Antique Safes/safe


I work for an elderly guy whos owned a store for 50 years and has a cary safe from W.E Featherstone and his ex wife has the combination but has got alzimers and no one can figure out the combination the number on the handle is 188797. He has had a few people look at it but no one can crack it. How would we go about getting in it?


I'm not sure WHO you had look at it, but if they couldn't figure out how to open it WITH the combination available, then I probably wouldn't recommend calling them out for any work - EVER!

Based on the serial number that you have provided, the safe would have been made around 1925, and the lock that I would expect to find installed, would be a Yale M-16, three wheel lock.   The dialing sequence for this lock would be:

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 - turn handle to open.

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.

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

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

Based on the circumstances that you have described, if you have the combination and it won't open, then you probably aren't dialing it correctly.
If you are dialing it correctly (as above), then the numbers may not be correct.
I doubt that you have a mechanical problem.

If you still can't get it open using these instructions, then you will need a trained safe technician from a local safe company - NOT a locksmith.   They should be able to get it open, repaired and the combination recovered or reset.

Hope this helps,

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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

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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