Combination Safe Locks Library Update

We have updated the Combination Safe Locks page in the Library using our new format.  We have new training and service manuals, guides, and more for:

  • American Security (AMSEC) Products Company
  • Big Red Safe Locks
  • Kaba Mas LLC (dormakaba)
  • LaGard (dormakaba)
  • LP Locks
  • MESA Safe Company
  • Sargent and Greenleaf
  • SecuRam Systems, Inc.

In the “Resources” tab, we have links to Kaba Mas, Kaba X-10, LaGard, Sargent & Greenleaf, and SecuRam instructional videos. Also included are safe lock review videos from Wayne Winton as well as an article on safe lock ratings by Brendan Sullivan.

By |2019-04-11T09:00:20+00:00April 11th, 2019|All, Combination Safe Locks, Safe and Vault|0 Comments

Ratings for Safes

Banner courtesy of Wayne Winton with WaynesLockShop.com.

Types of Safes

Safes come in a variety of shapes and sizes for different applications. Understanding the differences and the applications of each type is key to helping your customers meet their security and compliance needs. Some insurance policies (particularly in Europe) will set requirements for safes based on the value of the safe’s contents while government agencies and contractors handling sensitive documents and materials will often be required to use containers and locks that meet specifications issued by the government (in the U.S., Federal Specification FF-L-2740B is the most commonly encountered). When recommending a product to a customer it is important to get these details at the outset as they will narrow the options significantly.
Probably the cheapest and most common types of safe encountered in the United States are “Fire Safes”. These containers may look like their sturdier cousins but they offer very limited protection against burglars and are only intended to protect valuables from damage in a fire. They are often equipped with low quality wafer locks or proprietary, built-in combination locks that offer limited customization. A customer who needs a way to protect their important personal documents from damage in a house fire would be well served with a fire safe. While many fire safes may be labeled as “Theft Resistant” or even gain the RSC (Residential Security Container) certification, these ratings merely certify that the container has a lock on it and can withstand a few minutes of attack from a screwdriver and/or small hammer. Fire resistance ratings are usually defined under UL 72.
Burglar safes tend to be much more expensive than their fire resistant relatives and come in a huge variety of styles and rating schemes. The oldest safe rating scheme still in use uses the labels B Rate, B/C Rate, and C Rate. These standards have their origin in the 19th century and generally are only concerned with the thickness of the steel used to construct the sides and door(s) of a safe. Newer standards, such as UL 687 and UL 1037, require each container to be tested by experts to determine its resistance to both environmental hazards and skilled attackers and apply various ratings based on the results; these graduated ratings allow a customer to select a safe that meets their needs without forcing them to purchase a significantly more expensive model. Additional features important to consider are added anti-tamper features, such as relockers (which carry a UL 140 rating).

Fire Resistance Ratings

In the United States the most commonly used rating system for fire resistant containers is Underwriters Laboratories’ UL 72 standard. UL 72 lays out three possible classes for fire resistance based on their ability to maintain an internal temperature for a certain amount of time. The classes are Class 350, Class 150, and Class 125. Each class has an additional rating for the number of hours of heating the safe can withstand, usually ranging from 1/2 an hour to 4 hours. For example, a Class 350 fire safe rated for up to half an hour of exposure would be listed as “Class 350-½” while the same class of container rated for 3 hours protection would be “Class 350-3”. Class 350 containers may be referred to as ‘document safes’ while Class 150 and Class 125 containers may be referred to as ‘media safes’ or ‘data safes’.

Class 350

The minimum possible rating. These fire safes can maintain an internal temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit for the rated amount of time which makes them suitable for protecting paper (paper combusts at approximately 450°F). Class 350 fire safes can be rated for as little as 30 minutes or as high as 4 hours. Some manufacturers offer inserts which can reach better temperature ratings when placed inside a Class 350 rated container.

