stuff burns ~ 2200 F...

Be safe..."

LOL!

Kuyong_Chuin
June 15, 2013, 03:17 AM
One thing I have not heard mentioned yet is a plasma cutter it will cut things pretty thick if you know someone that has one like a machine or wielding shop. Do not use an oxygen acetylene cutting torch on it. If a mixture of the gases gets built up inside the safe and gets hit with a spark they will be hearing the blast three counties over. When in high school shop, my teacher took three small balloons filled the first two about the size of a baseball, one with just oxygen the other with acetylene, the last balloon was filled with a mix of the two and only filled to about the size of a golf ball. The shop was about 100 feet long and 50 wide and the huge garage like doors were open along with all the windows. He then took the lit torch and touched the balloon with the oxygen and it just popped, next the acetylene balloon was touched off and we got a nice fireball about like a large piece of flash paper being set off. The mixed gas balloon when it was set off not only knocked the dust of the rafter a good 20 feet above our heads it was heard miles away. The implosion pulled some of the windows shut in the shop.

A good fire department should have the tools to open it. Call and talk to their training officer maybe they will use it as a training exercise instead of using a car to cut up and pry open. Suggest to the training officer to use the following scenario for the training mission. A small child was playing hide and seek in the yard where there was an old open safe, the child shut the door and can not get out and no one knows the combo to the lock. That way they will do everything possible not only to get the safe open but to open it without hurting what is inside the safe, in this scenario a small child. I used to be on the county rescue squad when I lived in Mo and we worked with the local fire department often and they and we were always doing training where we had to cut someone out of something. Good Luck.

ApacheCoTodd
June 15, 2013, 09:03 PM
Outside of curiosity as to what might be in it (I'll tell you right now... NOTHING!). I wouldn't bother opening it as you have two options:
Expensive professional to maintain the safe's integrity and usefulness.
Destructive to assuage curiosity and keep expense down - other than the valuable expendables you'll go through.

Once opened, you'll find the interior volume (and emptiness) comes no where near to justifying the efforts.
Call around to pros and see what kind of trade value they'll give you on a more practical used item.

As you already know - this thing weighs near onto 3/4 of a ton. My go-to safe guys sell these used and refurbished all the time.

I've hit this rodeo many times in my wife's estate sale business.

wally
June 16, 2013, 05:59 PM
Find a serial number and try to contact the original manufacturer.

Richard Feynman (Nobel prize winner in physics, Manhattan project worker, and patent holder for the nuclear powered rocket ship) developed quite a reputation as a safe cracker at Los Alamos by doing this.

Amazing how many safes are left at their factory defaults.

X-Rap
June 16, 2013, 06:29 PM
How thick is the steel on the outside and interior? If it has a fairly thin exterior I would rent a suction based core drill and with a bit big enough to reach your hand through.
A core drill will go through light steel and concrete with little resistance. If the steel is thick than you will probably be on the hook for an expensive diamond core bit.
Do some research on interior orientation of compartments and make up of the safe and also try the small holes and camera. if there is no paper or flammable contents cut it with a torch but understand that it will take a magnesium/oxygen rod to cut through any concrete. Oxy/acetylene won't work if you try to cool it with water and so long as the torch is lit and consuming the gas there is no danger of accumulation in the safe but flame will destroy the contents.
Another angle to try with oxy/acet would be to fill the safe with enough water to cover the contents adequately but still leave enough air space below the metal to allow it to reach its melting point.

Jim K
June 17, 2013, 09:23 PM
Don't use a cutting torch if you want to preserve anything inside. Just cut through the back or bottom with a power saw and a carbide disc. Use a water spray to keep it from getting too hot. Takes about 15 minutes, and maybe a couple of discs.

Jim

jstein650
June 17, 2013, 09:41 PM
Of course the fiber optic camera would be great first, but per mljdeckard:

"Or drill a hole in the top, fill it with water, and drop in a 1/4 stick. "

Even if there's nothing in it, it would be a fun experiment - and shouldn't hurt much inside!

