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Antique Safes/Combination


QUESTION: I have an old J.& J. Taylor Limited safe in a store that I bought a year and a half ago.  A former employee of the previous store gave me the combination she thought it was.  The dial goes from 20 to 100 and one of the numbers in the combination she gave me is 7.  Does that mean that the 7 is wrong since there is no 7 on the dial?

ANSWER: Casey,

The only reason that the numbers are missing on the dial have to do with the last number of the combination (3rd number on a three wheel lock and 4th number of a four wheel lock), and the operation of the lock AFTER it is unlocked.   To keep from having the last number from being set in this "zone", the manufacturer simply eliminated the numbers from the dial.  This does not affect the placement of the first two (or three) numbers - HOWEVER on a dial where the numbers are missing it WOULD make it difficult to accurately set or dial a number in this zone.

As you didn't provide me with the combination that the former employee thinks it is, I can't answer the question totally as I don't know WHICH wheel this would affect.   Unless the safe is open, so that the CORRECT combination can be recovered to verify whether your numbers are true or not, the best you can do is to try them out.
By using the numbers that ARE present, figure out where the number 7 would be on the dial, and dial up the combination to see if it opens.   If it doesn't, either you are making a dialing error, or the combination is incorrect.

Placing the first or second number, on an invisible number in this zone (on the dial), is not a bad security method as it would make it difficult for someone to dial, but it isn't "wrong" as it will still operate, if dialed correctly.

Hope this makes sense.  If you still can't get it to open, then you may need the services of a trained safe technician from a local safe company, not a locksmith.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The combination the employee gave me was the date that the business opened which was 28-7-68...if that helps at all!!!  It has a notch where the 20 goes so that you start at zero.  I didn't notice a notch where the 7 might be but I will look again closely when I get to the store on Monday.  Thanks so much for your answer on this.


the lock may be either the C60 series, or the later 6810 series.   This lock came in both 3 and 4 wheel versions.   Using the combination that you have provided, the dialing sequence would be either:

3 wheel version (C66 or C68)

4 times left to the first number, (28)
3 times Right to the second number, (7)
2 times Left to the third number, (68)
1 time Right until the dial stops (around 90).

if it is a 4 wheel lock with two wheels set on one number the sequence would be:

5 times left to the first number, (28)
3 times Right to the second number, (7)
2 times Left to the third number, (68)
1 time Right until the dial stops (around 90).

NOTE:  There is no "STARTING POINT" - forget starting at zero.   If YOU need a starting point then go ahead, as long as YOU understand that it is for YOUR benefit and has nothing to do with the actual combination.
Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.   For instance, in the first example, you would turn the dial counter clockwise, stopping the FOURTH time the number 28 arrives at the index mark.

I doubt that there will be a "notch" where the 7 would be.   Simply take a piece of paper and lay it next to the series between 20-40.   Mark the designations on the paper for each number, and then transfer it to the blank section of the dial, marking the spot which cooresponds to the 7.   Dial the combination has above, if it opens - great, if not its probably time to contact a local safe company to have their safe tech open the safe for you.  

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 44 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of an Ely Norris Cannonball Safe from the early 1900's. Will answer Safe & Vault related questions concerning age, value, restoration, moving, opening & repairing, parts, operation and history. Note: It is not my intention to teach you to open safes or to provide information which may aid in the unlawful opening of a safe. I will not give out drill points or information which I deem inappropriate.


44 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. Owner and Service Manager for one of the largest Safe & Vault companies on the West Coast. Graduate of Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing, Safe lock Manipulation and Safe Deposit Lock Courses. Graduate of Locksmith Institute. Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes". Certified Instructor for the California Locksmith Association teaching Basic and Advanced Lock Servicing, Basic Safe opening and Repairing. Factory Trained by AMSEC, LORD Safes, LeFebure, Mosler, KabaMas, LaGard and Sargent & Greenleaf

Safecrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association

The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes

Graduate of Locksmith Institute 1972 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Servicing 1974 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Lock Manipulation 1975 Graduate Lockmasters Safe Deposit Lock Servicing 1985 Instructor Certified - California Locksmith Association - 1985 Factory trained by AMSEC, MAJOR, STAR, Johnson-Pacific, Kaba-MAS, Allied-Gary, ISM, Lord, Brown Safe, EXL, Mosler, Diebold.

Awards and Honors
2009 - 2015 Listed in AllExperts top 50 Experts. All Experts Categories - Safes & Security Containers, Locksmithing, Antique Safes. Retired US Army Chief Warrant Officer (CW4), with 39 years of total service. With numerous awards from Vietnam, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom. US Navy - 1971-1981 US Army Reserve 1984-2013 US Army Retired

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US Secret Service, FBI, BATF, Local Law enforcment agencies, Diebold, Hamilton Pacific, Red Hawk Int., Chubb International, Bank of America, Wells Fargo Bank, Mechanics Bank, El Dorado Savings Bank, many Credit unions and smaller banks. McDonalds, Togos, BurgerKing, TacoBell, Carls Jr. FoodMaxx, SaveMart, Lucky's, Albertson's, Raley's, Safeway, NobHill, Bell Markets, PW Markets. Great America, Century Theatres, Cinemark Theatres, UA Cinemas, and many homeowners and small businesses. Provide warranty service for lock and safe manufactures. Service area is Northern California - Fresno to Oregon, including western Nevada

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