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Antique Safes/Herring Hall Marvin Safe



I came across this safe and the client is asking that I change the combo for her, but I have not worked on a dial like this one before. I did not want to start taking it apart blindly and was wondering if you have any advise or direction you can help with.

Hi Richard,

My advice is that I never recommend a safe owner change the combination on a safe as a DIY project for the same reason that I never recommend using a locksmith.    Lack of training, knowledge and/or tools CAN (and usually does) result in a very expensive lockout.

That being said, I'm in no way being derogatory towards locksmiths - HOWEVER as Clint Eastwood said in Dirty Harry - "A man's GOT to know his limitations"!

Unfortunately the majority of the locksmiths in the US today simply don't get the necessary training to do the work.    I'm always very happy to try to help someone who realizes that they are at a loss in a particular area - after all we were ALL there at some point.

#1 - If you are going to be doing safe work as a regular part of your service, then get all of the training that you can - I think ALOA lists it as "Continuing Education".    You can get training through local and national locksmith and safe associations.

The following two organizations should be MUSTS on your list for organizations to join.    These should ALSO be your first stop for tech service (like this question),
Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)
National Safeman's Organization (NSO)

#2 - If you have an area that you may not be the greatest in, find a local company that does do this type of work and sub it out to them.    You get to bill and keep your customer, and it's like having a specialist on your work force, though you only have to pay them when you need them.  

#3 - In addition to training through associations, there are groups like Mark Bates & Associates and/or Lockmasters Security Institute which both provide really good safe training.   If you are going to do the work it really pays to get the training.

While years ago (decades really) there wasn't much difference between a locksmith and a safeman, today there is.   Safe work has become very specialized and if you want to do a good job AND be professional about it, you have to get the training.

Okay, while all of this really doesn't address your situation, it does address a problem.   Hopefully you are interested enough in safes to get the necessary training so that you don't have to go to a "public forum" to find answers.

As far as your lock and/or the safe its on, you really haven't provided me with any useful information concerning the lock and dial, so I will need to see what you have to be of any help.   Sorry, my wife broke my crystal ball about the same time she killed my money tree!

I'm going to need photos of the safe, with close ups of the dial, the lock and the wheel pack.    Once I see what you have I should be able to give you some help.

Send the requested photos directly to me at:

Note:   As you have indicated that this is for a customer of yours, I will need some form of ID to ensure that you are either a locksmith or safe technician.    Sorry but we don't give out info without some sort of verification.

Looking forward to your photos.

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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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