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Antique Safes/help with safe


QUESTION: I have a old safe... Printed on the safe: the reliable safe and lock co. covington KY.  underwriters labortories inspected safe # 67821 class B. I have the 4 number combanation for it but I can not figure out the rights and lefts on it... Example.. 9 right 42 ect.. if i pass the number or just stop on it or what.. can you please help me out.

ANSWER: Gretchen, assuming the hinges are on the RIGHT, the last turn to retract the bolts will be to the RIGHT (clockwise).  Generally speaking, for most safe locks, it is the last turn that dictates the correct sequence of turns.  So with a 3 wheel lock, which is what you most likely have, the correct sequence would be 4L-3R-2L-1R till it stops.  When dealing with a particular number, look for that number alone, not zero or the previous number.  In other words go LEFT past the FIRST number 3 times, stopping on it the 4th time.  Next you will go RIGHT past the SECOND number twice and stop the 3rd time.  Then LEFT past the THIRD number once ,stopping the second time.  Then RIGHT to retract the bolts where the dial will come to a complete stop(your 4th number).  To keep this simple, try that and if it doesn't work, repost your problem as there is another but less likely possibility on dialing your numbers.  Doug    

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QUESTION: well we have tried this several times and no luck, any other ideas... thank you for all your help...

Then here is another possibility to try.  4R-3L-2R-1L-1R.  You see this sequence has an extra step and you are starting out going right.  Plug your numbers in on the first 4 steps.  The extra last step is where the door bolts will pull back and the dial will come to a stop, which in this case would be a fifth number.  There are several assumptions that are going on here and one of them is that you have a currently correct set of numbers for your safe.  Another is exactly what safe you have.  I don't believe I have seen a Reliable with a "B" label on it.  Can you post a close up picture of the safe, dial and handle?  I say this because if what you have is a true 4 wheel lock (giving you a four number combination), then there are other possible sequences.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

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