Class 150

These fire safes can maintain an internal temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit for the rated amount of time which makes them suitable for protecting many types of magnetic tape, photographic film, and optical computer disks (CDs, DVDs, etc). Class 150 fire safes can be rated for as little as 30 minutes or as high as 4 hours. Some manufacturers offer inserts which can reach better temperature ratings when placed inside a Class 150 rated container.

Class 125

These fire safes can maintain an internal temperature of 125 degrees Fahrenheit for the rated amount of time. Class 125 containers were originally introduced to protect floppy disks, however it still provides the best protection against fire damage available. Class 125 fire safes can be rated for as little as 30 minutes or as high as 4 hours.

Burglary Resistance Ratings

In the United States UL 1037 and UL 687 are the primary standards for rating a container against burglary but some general industry standards are still used. UL 1037 defines the RSC (Residential Security Container) classifications while UL 687 certifies a variety of burglary resistance ratings. Burglary safes should be considered on a number of criteria in addition to attack resistance rating including weight (heavier is usually better), capacity, size, and boltwork; anti-drill hardplate, relockers, and alarms are popular options.

Residential Security Containers (RSC)

The original standard for RSC rating only offered a single level of rating (essentially a pass/fail) certifying the container could withstand a five minute attack using common hand tools (a screwdriver and a small hammer). In 2016 the standard was updated to provide additional nuance in the form of “levels”. RSC is the most common rating for gun safes sold in the United States, state and local laws concerning the storage of firearms will often specify minimum ratings for use in firearm storage. RSC rated containers typically weigh less than 750 pounds.

RSC Level 1

The minimum rating to achieve certification. This certifies that the container can withstand five minutes of a single person attempting to force the container open using common hand tools such as screwdrivers, small hammers, and drills.

RSC Level 2

This certifies that the container can withstand a 10 minute attack by two people attempting to make a six square inch opening in the door/front of the container using more advanced tools including high speed drills with carbide bits and pry bars.

RSC Level 3

This certifies that the container can withstand a 10 minute attack by two people attempting to make a two square inch opening in the door/front of the container using more advanced and aggressive tools.

Safe Industry and Insurance Ratings

These classifications have their roots in the 19th century when payrolls moved across the country by trains as bundles of cash or precious metals. These ratings specify the thickness of steel used in the containers construction but do not provide certification of their performance against skilled attack. Because of the nature of the rating prices for these containers will fluctuate based on the price of steel. While many safes and containers are still sold using these ratings they are of limited use in evaluating modern safes as UL  687 ratings provide a much better idea of a container’s performance under real world conditions.

Class B / B Rate

B Rate safes have a half inch (0.5″) thick solid steel door and quarter inch (0.25″) thick solid steel walls. B Rate safes are sufficient to withstand a significant amount of brute force attempts to open them.

Class C / C Rate

C Rate safes have a one inch (1.0″) thick solid steel door and half inch (0.5″) thick solid steel walls. C Rate safes are sufficient to withstand a significant amount of brute force attempts to open them but usually only have the same anti-tamper countermeasures as B Rate safes.

UL 687 Burglary Resistance Ratings

UL 687 provides certification of a safe’s performance under a variety of skilled and semi-skilled attacks. UL 687 ratings can seem complex but are quite simple once broken down. A UL 687 rating consists of one or more two letter codes indicating the type of attack(s) tested (TL, TR, and TX), two numbers indicating the number of minutes it is certified to withstand such attacks (15, 30, 60), and optionally an additional letter and number (usually “x6”) indicating the number of sides that were tested. A safe must weight at least 750 pounds and have a body constructed of metal equivalent to one inch thick steel in order to be considered for classification under UL 687.

TL

TL indicates the safe has been tested to withstand skilled attacks using common hand tools and power tools. These tools include chisels, screwdrivers, hammers, sledge hammers (up to 8 pounds), carbide drills, and pry bars (under five feet long).

TR

TR indicates the safe has been tested to resist cutting torches and oxyacetylene welding equipment.

TX

TX indicates that the safe has been tested to withstand attacks using cutting torches and high explosives such as nitroglycerin.

