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Locksmithing/Unlocking a Chubb combination safe


Lock Dial
Lock Dial  
Lock mechanism
Lock mechanism  

There is an old Chubb combination safe in our under-stairs cupboard, which we'd like to be able to use.  Thankfully, it's open and I can get the back off the mechanism to look at it.  There is also 6 digit number on the back of the door L XXXXXX.  I was assuming this meant L, then three pairs of numbers (4 times to the first pair left, three times to the second pair right etc.), but it doesn't work.  The looking at the mechanism, it has 6 "rings" - does this mean it might be 6 single numbers - sounds unlikely but haven't tried that yet - just thought of it.

Any ideas what I should be looking for to try and see the right combination, since the door is open and mechanism is visible.


pete S

ANSWER: Peter,

I'm not sure what the number is.   If it was written down by a previous owner, it may be the combination, if it is printed, on a lable or stamped onto a metal tag, then it has nothing to do with the combination.

There are three wheels inside of the lock, NOT 6 rings.   Each set of two rings is a wheel.   There will be three numbers for your lock, NOT 6 individual numbers or even a pair of numbers.   The number 46 for example is NOT a pair of numbers, it is a single number (Forty Six).   The fact that it is made up of two digits means nothing - it is still a single number.

The dialing sequence for your lock is:

4 times left to the first number (wheel closest to the bottom of the wheel pack)
3 times right to the second number, (center wheel)
2 times left to the third number, (top wheel next to the drive wheel)
1 time right until the dial stops (cam has engaged the lever assembly).

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.

You will have to figure your combination out by observation, using the above dialing sequence.   If you still can't figure it out, then you will need to have a locksmith or safe technician check it out and either recover the combination, or reset it for you.

Hope this helps.

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

QUESTION: Many thanks Andy - I thought it would be 3 pairs rather than 6, but good to know.  The number is written down, so I had assumed it's the combo, but doesn't seem to work.  Just to check, when looking at the wheels, I'd turn the number past the index mark 3 times, and then stop it on the index mark on the 4th time?  And, if it's the right number, what do I expect to see the wheels do differently at this point?


pete S


All of the dialing instructions are looking at the dial.  If you are looking at the wheel pack (lock), it would be reversed.   Don't confuse yourself by trying to transpose the lefts and rights.   Simply turn the dial as in my instructions while observing the wheel pack.   When the wheel gate (notch), lines up under the fence (bar sticking out of the lever, accross the wheels), then note the number on the dial that is lined up with the index mark.

The wheel that is furthest, in the lock, is the first number of your combination; the wheel that is closest to you, next to the drive wheel, is the third number; and obviously the middle wheel would be the second number.

It may be difficult to see the first wheel, but I didn't say it would be easy.

You can also line the wheels up in the open area by the upper right mounting screw, using the edge of the lever stop as an alignment guide.   This might be easier to see,  After obtaining a "trial combination" at this point, you would need to subtract from each number to move the wheels back under the lever fence.   If you have lined the edge of the gate with the lever stop, you will be subtracting about 10 numbers from each of the numbers you observed.

NOTE:  As I'm not their to show you or give you a drawing of what my intent is, your interpretation of these instructions may vary the results, so you will have to determine WHAT the appropriate correction would be.

Again, if you can't get it to work, or don't understand the instructions, then I recommend that you contact a local safe company to have them recover or reset the combination.


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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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