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Old January 8, 2014, 11:53 PM   #1
RodTheWrench
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Slammed the door to my gun safe like an idiot...

...now I can't get it open. It's a 60x36x27 Cabela's I bought in 2006? It says "Silver" on the bottom.

I won't get into why I slammed the door, but of course I regretted it the moment it happened. The bolts were retracted so the face of the door hit the jamb I'm sure pretty hard. When I cooled off for a minute, I went back to see what had happened. Everything looked normal inside and out, no guns or ammo had been knocked off the shelves as far as I could see. The door jamb opposite the hinges might have appeared to be bent ever so slightly, but it didn't appear to be enough to worry about.

Before I get to the "holy s$%t" moment, I'll say that I had moved a couple boxes of ammo around and 2 of them were on the floor of the safe right up against the doorwell.

So, having seen nothing really the matter, I closed the door gently, made sure evrything lined up correctly and turned the lock counterclockwise. Everything seemed normal for the first 80% of travel, but there was a bind after that. I turned the latch back the other way to full unlock, then back again. The bind was still there, but with not too much force it clicked home - locked. I entered my code like normal, but this time instead of the 1 1/2 second "BAZRRRRRRTT" noise, it went "BAZRTHUd" and the handle would not budge. At all. Wiggling the handle, jiggling the big, heavy door, nothing. On this model if the door isn't opened in 15 seconds(?), the mechanism re-locks and you have to enter the keypad code again. It can try to open as much as I want with the same noise and result so the electronic lock part appears to be working fine.

So, now I'm here. The handle will not budge. At all. Previously, you could grab the handle and jiggle it just a bit and feel some freeplay before entering the code. If I try, Something inside the door will let it slide if you put enough force on it, but it acts like something is going to strip out if you keep twisting it. The feel is the bolt locks are bound up somehow(on the doorjamb or down on the boxes of ammo?), but I have no idea how to release the tension to get the door open again. I don't know if something is bent on the doorjamb, the lock bolts are hanging up, or the door internals are jumbled.

How screwed am I? Most of my guns, lots of ammo, cash, passports and other records are in there. I'm attaching some pics.
Attached Images
File Type: jpeg safe11.jpeg (107.4 KB, 312 views)
File Type: jpeg safe22.jpeg (88.8 KB, 268 views)
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Old January 9, 2014, 12:19 AM   #2
JohnKSa
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Only thing I can think of is to try to relieve pressure on the locking mechanism by either pushing in on the door or by pulling out on the door while operating the keypad. If something is bent and causing a binding issue, you may be able to relieve that pressure by getting everything just right.

The problem is that if any of the bolts are binding, anywhere around the door, it won't open. So you'd have to relieve all the pressure, anywhere binding is occurring.

Maybe, if you can tell where it's binding and if you get lucky and the relief pressure is in the opening direction, you could use small wedges around the edge of the door at the right spots. If it requires closing pressure, then I don't have any bright ideas other than pushing on it.

Might work--you don't have much to lose if it doesn't.

Don't apply the push/pull pressure to the handle, apply it directly to the door. The handle is designed to shear internally if too much pressure is applied to prevent someone from trying to force it open using the handle and extra leverage.

If that doesn't work, a good locksmith can get it open, but it probably won't be cheap, and it probably won't leave you with a working safe when they're done.
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Old January 9, 2014, 12:29 AM   #3
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Try changing the battery maybe a little extra juice will help.
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Old January 9, 2014, 12:59 AM   #4
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It is certainly possible that there is something pushing back against one of the bolts after it was extended. The most probable place for this to happen is on the floor, if your door has bolts on the bottom.

Another issue that can be caused by slamming a door, which would also prevent opening, is the relock. When this is the problem, the lock will operate normally. but you will still hear a metal to metal thud when attempting to turn the handle.

Since you stated that the lock sounds abnormal, I would start with back pressure on the boltwork. Try putting pressure on the handle towards the locking position. You'll want to put as much pressure as you can without the clutch inside slipping. Once you have that pressure, try entering your combo at the same time. If you hear the noise of the lock change, flip the handle back towards the opening position.
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Old January 9, 2014, 01:55 AM   #5
shortwave
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A buddy of mine did the same thing and when the door slammed there was a thick piece of cardboard off a box that got caught at the bottom between the door and the jamb.

We could not see the cardboard but it had put the door on such a bind at the bottom the bolts would not open with the handle. When looking at the door you could barely see that the bottom of the door stuck out ever so slightly more then the top. You could also push in just a little on the top of the door but not the bottom.