Examples of Common UL 687 Ratings

TL-15 certifies that the door/front face of the safe can withstand 15 minutes of skilled attack with hand tools and power tools when fitted with a UL listed lock. TL-15×6 certifies that all six sides of a safe can withstand the same type and duration of attack. TL-30 certifies that the front/door of the safe can withstand such attacks for 30 minutes.
TRTL-15×6 certifies that all sides of the safe can withstand 15 minutes of skilled attack by hand tools, power tools, and cutting torches when fitted with a UL Listed Group 1, Group 1R, or Type 1 safe lock. TRTL-30 certifies that the front/door of the safe can withstand the same types of attack for 30 minutes.
TXTL-60 and TXTL-60×6 certify that the safe can withstand a full hour of attack with hand tools, power tools, cutting torches, and high explosives. As of 2011 UL was phasing out support for the TXTL classification but safes carrying that certification are still on the market.

Important Considerations

Many of your customers will likely only need a small fire resistant safe to protect important documents and the like in case of a house fire. Higher end fire resistant safes can even offer some theft protection when fitted with a Group 2 combination lock and placed somewhere out of the way but they should not be relied upon for preventing burglary or theft of high value items. In case a customer requires both high levels of fire resistance and burglary resistance there are combination fire and burglary safes on the market but at a significant cost.
Safes of all ratings come in various form factors. The most common are wall safes designed to be installed in a concrete or cinder-block wall, floor safes designed to sit on the floor (some smaller fire rated safes may be able to fit on a shelf or table), and in-floor safes (designed to be set into a concrete floor). There are also special purpose safes such as deposit safes which have a slot or chute in the top to allow people to drop envelopes or forms into a secure container.
When dealing with burglary rated safes the primary factor driving the requirements is likely to be cost and insurance or regulatory compliance. In the United States the GSA (General Services Administration) certifies safes and secure containers for different uses by government agencies. Many government contractors have to comply with the same regulations when handling sensitive or classified materials. Banks often need deposit safes for tellers and to accept out of hours deposits as well as safes for their ATMs. Private residences looking to have burglary safes installed must often meet certain requirements set by their insurance policies. If you wish to begin selling and servicing safes, it is wise to familiarize yourself with your potential customer base and any regulations or requirements they may be subject to.

By |2018-10-25T09:00:46+00:00October 25th, 2018|All, Safe and Vault, Safes|0 Comments

Ratings for Safe Locks

Types of Safe Locks

The most common types of safe locks on the market are mechanical combination locks, these are mostly based on design principles refined over centuries. More recently electronic and electro-mechanical combination locks have become available and offer a variety of advanced features. Today almost all types of safe lock use a standard form factor and mounting so that any modern safe can be easily fitted with the lock of your choice regardless of the manufacturer or technology of the lock.
Given the array of options it is necessary to determine your customer’s needs when deciding on the type of lock you want before considering specific models or security ratings. Mechanical combination locks can be slow to dial and require a degree of precision, electronic locks typically use keypads with push buttons which can allow rapid and accurate entering of combinations even for a person with limited dexterity.



Mechanical combination locks are very reliable requiring only occasional lubrication for decades of use, electronic locks on the other hand will require replacement batteries (at least once per year on average) in addition to mechanical maintenance. Mechanical safe locks typically can only be set to accept a single combination which must be shared with anyone else requiring access to the safe. Modern electronic safe locks can often be set to accept multiple unique access codes so that each user of the safe can have their own unique code as well as offering options such as anti-tamper alarms and ‘duress codes’ that can alert an alarm monitoring center. Consider these factors when deciding on what type of lock to use or recommend.
Some insurance policies (particularly in Europe) will set requirements for safe locks based on the value of the safe’s contents while government agencies and contractors handling sensitive documents and materials will often be required to use containers and locks that meet specifications issued by the government (in the US Federal Specification FF-L-2740B is the most commonly encountered). When recommending a product to a customer it is important to get these details at the outset as they will narrow the options significantly.

