Liberty Safes, A Review Like No Other…

So those that are friends with me on Facebook may be familiar with a recent predicament that had unbelievable timing, and not in the good way.  I have a series of lessons that many of you can learn from as well as a detailed experience of the warranty system behind Liberty Safes and S&G locks.

First let me detail what I had and what happened.  Here is my safe pre-issues.

Liberty Safe

That is a 50 CF Liberty Presidential safe.  It has an S&G Titan Direct Drive lock.  I could go into details now about the different security mechanisms but I will get to that a bit later.  The way the direct drive works is you punch in the code, a solenoid fires, at which point you can rotate the outer dial unlocking the bolt.

As my wife and I were packing up the house for the first weekend of the big move and she discovered a few items she needed to put in the safe.  She went out to the safe and then came and found me a couple of minutes later, “I think I forgot the combo she said.”  Interesting, I’ll go and try.  I walk out to the safe, punch in the code, no click, nothing, 5 seconds later it beeps as if it relocked.  Odd, try it again, same thing.  Try leaning on the door, doing everything in the list of stuff to do to get the safe open on their website.  No joy, further I know it’s the right code because I punch in a wrong one as a test, I get immediate feedback.

So, we are on a time-table and we figure we’ll call Liberty next week and schedule an appointment with a locksmith and drive back out for it.  Well folks, here’s a customer service fail and a lesson for you all if you ever find yourself needing to call Liberty.

First Lesson:

Don’t try to start a support chain by email.  I sent an email to their support contact and NEVER heard back. We turned around and called 24 hours later.

Second Lesson:

Have your safe’s serial number on hand.  It is on the packet of information that comes with the safe as well as is on the inside of the door.  Do NOT count on registering your safe to save you. I figured they could look my safe up as I had registered it, they could not.  Pissed barely begins to describe my attitude as I had to drive 5.5 hours back to the redoubt in the wheat field, hoping I could find the packet of safe info with the serial number on it.  Did I mention I was in the middle of moving and had packed up a decent chunk of my office?  Luckily I had not moved that box yet and was able to find it.  I called Liberty and everything quickly went along changing my attitude from pissed off to mildly annoyed.  It was Thursday and the locksmith will be out on Saturday.

Getting into the safe:

The lock smith arrives Saturday morning and takes one look at the safe and says, “Well shit!  That’s not the lock they told me was on there.”  We take the dial off and try a new one.  We bang on the door with a mallet trying to make sure nothing is stuck.  Alas, my thoughts were correct.  We get to drill my safe and they gave him the wrong lock type.

This has numerous impacts on things like drill points and design of operation.  He calls a buddy of his and gets the info he needs and we set to work. 20140412_120637

So behind this steel door are numerous traps and issues that can cause problems for people trying to break into a safe.  What kind of traps?  Ball bearings are the most notorious of the bunch.  What do they do to drill bits I hear you ask?  This:

20140412_125406

 

We chewed up 8 drill bits that Saturday and it took us 3 hours to get through into the lock case. Ah but we got into the lock case!  FYI, we did have to swap out for a corded hammer drill. Here’s a view of what those little bastards look like in the safe.

20140412_134221

Another drill bit that died trying to reach the lock case.

20140412_194831So we’re in, the safe should just open now right?  Well not so lucky.  You see, the numbers we had for the drill point were off by about an eighth of an inch.  We found the solenoid in the hole, but there was a vertical bar behind it too.  Here’s a picture of inside the lock, you’ll probably immediately figure out what we didn’t know.  A picture is worth a 1000 words.

20140418_101715

So looking at that image you have the solenoid, the grey box with Summit written on it, the actual moveable part, the wider shaft, and then the fixed shaft it moves on the thinnest piece.  The solenoid moves allowing the large metal bar to move up and down vertically.  That brass part turns causing the bar to raise up.  We drilled in about an eighth of an inch too far to the left.  We were smack on top of the fixed shaft but didn’t know it.  We then punched through to the back to see if the re-closer had possibly fired, it hadn’t.  In so doing we had severed the metal piece we needed to raise.

