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Antique Safes/ACME SAFE


QUESTION: I just was given a very large Acme safe that is open but I don't have the combo, I've taken the panel off & the cover of the lock but don't want to go any further until I have some idea on what to do. The serial # is 14176. Thanks Pete

ANSWER: Hi Peter,

Sorry, but ACME Safe is not the manufacturer.    They are a reseller or sales agent for the manufacturers.   As they have been in business since about 1905, they have pretty much sold everything available at one time or another.   The label on your safe is simply for advertising purposes or to call them for service.

As far as recovering the combo or resetting the lock, this is a fairly simple procedure for a trained safe tech.    Note:   I never recommend lock disassembly as a DIY project for the same reason I generally don't recommend using locksmiths.   Lack of training, knowledge and tools can result in a very expensive lockout.

While I do appreciate your wanting to do this yourself, basic safe lock training takes about a week under the best circumstances and it has a pre-requisite that you have locksmith training.    So at this point, the best recommendation I've got for you is to simply contact a local safe company to have them recover or reset the combination for you.

They should also check or inspect the lock and bolt work to ensure proper operation so you don't have any problems.

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

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QUESTION: Here are a couple of pictures, hopefully you can identify the make of the safe. Thanks again, Pete

Hi Peter,

can't ID it from the two photos I'll need more - but I do have a couple ideas.   Based on the photos my first guess is going to be a Barnes Safe & Lock Company, Pittsburg, PA - early 1900's.    Note:   the Pittsburg without the "h".    It was spelled this way from the mid 1870's until about 1911 when the name was officially changed back to Pittsburgh, though many companies used it without the "h" until around 1917 (possibly later).

As far as recovering the combo, pull the lever and rotary bolt assembly out of the lock, mark the position where the lever "fence" crosses over the wheel pack.   Then you can dial up each wheel, using the following dialing sequence, and note the correct number for each wheel when its gate is centered over your mark.

The dialing sequence for your lock (three wheel lock) would be:

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 - the lever should have engaged the drive wheel and retracted (rotated) the bolt up and out of the way.

Reinstall the lever and test your combination.    Left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.    If you can't get it to work correctly, then you probably need to have a safe tech check it out and recover or reset the combination for you.

Hope this helps.

If you would like me to try to narrow down the maker better, I'll need much better photos.

In order to answer questions, identify, evaluate or appraise the “current condition” of your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos (close-ups) should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, cabinetry and any special details or damage.  Note:  You may have to remove the back panel on the door to gain access to the lock & bolt work – I will need these pics.

If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.

I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe.  If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe.  Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance don’t help when we try to evaluate the container.  Note:  with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 12mb limit per email.  If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.

Please use a “jpeg” format, not a bitmap (bmp) image.   Also, I don’t like “website” photo dumps.   While it may be an easy place for you to store them, retrieving photos which allow me to zoom in to look at details, takes a lot of extra time.   Please send the requested photos directly to me.

Please send all of the requested photos to:

Note:  As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity.  Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.

Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.  

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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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