CoRoMo
June 18, 2013, 02:59 PM
I think it was made in the mid-1970s, and the serial number is 6567x.
LOL! I love how you disguised the serial number of this forty year old, rusted out, inaccessibly locked up, immovable 1,400 pound safe by hiding the last single digit!!
:D
Nobody will be able to make the ten guesses needed to use that serial number for nefarious purposes!!
:p

desidog
June 18, 2013, 05:14 PM
Why not just aim for the hinge pins? with M995 or soviet steel core.

On the bottom door, i'd grind through the pins at the point between the plates. If you're worried about heat damage, just hose it off every couple minutes while grinding.

The hinges should be a lot easier to get through than the side of the safe; of course, if the bottom's rusted through...

Kernel
June 18, 2013, 10:20 PM
I've seen hydraulic rams used to open safes by pushing the door frame apart. They move very, very, slowly but exert great pressure.

xxjumbojimboxx
June 20, 2013, 01:43 PM
Hey, if we never find out whats in this safe I'm going to whereever you are and opening it myself...

Probably nothing... But I've been following this thread since its inception!

leadcounsel
June 25, 2013, 12:01 AM
Sorry, my plans to open this guy were derailed - just like most of my personal life - by work. Worked several weeks straight, 12-14 hour days, without any time off...

Going to try to get to it this coming weekend, if possible. I am eager to find the treasures inside and will report when I do!

Alec
June 25, 2013, 12:35 AM
Why not drill a single small hole and use a seesnake camera? If there's nothing interesting-looking in there, you just saved a TON of time and effort.

Lloyd Smale
July 2, 2013, 07:19 AM
neighbor just ran into the same. he was given a big bank safe that was locked. What he ended up doing was cutting a hole in the back with his plazma cutter going inside and taking the lock out. He welded it back up and you cant even tell it was ever cut. By the way there was nothing in his. He was hopping for some money or old stock certificates but there wasnt even a scrap of papper.

ROW
July 6, 2013, 11:14 PM
Hire a guy fresh out of the joint for safe cracking.

I just wanted to be funny.

most places that sell safes can open it for you.

leadcounsel
July 7, 2013, 04:36 PM
Cutting this guy open today! Crossing my fingers this is a treasure chest!

rondog
July 7, 2013, 05:30 PM
Good luck! And bring photos please.

content
July 7, 2013, 05:31 PM
Hello friends and neighbors//
Nice good luck and good times!

taliv
July 7, 2013, 05:32 PM
Didn't geraldo Rivera do a show on this?

content
July 7, 2013, 05:59 PM
That's a good point .. can't do any worse!

Resist Evil
July 7, 2013, 06:23 PM
I had given up hope for resolution.

col.lemat
July 7, 2013, 08:28 PM
I say empty

jstein650
July 7, 2013, 08:34 PM
Five bucks says ther's SOMETHING in there...;)

leadcounsel
July 7, 2013, 11:35 PM
First step, we rolled the safe onto its a face. It took three men and a long steel pry bar to get it over. We used a gas Stihl saw to cut the back off. As expected a layer of 3" concrete awaited.

leadcounsel
July 7, 2013, 11:40 PM
Cut, banged on it with a sledge hammer, and chiseled our way through 3" of sturdy concrete liner to find the inner steel wall. WE DID NOT EXPECT WHAT WE FOUND NEXT!!!!:what:

fallout mike
July 7, 2013, 11:45 PM
What was found next?

leadcounsel
July 7, 2013, 11:50 PM
I was very surprised to see the thick inner steel liner. Estimate that was 1" thick. Maybe more.

We burned through about 4 steel cutting 12" blades cutting through the exterior 1/8" steel wall, some concrete, and the 1"+ solid steel inner wall! :what:

leadcounsel
July 8, 2013, 12:00 AM
And.....

Empty. :( (Both top and bottom sections)... The top section is a drop box for small deposits, and offers a way to drop larger deposits over the back down to the main section.

But worth every penny for the experience and opportunity to crack open a modern day treasure chest...

