Locksmithing/test combinations

Advertisement


Question
Hi Andy,
I am still doing research on my safe and came across your response to this question.  I have read that Diebold had test combinations and that owners frequently did not change those original factory combinations.  If this is true, are those factory combinations available?
Thanks,
B

Answer
Brenda,

I'm not sure where you "read" that Diebold had "Test combinations", but this simply isn't true.   The standard 3 wheel locks that Diebold has used on most of their safes, has the potential of 1,000,000 possible combinations.   The four wheel locks have 100,000,000 possible combinations available.    This means that at a minimum, Diebold could possibly make 1,000,000 safes without using the same combination twice.

Safes leaving the factory are either set on a "neutral" combination, which would be changed to a customer's requested combination at the time of sale.   Safes which are set at the factory, are all set on individual, UNIQUE combinations.

Generally if the safe leaves the factory on a "set" combination, it would be referenced through their records by the serial number assigned to the safe.   Trying to get Diebold to do a record search is extremely difficult - to say the least.

If the factory used a "standard series", or factory combinations, and "IF" that list ever got out of the factory, Diebold would be liable for every safe they ever sold.    This myth concerning "factory combinations" has been going around for over 100 years, and unfortunately many locksmiths are the worst ones for keeping it going.     In the 1930's and 40's groups of locksmiths were actively keeping track of combinations, in order to try to find the "magical combination" or factory settings, so that they could open the majority of locked up safes that came their way, without having to work.    While they came up with "THEIR" versions of some try out combinations, I have yet to find one that actually works.

So, bottom line, you can try to contact Diebold, with the serial number of your safe, to see if they have any records listed, or you can contact a safe technician (NOT a locksmith) at a local safe company to open your safe and either recover or reset the combination for you.

Again as mentioned, Diebold is EXTREMELY reluctant to provide any assistance, and if they are, you will need the serial number of your safe, AND proof of ownership.   Chances are they will simply tell you to contact a local safe company.

Even factories that do keep records of combinations that were set on safes, when they left the factory will indicate that the records will ONLY reflect the combination that the safe left the factory set on.   If it has EVER been changed, they will not have a record of it.

If it were really that easy, safes wouldn't be very safe.

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 that I would recommend.

Sorry I can't be of more help.

Locksmithing

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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".

Organizations
SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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)

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.