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Antique Safes/FICHET-BAUCHE combination procedure


I bought a used FICHET-BAUCHE France safe six years ago but never used the original combo lock since someone added a second digital lock. I do not dare turn the original knobs for fear of getting locked out. The time has come for me to learn how to work the original combination lock.
Here is the data of the safe:

86 C 02655
CF ARD 225

The combo dial is circular with numbers 1 thru 4 marked every 90 degrees around the circumference and there is another smaller knob that sits inside of it. This small knob has no markings,
I think I have the correct combination to it but am afraid to touch it.
(1) which knob do I turn first?
(2) what is the rest of the procedure?
(3) how do I change the combination?
(4) this safe is very heavy do you know the official weight?
(5) What is the fire rating?
(6) what year was it manufactured?

Thank You

ANSWER: Hello Dennis,

Thank you for your enquiry.  The Arden has a 'click-lock' combination and the instructions for opening the combination are as follows:

Open the door, move the handle and turn the key to lock the safe in the OPEN position.  If the door is open, there is no danger of locking yourself out of the safe.

The outer dial selects the wheel of the combination you are going to operate, so for simplicity set No.1 against the top mark.

The inner knob operates on a series of clicks and the number that it has been set on.

Once the outer dial is set to 1 turn the inner knob fully anti clockwise until it comes to a stop. Then turn the inner knob slowly and carefully clockwise counting off the clicks as you go until you reach the number that has been set.

Turn the outer dial to 2, turn the inner knob anti clockwise until it stops and then turn the knob clockwise counting off the clicks as you go, until you reach the number set.

Repeat the process for 3 & 4.

Then enter and turn the key, if the combination is correct the key will turn, if not then he has either entered the wrong code or operated it incorrectly or it is not the code for the safe.  If the code you have is correct and the safe unlocks, try it at least 3 times more to be absolutely certain it is working correctly before you shut the door and operate the combination.

Once you have got the safe open, you may wish to set a new code.  You can obtain advice for this from FBH Fichet on  +44 (0) 1442 213779

The Arden was made in 6 sizes so I would need to know the dimensions to be able to give you the weight.  It is a cash safe only so it has no forma fire rating.  I'm afraid I can't advise you of the year of manufacture.

Good luck,

Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy

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

You speak of a "key" but my safe has no "key" only the two concentric dials and a handle to open the door with.

Hello Dennis,

You mentioned a retro-fitted digital lock, this is likely to have replaced the original keylock.  In its orginal condition, the combination lock prevented the key from being operated until the correct code had been dialed.  Presumably you have been locking the safe only on the digital lock and my guess is that the keylock may have been by-passed in some way.

I don't know if the combination lock will still function, but as long as the door is open when you try it, there will be no risk of locking yourself out.  Frankly, as the safe is working on the digital lock, I would be inclined to leave things as they are as I have no idea how the locking mechanism may have been altered.

If it is important to restore the combination function, I suggest you contact FBH Fichet and arrange for an engineer to call and check it over.


Mike Palmer FSyI
Mike Palmer Consultancy  

Antique Safes

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Mike Palmer


I earn my living identifying safes and suggesting cash limits for risk advisors and insurance surveyors in the UK. I'm am pleased to comment on safes manufactured in the UK or Mainland Europe but I am unable to accept questions regarding safes made in the USA or elsewhere.


I have been in the UK safe industry for 40 years and have one of the largest archive databases of old safe literature and serial numbers in the country. I started with Chubb in 1960 and became Assistant Manager of their Bank Security Division before moving on to become the Insurance Liaison Manager with the John Tann Group. I became Sales & Marketing Director for Guardian Safes Limited before semi-retiring. I am a Fellow of the Security Institute and ex-Chairman of Eurosafe UK, a trade body representing the interests of UK safe makers and distributors. I now work as a part time consultant.

I am an advisor to the Safe Committee of the Association of Insurance Surveyors, a Fellow of the Security Institute and founding Chairman of Eurosafe UK.

I have had literally scores of articles published in various security trade publications. So far this year I have had 24 features published in various journals including Keyways, Professional Security, Pawnbroker and Safe India. I have published one book, Peckham Boy, the life and times of the world's greatest safe cracker.

No relevant educational credentials.

Awards and Honors
In 1997 I was awarded the annual shield by the Association of Insurance Surveyors for "..outstanding services to crime prevention"

Past/Present Clients
I have represented or been an agent for the John Tann Group (Stratford, Ratner, Dreadnought and Tann safes); Churchill Safes, Chubb Safe Co Ltd, SLS Safes, SMP Safes, Dudley Safes and several others

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