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MOSLER MADNESS

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00247

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Location: Wisconsin

Post Sun Apr 02, 2017 3:33 am

MOSLER MADNESS

This thread will be an extension of my last thread about reworking a Mosler screw door bank safe. This time we will take a look at Mosler's double door model screw door bank safe. This is a very rare model of the screw door safe; I have only seen a picture of one other one which was an earlier model with an exposed ring and pinion drive for rotating the door. This safe is from 1891 according to the Mosler serial number ledger which makes it from the early years of screw door production which continued to the 1920s era.

This safe came from the State Bank in Sauk City Wisconsin. This bank started in 1888 and went through several name changes and buildings through the early 1900s. At this time I have no idea when this safe was purchased by the bank or whether it was new or used. The safe had been repainted and painted a third time at the top of the front for an apparent name change.

It was listed on Ebay and Craigslist. I found it to be extremely interesting and figured I had to have it. After a month of negotiating and even giving up on it at one point, a deal was made. The seller bought the bank building and this safe was in the vault. The building was being renovated and the safe, vault doors, and other bank items that still existed were being removed. Being stored in the vault kept the safe in decent condition with very little rust.

As I bought it with non original paint.

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There are two sizes of the screw door safe. This double door is based on the larger size screw door. Mosler basically designed it as one stacked on the other but the structure is built as a single unit. The doors are a larger diameter than the smaller model and are extremely heavy. With the larger design and double doors this safe is well over 4000 pounds. The weight is something I have struggled with throughout this project. I got in a little over my head this time but managed to overcome the challenge and prevail.

Here is a single door model of the larger size.

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While the hinge and the door are the same, the double door uses a different style of construction for the body. I will go into detail once the body is sandblasted. This safe was in better condition than the last Mosler project. The door threads were hardly rusted and what rust was there polished off easily.

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The safe had been repainted at some point and a lot of it was falling off. None of the original paint existed on the sides, top, and back. But low and behold some of the original paint was still under the newer paint on the front. This proved to be a lucky break.

Paint condition on the sides.

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There is something under there!

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The major drawback to this safe was that the time locks were missing. Originally the seller asked a very high price for the safe, like everyone does on Ebay. After a number of interested people told him about the reduced value because of the missing time locks the price plummeted. The weight factor also weaned out potential buyers as they had no way to haul it. Both doors use the Yale Triple L time lock. Now I was looking for three Yale time locks as I still needed one for my other Mosler. Fortunately, at least all the time lock linkage was still in both doors along with the linkage covers.

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The combination locks had been decommissioned at some point. They are the Mosler/Yale 5H model lock with a four wheel wheel pack. The pivot bolt for the friction fence had been removed from both locks. A search of both compartments turned up one of the bolts but only one. At least I would have one for an example.

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Getting this beast home was an adventure. It was just over 150 miles away, I went down with my 3/4 ton Chevy and an equipment trailer. Due to the fenders the safe had to be loaded a little to far forward so I had more hitch weight than I cared for. It was mid February and in Wisconsin the roads are heaved with frost, so the ride home was very rough. The trailer bucked the truck the whole way home. With five fused vertebra from two surgeries, by the time I got home I could hardly walk. It was just a sign of headaches to come with this project.

The next problem was getting it off the trailer. I was learning quickly that this safe was much heavier than expected. My Bobcat couldn't begin to lift it. With luck on my side, a neighbors son was visiting with a brand new huge Cat tracked skid steer on a trailer. I went over and asked for some help. Even the big Cat was light in the rear when he gently moved it into the shop. I had to invest in some beefier equipment to handle this big boy. Craigslist to the rescue again.

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Next time we will start tearing things apart and find some surprises and some problems. Stay tuned.
It is time... stand up for a constitutional America. Without it, we have shed blood in vain.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:04 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Great!

fetching some popcorn
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femurat

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Post Sun Apr 02, 2017 9:56 pm

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Me and my girlfriend are laughing. You bought a forklift just to move the safe? That's too fun. It does show you're committed to the project.
Can't wait to read the rest of this story. I'm sure it'll be very entertaining.

