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Antique Safes/PPO Safe for Herrington, Hall, Marvin


I have a Herring, Hall, Marvin safe that operates fine - about 48' tall on wheels.  There is a smaller safe on top 14Hx16Wx16D. The dial has HHM and the smaller safe has mounting bolts holding it on top of the larger. I have old typed notes with two combinations. One combination works for the larger safe, but I can't get the second combination to work for the smaller safe. they both indicate the same dial instructions, 4R, 3L,, etc.  The set combination that I think should work is labeled "PPO" Safe.  Would "PPO" have some meaning verifying that the combination is in fact for the smaller safe? Any recommendations on opening the smaller safe?


I have no idea what PPO would stand for.   And as far as one safe being "bolted" to the top of the other one there isn't any reason to believe or guarantee that these are even from the same manufacturer.

In General, there are ONLY three reasons a safe lock will not work, in order - they are:

1.   Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors
2.   Incorrect combination, wrong numbers
3.   Mechanical problems.

Without knowing more about the two safes, I have to assume that they are NOT similar, which means that now we need to focus on the LOCKS that are installed.

As the dialing instructions that you are using are "4R, 3L, 2R, 1L", chances are the lock on this safe is a YALE.    While a few other locks also dialed with this sequence, the standard dialing sequence was reverse or:

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 - or to stop at "0".

Note:  Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

Assuming that the combinations you received ARE correct, YOU may be making some simple dialing errors.   just because you have dialed one correctly, does not mean that YOU aren't making an error with the second.   Simple errors would include counting the revolutions of the dial, as opposed to counting the actual number.   For instance if your first number is 50, you are NOT counting the revolutions, you are counting the number 50, as IT arrives at the index mark - in this case you would turn the dial clockwise (right) to 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives.

This can make a really big difference the way some numbers are picked   For instance if your combination was 50-60-70, after dialing clockwise to 50, you are NOT going to dial two complete revolutions to the number 60.   The first time it comes up is ONLY 10 numbers after you beginning turning left, which means that you only turn 110 numbers to reach it the second time.

Incorrectly counting revolutions or the individual number are the NUMBER ONE reason that safe locks don't open with the correct combination.

Try dialing it correctly, if it doesn't work, then try dialing LRLR vs RLRL.   If it still doesn't work, then it is very possible that you don't actually have the correct combination.

If you still can't get it open, then it is probably time to have it checked out by a trained, professional safe technician - NOT a locksmith.

Hope this helps,

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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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