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Antique Safes/Cracking a Louis F. Dow Safe


Louis F. Dow Safe
Louis F. Dow Safe  

Louis F. Dow Safe
Louis F. Dow Safe  
I wanted to reach out to you, Andy, with hopes that you would be able to help me.
I own a substantial vintage Louis F. Dow steel safe that was passed down to me and it has not been opened...I am looking to open it to see what is inside. What would be the best way to crack it open?
I'm not looking to preserve it, just gain access.
It has quite a bit of water damage (rust) to its exterior.
Any information would be extremely helpful!
Thank you!

Hi Elicia,

I'm not sure WHAT a "substantial vintage" would indicate.    Vintage only applies to the year of a wine harvest or bottling - not to old or antique safes.

Louis F. Dow was simply a reseller of safes and not a manufacturer, so I can't give you much info based on that info.

Looking at the photos of the safe, the handle and dial are both NOT original to the safe.   they have been changed out at some point.    Unfortunately the photos really don't give me much to go on.

As we have no way of knowing what you actually have at this point, and the photos don't help much, I can't even tell you what lock might be inside the safe.    I have no way of knowing if the lock was replaced along with the dial.

At this point you basically have two options - you can test dial all possible combinations, or you can contact a local safe company to have them open the safe for you.
Note:   WE DO NOT give out any opening instructions other than probably dialing sequences for the lock we would expect to be installed.    For obvious security and liability reasons, and as We have no way of knowing who you are and/or if you are even authorized to work on the safe we don't provide any other info.

I'm assuming that the lock installed is a three wheel lock, so the dialing sequence will either be LRLR or RLRL, as:

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

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 will turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.

If it still won't open, you may want to try dialing RLRL instead.

As testing every possible combination could take you literally years, I would recommend your contacting a local safe company to open the safe for you.   Check your local yellow pages under "safes & vaults" for local companies.   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.

Sorry I can't offer more help at this point.

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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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