Cheers :)
Pictures in my posts are gone due to a policy change by my hosting provider that caught me unprepared. I'll work on that. In the meantime left click the image and open it in new tab, you should be able to see the picture, with a selection of unrelated advertising and banners all around it.
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00247

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Post Mon Apr 03, 2017 1:54 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

femurat wrote: You bought a forklift just to move the safe? Cheers :)



Technically yes. I don't mind as I buy pieces of equipment and sell on regular basis as a source of extra income to support bad habits like old safes. This forklift turned up for sale just as I needed it. A local small company was liquidating it as it was their last propane model and employees in the production area were complaining about the exhaust. The horn was also shorting out on the steering wheel ring and Nissan doesn't supply parts, only the whole steering column for big $$$. The lift would not pass OSHA inspection with the horn unhooked so it had to go... cheap. It is a nice luxury to have around especially for body work on the safes. No more bending over!

Back to the safe.

With some original artwork discovered under the paint I spent a good deal of time trying to uncover it and see what might be there. I tried different solvents but anything that would touch the paint also attacked the original gold leaf. Scraping was iffy too as the original paint liked to pop from the filler underneath. After trying a bunch of different tools I found a really dull wood chisel would take the top layer of paint off without damaging the layer underneath. In fact, I had used that chisel for scraping the underneath of the riding lawn mower deck. I still had to be careful but it worked quite well.

Some details had been sanded off when the safe was repainted but enough was uncovered to get a good idea of how it was originally done.

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With some enhancement it starts coming alive. This Mosler has a different theme than most screw doors with a substantial gold leaf background with black lettering on top of it. The design around it is a mish mash of different designs that looks complicated. Like many old safes, some have thought out artwork, others have whatever the worker dreamed up on that day. Tracings were made of the artwork to be corrected on a computer later.

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With the artwork documented it was time to start taking things apart. The top door operated nicely. The bottom door was stiff to rotate and the hinge was also stiff. I don't think the bottom door was used much. Both inner compartments were inspected closely. There is a tight space under the door threads which once fished with a hack saw blade coughed up the usual paper clips, a couple time lock rubber washers, a few time lock cover screws, and a 1898 silver dollar. This pleasant surprise is my biggest find in an old safe. The previous record was two old wheat pennies.

The first step was to remove the door pivot bolts to swing the hinge away and to remove the door cover. I started with the lower door and the bottom bolt. The door pivot bolts had been stubborn on the other Mosler so I wasn't surprised when it was difficult to turn. It has a slotted head so a socket with a large flat bit was used. With the bolt out I was surprised to find threads like this.

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A peak in the hole showed the problem. A hidden lock bolt had chewed up the threads on the way out. Mosler had a nasty habit of grinding off fasteners and hiding them under filler and paint. It doesn't make sense to hide the lock bolts. How did they expect the safe to be serviced and the doors adjusted for wear to the pivot bolts? Some heating with a torch loosened the paint and filler to expose the offending lock bolts on all four of the pivot bolts. A little drilling and an easy out removed all of them quickly.

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Note in this picture the Mosler employee must have started drilling the lock bolt hole in the wrong place. I'm sure he thought that once filler is put on the door who would ever know. Little did he know that 126 years later some S.O.B. would post his f'up on a thing called the internet for the whole world to see!

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So I figured, oh well, one damaged bolt, that's not so bad. Unfortunately, all the bolts had damaged threads despite the lock bolts being removed. This safe had been apart before. The bottom bolts still used a good number of the good threads but the top bolts were only using a couple threads to help support these heavy doors. New bottom bolts were made as they are all threads. The top bolts were welded, turned, and new threads matched into the existing threads. This safe being from 1891 has British Whitworth threads. It pays to know a good machinist!