We could not physically put enough inward pressure on the door to relieve the pressure so we ended up wrapping a heavy ratchet strap(not the kind you pull to tighten but the kind truckers use for binding loads that tightens by an actual ratchet) around the safe towards the bottom of the door. Taping a blanket on the door to prevent scratching, we used blocks of wood placed at the bottom of the door between the strap and door. Luckily, we were able to get enough inward pressure on the bottom of the door for the bolts to finally open.

Was very aggravating and we messed with it for 3-4hrs but it finally worked.

If the ammo(or something else) at the bottom is wedged in a way that it is putting outward pressure on the bottom of the door, that may be the culprit since it sounds as though the lock mechanism is working. If it is in the lock mechanism, you will most likely be calling a locksmith.

Also, is there a way to turn the automatic relock off till you get done working on it?

Last edited by shortwave; January 9, 2014 at 02:09 AM.
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Old January 9, 2014, 08:09 AM   #6
Kev
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I wonder if at all possible getting it on it's back (no easy task) would allow the door to even out where it might be binding?

My other suggestion has "front towards enemy" markings on it.
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Old January 9, 2014, 09:05 AM   #7
Hal
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Quote:
How screwed am I? Most of my guns, lots of ammo, cash, passports and other records are in there. I'm attaching some pics.
You're pretty much fine.
A sawzall and/or an angle grinder with a metal disk will peel that can like a big can of beans.
It'll destroy it, but, your stuff will be fine.

Shouldn't take much more than 30 min tops to peel it.

Most RSCs are only rated for a 5 min attack.

It's a measure of last resort though since it will destroy the container.
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Old January 9, 2014, 09:22 AM   #8
mcb66
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This is one of the reasons why I don't trust keypads on safes. One more system to fail.
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Old January 9, 2014, 09:44 AM   #9
FoghornLeghorn
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Quote:
How screwed am I?
Depends. If you define "screwed" as in having to destroy the safe to get your stuff out, you might be pretty screwed.

I think I'd call a locksmith first. If you don't want a stranger in your house to see your stuff, then a circular saw with masonry blades will cut through the sides and/or back. It's truly surprising how quickly one can go through the sheet metal used for our Harry Homeowner safes. Apparantly it's only the door that's designed to keep out the thief. Safe manufacturers are assuming a thief would never think of cutting through the side.

Quote:
This is one of the reasons why I don't trust keypads on safes. One more system to fail.
In all fairness, the OP did admit to abusing the safe. I don't know what kind of electronics go into such a safe, but nothing is foolproof.
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Old January 9, 2014, 09:52 AM   #10
Garycw
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Does it have a master mechanical key? It's accessed by turning keypad counter clockwise & removing. I'd be working on it for weeks before I'd do any cutting
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Old January 9, 2014, 10:20 AM   #11
Uncle Buck
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That looks like a Sargent and Greenleaf lock on the door. If pressure applied to the outside of the safe does not work, give them a call.

http://www.sargentandgreenleaf.com/global-support.php

Even if you call the company that makes the safe for Cabela, they are going to want proof the safe is yours. They are going to need make, model, model of lock and a serial number. (Please do not ask how I know this. )

I would definitely do the pressure against the door. You can usually find out which bolt is sticking my measuring the door crack clearance. Where ever it appears to be greater than the rest of the door, it will indicate that something is caught in the door opening.

If the door appears to be flush all the way around the opening, then it is possible you have dislodged something in the unlocking mechanism. Good luck and let us know how you make out.
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Old January 9, 2014, 12:10 PM   #12
Kimber84
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Well at least I'm not the only one that breaks their own stuff... Lol... Been there.

I agree with ratchet strapping blocks to the door to induce force and in turn relieving the binding. Might well work.
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:18 AM   #13
DaleA
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Should slamming the door to a safe cause problems??? (The three question marks give away the answer I think is correct.)

Come to think of it I haven't had much experience with new safes. The older ones I work with you could slam the door all day long and if it was still able to close (like Rod's safe door) then it was a pretty much given it would open.

I usually side with the manufacturers of things but in this case I don't think slamming the door should disable the safe.
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Old January 10, 2014, 03:13 AM   #14
Brotherbadger
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Try calling the company who made it. They might have done ideas you haven't tried.
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Old January 10, 2014, 10:35 AM   #15
SamNavy
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If the manufacturer is no help, call a professional lock-smith in the area... be sure it's somebody who specializes in actual SAFES and not Hondas. I've done some Google'ing and it's going to be about $100 for the service call, and about $100 an hour for labor... expect a $150 minimum charge even if it only takes him 30 seconds to open it... but I'd have cash for at least double if he runs into problems... which he'll probably tell you upfront about.