At this point we decided to call it and continue at it this week, mainly so he could find the diagram I have above and figure out exactly what was going on.  Yesterday morning he arrived about 9am.  We drilled a slightly larger diameter hole to the depth of the piece we needed to manipulate.  Grabbing metal that is flush with a hole is difficult.  We chew up 3 more bits in that process.  Then finally we start grabbing the metal but it still won’t pull up.  I had the idea to find the solenoid and push on it some more just incase it isn’t actually clear.  Bang!

20140418_115948It’s open, now what?

So now that the safe is open, we needed to remove the old lock, patch and harden the hole we made, install the new lock and then we’re done.  First we needed to remove the safe door backing.

20140418_121211

Next we see the inside.

20140418_121743I have some observations on the interior of the door along with disassembly which I will get to later.  But you can see the old lock in the middle. You can see the external re-closer to the left of the lock as well.  You will also note there is a diagonal bar running from just to the left of the lock down to the floor on the right side of the door.  First we needed to remove the old lock, easy enough, pull three screws and it’s off.

20140418_122839

You can see something covering the hole.  That’s because in this photo we’ve started to repair the safe.  We’ve packed the hole from the back side full of a steel based putty epoxy.  The from the front we add 2 more things with putty interspersed.

20140418_122945

That is a hardened steel ball bearing about the same diameter as the hole we had to drill.  That however wasn’t enough for my locksmith.  He added this little jewel.20140418_123104

That is going to seriously suck for whoever hits that will a drill.  It is a combination of carbide and steel and had to be tapped into place.  Basically your drill bit is going to have serious issues with that hole.

But Barron, the hole is still there right?  Yup and useless since I am switching lock types the position to drill out the new lock is different.  Basically someone is going to put all that effort in and be disappointed in the end.

So now we install the new lock, this time a mechanical dial, the why’s will be fully covered in the end.

20140418_125138 20140418_125309

We set the combination and he even left me the key so I can change it again later if I so choose.  It actually isn’t terribly difficult to do.  So what does the safe look like after all that?

20140418_135418

 

You can’t even see the drill point as it’s under the dial.  So now that we see what all I went through to get this detailed review, let’s go over all the things I’ve learned, my observations, what I learned from the locksmith, and any advice that I can give.

Lessons Learned:

As I mentioned at the beginning keep that damn serial number on hand.  Preferably store it in a digital form that can be accessed even in the middle of a move.  I still think Liberty should have been able to look up the info given my registration but don’t count on it.  Just store that serial number where you can find it.

Locks:

Next up, Digital Locks.  Avoid them like they will fail you because they will.  I got that digital lock after seeing better reviews than the earlier motorized version.  The locksmith informed me that the reason the previous version had so many issues is they used plastic for the gearing in side and it would strip.  They still haven’t altered that design.  The direct drive overcame this problem.

(Well damn, I forgot to take a picture of inside the original dial.)  If I had known the digital lock was made in China from the start I would have never done it. Figuring exactly what did happen would have happened further, here’s a picture inside my butchered lock for variety.

20140418_124420

See that orange cylinder in the corner.  Yeah that’s an electrolytic capacitor, my guess to keep the voltage up while the relay opens.  Problem is those types of capacitors aren’t known to last forever, far from it.  No thanks.  I figure that the design is made to die shortly after the warranty goes Tango Uniform.  I got luck and gone one that failed early.

Further they’re prone to other types of failures as well.

Warranties:

Here’s a dirty little secret that no one ever tells you.  That 5 year warranty on your lock is from the date of manufacture, not the date of sale.  Safe manufacturers do this because the lock manufacturers do it to them.  A lock failure ultimately means you’re safe is getting drilled, thus someone is going to have to foot the bill.  Liberty, like most other companies, and understandably, doesn’t want to be stuck with the bill for the failure of someone else’s product.

So again, go with the mechanical lock.  While they can fail, they are considerably more reliable, especially when properly maintained.

Lock Maintenance:

The safe companies recommend having your lock serviced once a year. My lock smith said truthfully for most people it’s about every 5 years.  It’s worth doing because there are a few parts that should be inspected just to ensure the discs don’t slip within the mechanical lock.

Safe Security:

It took us over 3 hours with the proper equipment to drill into the lock case, total it was about a days worth of work to get it open given we were off in our measurements.  That’s also given the detailed information of where to drill.  Overall I’d say this was one tough nut to crack and isn’t going to be done by your average burglar.