Mechanical Safe Lock Ratings

In the United States the most commonly used rating system for mechanical combination locks used on safes is Underwriters Laboratories’ UL 768 standard. UL 768 lays out four possible ratings for combination locks, known as Groups. In order from lowest to highest the ratings are: Group 2, Group 2M, Group 1, and Group 1R. In order to attain any rating under UL 768 a combination lock must meet certain minimum criteria regarding the design of the mechanism and provide at least 1,000,000 (one million) unique combinations.  In Europe the most common standards are EN1300 and VdS certification, while these standards are not directly interchangeable, VdS Class 2 or EN 1300 Class B locks are essentially equivalent to UL 768 Group 2 or 2M locks. For potential buyers in Europe it is highly recommended to consult with your insurance provider on their requirements for both secure container and lock ratings.

Group 2

The minimum possible rating. These locks meet the basic requirements for build tolerances, durability, and accuracy. The combination wheel must be accurate to one and a half of a digit or less when the combination is entered. Group 2 combination locks are considered to have “a moderate degree of resistance” to opening by unauthorized people. These locks are usually sufficient to prevent accidental opening of a safe or opening by a person with little to no knowledge of safe manipulation techniques. These locks are common for B and C rated safes but should not be used on higher rated containers.

Group 2M

Group 2M is a relatively recent addition to the UL 768 standard and indicates a slightly higher level of security against manipulation than the basic Group 2 designs. Group 2M locks are supposed to provide up to two hours of resistance to expert attempts at manipulation. These are the most commonly used locks for higher rated safes and containers such as TL-15 and TL-30 rated safes.

Group 1

Group 1 locks offer the highest level of manipulation resistance available to most civilian buyers and are often required for sensitive government applications. These locks offer up to 20 hours of resistance to manipulation by a single expert. The dial must be mechanically accurate to within 1.25 digits of the correct number on a three digit lock or 1.5 digits on a four digit lock. Group 1 locks must also have features to immobilize the bolt if the lock case is compromised or the spindle is punched out. Group 1 locks are suggested for TL-30×6 or TRTL-30 rated safes and up.

Group 1R

The rarest of the UL 768 ratings, Group 1R locks must meet all the requirements of Group 1 ratings but also resist up to 20 hours of manipulation or decoding using X-ray or similar radiological imaging techniques. These locks may use shielding (such as lead) to prevent x-ray penetration or they may employ x-ray transparent materials such as certain types of plastic to prevent x-ray imaging.
Surprisingly, in most cases there is not a significant price difference between the classes of mechanical safe locks. With this in mind the primary considerations affecting the selection of lock for a safe will be the rating of the container and requirements set by insurance policies or government regulations. Group 2 locks are adequate for most fire safes and Residential Security Containers to maintain their ratings, while Group 2M is the minimum required for low end burglary-resistant safes (TL-15 and TL-30) or ATM safes to maintain their ratings. High security safes must use Group 1 or 1R locks to retain their attack resistance ratings. Additionally most governments will require containers used to store sensitive materials or firearms to be secured with a lock meeting a certain minimum rating.

UL 768 and GSA Approved Containers

US Government agencies and contractors storing classified materials or weapons and ammunition are required to use GSA Approved containers (safes and cabinets) fitted with locks which exceed even the highest grade of UL 768 certification. These locks must meet the requirements of Federal Specification FF-L-2740B (locks for protection of classified materials), FF-L-2937 (mechanical combination locks for protection of weapons and ammunition), or FF-L-2890B (pedestrian door locks for secure rooms and SCIFs). Certification of locks under those standards is administered by the General Services Administration (GSA) in cooperation with the Department of Defense Lock Program. Purchase of locks certified under FF-L-2740B and FF-L-2890B is restricted to the Federal Government, US Government contractors, and organizations or people specifically authorized by the US Government.

