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Antique Safes/hard time opening old safe



I found your webpage online.  I am trying to help a friend open his old safe, but having no luck.  I cannot even find this safe online.  It's an old Kelly Mfg Co. floor safe on wheels.  What baffles me is the combination, which is written down on an old business card he keeps in his wallet.  I'm trying find out what group lock number it has and how many numbers its combination is suppose to have.  Here is how it is written down:

R 3 - 41
L 2 - 76
R 1 - 47
L  -  88
R  -  74
I am not sure what the 90 is about?  Can you tell me anything about this safe and its combination?


Thomas McConnell


First off, this isn't my website, I'm simply a volunteer here.   This website offers hundreds of categories, with thousands of volunteers in a lot of different areas.

As far as why you can't find info concerning this company - they were not a safe maker.   Your safe may have been sold by them (distributor), or owned by them, at some point.

So our FIRST order of business would be to try to determine WHAT you may actually have.   Unfortunately, we may not actually ID the safe until AFTER it is open.

As far as the combination is concerned, I would imagine that your "friend" obtained the safe from someone else, who provided the combination.   In general combinations are passed along, the way they are understood and NOT necessarily the way that they actually work.   For instance ASSUMING that the safe possibly has a FOUR wheel lock, the dialing sequence (depending on the manufacturer) would be:

5 times right to the first number,
4 times left to the second number,
3 times right to the third number,
2 times left to the fourth number,
1 time right until the dial stops - SHOULD be around 80-90 unless it is a YALE lock in which case the dialing sequence might be reversed or LRLRL vs RLRLR and the dial would stop between 0-20.

So based on the actual dialing sequences, it is pretty easy to see that the combination that you are working with makes little to know sense at all.    It CANNOT dial the way that ANY lock actually works.

If the lock is in fact only a THREE wheel lock, the dialing sequence would be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops - should be around 90.

Again, a few locks reverse the dialing sequence or RLRL vs LRLR and the dial would stop around 10, but I think that you are starting to see some similar steps in the ACTUAL OPERATION of a lock, as opposed to the combination that you are working with.

Note:   The chances of your actually having a five wheel lock, are pretty much slim to none, but if necessary, I'm sure that you can figure out the dialing sequence for this lock, based on the two sequences that I've provided above, but even then you can see that the way your combination is written down would not work under any normal circumstance.

Now this doesn't mean that it isn't possible that the correct combination "NUMBERS" aren't hidden somewhere in the mess that you've been working with.    Many times owners will either "CODE" their combination, or possibly add some worthless garbage in the written sequence.    As long as they know what is correct and what is incorrect, and they understand the dialing sequence, they would be able to open the safe.

Using the four different dialing sequences that I've provided, it would be fairly easy for you to put together a spread sheet using the list of numbers that you have, and then testing all of the variables.   "IF" the numbers are correct, "AND" you are dialing it correctly it should unlock.
Which brings us to - There are ONLY three reasons a safe lock will not open, IN ORDER they are:
1.   Incorrect dialing sequences, operator errors (whether intentional or not),
2.   Incorrect combination, wrong numbers
3.   Mechanical problems.

At this point, and with the "combination mess" that you have provided, I would say that the reason the safe doesn't open is easily #1, #2 or a combination of both.

If you can't get the safe open, after trying the sequences provided and your spread sheet of possible combination groups, then it would be time to have the lock checked out by a safe technician from a local safe company, NOT a locksmith.

If you would like me to look at your safe, to see what you actually have, and maybe narrow down the type of lock and probable dialing sequence, I would be happy to.

In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, and any special details or damage.  
If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.

I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe.  If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe.  Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance donít help when we try to evaluate the container.  Note:  with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 12mb limit per email.  If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.

Please donít send me ďcell phoneĒ photos.   Also, please donít use online, internet photo drops as most of these also donít allow me to easily access the photos for examination.   Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.

Please send all of the requested photos to:

Note:  As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity.  Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.

Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland Safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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. 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

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 - 2013 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

Past/Present Clients
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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