That said the locksmith did inform me that criminals are now using gas-powered and battery-powered cutoff wheels to cut off the sides or back of the safe since they are not as heavily hardened.  Jewelers safes pour concrete in and mixed with that concrete is re-bar, carbide chunks, aluminum and copper.

To give you a bit of background on my locksmith, he’s been doing this since he was in the Navy back in the 70′s.  He’s worked on government safes, locks, SCIFs, etc.  He knows his stuff and he pointed out that often good safes are destroyed by amateur locksmiths.

Remember, the goal of a safe is not to be impenetrable, but to buy time.  This safe bought a lot of time even against someone who knew what he was doing and had the details in advance.

What has me upset:

Well beyond the fact my lock failed, which frankly doesn’t have me happy, is what I discovered as we pulled it apart and chatting with the locksmith.

First up is this failure.

20140418_125420

Yes, that is a gap in the fire board.  Sure there is another 2 layers underneath but it doesn’t inspire confidence in those 3 layers.  A simple strip of the heat expanding tape would have worked well for that spot.

20140418_125309So if you look at the end of the screw driver you will see a small rod heading diagonally towards the ground I mentioned this earlier.  This is to prevent you from opening the bolts on your safe while the door is open.  However this design has some issues and can result in the safe refusing to lock.  If this happens to you, feel around the bottom edge of the door furthest from the hinges, there will be a rod, push it up and pull it down to try to reset it.  If that doesn’t work pull the cover off the door and look at the mechanism.

Further on the website they give the following fire rating with no caveats:

Liberty

However if you look at the inside of the door to the safe you see the following:

SafeRating

*BTU rating based on 25cf safe

So does that mean a larger safe should have its rating degraded due to its size?

Conclusions:

Liberty does stand behind their safes.  They took care of all the costs involved with this repair.  Annoyingly had this happened in July I would have been on the hook for a lock replacement and the costs of the locksmith.  From chatting with the locksmith, Liberty is a respected brand and my main issue here was that stupid lock, made by S&G.

Would I buy Liberty again? Not 100% sure on this because of those few quality issues I noticed and this was on a $5000 safe. I am going to be contacting Liberty specifically about the gap and see if they have any comments on the subject.  Not to mention the lack of detail about their fire ratings.  I will post an update if/and when they finally do get back to me.

Lastly, if you do have an issue, get a real locksmith.  Seriously, someone who is well skilled and trained.  Evidently many smiths won’t get versions of the locks to play with on their own to figure out how they work.  If you’re in the Palouse area, I highly recommend Mike at George’s Lock and Key Service.

 

Quote of the Day – Tamara Keel (4/8/2014)

There is no greater irony in the world than a dude with a III patch and a Blue Sky Garand bitching about FOPA at a shooting match.

If that happened in an educational film, there’d be a little “Tinkerbell” noise and his rifle would disappear out of his hands in a *poof!* of bad special effects, as the narrator’s voice-over intoned “What did FOPA do? Well, I’ll tell you, little Johnny!

Tamara Keel - Comment to Pre-Revolutionary War Era
April 7th, 2014


[I know many people who have a ban on allowing Tam to be a quote of the day because her snark is so damn sharp no one else even gets a chance... Thing is she's had some serious golden nuggets lately and many are worthy of remembrance. I do get very annoyed when people get all angry without looking at the entirety of the situation at the time and what was going on.  Another good example of this is the 94 AWB. -B]

 

A Thought Experiment…

So recently a hateful spiteful old man kicked the bucket.  I think George Takei put it best:

Today, Mr. Phelps may have learned that God, in fact, hates no one. Vicious and hate-filled as he was, may his soul find the kind of peace through death that was so plainly elusive during his life.

One would always hope that the better side of an argument would exhibit self control and “be better” than those who are so angry and spiteful.

Last night though I started thinking about ways you could have fun with this. Again, be the better person but what if you didn’t have to be.  What would you do?

My immediate thought was to get a squadron of Huey’s with loud speakers and buzz the funeral in a fashion much resembling this.

To which my friend Gay Cynic then said we need to go further. That is merely the intro for the “playlist”.  Below is the playlist that was sitting in my inbox this morning.

We intro with my idea as above.

