Locksmithing/Yale safe


QUESTION: I have an old safe with a Yale 100 place combination. It was in the house that I purchased and open. I had taken the back plate off of the interior with the hope of finding out the combination. In the meantime my 2 year closed and locked the safe. Stamped into the handle are some numbers 6 and underneath it are 58991. I am not sure if this is a combination or a serial number. Any help would be nice.

ANSWER: Aaron,

Come on now - you can't possibly, actually believe that a manufacturer of safes would stamp the combination, for the safe, where any one could see it?????   If they did safes wouldn't actually be very safe, and just think about the liability issues that would face the manufacture for EVERY safe that was burglarized because of the combination was stamped onto the handle!!!

This is simply the serial number of the safe - nothing more nothing less.   Manufacturers ALSO never published serial number listings for obvious security and liability reasons.   The serial number is tied into a list that indicates how THAT particular safe was built, and WHAT combination was set on the safe when it left the factory.   Part of the reason for this, is that if YOU the consumer, like the product and wanted another exactly like it, the manufacturer could simply look up how your safe was built in his file or database, and make another one for you, identical to the first.

When manufacturers go out of business, these records are generally lost for ever.  So there is no way of contacting them to find out what the original combination might have been.   This basically leaves you with two options.   You can try all of the possible combinations for your lock, or you can have a safe technician from a local safe company open the safe for you.   NOTE:  I never recommend using locksmiths for safe work as they generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage.

You didn't indicate if you actually disassembled the lock or not - as this does make a difference.   Depending on how old your safe and/or lock is it may have a relocking device attached to the lock, or an internal relocking trigger.   Either one of these devices will securely lock your safe shut - even if you have the combination.   Similar to having a little man inside your safe welding it shut, these devices WILL require a safe tech's services to open the safe.

Sorry for the bad news, but I never recommend safe or lock disassebly as a DIY project for the same reason that I never recommend using locksmiths.

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

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: The thing that made me wonder is that I saw the disks in the lock mechanism and the 58 and the 99 fell into the cut outs. It was made by Syracuse safe Co. and is as far as I can tell identical to this safe down to the color and the outer artwork. http://images.cloud.worthpoint.com/wpimages/images/images1/1/0208/03/1_238fdc983 My zip code is 13367 and I would like to make the safe operational again if it is not overly expensive.

ANSWER: Aaron,

As far as comparing one safe to another - I don't do that or pay attention to safes which people think look like their safe, as usually they aren't the same.   If you would like me to verify what your safe actually is, AND verify the lock, I would be happy to, but I only deal with facts - in this case your safe, what it is, when it was made and the lock installed.

The Syracuse safes generally used a Yale OB style lock.   This was a fairly generic lock used by a lot of safe companies, so finding a replacement lock and/or wheel pack for your safe, should be relatively easy, though you will still have to contact a number of safe companies to see if anyone has one in their old parts drawers.

As far as the numbers on the handle matching any of the combination, this would NOT have come this way from the factory.   It may have been changed at some point by an owner or safe tech at some point to match the numbers on the handle.

In general, if you DO have a safe made by Syracuse Safe Company, then you won't have a relocking device or trigger to worry about,  all you will need to do is dial up the combination and the safe should open.

The dialing sequence for your safe should 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 - slowly - until the dial stops.   The gravity lever should have engaged the drive wheel and the bolt work can now be retracted.

NOTE:  if the handle has been turned towards the unlocked position, it may be exhibiting pressure on the gravity lever binding it, so that it will not release.   ENSURE that the handle is turned all the way to the locked (bolt work extended) position to ensure there is NO pressure on the lever.

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 12 o'clock index mark.

Hope this helps, if not, I would recommend that you have a safe tech check it out.   While some will be closer than others, I'm putting them down in the order that I would recommend.   Obviously if you can take the safe to them, it will save you money.   While the last company is much closer to you, to my knowledge he only has basic safe skills, so you would need to discuss and services with him before having him do the work.   The first two are advanced safe techs and should be able to help open and repair your safe.   As far as cost it could easily be in the $350-$500 range plus parts.   Obviously if the safe is open, repairing or replacing parts will be easier and probably cheaper.

LaBarge Safe & Lock          about 115 miles away
518-271-0783     Dave LaBarge
801 24th St
Watervliet, NY   12189

Mark's Professional Safe Opening    about 235 miles away
716-553-6168     Mark Swetland
441 Cherokee Dr.
Buffalo, NY 14225

Advanced Safe & Lock          about 36 miles away.
315-658-2368     Ron Smith       
34646 Carter St Rd.
La Fargeville, NY  13656

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Here is a picture of the safe itself. Thanks for all your help


Well you definitly have a Syracuse Safe, which confirms that the lock is probably the OB series Yale lock, using a gravity lever style blocking bar, and a three wheel lock.

All of the previous information should help you open the safe, if you have the combination, or give your safe technician the information he needs to get the safe opened and/or repaired.  


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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 AllExperts.com

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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