I was asked for help on restoring an antique Diebold walk-in safe to working condition. Given the patent information stamped on the dial and the history of the building it was in, a good estimate of the manufacture date would be between 1880 and 1900. When it was new, it was a formidable and gorgeous safe with extensive artwork inside and out.
Alas, with decades of neglect in a more or less abandoned building, corrosion set in on nearly all the parts. At first glance the whole thing looked completely hopeless, rusted beyond salvage. The dial still turned with a little difficulty but all the moving parts inside the door were completely seized up.
The first thing I wanted to try was removing the lock case. It would be a simple task compared to the rest of it and give an indication of what I was up against. Even if the internal parts of the case were beyond repair, however, it wouldn’t be too difficult to put in a modern replacement. Amazingly, once the screws on the lock case cover gave, they unscrewed without any difficulty. The surface of the screw heads were corroded a bit, but the threading was in great shape. Maybe this wasn’t impossible! With the case opened, I pulled out the drive cam and spindle and unscrewed the case from the door without any problems. I took all the parts home and started work on them.
Watch for part II - disassembling the rest of the safe door
Sandy Eisele is owner of Peninsula Locksmiths and loves to talk and write about all things lock related.