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Antique Safes/Help with opening safe


I have a safe with a patent date of Oct.2, !888 that was stored in a place that got very wet at times. Although covered, it has become rusty. The sequence is 7 times right, 3 times left, 2 times right, left to stop, and right to open. I attempted to open it yesterday. After reaching the stop position, it would not turn right to open. I am afraid that I may have messed up as I used what may have been too much force to open it. I was told by a local locksmith to spray WD-40 all around the dial, door, and hinges which I have done. I was also told told to hit it all around the door, dial, and hinges with a non-marring deadblow hammer to loosen any rust which I have done. It currently will not stop at the stop position and therefore will not open. Where do I go from here? I can only hope that there is a solution as this is one of the few thing my mother left me.
Also, is this a Victor safe?

Hi Winston,

Chances are your safe is from the Victor Safe and Lock Company, Cincinnati, OH.

Your dialing sequence is NOT 7 times right, 3 times left, etc. etc.    I'm not sure where you got the dialing instructions for your container but they are NOT correct.    Many times combination dialing instructions are passed along they way they are understood and NOT necessarily the way the lock actually works.

One of the reasons that I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for any type of safe work is their lack of training and knowledge, exhibited by your local locksmith telling you to spray WD-40 on the safe.    He obviously has no clue what WD-40 should be used for.    While it is a type of penetrating oil, it is NOT a lubricant, and should NEVER be used for this purpose.

You wouldn't take your car to a mechanic who would indicate that he could change your oil but will ruin the engine doing so, so I'm not sure why you would talk to an incompetent locksmith who would tell you to use WD-40 and beat on the safe.     The lock not operating correctly has nothing to do with any of the items that the locksmith told you to beat up.

There are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock will not open, in order they are:

1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors  (which we know that you are doing)
2.  Incorrect combination, wrong numbers,
3.  Mechanical problems,  (good possibility you have problems with the safe).

THE CORRECT DIALING SEQUENCE for the lock that I would expect to find on this safe is as follows:

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 and you can pull the door open.    (I'm assuming that the door doesn't have a separate handle operating the bolt work).

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.

Note 2:   As you have been dialing it backwards, the combination (numbers) MAY NOT be correct for dialing it as above.    If someone obtained numbers dialing it backwards, then you MUST continue to use these numbers and dialing sequence to get it open.

Once the safe is opened, you need to have it professionally serviced - NOT by your locksmith - by a safe technician from a local safe company, AND more importantly, have the combination recovered for the CORRECT dialing sequence, so that it will operate correctly.

check your local yellow pages under safes & vaults for a local safe company - WARNING, many locksmiths advertise as safe companies, so it will be up to you to ensure that you are getting someone who is qualified to work on your antique safe!!!!

If you can't find a local company, let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I might know in your area.    If you are trying to save money by using a locksmith, I would recommend your loading the safe up and driving it to a professional safe company before letting the locksmith work on it!!!    Seriously!

Hope this helps,

Antique Safes

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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

Past/Present Clients
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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