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And these doors are heavy! Apparently a little to heavy for the rotating surface area in the door cover as Mosler came up with this nifty support roller inside the door cover to improve the ease of cranking the door. The smaller Mosler screw door does not have this feature.

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With the door cover off you see the inner workings of the door. Quite a piece of engineering.

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The locks were removed from the front trap doors on the door covers. Once again Mosler had a couple hidden fasteners bolting the lock supports.

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With disassembly completed next time we will sandblast and look at how this safe is constructed.
It is time... stand up for a constitutional America. Without it, we have shed blood in vain.
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Oldfast

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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer

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Post Tue Apr 04, 2017 2:14 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Oh boy! You can bet I'll be along for the ride on this one too :D

For those that may have missed the first one, or, for those
lurking around the forum years from now... a quick
LINK

The artwork you painstakingly revealed & recovered...
is gonna be a real treat to see you replicate. Pretty!

Thanks for taking so much time to document & share all this. It's appreciated!

00247 wrote:.....There is a tight space under the door threads which once fished with a hack saw blade coughed up the usual paper clips, a couple time lock rubber washers, a few time lock cover screws, and a 1898 silver dollar. This pleasant surprise is my biggest find in an old safe. The previous record was two old wheat pennies.

lol
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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00247

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Location: Wisconsin

Post Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:17 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

The first step was to clean up the door and door jamb threads. 3M EXL wheels quickly brought the shine back. Not much rust to deal with this time and it was almost fun to do this dirty job.

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This Mosler was easy to sandblast. The body had very little filler as the steel is quite smooth. The door covers and hinges had the usual amounts of black filler but it too blasted easy but a number of casting flaws turned up on them.

In it's naked glory.

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Both doors are numbered. 522 on top, 523 on the bottom. Even the hinge bolts are numbered and punched for their location. Note the flaws in the casting.

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Here is a good example of a casting flaw caused by impurities in the metal. This is around the hole in the door for the pinion gear. Impurity flaws are a nightmare on cast parts that need to be plated. The door cranks had a number of them and like cancer they keep rearing their ugliness and are time consuming to eliminate.

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Both ring gears had flaws in the teeth. This one looks delicate but has withstood the test of time. There was a brazed tooth on the other door. Whether it was brazed when made or repaired while in service, who knows.

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This safe is constructed completely different then the single door Mosler in my other thread. This one is built more like traditional safes in that it is all individual pieces bolted together. Just a hell of a lot stronger. 3 inch pieces in the corners and 1 inch thick plates on the sides fitted tightly together, then held together by angles and plates on the inside with dozens of 5/8 bolts. No wonder it is so heavy. After it was assembled the whole outside was surface ground. The workmanship on this safe is far superior to its smaller cousin.

You can see the tight fitting seam and a couple of the bolts. Note the flaws in the steel from the manufacturing process. Wait till you hear what this beast is made of.

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Each piece of the safe body is stamped with a trade mark. Adamatine steel from the Chrome Steel Works of Brooklyn New York was used. Chrome steel was also used for the jaws of crushers and wear points of mining equipment around the world. In 1904 Chrome Steel Works moved to New Jersey and incorporated the town of Chrome, New Jersey. Chrome steel from the Chrome Steel Works of Chrome, New Jersey, how cool is that? Here is an excerpt from the March 7, 1891 issue of the American Architect and Building News.

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Body work proceded much like it did on the other safe. While the body was straighter it still took a lot of work to get such large areas perfectly flat. With two door covers and hinges the hours of labor in this safe became excessive. I tried a different brand of urethane primer and regretted it. In the can it was the consistency of floor glue and even with the hardener added it was still very thick. I wondered if I should spray it on or spread it on with a concrete trowel. Even after thinning it and using a dedicated primer spray gun it sprayed like sheit. Most of it gets sanded off so I hoped it would work out. Unfortunately, no matter what I tried I would get pinholes in the primer from solvent entrapment. It was sanded off and I went back to the more expensive proven Nason primer. Quality is still cheaper in the long run... proven again.

