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Antique Safes/manufacture date of old cary safe


I am a mechanical engineer that has taken up the practice safe lock manipulation as a hobby.  I purchased an old locked out Cary safe sight unseen the other day expecting to be working on a yale y-6/m16 friction fence and to my surprise, when I got my hands on the safe it became evident that the lock was a direct entry (Likely a Cary direct entry/straight tailpiece, screw change, 3-wheel??) would you agree?

I've never had the pleasure of manipulating this type of lock before and am excited to get at it.  the main question I have is do you know an approximate year of manufacture based on the serial stamped on the handle of 76046

Thanks in advance for your help!


ANSWER: Hi Jeff,

You know what they say about making assumptions!!!!    In this business, especially with manipulation, its ALL about identification, identification, identification!

Your Cary was manufactured around 1903 and the lock that I would expect to find on the safe would be a Cary C-5, straight tail piece lock, with three screw change combination wheels and a front mounted driver with 9 false gates, though the true gate should be around 35 or 85.
The Patent date on the dial should be Sept. 16th 1890.    While the Cary C-3 lock was fairly similar, it was a much earlier design, and used on earlier serial numbers.

Obviously if you have experience manipulating standard lever type locks, you will find that manipulating straight tail piece locks is NOT going to be the same as the drive wheel gate has straight sides and not the "V" shape you would look for, so indications on the dial are NOT going to change.

Ok, I've given you about as much information as I can.   This web site is a general forum and for obvious security and liability reasons we DO NOT give out any opening information other than to identify the safe and/or lock, and the proper dialing sequence for the lock which we believe to be on this safe.

Note:   There are actually TWO combinations which will open this safe, one when dialed RLRL and the other when dialed LRLR.   The only number that WON'T change between the two dialing sequences is the last number - or drive wheel number.

Hope this helps.    When you get it open, I would like to know what serial number is stamped on the back of the wheel curb.    I'm keeping track of all Cary serial numbers and lock numbers.


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

Cary C-5 serial #
Cary C-5 serial #  

Cary C-5 Wheels
Cary C-5 Wheels  
Well I was successful in manipulating the combination lock and getting the old Cary safe open.  We were correct, it was a Cary direct entry/straight tailpiece, screw change, 3-wheel combination lock.  The true gate ended up being at 28.  I went all out and added a machinists 0.001" increment dial indicator to my setup for this manipulation.  I think it really increased my reading accuracy and cut down on the time the manipulation took ( <3 hours of dial turning and charting).  Anyway, you asked for the serial number on the lock and it is shown in the attached pic.  if this helps you confirm the manufacture date of the safe please let me know.
Thanks again,

Great job Jeff,

Adding the dial indicator was a good idea.    If I remember right someone was using a very similar technique in the late 1800's with a device called a "Hall's Manipulator" which was basically a counter weighted device attached to the handle.   The counter weight was adjustable to give you a VERY consistent pressure on the lock, so that the measurements were easily indicated by a separate pointer.   Very similar to a dial indicator, just not as sophisticated.

Even for as basic as these locks were, its very impressive how much attention to detail the manufacturer put into the wheel pack, and how great they look after OVER 100 years.   Notice the false gates in the drive wheel which I warned you about - they probably didn't give you much problem though.

As far as the age, no I'm still at early 1900's around 1903.   By keeping track of both the lock serial numbers and the safe serial numbers, it helps me identify safes which might be missing one or the other.

Congratulations on saving another great old safe.  

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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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