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Locksmithing/Cary Safe Combinations


QUESTION: I have a very old Cary Safe. I haven't opened it by the combination in years because it became difficult to open. We started leaving it open so we didn't have to use the combination. My son inadvertently turn the tumbler a few days ago and locked it. I have tried to no avail to open it for several days. I thought I remembered the combination, but apparently I don't. Is there anyway to figure out the combination if I have one, two, or maybe even three of the numbers?

ANSWER: Kendra,

Hopefully you have punished your son severely, restricting his cup cake and ice cream for a minimum of one week.

What I will need, to provide you with a dialing sequence, would be the serial number of your safe - should be stamped into the ball of the handle (or photos if you don't have the serial number), and the numbers that you have.

As Cary used several different types of locks, the dialing sequence WILL depend on which lock that you actually have.

Send me the info, and I'll see what I can do for you.

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

QUESTION: Haha, my son is 19 and headed to Belize on a Mission Trip. Bless his heart, he feels terrible for locking the safe. He had to retrieve his Birth Certificate to get a passport. Anyway, the serial number is: 158626, and the combination is 10,26,48,90, or so I thought. I'm certain the first number is 10 and the last one is 90. I can visualize myself turning to those particular numbers way back in the day.

ANSWER: Kendra,

Darn, its hard to punish them when they get that old.   My daughter simply tells me she is going to punish me by not moving out!

The lock that should be on your safe would be the Yale Y6.   The dialing sequence for this lock is:

5 times right to the first number, 10
4 times left to the second number, 26
3 times right to the third number, 48
2 times left to the fourth number, 90
1 time right until the dial stops.

If the lock is an Yale M-16, then the dialing sequence would be:

4 times left to the first number 10,
3 times right to the second number, 26
2 times left to the third number, 48
1 time right until the dial stops  (possibly 90)

based on the serial number it should be the first sequence above.

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.

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

QUESTION: Dang! No luck. I must not have all 4 numbers correct. Gonna have to call The Pink Panther in on this one.


There are only three reasons that 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 people swear to God that they have the correct combo and are dialing it correctly so it MUST be the locks fault.   There must be a mechanical problem.    Usually when we get the safe open, it is because of #1 or #2!   The lock on your safe has very little that can go wrong with it.

So, chances are if you are dialing it correctly, then the numbers are probably wrong.

Other than trying the possibly 100,000,000 (yes that is 100 million) possible combinations, (which if you dialed 500 per day, would only take about 548 years), your choices are limited to having a safe technician from a local safe company open the safe and recover the combination for you.

NOTE:   I never recommend using a locksmith for safe work as they generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes, especially antique safes, without causing excessive damage.   Contact a local safe company to have them schedule up an appointment to work on your safe.    if you have any questions concerning fees or their open and repair plans, feel free to run them by me first before having them do the work.


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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

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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