Electronic Safe Lock Ratings

In the United States UL 2058 is the primary standard for electronic safe locks. Locks which are certified to meet the criteria of UL 2058 are often listed as “UL Type 1“. Like mechanical locks, electronic locks are required to offer a minimum of 1,000,000 (one million) possible combinations however there are several unique requirements for electronic locks. To aid reliability and prevent accidental lock outs batteries must be stored in the keypad on the outside of the door so that they can be replaced even when the container is locked and combinations must be stored in non-volatile memory so that codes will not be lost when the lock loses power. To prevent decoding or manipulation of the lock all storage, and processing of combinations must occur in electronics located on the secure side of the door (ie inside the container).
UL 2058 also lays out a variety of durability requirements intended to ensure the lock will continue to function even with a certain amount of rough handling or in less than ideal environments. Unlike UL 768’s multiple grades, UL 2058 currently only offers the one grade which makes it essentially a pass/fail system. Using an electronic lock that is not rated as UL Type 1 is not recommended on any burglary rated safe.

By |2018-10-18T09:00:17+00:00October 18th, 2018|All, Combination Safe Locks, Safe and Vault|2 Comments

Safe Moving Equipment Added To The Library

The Safe Moving Equipment page is now live in the Safe and Vault section of the Library. This page covers safe moving equipment as well as safe moving procedures/techniques.

Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals

Product brochures, specifications, and manuals have been added to the “Manufacturer’s Literature and Manual” tab for the following manufacturers:

  • Advance Metalworking Co., Inc.
  • Escalera, Inc.
  • Innovative Moving Systems, Inc.
  • Rock Line Products, Inc. (Air-Tow Trailers)
  • Ultra Lift Corporation

Resources

In the “Resources” tab, you will find product demonstration videos from Advance Metalworking Co., Inc., Innovative Moving Systems, Inc., Rock Line Products, Inc., and Ultra Lift Corporation. These product demonstrations can help technicians/business owners explore the capabilities of safe moving equipment available to them.
I spent nearly 4 years assisting with safe moves. While I have moved plenty of smaller B-rate safes, most of these moves were for larger TL-15, 30, and 60 rated safes for commercial clients. I’ve certainly done by fair share of “plating” and “bolt downs”. Throughout all of those moves, never once did a personal injury or damage to a safe or a customer’s property occur. That was not by chance but via safety, an understanding of moving large objects, and by following the manufacturer’s instructions for the use of their equipment. I say all that to say this: I made sure to include resources covering all 3 of those areas. In the Resources table you will also find a PowerPoint presentation on pallet jack/hand truck safety as well as a primer on basic timber cribbing.
Finally, we’ve included a link to a Dean Safe how-to-videos. These videos cover topics such as moving a safe, uncrating a safe, and bolting down a safe.

By |2018-08-30T09:00:49+00:00August 30th, 2018|All, Safe and Vault, Safe Moving Equipment|0 Comments

Time Locks Page Added to Library

Time Locks
The Time Locks page is now live in the Safe and Vault section of the Library. This page covers mechanical and digital time locks for safe and vault use. Like the Safe Deposit page, we’ve included a list of current manufacturers as well as manufacturers that have either been acquired, discontinued, or went defunct. These manufacturers include:

  • Bankers Dustproof Time Lock Co.
  • Chubb
  • Consolidated Time Lock Co.
  • Diebold, Inc.
  • Kumahira Co., Ltd.
  • LeFebure Corp.
  • Mosler Safe Company
  • Ohio Time Lock Co.
  • Sargent and Greenleaf
  • TMi Corp.
  • Yale Lock Manufacturing Co./Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company

The Resources tab includes a winding chart put together by MBA USA. It also includes a TMi Guide to Time Locks, hosted by SOPL, and link to My Time Machines. My Time Machines is a website dedicated to a collection of time locks. The information and pictures contained on My Time Machines makes it one of the best resources online.
Finally, we’ve included Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals from Sargent & Greenleaf as well as TMi Corp.

By |2018-08-23T09:00:57+00:00August 23rd, 2018|All, Library Update, Safe and Vault, Time Locks|0 Comments

Early American Safe Deposit Lock Patents

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Keeping with the theme of last Thursday’s launch of the Safe Deposit page of the Library, here are some of the earliest safe deposit box and lock patents. You can see a lot of the progression of both safe deposit boxes and locks by clicking through these patents chronologically. These patents were pulled directly from Lock & Lockmakers of America by Thomas F. Hennessy. If you don’t already have a copy of Lock & Lockmakers of America, grab a copy; it will be one of the most referenced books in your library.

