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Antique Safes/Macneale & urban safe


Andy,  I have an old macneale & urban safe I assume.  I can read Macneale on an arch across the door and the back half of the arch has been tampered with by painting so I am assuming Urban.  It has an alphabet dial with 5 letters.  The bar owner that used it last gave the combination he says so I have to believe that it is correct.  I just can't figure out which way to start the dial and what it requires at the end.  It has set outside in the weather but the tumbler/dial feels fine to me.  If you need more information let me know and I would appreciate any information in this.



Yes I would like to see what you have.    MacNeale & Urban safes had all 26 letters on the dial, in order, so I'm not sure what you have that would have "an alphabet dial with 5 letters"????

Hopefully you are referring to the fact that your dial has 26 letters, and your combination has 5 letters.

Generally most of the M&U locks dialed up as:

4 times right to the first letter,
3 times left to the second letter,
2 times right to the third letter,
1 time left to the fourth letter,
1 time right until the dial stops.   (note:   this reference point may be your fifth letter.)

Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   Do not count the revolutions of the dial, only count EACH letter as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

Many of the combinations used on these safes were 4 letter words, usually ending in a "K", though this could be changed as well.   So words like BANK, BUCK, LIKE, HIKE, TANK, etc. were common combinations.   The fifth letter is NOT part of the combination, and is more than likely simply a reference point for where the dial should stop.

Hope this helps,  If not, I'll need to see what you have.   You can send photos to me at:  

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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

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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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