First song in the set:

This is followed with a remake of the following:

A remake with the following lyrics:

Ding Dong! The Bitch is dead. Which old Bitch? The Wicked Bitch!
Ding Dong! The Wicked Bitch is dead.
Wake up – sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed.
Wake up, the Wicked Bitch is dead. He’s gone where the goblins go,
Below – below – below. Yo-ho, let’s open up and sing and ring the bells out.
Ding Dong’ the merry-oh, sing it high, sing it low.
Let them know
The Wicked Bitch is dead!

Third set in the set:

Fourth in the set:

Fifth in the set:

Sixth in the set:

To which we close with the following Postlude:

With the helicopters doing the dance sequence.

That will do quite nicely.  If someone has the resources to make it happen, get video and I’ll edit it into something awesome!  If not, well everyone just take pleasure in the thought exercise, and if it’s a thought exercise close it out with a strafing run as the Huey’s depart.

Evidently the State Doesn’t Want My Money…

So let me lead off with the email I’m sending GoodToGo as I type this:

So some how I wasn’t notified as my account level got low. It’s now at -0.35 cents. I just went to go put money on it and am told “I can’t make a payment currently because the account is in negative balance.”

OK, I’ll try to call. I call and it wants some pin number that I don’t have and cannot find anywhere to set one on the website. I try to find a way to talk to a human and cannot find one.

So just to make sure I’m clear on this. I give an interest free loan to GoodToGo (WA DOT), am finally notified when I have a negative account balance because it’s run over, and when I try to go give another interest free loan I can’t? If it wasn’t for the fact this is “sanctioned by the state” I’d be calling the BBB to report a scam.

Why would I report a scam? Because at this point my assumption must be that the reason it is so difficult to pay a negative account balance is to accrue interest against the user, in which case why is my loan to the state an interest free one? And if not that to bill the user at a higher rate for using the toll bridge because my account is out-of-order. This also ignores the fact the first time I drove across the bridge I was billed through GoodToGo and sent a paper bill at a higher rate in the mail.

I have updated to a different card, although I would prefer not to have automatic payments configured on that card, but if this is going to be the way the state is going to behave I do not have much of a choice.

I had been making a habit of making one time payments when notified and this time I couldn’t.

As an additional note I will be forwarding this to my state representatives asking how this type of user interface and treatment of Washington State citizens is acceptable. Especially for those of us who purely use this in transportation to or from work. I will also be posting a copy of my experience and this letter, along with how the situation is handled on my blog.

Thank you and sincerely,
Barron Barnett

So for those not familiar with the GoodToGo system, you maintain a balance for toll roads around Western  Washington.  When you take one it subtracts from that balance.  When the balance gets low it can automatically get more from a credit card or deduct from a bank account.

The initial credit card I was using has been disabled, not because of lack of payment or anything, it just has and I’m too lazy to go call the bank to fix it.  I’m going debt free so why bother worrying about it, it forces me to not use it.

So I take to paying off my debit card when I get a low balance notice.  I get no low balance notice until I get a call and email about it this morning.  I go look at my account, -$0.35.  Well I need to fix that, I go into payments and see:

Outstanding Balance
Account balance is negative, payment not allowed. Please contact the Customer Service Center.

I then hop on the phone and start getting drug through automated menus.  Finally get to one that sounds reasonable, it asks me for my account number. I enter it.  Then it asks for a 4 digit pin.  A what?  I never configured a 4 digit pin, not that I remember anyway, and I cannot find anywhere in the online forms to find or configure a 4 digit pin.

So lets recap.  I’ve been giving interest free loans to the State of Washington so that I can drive over public roads at a non-inflated price.  I guess you could say that’s the interest, but then some pay more interest in others do they not because that becomes dependent on how long it takes for them to dwindle their account balance, but I digress.

Evidently my account ran negative and I just discovered this.  I attempt to use the manual payment system and am told to contact the Customer Service Center.  I do exactly that, and am greeted with an automated system asking for information that I do not know and cannot find a method to find out or set.

Ultimately leaving me in the following state, an outstanding balance I’m now aware of and unable to pay because their system is so screwy I could swear it was built by the same idiots that made the Obama-care website, and some would wonder why I don’t want my financial information stored within it.

And people wonder why I view the state as worthless and unable to pour piss out of a boot reading the directions off the heel.  If I can’t pay them when I owe them money, what the hell do they need the money for in the first place?