Body work in progress.

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After three coats of primer and block sanding each coat it went into the paint room for the top coat. My spray gun was acting up and made me work extra hard to a get a good finish. I had one spot behind the hinge get away on me with some mottling starting in the fine metallic. Pissed me off but it wouldn't show unless the top door was open. As things turned out it was the least of my worries.

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Next time will be a gut check when things go terribly wrong.
It is time... stand up for a constitutional America. Without it, we have shed blood in vain.
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dontlook

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Post Tue Apr 04, 2017 11:31 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Love the pictures, this looks awesome.
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madsamurai

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Post Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:23 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Wow, it's so much fun to watch you renovate these already, and now you're adding CLIFHANGERS! :D
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00247

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Post Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:30 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Cliffhanger, HA, that's a good one. Just like who shot JR.

It is hard to admit one's own mistakes much less post them on the internet. But to give you cheap entertainment and make this a teachable moment, I will proceed.

First, a quick flashback to a few months ago. While moving a safe I ran over the drain in one of the shop bays shattering the cast iron cover. I figured I would get some 1/4 inch steel, reinforce it underneath, and it would never break again. I'll get right on it tomorrow. Many days as I walked through the shop I would see that open drain and say, tomorrow. You know how it goes, it's always today, tomorrow never comes. First mistake.

The heavy weight of this double door makes it difficult to move around. The fork lift will not fit through the door of the new addition where the paint room is. I set the safe on a steel stand which sets on a heavy duty pallet I built so I can move it into the paint room with a pallet jack. No easy feat as the axles bow and the wheels refuse to roll over the smallest piece of grit on the floor. I usually have to get help to push it around or use a crow bar prying between the floor and pallet to get it moving. This safe is about 28 inches square with the wheel footprint smaller than that. Combined with its tall height this safe becomes top heavy very easily.

After moving the safe back into the shop after paint I lifted it up with the fork lift to pull out the pallet and stand. The forks on the lift have to be no more than 16" wide to fit between the wheels. I normally always set them to the full 16 inches. This time they were set narrower from the previous use. The safe was then set back on the floor.

I decided to lay out the sides with tape for the gold leaf stripes. After doing the top section I lifted the safe again to do the bottom. By the time I finished with the first side it was getting late but I thought I would get the safe turned around on the forks so I could have the other side ready for the morning. I hopped on the lift forgetting that the forks were still set narrower than usual. Second mistake.

I then lowered the safe. I usually move it with the wheels almost touching the floor. I just got my first pair of glasses, no line bifocals no less, and my depth perception was off. The safe was actually 6" up. Third mistake.

Then in order to maneuver the lift so I could set the safe down to grab it from the other side I had to cut a full lock sharp turn to miss that F 'ing open floor drain. Fourth mistake.

When moving a fork lift with the steering wheels cut all the way the lift is resistant to start moving so it takes a little extra throttle to get it to move. With the front drive wheels being the pivot point the forks out front actually move sideways with the turning putting a side force into the load. Add the heavier door side of of the safe on the outside of the turn and me concentrating on the floor drain instead of the load and you guessed it... KABOOM! Final mistake.

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SON OF A BEECH!

As a younger man I probably would have blown a major artery with rage but I've mellowed out as I get older. I sat there in disbelief wondering WTF? A quick assessment showed paint and body work damage but no obvious structural issues. I was concerned about the upper hinge as it swung open and had been forced back to the side. With some blocks, pry bars, and floor jacks I got it lifted about 10 inches off the floor and discovered a hole punched through the 5 inch concrete by the protruding part of the top door!

It was time to call it a night. I turned of the air compressor, turned of the lights, and headed for the house totally dejected and feeling like homemade sheit.

Next time we assess the damage, regroup, and carry on. There's work to be done.
It is time... stand up for a constitutional America. Without it, we have shed blood in vain.
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madsamurai

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Post Wed Apr 05, 2017 3:16 pm

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

whew, I bet the neighbors felt that thing hit the ground... glad you weren't hurt! The one good thing here is that these things always end up being great stories later.

