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Locksmithing/Opening an Eastern Research and Engineering Wall Safe


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QUESTION: Dear Terry,

I recently moved into an apartment that has a wall safe in the master bedroom closet. It says on the dial that it was manufactured by the Eastern Research and Engineering Company and the serial number is 2567. I want to be able to manipulate or find someway to open it without damaging it since it would be nice to use myself. I even bought a stethoscope but am still having a hard time cracking it. I tried calling several local locksmiths but they all said they'd most likely need to destroy the safe in order to open it. Is there any advice you can give me so that I may salvage this safe?




The Eastern Research and Engineering Co., Boston, Ma, was acquired by the John D. Brush Company in 1958.   Eventually this door became there standard floor safe design for their "Sentry Safe" line.   Current manufacture is "Sentry Group", parent organization is still John D. Brush Company.

Fortunately, YOU should be able to open this safe yourself, which eliminates the use of untrained locksmiths, who have no better answer than to possibly destroy your safe.

As far as the stethoscope and your trying to manipulate it - forget it without proper training you are simply wasting your time - but feel free to keep working on it.

You simply need to dial "most" of the possible combinations for this simple lock, until you find the correct one (or at least one close enough to get it open.   The lock is a three wheel lock, with two combination wheels and a rear mounted drive wheel.   The dialing sequence is as follows:

3 times right to the first number,
2 times left to the second number,
1 time right until the dial stops.

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 individual index mark.

So first thing would be to set up a spread sheet.   As your dial probably has 100 numbers, this would give you approximately 10,000 possible combinations if you only try every other number this drops down to around 2500 combinations, one of which should be close enough to open it up.   worse case you have to try all of the 10,000 possibles.  

If you decide that you don't want to test all of the possible combinations, then you are back to plan "A" - but this time find a safe company, with a trained safe technician, as opposed to a "LOCKSMITH"!

Hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: Dear Terry,

I tried most of the combinations and still was not able to open the safe. However, I felt like I was doing one of two things wrong: 1. I didn't spin the dial enough times and/or 2. I spun the dial too fast on the last rotation. By three times right, do you mean spin past the desired number twice and then land on it a third time? Also, how much resistance should I expect on the last number if I dialed the first two numbers correctly? Can I spin at a steady pace and expect to hear and/or feel something? Or must I give a pull on each number I pass until it opens?




Never "spin or whirl" the dial, turn it smoothly.   As I indicated in the original posting, you are NOT going to count the "REVOLUTIONS" of the dial, you are ONLY interested in the INDIVIDUAL  number that you are currently working on.   For instance if your first number is 25, you will turn the dial clockwise (right), stopping on the number 25 the THIRD time it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark - or turn right to 25 once, 25 twice and stop on 25 the third time.

I wouldn't worry about resistance right now, as you may be dealing with a dirty lock with really old, hardened grease.   If the dial turns, this is the important part.    IF HOWEVER there are lock problems (mechanical issues), then even dialing the correct combination might not open the safe.    Mechanical problems will require the hands on service of a trained safe technician.

Don't worry about what you are feeling or hearing (this isn't like the movies),   Most of this "noise" is simply mechanical noise and has nothing to do with your combination.    If you have dialed the first two numbers correctly, and IF they line up correctly, then the lever will engage the drive wheel during the final revolutions, coming to a complete stop when the bolt work is retracted.

YOU will know when it unlocks - trust me!


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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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