On Lists… (Alt Title: In which I make some people hate me…)

So currently there are a large number of people screaming about a list that someone compiled of all the politicians in Connecticut that voted for the assault weapons ban.  Predictably the other side promptly held up the list as an indicator as we’re out of control and attempting to “chill debate”.

A bunch of people on our side started screaming about how that not helping, stating that we must perceiver and rely upon the ballot box and the jury box.  I originally wrote this as a reply to someone on Facebook but figured it would be better placed here.

The problem here is we’re all forgetting the scope of the game we’re playing.  Not only that we’re ceding moves and pieces for a perceived moral stature increase that doesn’t actually count much at all in this game.  One side of this is already threatening force.  It however won’t be the politician who kicks in someone’s door at 3am, endangering everyone from law enforcement, to children, to the parents.  Honestly it should be the politician who pays, he’s the one that wrote the check that he’s making everyone else cash.

At the same time many also started screaming “well pack up and move.”  I’d like to point out packing up and moving only works for so long.  Believe me, my family knows quite well, we basically were chased across the US as we kept moving west to stay on the frontier.  The same will keep happening legislatively, and even worse when enough states have fallen, they can be used as examples to infringe on your rights from the federal level.  Think how concealed carry was finally forced upon Illinois.  If everyone had just packed up and moved, would that have changed there?  If everyone just packed up and left for “greener pastures” would concealed carry have been won in the states who didn’t have it?  Plus you end up ceding ground which they then use against you later as an example of what is “allowable”.  Think in the inverse, what if only one state had a CCW law and an attempt at a federal ban on carry was attempted?  49 other states might make SCOTUS go yeah that’s reasonable.

No, you must fight.  Retreat when you must, but do not do so hastily and you must have a plan for coming back.

Frankly inviting all these people from other states that are crashing eventually backfires because many of the same people start voting for the same crap that got them in trouble to begin with.  Believe me, Washington is being overrun with people from California and I’m watching it happen.  Ask people in Texas about the California invasion as well.

But back to the list, politicians, and the game.  I could give two shits about the list.  Doesn’t really matter other than it plays better as a political tool by the opposition than for the friendlies.  So do I wish it had not been published, yeah.  But at the same time it serves are a reminder to the politicians exactly the ballgame they’re playing.  If the card has been dealt in the open you might as well play with the damn thing.

But Barron, we must exercise the soap box, ballot box, and jury box.  We had successes in Colorado with the recall, we don’t need force yet.

Well what am I doing here, and you doing there, and what was he doing by publishing the list?  Last I checked, that all falls in the realm of soap box.  But to think that all states will be OK because one successfully recalled, and was lucky enough to have a recall process, is also naïve.  Not all states have a recall process.

Seriously, the game we’re playing the time periods are much shorter than election cycles and many are acting knowing they will loose their jobs.  They don’t care, they’re being bought by our enemies.  But why would that be?

The first rule of any game is to realize you’re in one.  Their goal is to do the damage with no way to hit “undo”.  Tell me, what is the punishment for passing an unconstitutional law?  What is the punishment for enforcing an unconstitutional law?  Who really pays to right the wrongs and who actually gets the reparations in the end?  Just look at New Orléans and the Katrina fiasco for those answers.

But Barron, I just don’t think the time is right yet…

That is your opinion and you have every right to it.  But, everyone has their own lines in the sand.  If them kicking in the doors to people’s homes and taking them by force, and let’s not bullshit here this is what’s being discussed,  good for you.  Not everyone however views this in the same light and for many that is the line in the sand of no going back.

The enforcement of any laws–local,state or federal–that through the action or inaction of the courts makes nugatory the individual means of resisting tyranny, justifies resistance.

Don’t like it? Get the police to say screw off regarding enforcement.  Currently though there are two sides of this coin, one side is the state wanting, and willing, to use force.  The other side is preparing to strike back, not strike first, at those truly responsible should it happen.

But Barron we should fully exhaust the political route before fighting back.

The British rolled up one April 19th, should we have continued to wait hoping our pleas to the king for a political solution panned out?

No we fought while also trying to achieve a peaceful political solution.   War is an ugly nasty business.  However to dismiss the violence they will bring against you by saying “ballot box” while laying down your arms is already admitting defeat.  Your enemy is willing to use force while you are not.  By default he wins.  You have lost the game.

