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Locksmithing/cole file cabinet/combination box


I have my grandfather's Cole steel file cabinet and combination box.  It is a three draw file cabinet that locks on the left side of the cabinet, I have no key, but draws are opened do you know if I will be able to find a replacement key?  On the right hand side of the cabinet
there is a door that locks and I have the key for that and inside on the top is a combination lock box I have the instructions to open it and it is unlike the ones I have seen you give on this site. These instructions came from the yellow card that came with the safe and maybe the card was white and has turned?  I remember sitting under my grandfathers desks in the early 60's (he died when I was 5 years old) and being curious about that file cabinet with the combination lock. This cabinet will always remind me of him and for that it is priceless. My mom just past away and now I have it, but can not get the combination to work.  I remember only my dad could open it, so mom and i would just lock the door, but I would like to be able to work the combination.  The instructions said,
Left 2 or more times stop at #,
Right  one complete turn to same # stop,
Right continue to next # stop
Left and stop at next #.
The combination door is opened, but I would love to be able to lock it.  It will not close completely because the bar inside the combination is sticking out a little like it should be when it is locked closed.  I can see the back of the lock and little holes that some times line up as I turn the combination and look like one bigger hole.  I dream of using it as I remember my grandfather doing over 50 years ago.  The combination says Cole steel, equipment company, N.Y. but the file cabinet draw lock has a # 20 marked on it there may be a broken piece of key inside of it.  there is also an engaged mark on top of this lock to file cabinet.
it my be s CS? it almost looks like bunny ears my vision is not that great, but think it is initials


the sequence you have is slightly off - unfortunately combinations do get passed along the way they are understood, and NOT necessarily the way they actually work.

You are correct that this lock does NOT follow the normal sequence, however the "BASIC" dialing instructions remain the same for ALL locks.

In this case the sequence would probably be:

3 times Left to the first number
2 times right to the second number
1 time left to stop at the third number (or the dial will stop at the third number).

Left is counter clockwise, and right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the rotations of the dial, count the INDIVIDUAL number as it arrives at the index mark.   Also once you have dialed a number forget it, it no longer matters.
So if your first number is 25, you would turn the dial counter clockwise (left) stopping the third time the number 25 arrives at the index mark.

As far as having keys made or a broken key extracted - any safe technician and most locksmiths should be able to take care of these items, however, if you need the combination lock checked out, I would recommend using a trained safe tech.

As long as the combination door is OPEN, the safe tech should be able to verify or recover the correct combination for the lock - so DO NOT close it, until you have verified its operation.

Good luck.


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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

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

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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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