You are here:

Antique Safes/No combination for old Diebold safe


Diebold Safe
Diebold Safe  

Diebold safe
Diebold safe  
I purchased a mid century ranch that has an old Diebold safe in the basement closet. The previous owner had no information about the safe. I would like to use it if I can somehow discover the combination. There is a label below the lock from the Safe Manufacturers National Association. That info is:
Z10      2188
Catalog # 1168
Group 3
The size is 23.5 X 17.5 X 20

Hi Randy,

the info that you sent me from the SMNA label is of little help.   SMNA was a testing agency similar to UL, but for safes only.   The "Group 3" classification only tells us that this is a burglary resistive chest, round door, with a body thickness of 1" minimum and a door thickness of 1-1/2", exclusive of the bolt work and locking mechanism.   The door is to be a Lug or bolt type.   Bolt work to be protected by drill resistive inserts or pins.   Outside body surface and door to be case hardened or of equivalent drill resistance.  

The door is a rotating, lug type door, mounted on a hinge mechanism.    After dialing the correct combination, the handle is used to rotate the door, and then pull it out of the opening in the body of the safe.

While these are obsolete doors, they are still considered very burglary resistant chests.   Parts are not available for these safes, doors or locks.

You basically have two options if the previous owner can't provide you with a working combination.    You can either test dial all possible combinations or you can contact a local safe company to have their safe technician open the safe, recover or reset the combination.

The lock on this safe will have a possible 1,000,000 test combinations.   Testing 500 each and every day will only take about 5.5 years to dial them all.   Hopefully you would find the correct combination long before you test them all, but this gives you some magnitude of the problem.

The dialing sequence for testing the combinations is:

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 the handle upward and open the door.

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.

If you decide to contact a local safe company discuss the opening and repairing options with them.   While manipulation is possible, it is not necessarily practical.   #1 - they may not have someone trained and proficient in this method, #2 - it definitely isn't like the movies, and #3 - sometimes locks simply won't "talk".   Which means if this is your preferred method, you will be paying for the service and NOT the results.   Drilling when done correctly should not damage or hurt the safe or the lock.   As parts are NOT readily available, any method which will damage or ruin the safe should be avoided.

As this is a burglary resistive chest and difficult to open, reasonable fees should be in the $600 to $850 range to open and repair it.   There may also be charges for mobile service and any repair parts.    If you can take the safe into the safe companies shop, they may be able to do the work a little cheaper than in the field.

Note:   I never recommend using locksmiths for safe work, as they generally don't have the training, knowledge and/or tools to work on safes without damaging them or charging excessive fees.    Discuss the costs with them BEFORE doing the work.   There should be no hidden charges and anyone that wants to use an hourly rate or a vague ball park fee should be avoided as it indicates to me that they possibly don't know what they are doing.    Any safe tech that knows his job should be able to be very straight forward with his options and fees.

If you have any questions, feel free to run them by me before having the work done.   If you don't have a local safe company (check your yellow pages under "safes & vaults"), then let me know your zip code and I'll see who I may know or recommend 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.