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Cannonball Safe

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sandman

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:38 am

Cannonball Safe

This is a Cannonball Safe. They were invented in the late 1800s to thwart explosives and cutting techniques used to gain access into the safe. They were made of solid manganese steel or similar metals.

"Mangalloy, also called manganese steel or Hadfield steel, is a steel alloy containing an average of around 13% manganese. Mangalloy is known for its high impact strength and resistance to abrasion. Mangalloy is made by alloying steel, containing 0.8 to 1.25% carbon, with 11 to 15% manganese.[1] Mangalloy is a unique non-magnetic steel with extreme anti-wear properties. The material is very resistant to abrasion and will achieve up three times its surface hardness during conditions of impact, without any increase in brittleness which is usually associated with hardness.[2] This allows mangalloy to retain its toughness." -wikipedia

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The door on this particular safe is more than a 12inches thick. The spacings of the teeth must be rotated with the hole door just as a plug of a cylinder from a lock must do in order for it to open. It weighs more than 200 lbs.

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A time lock was introduced around the turn of the century when kidnapping of the Bank Tellers at night to do their bidding became popular among Jesse James and other bandits of the west. This safe can not be opend unless during the hours permited to do so, and provided the combination is in hand.

downsized_0813000904[1].jpg


This red cannonball safe is a safe that was found in a field more than 50 years ago and was never moved on acount of its weight. The locksmiths at my shop were paid 50 bucks to get it out of an old farmers field. One of our safe crackers that works for our company is ranked 3rd in the nation as the best safe cracker. He and 10 other locksmiths with over 30 plus years of experience could not get this safe open for more than a year. Until one smart individual noticed something... It was already open. Because the door to the safe acts like a plug in a cylinder, it needs to be completely rotated in order for the teeth to disaline and be pulled open. It just so happens this door has been rotated, but rusted into the open position, stuck in that position for more than 50 years. We are mearly a week away from finding out if it can be completly open or not. Until then, it sits on the sidewalk, outside our locksmith shop on Broadway St, in Denver, Colorado.

downsized_0813000905a[1].jpg

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This particular cannonball safe does not seem to present itself with the technology that most "Time Lock" safe normaly exhibit. The configuration and placement of the Yale Gravity/OB lock and dial for the safe give us a natural time period to work with, but the simple design and function of the door with its solid steel (broken) handle, and lack of time lock, and easy access to the inside of this combination lock being held to gether by just two hardened bolts, tells us this is much, much older than any previous cannon ball safe we have come across do date. Only 2 bolts held together the face of this safe, and kept any safe crackers at bay. This is nothing compared to the technology used on the above safe in the turn of the century.

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If the safe is already open, the door should just pull out, unless there is just to much corrosion and rust to allow it. If it is in the closed position, the gears just need to be rotated 90 degrees presumably counter clockwise. Then I can spend a night out on the town, tipping all th hot waitresses with Gold Pirate Coins and jewels! But chances are, theyll just make me sweep and mop while they have all the fun. lol. Life as an apprentice locksmith is never the funnest of times. But ill keep learning, and keep everyone updated on our achievments with this particular cannonball safe. Below is a list that I compiled while trying to research the manufacturer of these two safes. We still have no idea who made them, or when they were made, or what they were used for. There are 12 safe manufactures at the turn of the century, that I could find, that produced these cannonball safes.

Elgin National Watch Company

Mosler Safe Co

Diebold Safe So

Victor Safe and Lock Co

Marvin Safe Co

York Safe and Lock Co

Hibbard-Rodman-Ely

Corliss

Manganese Steel Safe Co

Cramer

National Safe Co

Herman Safe Co


Hope you enjoyed my first post. Much respect to Kokomolock, Elbomacaroni, and all the other locksporters and locksmiths keeping me updated and informed with the world of locks.
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HallisChalmers

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:45 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

Nice old beauties... :drool:
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bezza1

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:48 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

bueatiful safes there mate aparently thay can go for thousands
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awol70

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:17 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

really cool post. thanks.
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KokomoLock

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:34 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

Very nice old safes!!!! Great Post!!
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elbowmacaroni

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:37 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

WOW Dude! Those are really cool! Want to ship me the small one?
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ToolyMcgee

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:25 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

Two questions: Are you the smart individual who noticed it was already open? Why are you a week away from knowing whether or not it can be opened?

