Locksmithing/Victor Safe

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Question
QUESTION: I have an old Victor Safe.  It has been in the family for ever. I have just recently recieved the combo from my folks. I have tried, and tried to get it to open with the combo provided. It will not open. I'm sure it's the correct combo based on what my parents have on file for it. What do you recommend?

ANSWER: Matt,

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 when people pass combinations along, they pass the instructions on the way that THEY understand them, and NOT necessarily the way they actually work.   As you didn't include the instructions you received from your family, I can't look at it to see what errors you may be making.

The locks that Victor Safe & Lock Company (pre 1927) used were either made by them or for them based on their own design.   The later Victor Safe & Equipment (post 1927) used standard locks made by either Yale or S&G.

The basic dialing sequence for most of these locks (though there were a couple slight variations) was:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops - open safe.

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.

If you still can't get it, send me the dialing sequence that YOU have, exactly as written and I'll see what I can get out of it.

Hope this helps,


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

QUESTION: Terry, Thank you for your fast response to my first question. My combo matches your format with the exception of I have a number for the forth digit,and the dial will not "stop" and open. I have still had no luck to get this safe to open.  Any more suggestions?  
Thanks for your help!!

Matt

ANSWER: Matt,

The dialing sequence for the lock is such that the dial will come to a complete stop during the final turn.  generally the fourth "number" is simply a reference number for the operator, and isn't part of the combination.

Either you are making a dialing error with your combination, the combination is NOT correct, or the safe is not actually a Victor.   Many of the manufacturers sold safes which were made by other manufacturers and relabeled with their logo.   Sometimes this was done simply because a customer wanted a series of safes which the manufacture didn't supply.   It was simply better to provide them with a relabeled product than to send them to a competitor.

There are locks which you will dial all four numbers, stopping at the last number before turning the handle.   As you haven't provided me with any photos of the safe, I'm having to make educated guesses based on the limited info that you have provided, and the locks that are available for this manufacturer.

assuming that you will use the full four numbers, you MIGHT also try the following sequence with your combination.

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,   STOP   -    Turn handle to open safe.

If this still won't work, then you probably don't have the correct combination for your safe.

For me to offer any further assistance, I WILL need to see what you have.   Your other alternative would be to contact a local safe company to have them open your safe and recover the correct combination for your use.


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

victor safe
victor safe  
QUESTION: Terry, I am attaching a photo of the safe. There is a number on the dial, assuming it may be a serial number. 180378. I am still confident this is the correct combination as it has been in the same place for over 40 years. Maybe we have a machanical issue.? Have a look, see what you think.  Thanks again.

Matt

Answer
Matt,

Well the photo confirms that it is a Victor, and it also confirms that the dialing sequence IS:

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops - open safe.

When the dial comes to a stop, it has retracted the bolt work and the door will pull open.

The small cross bar on the dial is to assist in retracting the bolt work and pulling the door open.

These locks are extremely simply so there is very little that can go wrong with it.  

At a MINIMUM, the lever would engage, even if the bolt work doesn't retract.   The dial WOULD still come to a complete stop.

So - bottom line you have one of two problems - either YOU are not dialing it correctly or the numbers are NOT correct.

Ensure that you are counting correctly.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the INDIVIDUAL number as is arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.   So if your combo is 50-25-35, you would turn the dial counter clockwise (left) stopping the FOURTH time the number 50 arrives at the index.   Then turn it clockwise (right), stopping the THIRD time the number 25 arrives at the index.   Then turn it counter clockwise (left) stopping the SECOND time the number 35 arrives at the index,   Then turn it clockwise (right) until the dial stops.

If you are dialing it correctly and it still won't engage or open, then I have to assume that the combination is NOT correct.   If you still can't get it open, then its time to call in a pro to have it checked out.   Regardless of what the problem is at this time, you will need to have a safe technician check it out, to open, repair it and/or recover the combination.

Sorry, but that's about all I can do for you without getting hands on with the safe.   

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I know in your area.    NOTE:   I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   They generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on your safe without causing excessive damage or charging excessives fees.

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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)

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