Locksmithing/schwab safe


QUESTION: i recently was given my great grandfathers schwab safe and i can't get it open
i believe it's from the early 1900's
it has a sticker that reads
       safe        lock
    al 2-3429  .   portland
         hap     hanson
the hand written directions read left to a #
then go right and stop on the third pass
left to a #
then go right to a # and stop on the second pass
left to a #
but i can't get it to open
the dial has two marks on it one at twelve o'clock and another mark at about 10 o'clock
i would really appreciate your help
thank you

ANSWER: Chris,

There are only three reasons a safe lock won't open, in order they are:

1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, (operator errors)
2.  Incorrect combination, (wrong numbers)
3.  Mechanical problems.

Generally when combinations are passed along, they are usually written the way the owner understands them, and NOT necessarily the way the lock actually works.   As long as YOU continue to make the exact same errors the owner did, the lock should operate, if you don't, then it won't.  So lets start off with the correct dialing sequence - IF you have the correct combination it should work.

Turn Left stopping the FOURTH time the first number arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.
Turn Right stopping the third time the second number arrives at the index mark.
Turn Left stopping the second time the third number  arrives at the index mark.
Turn Right until the dial STOPS.   The lock should now be open.

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 this mark.    Or, 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, stopping on 50 the fourth time.

If the lock still won't open, try reversing the directions or RLRL vs LRLR.   many times people mistake their rights and lefts when dialing.   If it still won't open, you may not have the correct numbers.

If it still won't open, you may need to have it checked out by a safe technician from a local safe company, NOT a locksmith.

Hope this helps,

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: what is the secon mark on the lock housing for


Generally the second mark is a service index, used by the safe technician for service and changing the combination.   Because some locks are hand change type locks, even though the lock doesn't require the mark, many dials still have it as the dials & dial rings are interchangeable between the different types of locks.

As an operator or owner of the safe, you don't need or use this mark.   The 12 o'clock index mark is the only one you will use to open the lock.

Some locks have a back cover which is locked on.  On these locks there may be an additional mark, which the combination would be dialed to, in order to unlock and remove the back cover for servicing or combination changing.   While this isn't on the lock on your safe, someone else may read this and have a similar question concerning additional marks on their dial ring.

Hope this helps.


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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

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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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