BTW, it took about 3 hours or so with two people working on it, and a saw with plenty of blades, and being outdoors and not caring about being secretive. A very laborious job.

fallout mike
July 8, 2013, 12:02 AM
That sucks man. You never know though.

leadcounsel
July 8, 2013, 12:15 AM
Thank you all for the advice!

a1abdj
July 8, 2013, 12:22 AM
Remember when I said that I rarely find anything in the safes that I end up with? Well the other day was an exception to the rule, when I brought in several safes from a mall demolition project. Since I found goodies in mine, and you found nothing in yours, I'm willing to share the wealth.

I figured this $500 gift certificate will cover your cost of the safe, plus your expense of getting into it. Along with the Booksavers membership, that $500 will stretch even further.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v627/a1abdj/bdalton_zpsc622a07d.jpg (http://smg.photobucket.com/user/a1abdj/media/bdalton_zpsc622a07d.jpg.html)

03fatboy
July 8, 2013, 12:26 AM
I was dreaming right there with you.

OilyPablo
July 8, 2013, 06:21 AM
I figured this $500 gift certificate will cover your cost of the safe, plus your expense of getting into it. Along with the Booksavers membership, that $500 will stretch even further.

Wow that is pretty sweet!!! Great PIF.

a1abdj
July 8, 2013, 11:19 AM
Wow that is pretty sweet!!! Great PIF.


I've mentioned it to the OP in a private message, but I suppose I should mention it here for those who haven't caught on.

B Dalton is long out of business. The gift certificate and membership card are worthless (which is why they were found in the locked safe). As I said previously, we never find anything of value in locked safes. ;)

OilyPablo
July 8, 2013, 08:04 PM
My SGN PIF humor somehow didn't translate to THR humor. :)

leadcounsel
July 8, 2013, 11:50 PM
One lesson learned here is that getting into a safe is MUCH harder than many people will have you believe, as I learned from first hand experience. Several hours of loud cutting, banging, creating lots of dust... It was a very tough project. Went through several blades....

Arp32
July 9, 2013, 12:20 AM
Just like Geraldo...

a1abdj
July 9, 2013, 12:32 AM
One lesson learned here is that getting into a safe is MUCH harder than many people will have you believe,

Real safes yes. Most gun safes are still only a few minutes worth of work. :D

OilyPablo
July 9, 2013, 06:12 AM
The real reason for securely bolting a safe down........and putting it in an "uninteresting" tight location.

evan price
July 9, 2013, 07:16 AM
Have a buddy with a loader or 'hoe lift it up in the air and drop it. A couple times usually splits the corners apart and the hinges fail.
Yes, I've done it- it works. Yes the safe is junk afterwards. Hope you don't have Faberge' eggs inside.

MErl
July 9, 2013, 04:52 PM
I have a question bout that construction. Why was the thicker panel of steel on the inside? Does that provide better fire protection or something? What are the drawbacks of doing it that way?

a1abdj
July 9, 2013, 06:34 PM
Saves on shipping. The safe could be shipped in its shell, and then filled with concrete once it arrived.

I don't know of anything built like that anymore, but some manufacturers still offer a concrete cladding at an additional charge. Usually 3-4 inches of concrete around the safe. It adds weight, and some degree of burglary and fire resistance, although it doesn't change any ratings the safe has.

heeler
July 10, 2013, 09:08 AM
I kind of tuned out of this thread due to the Zimmerman trial and the fact that threads similiar to this over at another site go on and on without any results other than keeping a bunch of guys hanging on.
Glad you delivered and got the beast open!
And by the way,this is why I always laugh to myself while in other safe threads when guys who have never done this always pontificate on how easy it is to open a safe by the brute strength method.

RetiredUSNChief
July 13, 2013, 04:17 PM
Good read! I followed a link here from another string and was very much entertained!

As I was reading, however, it occurred to me that you missed your opportunity to spray-paint a few ingots of aluminum with gold Rust-Oleum and borrow some of your wife's jewelry as a "cache of valuables", that you could have posted here...

:evil:

Trent
July 16, 2013, 10:04 AM
This thread was entertaining. Congratulations on cracking that bad boy open! If nothing else it was a learning experience for everyone.

No safe can survive modern power tools.

