Restoring an antique safe

Discussion in 'Shooting Gear and Storage' started by rdinga, Jul 16, 2022.

  1. rdinga

    rdinga Member

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    476DC617-1D9C-4CAE-AC5A-C0476D550AF0.jpeg D7228528-CEA0-40D3-96E8-3F237DA7E23F.jpeg B08CB14C-A213-4D36-9DBB-55FE56FEA35F.jpeg I am starting a new summer project. Planning to restore an antique safe. It might hold a few snubbies but the cool factor is going to be worth the effort.

    The dial lock works as smooth as silk.

    anyone here ever restore an old safe?
     
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  2. CoalCrackerAl

    CoalCrackerAl Member

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    Wow heavy duty safe. It will be a nice project. Do you know what it weighs?
     
  3. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Yes, but none that old. Given the wall thickness, snubbies are all that will fit.

    Smooth or not, I suggest you thoroughly rebuilt and lube the lock. They aren't very complicated, but older locks can wear in ways that fail locked. . . which is annoying.
     
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  4. BushMaster-15

    BushMaster-15 Member

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    I'd venture a guess based upon a friends safe ,#420-50 lb. 33"x22"x23" ?. His door is a stepped as yours is and is 6" thick .
    I helped another friend one morning liberate an antique ( have forgotten the name of it ) 5'5" H 38" W 32" D . That came out of the San Pedro Naval Yard and we Rightfully set it on ,it's back on a Tandem flat bed trailer . #2K lb.+ . Picking it up was easy Navy had 30K lb forklift they graciously provided . Used MY forklift to unload it . THEN the fun began getting it into his basement . NEVER AGAIN EVER !!.
     
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  5. troy fairweather

    troy fairweather Member

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    Be cool to clean it up, how into it are you going. It would fit a few ar lowers lol. What's the inside dimensions.
     
  6. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    We used to have a poster in the business who would explain the difference between a real safe like that and a "residential security container" commonly called a "gun safe."
     
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  7. rdinga

    rdinga Member

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    Estimating weight 700 pounds plus. Guy delivered it with a cool winch set up.

    started off by wiping it down inside and out with oil and lubing the wheels. Will start with cleaning and checking out the lock. Once that is done, the metal prep will be next.
     
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  8. CapnMac

    CapnMac Member

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    You are likely thinking of @FAS1 who is still active here.
     
  9. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I have no plans to restore it but this one was in my Grandfathers service station.

    it weights noticeably more than my Liberty gun safe, despite being ~30% smaller physical dimensions.

    154F80CF-97C6-44B6-8767-843F116173D9.jpeg

    Even if it was new when I got it, it would be an antique now.
     
  10. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    It’s been decades now but I seem to remember talking off the medallion inside the door on mine and it looked like concrete. Probably a refractory material for fire resistance as the door is already much thicker than any gun safe I have ever seen.

    Yours appears to be even thicker, I don’t think mine has as many steps inside.
     
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  11. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

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    Agree. If a modern mechanical lock will drop in, remove the old lock. I found that people were taking perfectly good, and new mechanical locks and replacing them with digital. After talking with several locksmiths, it is only a matter of time till the circuity of a digital lock fails. Ask one how many digital locks they replace each month, and the number of mechanical. It will be orders of magnitude higher for the digital. A good mechanical lock will last for decades of daily use.

    I had the lock on this old Government safe fail.

    t1LCFYq.jpg

    the Government had put in a lock with delrin wheels and parts, apparently so the lock could not be X Rayed. As if that would prevent someone from opening the safe.

    Q0XMABl.jpg


    It took the locksmith maybe 20 minutes, start to finish, to drill the safe

    V07TJqz.jpg

    I had the locksmith install a good safe lock I purchased on ebay

    VhDQmkY.jpg

    It is expensive to have someone open a safe with a failed lock. Also, the lock may not give a failure warning that you recognize. It is possible the problems I had opening the delrin lock were warning signs it was failing. But, I also mess up the pattern and am frequently off by a digit, and would have thought the reason the lock did not engage was due to my butterfingers again.
     
  12. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    Hey, that's cool! Xray resistant containers are not very common. Nice safe.
     
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  13. HiVilio

    HiVilio Member

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    The guys from The Safe Keeper have experience restoring old safes, and you can contact them. A friend of mine asked them about five years ago to restore Cannonball Safe. It turned out well. Then they moved the safe
     
  14. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    What's wrong with it? It has cool patina.

    I would love to have a safe that looks like that. Sure clean out the inside but leave the rest alone.
    An old pawn shop near me had on that I always wanted to buy, he moved and sold it! Never let me know
    Only problem was moving the darn thing!
     
  15. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    When we did a study of a facility closed for about 20 years, the vault combination was in the caretaker's files. Said files in another building, you had to know who to ask and what to ask for. Security by obscurity.
    The file cabinets in the vault were either unlocked or the keys and combinations were also on file, I wasn't there that day.
    The many combination lock, fire resistant file cabinets in the file room were just crowbarred open by heavy handed maintenance men.
     
  16. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    upload_2022-8-13_8-4-14.jpeg

    I like this one. First time I have seen someone use air line fittings as a quick mechanical connection. Nice repurposing.

    Maybe where they guy got the idea for Savage’s new straight pull action.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2022
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  17. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Those old antique safes were beautiful.
    The problem with the one on wheels, like my old one, is two men can roll them out the door or use an appliance dolly to take them out of the house and put them on a trailer and away they go.
    If you can bolt them to the floor, they are a lot more secure.
    I noticed Jmorris's old service station safe has no wheels and it may have been bolted to the floor at one time. A lot more secure that way.
     
  18. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I read that old time safe crackers hated safes set in concrete and visible through the business' show window.

    Once upon a time, vault and safe doors might be fitted with glass ampoules of "war gas." Get rough cracking the safe, break the glass, and get gassed. The usual fill was chloropicrin, an early tear gas, although people have gotten worried that it might be phosgene.
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2022
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  19. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    It did have wheels, they wouldn’t work on the pier and beam wood floor if the building it was in though and I had already made an engine dolly using them before we got the safe and brought it home.

    Not sure what was actually kept in it when the station was operational but there was a factory 4.56 ‘62 corvette 3rd member in it when we got it out.
     
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  20. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    That is quite the setup, I didn't notice the air couplets until you pointed them out.
     
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