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Locksmithing/resetting a combination lock.


I have an office cabinet with an internal safe. It is presently opened. It is a steelmaster safe. It has a model number of XAA-173 and also lists Art Steel company New York on the label. It was in the house when I purchased it and just sat in a corner of the shop for a few years. It is opened but I have no idea of the combination. Is it possible to reset the number or can it be recovered. I would like to store a few things in it if it becomes usable.


The answer is Yes to both questions - it can be recovered and/or reset.

Generally as the lock will have to be partially disassembled to either reset or recover the combination, I don't recommend this as a DIY project, for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.  Lack of training, knowledge and/or tools can easily result in a locked up safe, which could potentially be expensive to have opened.

I recommend contacting a local safe company to have their trained safe technician perform the service.

You can look at the back of the lock to see if it has a small observation window.   Some of the smaller locks used on Art Metal cabinets, had a small observation hole which would allow you to dial up the wheel gates to this position, and through observation, figure out what number was assigned to each wheel.  If the lock does not have this hole, then it will need to be disassembled - again, not recommended as a DIY project.
NOTE:  DO NOT close and lock the door, until you have tested this combination out several times so that you are familiar with the correct dialing procedure and know that the numbers you have collected ARE the correct ones.   If this combination does not work 100% of the times you test it out, then don't lock it up.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I know in your area.  


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 42 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. 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 Author of "The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes".

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

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 Expert 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 and Western Nevada)

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