Locksmithing/can't open safe


hi, my husband and I just bought a safe. the people we bought it from had the combination, but we can't seem to get it to work. they said that they bought it from a man and they saw him open it. the safe does not have a name on it anywhere ( as far as I can see,) but I am sure it's an old one. any thought on what I might be doing wrong? please help.


I will either need to know what manufacturer safe you have (or more importantly the lock installed) to give you the correct dialing sequence.    If you don't know what you have, then I'll need to see photos of it.

Secondly I'll need to see the combination, written exactly as they gave it to you so that I can "decode" it and give you the correct instructions.

Generally people tend to write down instructions or combination dialing sequences the way that "THEY" understand them, and NOT necessarily the way the lock actually works.   The problem is exacerbated when it is passed along either incorrectly or with the interpretations of the OTHER previous owners.

There are ONLY three reasons that the safe lock won't open, in order they are:

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

Once I see your safe and dial (photos), and more importantly, the combination from the previous owners, hopefully we can decode it and make it operational.

"IF" the combination AND dialing sequence ARE correct, and the lock is difficult to operate or open, then you MAY have a mechanical or service issue.   You will need a safe technician from a local safe company to clean and service the lock (which would include resetting the combination).   This would ensure that it operates correctly every time.

If you need to send photos of the safe to me, its probably best to send them directly to me at:   andy@securitysafeusa.com    so that I can see what you have.

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

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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