And that folks is the problem.  Welcome to the pot of boiling water.  The heat was cranked up quite quickly and we very rapidly found ourselves in the very predicament we are in today.  Does it suck?  You bet your ass it does.  Do I  wish it was different?  Yup.  Do I want to have another civil war?  Hell no, but that isn’t really up to me now is it?

In the words of Malcolm Reynolds,

If someone ever tries to kill you, you try to kill them right back.

The answer to this problem is quite simple, “don’t start nothin’, won’t be nothin’.”  If this side was as truly blood hungry as the opposition thinks, crap would have already gone down.  At the same time, trying to make us all pacifists by screaming about the Soap, Ballot, and Jury boxes, implies that when a criminal is robbing us we should only every rely on those tools.  Why bother with the firearms at all if we can’t defend ourselves and then go after the person who tried to kill us by proxy?

The ball is truthfully in the state’s court.  All they have to do is respect the rights of their citizens and nothing will happen.  Trample those rights, and well some may fight back.  Some may go after the very people who passed the laws.

A Self Realization…

I came to a realization this morning.  More and more people keep coming up with the same bullshit not understanding or knowing the details about the statistics they are using to argue their point.  (Warning about the comments, many go full retard.)

Then to add the icing on the cake they take it as irrefutable proof to infringe on a specifically enumerated right.  Despite that if you include the deaths from that infringement elsewhere throughout the world during the 20th century the number of murdered is in the 100s of millions from gun control.

So what was my self-realization?  I’m reaching that point where unless you’re actually willing to talk civilly and rationally as I point all this stuff out my only response to you will be summed up in 5 words because I’m just tired of this crap.

Oh, and if you don’t know what those five words are, “Because fuck you that’s why!”

Why do I feel this way?  Let me quote Tam, “I don’t care if every other gun owner on the planet went out and murdered somebody last night. I didn’t. So piss off.

Is it so much to just ask to be left the hell alone?

Quote of the Day – Ry Jones (2/24/2014)

In WireShark I trust.

Ry JonesThere is no evidence to support that claim.
February 24th, 2014


[Yup.  As a geek this kicked over my giggle box.  Doubly so since I've been in that same position.

Well I don't care what you say, WireShark shows no traffic related to X when you're process is running.  So you're craps broken, deal with it!

I've noticed it is a unique individual who will just willingly admit, "Yup I screwed up, give me a couple minutes so I can fix that." Most of the time people are more interested in saving face and making themselves not look bad.

I find it better to look good by admitting my mistake and fixing the problem, but that's just me.  -B]

This made me laugh…

I was about to just straight up bit bucket this thing but decided to at least take a look since all I saw was the name when I glanced on my phone.  I’m glad I did because I needed a good laugh.

From: Amy <[email protected]>
Subject: ATTENTION the-minuteman.org OWNER!!!

Message Body:
Hello the-minuteman.org owner,

My name is Amy and I am a private investigator with 20 years of experience. PLEASE READ THIS MESSAGE SERIOUSLY! While browsing the internet just now, I found out there are some people talking BAD about your website the-minuteman.org at a few online forums and Facebook groups. They are creating Bad Reputation about your website the-minuteman.org! They even say the-minuteman.org is a big liar and many people had believed them!

I decided to capture some screen shots of their activities and make it into a FREE report for you.

Please download the report that I made for your website the-minuteman.org here : [link removed for safety]

Your contact form does not allow file upload, so I uploaded it into a free file hosting site called cleanfiles.net, they host files for free so you are required to complete a short survey before downloading your report.

Take a look into this matter RIGHT NOW! Download your report here : [link removed for safety]

P/S: I am just trying to help. If you DON’T CARE about your REPUTATION you can ignore my message.

Amy.


This mail is sent via contact form on The Minuteman http://www.the-minuteman.org

Obviously you’re not familiar with me or this website.  I am well known and take pleasure in the idea that some people hate me.  I’m well aware of people writing bad things about me on the internet.  I just make sure when I find it I return the favor.

I’m reasonably sure Amy that my reputation with those I actually respect is quite well intact.  In the words of Winston Churchill:

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.

Thanks for confirming I’ve done my job.