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I have an old Detroit Safe with Yale combination lock.

1. Do you have any information on the Detroit Safe Company?
2. Can you provide model/year of YALE lock?
3. Would you know the sequence (ie, 4R, 3L, etc.) for combination?

As you can tell I do not have combination.
Any ideas would help.
Thank you for your assistance.


The Detroit Safe Company was in business from around 1865 until about 1919.   It was started by David Osgood Paige, John J. Bagley and Z.R. Brockway.   John J. Bagley was also governor of Michigan from 1873-1877.

During this period Yale made hundreds of different types of locks.   While some manufacturers basically used one style, others used many.

Without knowing more about your safe and the lock (hands on diagnostics required), all I can do is give you the basics.   This lock could easily be a three wheel or four wheel version however looking at the style of the safe in the photos that you have provided, I would be inclind to guess a three wheel.   the dialing sequence on most of the locks installed on Detroit safes I have seen 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 (should be around 80).

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 that 50 arrives at the index mark.

If you don't have a combination, you have two options, you can try all of the 1,000,000 possible combinations, or you can have a safe technician from a local safe company open it for you.
NOTE:  I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work as they generally do not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage or charging exhorbant rates.


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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 - 2014 - 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

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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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