To think otherwise is foolish. :)

gearchecker
July 26, 2013, 03:53 PM
Deleted

Lloyd Smale
July 28, 2013, 08:30 AM
neighbor and i just did the same with an old bank safe. Figured we might get rich but it was empty. What we did was use his plazma cutter to cut a real clean hole and when we were done we welded it back in ground down the welds and painted it. You really couldnt tell we had done it when were were done. he ended up selling the safe for a few hundred bucks at a flee market.

Field Tester
August 12, 2013, 02:48 AM
Sucks that you voided that certificate by writing on it. Barnes and Nobel may have still honored it. Or possibly wanted it for display at their Corporate Offices.

leadcounsel
October 30, 2013, 02:07 PM
Well, apparently opening abandoned or discarded safes can be profitable! :)

A member here sent me this link today....

http://www.click2houston.com/news/rare-valuable-gold-coins-found-in-safe/-/1735978/22695372/-/37trjm/-/index.html

A man recently acquired the safe from an estate executor who asked him to clean out the garage of the deceased. He was asked to remove the safe from the garage and dispose of it however he wanted. He brought it to Robbie's to see if there was anything inside.

What may be a million dollars worth or more of uncirculated South African gold coins were discovered in an old safe that was meant for scrap metal, and now the question is, legally, to whom do these valuable coins belong?

The executor of the estate found out about the discovery and staked her claim on the valuable coins.



I don't know why he would have opened his mouth and told anyone, knowing all the legal problems it would create. He should have simply quietly gotten the gold appraised, insured, and put in a safe deposit box.

He has title and possession of the property. He was under zero legal or moral obligation to inform the previous owner.

The correct legal answer is that it's discarded or abandoned property. The previous owners essentially sold it for scrap or threw it away. The person who possessed it (the guy who went through the work to move and open the safe) owns it. But now he's likely going to have it drawn out in a lengthy expensive trial to get his property.

captbluemoon
October 30, 2013, 02:20 PM
a small whole must be made first and fill with water if you are going to use a cutting torch, to protect any paper from burning. That said I have seen "safe crackers" drill three small holes in the rear of a cheat safe, one to see , one for a light and one for a long drill to drill out back of lock, of course they knew the construcrion of the safe! maybe could be researched on internet.

gchenarides
October 30, 2013, 06:22 PM
To any that might be interested, I have been in the safe manufacturing end of the business as well as the design and sales end so what I am espousing here is my opinion, but with some experience.
The Gary safe co. has long been out of business and part of it was purchased by Fire King International about 25 years ago,
Several of the previous comments have some merit, i.e. be careful with the oxy torch when using it to weaken the concrete between the outer sheet metal skin and the inner safe body steel.
Do NOT, repeat, do NOT attempt to use a thermal lance. Your inexperience might well cause a fire on nearby material because of the tremendous amout of sparks that will be generated, Smoke will be profuse as well. Serious injury, or death, may also be possible due to your inexperience with this type of tool.
The mention of the hinge removal being useless is absolutely correct. Don't wast your time on that.
Also the borescope suggested will not do you any good because it takes special scopes and you have to know where to drill and know what you would be looking at inside the locks. Experienced safe technicians have the tool and the knowledge and they will get paid for that expertise.
There were some responses touching around one possibility and that is a coring machine. You would have to have two types of blades, one for steel and the other for the concrete, and water will be needed as a coolent. Don't go thru the doors!
The safe "value" is anything you can get for the scrap steel.
In all my years of being around safes, and knowing of "found" safes being opened to hopefully find something of value, especially in a commercial depository safe such as his, there have been only two and what was found was worth less than the opening cost.
Just my opinion for what worth is may have.

Gord
October 30, 2013, 07:56 PM
Guys - the safe has already been opened.

Welcome to THR. Reading is fundamental.

cactus02
November 11, 2013, 08:33 PM
It takes patience and luck to get through something like that.you may have glass re-lockers in this. if you break them the spring loaded bolts cannot be retracted even with the combination. try every combination. The locksmiths have a machine that bolts to the front of the safe and tries every combo and and records the one that opens the safe. A good safe mechanic knows exactly where to drill and see the tumblers with a bore scope.Good luck

nyresq
November 17, 2013, 04:23 PM
the safe was opened... weeks ago... reading helps...

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