I'd say it's frozen state is a plausible reason for that busted handle. That's a great old safe. Keep us posted!
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sandman

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:02 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

ToolyMcgee wrote:Two questions: Are you the smart individual who noticed it was already open? Why are you a week away from knowing whether or not it can be opened?

I'd say it's frozen state is a plausible reason for that busted handle. That's a great old safe. Keep us posted!


no, the old vietnam vet in the picture figured it out, hes not even a locksmith, just has alot of common sense. it will take us a week to sandblast and clean out all the rust we can touch, if it dont move after that, then its too deeply rusted. true on the busted handle, we are going to weld another 20 inches of steel to the fuker and shock it with a hammer so it breaks the rust free. well see.
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chris

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 10:55 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

Very cool, great pics and a great post!
Naaapaalm...sticks to kids...it sticks to the belly and it sticks to the ribs...
See those kids standing by the lake...drop some napalm and watch them bake.
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.45cal

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 1:54 pm

Re: Cannonball Safe

Now I can't wait to see if you get it open. Be sure to let us know and try to take a pic or two of your efforts.
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mbpick34

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Post Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:38 pm

Re: Cannonball Safe

nice safe looks rock solid
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s1deshowmick

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Post Sat Aug 21, 2010 9:16 am

Re: Cannonball Safe

Mate, they are fantastic. Thanks for the post.
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14 levers

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Post Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:20 pm

Re: Cannonball Safe

sandman wrote:
it will take us a week to sandblast and clean out all the rust we can touch, if it dont move after that, then its too deeply rusted. true on the busted handle, we are going to weld another 20 inches of steel to the fuker and shock it with a hammer so it breaks the rust free. well see.


Welding a 'handle' to the stub and 'shocking' it or sandblasting it will do more harm than good. All you will 'shock' is the pinion, possibly knocking teeth off it or the rack section. Sandblasting is just going to drive grit (sand) and grime (rust particles) deeper in, completely ruining any chance of opening it.

Please post some additional pictures of the safe with the front reassembled or at the very least a drawing of how it was oriented. Also a few shots of the locking mechanism would be helpful.

Dollars to donuts if the safe is in an opened state it is empty, and any attempts at pulling the door will cause more damage, this is a collector safe, and even in the shape it's in will draw quite a few bucks, beating open an antique safe just to smell the old air locked inside is absurd. Though it is your safe.

I personally would be soaking the mechanism with a penetrant such as PB Blaster, Kroil, Oakite, for as long as it takes, possibly months, and move it indoors, sheesh, it's already been exposed in the field, why keep letting it deteriorate, additional rainwater will not help in opening it.
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magician59

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Post Mon Aug 23, 2010 7:38 pm

Re: Cannonball Safe

I know of one in Cincinnati that has been paint-sealed for almost three decades, with a small amount of cash inside (not enough to pay for the opening). Owner decided to paint the thing, then shut the door before the paint dried.
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Post Mon Aug 30, 2010 5:53 pm

Re: Cannonball Safe

While waiting for the photos.
I have a question; What holds the white painted face to the door of this safe? I can see no bolt holes.
A comment;
If it is in the closed position, the gears just need to be rotated 90 degrees presumably counter clockwise.

This depends on the number of locking lugs on the door, you would rotate it 90° if it has two, 45° if it has four, such as the other one pictured near the shop door.
Oh, and if you get this one open and have it refinished tell the painter/pinstriper there are three (3) 'N' s in cannonball. (Haw!)
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