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Antique Safes/dialing Cary C-5


I would like to open a safe at a popular hotel here in town. Page 60 of The National Locksmith Nov 2012 issue shows pictures of it but mine has the original sept. 16, 1890 lock with the 100 number dial, false gates all the way around, and 77484 on both handles. I believe everything is original with a Cary C-5 Straight tail piece, screw change, 3-wheel lock. What is the correct dialing sequence for this lock? What nombers are the lockout zone? Is the final number set at 71 as on other safes I have worked on like this? Would like to open it without drilling and have plenty of time to try numbers. any sequences I should try? thanks for any help. jeff galli


Based on the serial number that you have provided, 77484, I WOULD expect to find a Cary C-5 type lock.

Straight tail piece locks can be dialed both LRLR or RLRL.  These locks actually have two combinations, depending on which direction you dial the lock.

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 to the last number - stop and turn handle.

Or you can dial it RLRL vs the LRLR sequence - it does not make a difference, as long as you are using the correct numbers for the dialing sequence you are using.

I have no idea what you are talking about, when you mention "lockout zone", there is no such thing.   If you are referring to a "forbidden zone", #1 it has nothing to do with this lock, and #2 it has nothing to do with unlocking the lock.  The forbidden zone refers to numbers which cannot be set on the third wheel of a lever type lock.  Because of the wheel action required when trying to extend the lock bolt, a scissoring action is created, trapping the fence of the lever assembly, effectively jamming the lock in the "unlocked" condition.   The lever must be manually lifted out of the wheel pack to continue.   Straight tail piece locks are NOT subjected to this action.

As the drive wheel has 9 false gates and a real gate, you will have to determine which is the real gate.   Depending on how the drive wheel is splined, Cary used a number of random locations.   If it was the same location on every drive wheel, having the false gates wouldn't make much sense.

Hope this answers your questions.

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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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