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How Are Bank Vaults Actually Made?

To fully understand how vaults are made in 2019, we need to look back at where they began. For this, we need to go all the way back to the time of ancient Romans.

They created “warded locks” which were comprised of carefully crafted notches and grooves. This made them more difficult to lockpick . Going forwards to the time of ancient India, Russia and China we find our first sightings of a combination lock and small iron safes.

This method was used for centuries until the end of the 1849 Gold Rush. Here we found more and more people robbing banks, using a pickaxe and hammer. Back then, safes were small enough to carry out of a building without raising suspicion.

Meeting Mr Yale…

In 1861 Linus Yale Jr. (recognise the name?) invented the modern combination lock. But as robbers got more clever, the safes got safer. However, standard safes were simply not enough to protect banks from robberies. So in the 1920’s banks began to start using heavy vaults.

Early versions of vaults used steel for their doors, however these were vulnerable to torch heat. They then turned to cast iron, as this was more resistant. Modern vaults, believe it or not, are mainly comprised of specialised concrete.


Making Vault Walls

Walls and doors are made from concrete with steel rods for support. The benefit of using these materials is that vaults can be created to fit any space and be completely bespoke.

To create a vault you start with moulding your wall panels. The concrete used is so thick you cannot actually pour it at all, so it’s measured in “slump”. No slump means it’s ready to use.

Once the concrete has been made you only have 6-12 hours to get it in the mould before it completely dries. This means making even just one tiny mistake could cost you the whole panel within a day, which is why you need a professional.


Adding Structure

Once the concrete is in the mould you then need to add in your steel rods, whilst it’s still “wet”. This is then vibrated for a few hours to eliminate any pockets of air in the mixture. The edges are then smoothed and the entire panel is left to dry.


Creating A Door

Once dry and out of the mould you then move onto the door. You can use several methods to create your door: the two most common are concrete first with steel cladding after or a steel mould is created and filled directly with concrete.


Locking It In Place

Now you have a door, you can begin making it safe with a lock. Most vaults use a dual-control combination lock. To actually open this lock you need 2 people, for additional security. This type of lock has been used since the late 19th century and is still used today.

All you have to now is install your vault! Trident Safes have been installing vaults for years and specialise in vault installation, relocation and removals.

If you would like to learn more about our vault services, then please visit our vaults page to find out more.


Feature Image CreditReimund Bertrams via Pixabay

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