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Thread: Unlocked or not

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    16
    Country: Spain

    Default Unlocked or not

    The details of the French floor safe that I am researching are in my post ''Who made this safe'' but I now have a specific question and hope I am correct in starting a new thread.

    There is already a 3/4'' hole in the centre of the backplate and I have an old inspection borelight so looked inside and here is a rough sketch of what I can see.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Unfortunately a shelf has become dislodged and is hiding the lower half of the mechanism BUT, the centre horizontal bar is undoubtedly already retracted away from the main lock on the right, and I think the upper diagonal bar may also be retracted.

    If they are indeed already retracted, is it likely that the lower bars are in the same open position, and if they are, how far might one have to turn the key to open the safe.

    I managed to get a photo of the inside although it is restricted.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The more I read about these old safes the more intrigued I become and while my main interest is finding historical facts for our local researchers, it would be fascinating to see the inside and perhaps have it working again.

    Thankyou.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
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    1,289
    Country: United States

    Default

    Here is mine.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_20180203_122223.jpg   IMG_20180203_121433.jpg  

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Default

    And here is the lock removed. Note I am pushing down on the bar to unlock after aligning the wheels. The keylock operates the main horizontal bolt and the combination bar blocks it.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_20180203_121953.jpg   IMG_20180203_122025.jpg  

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    16
    Country: Spain

    Default Blocked bar

    Hello Doug

    First of all, I thank you for your input and the photos of your very decorative safe.

    I had not noticed the bar before, because it is difficult for me to get down to look through the hole in the back and also because the bar is almost hidden by the shelf which has fallen down and is jammed on an angle. I suspect the shelf is touching the end of the bar.

    I have looked again at the positions of the sliding lock bars and I think they are all retracted ( in the open position). I have run a feeler gauge around the door from the outside and cannot feel any locking bolts except at the key lock.

    The key turns easily almost 1/4 turn to the right, when I can hear something rattling, turning the key to the left (from vertical) it turns almost 180 degrees and then stops (with no noise).

    The door is not central in the safe having dropped down, but I have been able to lever it up so I know that the hinges are not seized at all.

    Given that the back is relatively thin and the steel not especially hard, I think that I am going to open up the existing hole, for I should then be able to dislodge/move the shelf away from this bar and this will also enable me to see if there are any papers or anything else below the shelf however, I will have to wait a few days before doing this for my wife is unwell at present and the safe being adjacent to her bedroom, I do not want to make a lot of noise and the safe is far too heavy for me to contemplate moving it outside the house.

    In the meantime I will continue with my research on French websites although I am not doing too well in that regard. A french forum similar to this one is not helpful because no photos whatsoever !!! and I think many records were lost during the 2 world wars. Research on Spanish websites is very limited because Spain seems to be at least 20 years behind the rest of the world regards Internet technology and again, they suffered greatly during the Civil War and under Franco.

    I am therefore most grateful to you for your help

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
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    Default

    On many of these safes the keylock operates both the doors bolt work and a seperate spring latch bolt contained in the keylock housing located at the opening edge of the door. On my safe, after rotating the key to retract the main boltwork, further rotation in the same direction retracts the springbolt.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_20180204_075622.jpg   IMG_20180204_075640.jpg  

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    16
    Country: Spain

    Default

    Although I have yet to find a definitive diagram/explanation of this particular safe lock, thanks to your photos I am beginning to understand how it all works.

    Because I can see so little of the keylock on the inside I think I will definitely now open up the back some more and hopefully move the shelf as this will give me the best chance of possibly opening the door without damaging anything. I am quite a good welder so I can easily make good the opening.

    PS: The sketch I made earlier is incorrect, for I drew the upper horizontal bolt on a diagonal, but I have just looked at it again and now I am sure it is horizontal as are all the top bolts in all the photos of other safes that I have seen. At 76 years old and with stiff joints it is difficult to lie on the floor at the right angle to view these things but the mental activity is welcome and rewarding.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Default

    Sid, it is possible the shelf is blocking the action of the bolt work. Also possible a problem in the keylock. Note that on my lock it takes 2 full rotations of the key to retract the boltwork. This is common on many French safes. Also note that on mine the combination lock blocking bar can be engaged in both the extended and retraction positions of the boltwork. So if the main boltwork is retracted and the combination is locked, the key will not be able to make the turns to extend the bolts. From your description, it sounds like this is the situation. So it may be just the spring latch bolt holding the door shut.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
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    Default

    It is also possible the problem is the lever lock key itself, being too worn to activate the lock. Just another possibilit.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    16
    Country: Spain

    Default

    Agreed that a worn key could be a problem, yet it looks good with no obvious wear so I am of the opinion that it is something to do with the lock blocking bar, but I need to clear the shelf so as to be able to investigate further. I can however see that the blocking bar is protruding through the centre horizontal bar and here is a sketch of it showing it's present position.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I have to leave this for a few days but will be back when/if I manage to move the shelf.

    Many thanks
    Last edited by Sid; 04-02-18 at 06:33 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    16
    Country: Spain

    Default All is revealed

    Having given much thought to the possible opening of this old safe, I decided to move it outside the house to my workshop and with a few hours work this morning the safe is now open without damage to any of the mechanism, and here it is.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    The locked lower compartment ( with no key ) was opened by drilling 2 holes, making a long screwdriver and removing the lock, when I could then retrieve the contents and here they are on top of the safe.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Nothing of any financial value but a great many papers from many local Town Halls dating back to 1930 to 1940 and this will be of huge interest to our local historians.

    For my part I am now completely hooked on the restoration of this safe and the first job will be to dismantle the keylock to determine why it will not turn the required amount to open the safe.
    The second job will be to investigate the 4 alphabet dials which at present rotate freely ( I cannot hear or feel any clicks) so I need to find out the present position of the mechanism so as to determine the letters of the combination.

    Any help or suggestions gratefully received and a special thanks to Doug MacQueen for your very valuable help thus far.

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