 

By |2018-08-07T09:00:00+00:00August 7th, 2018|All, Safe and Vault, Safe Deposit|0 Comments

Library Update: Safe Deposit

We’ve added the Safe Deposit page to our newly launched Safe and Vault section of the Library. The Safe Deposit page is dedicated to safe deposit boxes, locks, and parts. In addition to our usual list of current manufacturers, we’ve included a list of safe deposit manufacturers that have either been acquired, discontinued, or went defunct. These manufacturers include: Corbin Cabinet Lock, Eagle Lock Company, Herring-Hall-Marvin (H.H.M.) Safe Company, Ilco, L.L. Bates Company, LeFebure Corp.,  Miles-Osbourne, Mosler Safe Company, Precision Products Inc., Victor Safe, Yale & Towne Manufacturing Company, and the York Safe & Lock Company.
There’s also plenty of supplemental material in the Resources tab, including:

And as always, we’ve included Manufacturer’s Literature and Manuals, this time for BlueGrass Locks, Bullseye S.D. Locks, LLC, and Sargent & Greenleaf.

By |2018-08-02T09:00:53+00:00August 2nd, 2018|All, Library Update, Safe and Vault, Safe Deposit|0 Comments

Library Update: Safes

We’ve added the Safes page to our newly launched Safe and Vault section of the Library. The Safes page is dedicated to gun safes, fire safes, and GSA containers. Given the subject matter, this page doesn’t feature as much technical information as other pages in the Library but there is still quite a bit of useful information, such as safe models, ratings, and measurements. This information can be found in the product catalogs found in the Manfacturer’s Literature and Manuals.
At launch, we have product catalogs for the following manufacturers:

  • AMSEC
  • Browning Arms
  • Burg Wachter USA
  • FireKing
  • Fort Knox
  • Gardall
  • GunVault
  • Liberty Safe
  • MESA Safe Company
  • Vault Pro

We’ve also included a few quick reference manuals for Tidel’s TACC line as well as links to AMSEC web pages dedicated to explaining burglar and fire ratings for safes. We’ve also included a link to a video created by Dakota Safe Company that shows a fire rating test on a gun safe.

By |2018-07-31T09:00:39+00:00July 31st, 2018|All, Library Update, Safe and Vault, Safes|0 Comments

Library Update: Safe and Vault Section, Safe Locks Added

We’ve just launched our Safe and Vault section of the Library with the addition of the Safe Locks page. Safe Locks covers mechanical and electronic safe locks and contains multiple links to other reference websites, manufacturer and instructional YouTube channels, as well as dozens of installation, operating, and programming instructions for the following manufacturers:

  • American Security (AMSEC) Products Company
  • Big Red Safe Locks
  • Kaba
  • LaGard (Kaba Mas LLC)
  • LP Locks
  • Sargent & Greenleaf
  • SecuRam Systems, Inc.

This is the first of many additions to the Safe and Vault section of the Library that will be launched throughout August.

By |2018-07-23T09:00:37+00:00July 23rd, 2018|All, Library Update, Safe and Vault|0 Comments

Library Update: Safes (Coming Soon!)

Next month, we will be launching a new addition to our Library: Safes. Within the “Safes” category will be the following sub-categories/pages:

  • Moving Equipment
  • Safe Deposit Keys and Locks
  • Safe Locks, Dials, and Rings
  • Safe Parts and Accessories

At the time of launch, a large majority of content will be instantly available on each page. This content includes installation and service manuals, manufacturer’s specifications, data sheets, plus much more.
We plan on launching our “Automotive” category in the next few months as well.
 

By |2018-07-05T09:00:07+00:00July 5th, 2018|All, Library Update, Safe and Vault|0 Comments
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