You are here:

Antique Safes/Hall's Safe needs opened


QUESTION: Just purchased a Hall's Safe Co. safe and the door is shut and locked. Owner kept combination numbers in the safe and now can't remember the numbers.
Serial number is 45122.
Is there a way to get the combination to this safe based on the serial number?  If not what are the steps I need to take to get the safe open?  I really don't want to destroy the dial to get into the safe.
Thanks for your help.

ANSWER: Hi Larry,

If you can locate a time machine (or Delorean), you MIGHT be able to go back in time to contact the factory!   If not then your options are rather limited.

1.  Manufacturers NEVER published any listings of original combinations set on safes, for obvious security and liability reasons.
2.  There is no such thing as "factory try-out combinations or default combinations", except in the movies and on You-Tube!
3.  Once a manufacturer goes out of business, the records are usually gone forever as well.  So the serial number isn't of any use.   Sorry.

SO!   What are your options???

1.  You can test ALL of the possible combinations for the lock that is on your safe.   In general, a three wheel lock would give you about 1,000,000 test combinations, with a 100 number dial.
Testing EVERY combination, could take you about 5.5 years, so it could be a family project - kind of like a 1 million piece puzzle!

2.  Contact a trained safe technician (NOT a locksmith) from a local safe company, to have the safe opened.  If done by a trained safe tech, the dial and lock should NOT be destroyed, and the safe would be completely intact.    While manipulation is possible, you may not have a trained safe tech in your area, and sometimes it simply doesn't work.   With time constraints, etc. you may be paying for the service and NOT the results.
Drilling when done correctly should NOT ruin or damage the safe.   As parts are not readily available, any damage should NOT be an option.   The single, very small hole - usually less than 1/4" or smaller, can easily be repaired.

Check your local yellow pages under "safes & Vaults" for a local company.   If you don't have one, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know in your area, that I might recommend.

Hope this helps.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you Terry for your answer. We are trying to find a safe company in our area.   
Would this safe typically have a three or four or ??  number combination?
Would the opening begin with three,four etc. times to the ????

If we could come up with numbers what would be he typical opening sequence.
The dial has 130 numbers on it.

Thanks again.

Hi Larry,

As you haven't provided me with any useful information - like photos of the safe, I can't answer that - specifically, All I can do is generalize.    The lock installed on the safe and the number of wheels WILL depend on the type.   For instance a general purpose fire safe may only have three wheels - which would be a four number combination.    On a top of the line bankers or jewelers chest, it may have had five wheels - which would be a six number combination.

With a 130 number dial, this would give you the possibility of 2,197,000 potential test combinations on a three wheel lock and a staggering 370,000,000,000 (yes that would be 370 trillion) possible test combinations on a five wheel lock.

Obviously the dialing sequence WILL depend on the lock installed on the safe AND the number of wheels installed.

Sorry, I know you were looking for a simple answer - but if they were simple AND easy they probably wouldn't be called "SAFES"!

The "standard" lock on most of the "standard" safes, was a three wheel, straight tailpiece type lock.   This lock can be dialed BOTH LRLR and RLRL, though each would have a different combination due to the type of wheels.

The dialing sequence would be as follows:

4 times Left to the first number,
3 times Right to the second number,
2 times Left to the third number,
1 time Right to the last number - stop - turn the handle to open

The straight tailpiece type lock is fairly easy to discern - simply turn the handle, and if the dial binds up, then you have this lock.

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.    For instance if your first number is 50, you would turn the dial counter clockwise (left) stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.    OR,  Left to 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, stopping on 50 the fourth time.

If your combination doesn't work with this dialing sequence, then reverse the directions - or RLRL instead of LRLR.

As locks, dials and other parts are NOT going to be available, you need a safe technician that can open your safe as damage free as possible.   While manipulation is possible, you may not have someone in your area trained in it, and/or on this type of safe.    Drilling when done CORRECTLY will not damage the safe or the lock, and the usually small hole (less than 1/4" can easily be repaired.

If you don't have a local company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see if I know anyone in your area.

Hope this helps,  

Antique Safes

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]