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Antique Safes/reliable safe


dough I have the combination numbers for the safe but cannot open it the only thing I can see a problem with is the safe has a flowing handle it lays in the down position I don't know if this is the problem or if I messed up I have a 3 number combination starting # and ending # are the same ? can you please advise it also says to start with 0 then the 3#s tom

Tom, the handle should be straight down when dialing the combination.  The lock (tumbler wheels) itself is of the pin change type which means it is possible to have different numbers, depending on the the chosen direction of starting to the left or to the right.  The correct way is 4L-3R-2L-then Right until the handle is engaged and moved clockwise to retract the bolts. Since you just have 3 numbers I would guess you should dial it in this manner.  Each step in the dialing sequence deals with, or rather should deal with only its number when counting how many times you pass it and then stop.  In other words when dialing to your second number 3 times, you pass it twice , stopping the 3rd time.  You do not use the 1st number or for that matter "0" as a reference point when dialing your second number.  Same goes for dialing the 3rd number.  Pass it once, stopping the second time.  What this means is you don't have to start at "0".  You can but you don't have to.  3 times past your first number, stopping the 4th time you get to it.  Doug  

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Doug MacQueen


This unusual and highly innovative safe from the later 1800's is a Corliss. William, the much younger brother of George Corliss of steam engine fame, spent several years perfecting this design and it was first displayed at the 1876 Philadelphia U.S. Centennial Exhibition. I do extensive patent research helping me in the study of antique U.S. safes and safe locks. Repairs and part making for antique U.S. safes of the early to mid 1800's, both key and combination. Also the study of early round door chest designs up to and including cannonball safes of the early 1900's.


40 years in the lock and safe trade with a stint in bank service work. Openings, repairs and moving of safes of all types.

Charter member Safe and Vault Technicians Association SAVTA, National Safemans Association NSO, National Antique Safe Association NASA. No longer current.

SAVTA monthly magazine

CMS (Certified Master Safecracker- NSO) and CPS (Certified Professional Safe Technician - SAVTA)

Awards and Honors
2nd place national combination manipulation contest 1986 and now in 2016 1st place

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