"...assess the damage, regroup, and carry on" is pretty much my daily mantra ;)
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Oldfast

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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
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Post Wed Apr 05, 2017 7:26 pm

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

.
Ahh.... ah... ahhhg.... THAT is such a painful sight.

00247 wrote:.....With some blocks, pry bars, and floor jacks I got it lifted about 10 inches off the floor and discovered a hole punched through the 5 inch concrete by the protruding part of the top door!.....

Holy shit! lol
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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Josephus

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Post Wed Apr 05, 2017 10:01 pm

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Oh wow. I could have seen that coming. Operating a forklift with those wheels not chocked and a strap around the top is scary. A pallet against the mast can stop some paint damage. Thick packaging paper is better.

Moving multiton dies with oil all over them was a challenge even for the veteran operators with decades of dedicated experience. I'd imagine that topheavy and wheels would be similar.
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00247

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Post Fri Apr 07, 2017 3:21 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

After a somewhat sleepless night I headed back to the shop to reassess this project. Was it junk or had it survived? The first job was to get the safe lifted back onto its wheels. There is nothing to hook to and I didn't want to use chains and do more damage to the surface. I went over to a neighbor who has construction equipment and borrowed his heavy rigging straps. One was just the right length to make two wraps around the safe vertically and hook to the forklift forks. A couple large ratchet straps were wrapped around horizontally between the doors and around the top to secure the other strap. Carpet pieces were put under the straps to reduce damage. It lifted easily as I was just tipping it up on the wheels verses a dead weight lift. So far, so good.

I reinstalled the door covers to check that the hinges were still true and to check operation of the doors. The hinges were fine other than cosmetic damage. The top door was binding some when I unscrewed it open. Both doors were not screwed in tight. This allowed the door to move in a bit upon impact until it hit the stepped sections of the jamb. This put the force of the hit into the threaded piece which put the force into the bolts that hold it. There are only four bolts (1/2 inch) that hold the threads. Two of the bolts had sheared, the other two were still holding but were stressed. The bolts in the bottom door also were stressed but not broken.

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I bought a 36" piece of 3/4 hex steel and visited my friendly machinist again. The threads on these bolts were British Whitworth threads. Making the bolts took awhile due to the holidays, sickness, and a heavy work load. In the mean time I tackled learning to gold leaf and finished the artwork on the other Mosler safe. Once the bolts returned I reinstalled the threads and door covers, adjusted the doors, and both worked smoothly like they had before. The safe had survived. I guess you could say it is built like a brick, or should I say, chrome steel shit house.

The damaged body work was repaired, primed and blocked a couple times, and the safe was returned to the paint room. This time it was sprayed with a brand new spray gun and the paint turned out damned near perfect. In fact, I did not even color sand or buff it. Some good came out of the disaster after all. Then it was time to mask out the stripes, mask the lettering, and start with the gold leaf.

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I described the gold leaf process in the other thread so I will just add a some pictures in action.

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And a couple pictures with the gold leaf finished.

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Next time we will wrap it up with a few details, pinstriping, and final pictures.
It is time... stand up for a constitutional America. Without it, we have shed blood in vain.
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Riyame

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Post Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:08 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Absolutely amazing work. When I saw it on its face I thought "Ohhhhhhhhh shiiiiiiiiit" but then I thought "Well, seems like a good time to get the bottom painted" :lol:
PhoneMan: I always knew I'd say something stupid and it would be someone's sig
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Anarchy_won

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Post Fri Apr 07, 2017 7:22 am

Re: MOSLER MADNESS

Wow, glad you are ok and the safe survived. amazing work on restoring this safe. :salute:
(17:44:28) HAL 9000 Sez: LockSport is full of children who throw fits because low priced low security products sold in discount department stores do not meet their arbitrary expectations.
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