You are here:

Locksmithing/halls safe combination change

Advertisement


Question
HELLO ANDY, I HAVE A OLDER PROBEBLY 1920s HALLS SAFE, I OWN A LOT OF SAFES BUT THE WHEEL PACK IN THIS ONE HAS ME A BIT STUMPED. I UNDERSTAND HAND CHANGE AND KEY CHANGE WHEEL PACKS AND HAVE SET MY OWN COMBO'S ON THOSE SAFES BUT AFTER TAKING THIS ONE APART IT LOOKS LIKE IT IS SET WITH FLAT HEAD SCREWS? MY QUESTION IS WHAT IS THE SYSTEM TO SETTING THEM? I THOUGHT AT FIRST THERE IS PEOBEBLY 10 HOLES AND YOU SCREW IN THE SCREWS TO THE HOLE THAT WOULD MATCH UP, FIRST HOLE BEING 10 THE NEXT BEING 20 AND SO ON BUT I THINK I COUNTED 13 HOLES IN EACH WHEEL? THANKS FOR YOUR TIME

Answer
Greg,

WARNING:   I NEVER recommend combination changing as a DIY project for the same reason that I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   Lack of training, knowledge and/or correct tools can result in a very expensive lock out.   Regardless of the training that you have had and/or the fact that you have changed combinations before - your statement that this lock has you stumped is an indication that you should probably have this work done by a trained safe technician (NOT a locksmith) from a local safe company.

That being said, I'm sure that you are going ahead with the work.   As a DIY project you assume all responsibility for doing it correctly, and/or knowing when to stop and call in a professional.   DO NOT close and lock the safe door until after you have successfully tested the combination, locking and unlocking the door several times.

This is called a "screw change" type lock.   Changing the position of each of the screws in each wheel will change the combination of the lock.  So the next question would be - What the heck did I change it to????

Generally on most of these locks made by this manufacturer, if you look at the back of the lock / curb assembly, you will notice a small rectangle hole.   Originally there was a key which was used to discover or recover the new combination.   As you dial the lock, as each wheel lines up with this hole, the key will drop into the gate of the wheel.   By observing the coresponding number on the dial, you can obtain the number assigned to THAT wheel.   Turn the dial the opposite direction until the key "plunges" into the gate of the next wheel, and so on and so on until you have the combination for the lock.

Note:   These locks can be dialed Right or Left for the starting wheel.   The lock WILL actually have two different combinations depending on the dialing sequence.   For instance if you have a three wheel lock (3 wheels and the drive wheel) the dialing sequence would be:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right to the fourth number (drive wheel) - stop and turn handle to open.

If you have a four wheel lock the dialing sequence would be:

5 times right to the first number,
4 times left to the second number,
3 times right to the third number,
2 times left to the fourth number,
1 time right to the fifth number (drive wheel) - stop and turn handle to 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.

You can dial the lock RLRLR or LRLRL as long as you obtain the correct numbers for the dialing sequence that you are using.

If you don't have a "square cut key to use as the combination recovery tool, you can simply dial the combination sequence, looking into the combination recovery hole with a flash light, as the wheel lines up, visually note the coresponding number on the dial for that wheel.   Using the correct dialing sequence above, recover the newly assigned number for each wheel.   Test your combination several times to ensure correct operation before closing and locking the door.

If you don't understand any of these instructions and/or operations, then you will need to have a trained safe technician perform the combination changing sequences and recovery.

Hope this helps,

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.