Electronic Safe Lock Installation on Old Safe

This article is about retrofitting an old safe with a mechanical lock to a new modern electronic safe lock.

Nowadays, many safe manufacturers install safe locks that conform to a ‘standard’ or ‘magic module’ footprint. Conforming to this ‘standard’ means that regardless of which brand of safe or safe lock you own, it can be switched or changed to any other lock that also has a standard footprint with minimal modification of the safe door.
Before the standard footprint lock was available, most safe locks were NOT interchangeable. Back then, safe manufacturers selected a particular safe lock model for the safes they were making. The safe manufacturer then had to fabricate the safe door bolt work to accommodate the specific model lock they selected. Since safe locks came in a wide variety of designs, door mechanisms (bolt work) varied greatly.

Whenever an electronic safe lock is to be installed in a safe that does not contain the standard footprint, a well thought out plan is need to determine how best to fit the electronic lock to the existing safe mechanism. Modifications to the safe door bolt work are common and can sometimes be tricky. If not done properly, the customer can end up with a lock that doesn’t work consistently or even a safe door that’s had its security reduced (by removing components) in order to accommodate the new lock.

Photo 1 & 2 show the outside and inside of the safe, respectively. Before the new electronic lock installation can begin, the old lock needs to be removed.


Photos 3 & 4 show the outside and inside of the safe after the old lock has been removed.



Because the new electronic lock, functions and locks differently than the old mechanical lock, new drilled and tapped holes need to be made to mount it to the door. Before the lock is installed, care must be taken to position the electronic lock in a location where it will be able to block motion of the door bolt work. Blocking of the door bolt work directly isn’t always possible due to design. In this case, a steel block is usually added somewhere on the bolt work, strategically positioned for the electronic safe lock to block. Photo 5 shows the electronic safe lock installed on the door along with the new steel block installed on the safes bolt work (door mechanism).


The lock and steel block have been installed in such a manner that in order to retract the safes door bolts; the lock needs to be unlocked, to allow the steel block to travel under the lock case thereby allowing the bolt work to move.
Photo 6 shows one of the screws I installed with Loctite (blue liquid on the screw). Loctite is a thread locking compound designed to prevent screws from backing out due to vibration. I always use Loctite on these types of jobs and felt it was important to mention as I frequently come upon other techs’ work where fasteners have loosened up because thread locking compound was not used.


Photo 7 is the last photo that shows the keypad installed on the face of the door.