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Antique Safes/Reliable Safe & Lock Company


So I have recently found a safe in my grand parents garage luckily the front door was open; and we have a key to the second door. The dial part of the lock seems to only rotate from about 70 counter clockwise 1 full turn to 70 then back clockwise. It won't spin freely. Is there an easy way to figure out the combination or way to unjam or unlock the dial and handle or is it possible part of the lick assembly is frozen (locked up) or even possibly broken and needing fixin . Luckily the door is already open so we do have access to the screws on the back of the front door.

Any advice or help is appreciated!

Thank you

Hi Ronnie,

Obviously mechanical problems or issues require hands on diagnostics, solutions and repairs.

The Reliable Safe & Lock Company was in business from 1916 until around 1941.  It was acquired by Mosler in the early 1940's.

Reliable used a lock of their own, proprietary design, unlike any other lock.   The bolt work is part of the unlocking mechanism, and the handle engages only after the combination has been dialed.   The dial shouldn't be able to turn very much if and while the handle is engaged.

As far as if it is possibly damaged, broken or frozen, without seeing it, I can't answer that.   The only warning that I have is without knowing why it won't turn, forcing it can cause irreparable damage to a lock that has no replacement parts.

As you have mentioned - "Luckily the door is open"!    Removing the screws from the back cover will reveal the lock and bolt work mechanism.     As for whether or not you have the mechanical capability to disassemble the lock, handle and bolt work to determine if there are any problems, again I can't answer this, though generally I do not recommend lock disassembly as a DIY project for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work,  lack of training, lock knowledge and tools can result in a very expensive lock out.    DO NOT close and lock the door, until after you have verified and tested the lock and bolt work numerous times and have confirmed its reliable operation.

If you can't work on it or don't want to work on it, then I would recommend your having it checked out by a trained safe tech from a local safe company.   Check your local yellow pages under safes & vaults for a nearby company.    If you don't have one, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see if I know of anyone that I might recommend.

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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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