This Mosler turned up after I ran a wanted ad on Craigslist. After a phone call I decided to pass on it as the price was to high and the time lock was missing. About a year later I ran across the phone number and called again but the story was still the same. Over another year passed and I happened to be passing through the town where is was and recalled the owners name so I tracked him down. The timing was right as he now wanted the safe out of his way and a deal was made.
This Mosler is a rather cute safe, a little on the smaller size for a bank safe standing only 39" tall with a 24" square body, but that makes it a bit more easy to handle than it's larger cousins the cannonball safes. At around 1500 lbs. it is a manageable weight and it's compact size keeps it from being top heavy like the larger units. This one had it's original artwork although it was in overall poor condition. All the external parts were there including the door crank but on the inside the time lock was missing along with all the related linkage and hardware. The inner shelf was also missing. Fortunately, the decorative nickel plated rear door cover had been reinstalled, a very important piece. I thought I might find a time lock but didn't think I would ever see it functional as where would I ever find the other parts? The serial number on the nickel plated dome on the door pivot bolt dates this safe to 1915 according to the Mosler serial number ledger. It is over 100 years old and qualifies as an antique safe.
This model screw door consists of the square body bolted to a cast base with wheels. They were also built with the wheels bolted directly to the square body. I can't imagine that made for a very user friendly design with it so close to the floor. Here is one such model.
There also was a larger screw door safe that was about 28" square. It predates the smaller version with starting dates back to the 1890's and a slightly different construction. The weight was substantially more.
I had assumed the safe body was a cast piece but had not looked at it closely. A center seam could be seen around the middle of the square so I thought it had been cast in two halves. Looking inside, cracks in the filler showed that there were bolts holding the assembly together. Closer inspection on the outside revealed the same bolts where they penetrated the outer shell and were ground off.
Seam marked in blue chalk.
Outside of the bolt.
We will explore the construction in more detail once the safe is sandblasted. For now, the artwork had to be documented as I wanted to duplicate it as original as possible. Pictures, measurements and tracings of all lettering, stripes, and art were taken. All the nickel plated parts and the lock were documented, bagged, and stored away.
For anyone looking for an old safe to restore, I would advise to find one as complete as possible. Parts are very hard to come by and get expensive. It is not uncommon to have to make parts and make bolts as once you get back to the early 1900's and earlier non standard threads start turning up.
For this safe the goal is to honor the original look of the safe but to bring the quality of the bodywork and paint up to modern standards. Some of the workmanship on this Mosler was terrible. How there can be two extremes from fine machining and fitting of the door to absolute crap work and hidden f'ups is beyond me. Perhaps cheap unskilled labor was the reason. I'll show some examples later.
I started the search for parts through contacts on several forums and of coarse Ebay, Right off the bat I hit pay dirt. A similar Mosler turned up in Florida on Ebay, complete but it had some structural issues. The owner turned out to be a keypicking.com member who I actually had some contact with previously before starting this project. He agreed to part the safe out and with one purchase I had a time lock, all the linkage and hardware, a spare lock, door crank, the inside shelf with special bolts, and a host of extra misc parts. I was off to a great start.
In the next installment the dirty work begins. Stay tuned.