Then tell him all your cash is in the safe.

If you live in the sticks and somebody has to drive a couple hours to reach you, expect to pay more for their time. Fixing this safe is cheaper than buying a new one after you destroy, assuming the smith can access the safe without destroying internal parts... which you can probably order, which is still cheaper than buying a new one.
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Old January 10, 2014, 10:52 AM   #16
eldermike
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Not sure how those locks work but if its solenoid action then this might work.
Solenoid power comes from voltage. If you can "hot shot" the latching mechanism then you can increase the mechanical power by a HUGE factor. Don't know how many batteries it uses, if they are in series or parallel. But if you understand how (or know someone who does) you can build a quick hot shot from batteries at say twice the voltage, and give it a shot.
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Old January 10, 2014, 12:07 PM   #17
Doogle
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This may sound silly, but...>

I had a safe with electronic lock jam closed and went online to see if there was any advice on how to open it without having to resort to a locksmith. It was a different brand to yours, but the advice I read was to hit the door very hard ( I used the side of my closed fist) and then try to open it. It worked :-)

You never know...
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Old January 10, 2014, 12:22 PM   #18
JERRYS.
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quality safes have a key over ride once you remove the face of the digi-pad.
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:30 PM   #19
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Doubling the voltage to the lock solenoid is a good way to destroy it. Now increasing the available amps while keeping the voltage the same might give it a little more power.

Hopefully it has a backup mechanical key lock that can be used to open it.
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:51 PM   #20
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While safes are a good idea, one that breaks something when you slam the door, isn't. And being a dinosaur, I have my doubts about everything with batteries and electronics.

Fine for lots of things, but if there isn't a mechanical back up, or override, you are rolling the dice.
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Old January 10, 2014, 01:56 PM   #21
eldermike
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Amps are a product of resistance and voltage, E=IxR. You have no choice on this planet but to increase the voltage on a coil to increase the amps and thus increase the mechanical power.

For a short period of time. And by someone who understands this.
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Old January 10, 2014, 02:35 PM   #22
a1abdj
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Quote:
While safes are a good idea, one that breaks something when you slam the door, isn't.
Safes are designed to break when exposed to force, which is the entire point. The safe doesn't know the difference between you slamming the door, and a bad guy smacking it with a sledge hammer, or flipping it on its back to begin to pry on it.

Quote:
quality safes have a key over ride once you remove the face of the digi-pad.
It's actually just the opposite. Quality safes use UL rated locks, which precludes any type of over ride. A redundant lock is about as close as you will get while still maintaining a UL rating.
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Old January 11, 2014, 07:14 AM   #23
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Amps are a product of resistance and voltage, E=IxR. You have no choice on this planet but to increase the voltage on a coil to increase the amps and thus increase the mechanical power.

But on this planet when a solenoid kicks on it has a strong tendency to DROOP the battery voltage, thus reducing the amps; hence the CORRECT statements by G_P that using an external PS with say 15amp capacity might help ( instead of 4pc aaa batts, clip in 4pc D cells for same result), but doubling the voltage will likely fry some electronics in the lock - remember, the batts arre not tied directly to the solenoid, but to the microprossessor and transistors and ICs CONTROLLING the solenoid too.

Now 10%-15% higher voltage for very short period should be ok... so if this were tried, I would use 5 D cells instead of 4 for instance, but certainly not 8. A locksmith who took lock off and got access to the disconnected solenoid wires directly - that's different and I would hit it with 3-4x rated voltage. But the electronics MUST be not connected.

Last edited by phillip69; January 11, 2014 at 07:41 AM.
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Old January 11, 2014, 09:41 AM   #24
eldermike
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If that circuit was designed to pluse the solenoid and not hold voltage as it should be then its most likely a cap discharge circuit that will not drop voltage on a pluse. Increasing voltage is the only way to increase mechanical power. But I would call the manufacturer and discuss this before I tried it.
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Old January 11, 2014, 11:26 AM   #25
a1abdj
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This is why proper diagnostics by a professional is worthwhile. If the lock is not opening due to pressure, it will not open by increasing the power, or tinkering with it. The only way to get the lock open is to decrease the pressure against it.

If you start messing with the lock, you may cause a new problem that you do not currently have. More problems equal more holes in your safe, and certainly equals more money.
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