Locksmithing/Cary safe


Cary safe
Cary safe  
QUESTION: I have a Cary safe that was originally owned by my great grandparents.  I have the combination but am unable to open the safe.  Do these safes typically have 4 or 5 numbers in the combination?  Also, what number do you start on; zero or the first number of the combination?


Between 1878 to 1929, Cary used numerous locks, some with different dialing sequences, some with more wheels than others, etc. etc.

In order to answer your question, I'm going to need more info to answer your question, identify the lock, and provide you with a dialing sequence.

Also, it would help if you provided your great grandparents combination, so that I can "decode" it for you.    many times combinations are written down the way the previous owners "UNDERSTAND THEM", and NOT the way the lock actually works.

So, I'll need the serial number of the safe, which should be on the ball of the handle, and the combination as written by your great grandparents.

I'll see what I can do to help you out.

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QUESTION: Thank you Andy!  

The serial # is 127643

The combination that I have as written by my grandmother is:
10-R- 4 times
30-L- 3 times
70-R- 2 times
0 back to 95
Turn left- I assume this means the handle?



Based on the serial number that you provided, I would expect to find a Yale Y-6 series lock.   This was a four wheel lock, and the dialing sequence should 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 until the dial stops (should be around 90).

Note:   Left is counter clockwise, Right is clockwise.   DO NOT count the revolutions of the dial, count the individual numbers as they arrive at the 12 o'clock index mark.

Note:   Combinations TEND to be written down or passed along the way that they are understood, and NOT necessarily the way that they actually work.   In the case of the combination that your grandmother provided, it appears that she was dialing "backwards", hence the command to "turn to 0 then back to 95.  Also the first two wheels of the lock MAY be set on the same number, if that is the case, then the dialing sequence for your lock would be as follows:

5 times Left to the first number (10)
3 times Right to the second number, (30)
2 times Left to the third number, (70)
1 time Right until the dial stops (should be around 90)

You can try dialing the combination the way your grandmother has it written, as long as you understand that THIS IS NOT the way that this lock operates.   Again,

5 times right to the first number (10)
3 times left to the second number (30)
2 times right to the third number (70)
1 time left to (between 0-10), then right until the dial stops (should be around 90).

If it still won't open, then try oscillating the dial back and forth between 0-10 before turning right to 90.

Note:   It doesn't matter where the dial stops (between 90-95), as this is just a reference point and NOT part of the actual combination.   Bottom line if the combination is correct, AND correctly dialed, the dial WILL stop when the lock has unlocked.

AFTER the dial has come to a full and complete stop, THEN you can turn the handle to open the safe.
Note:   If there is handle or bolt pressure on the lock, it WILL keep the blocking bar in the lock from dropping.   Make sure that the handle on the door is free to wiggle "slightly", before testing your combination.

If it still won't open, then you may not have the correct combination, it may be time to have a trained safe technician work on the safe.

Hope this helps,

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Inside panel
Inside panel  
QUESTION: Hello Andy,

I was able to open the safe, do you do appraisals?

Hi Mike,

I would be happy to look at your safe to evaluate or appraise it for you.

In order to answer specific questions, identify, evaluate or appraise your safe, I'm going to need photos.  They should include full exterior and interior.  Detail photos should include pictures of the dial, handles, hinges, artwork, locks, bolt work, castors, cabinetry and any special details or damage.  Note:  You may have to remove the back panel on the door to gain access to the lock & bolt work – I will need these pics.
If you have a particular detail that you have a question about, I will need a photo of it along with your question.

I will also need to see any documentation that you have in regards to your safe.  If your safe has a unique historical perspective, you should be able to document this with letters, newspaper articles or photos, if not it is simply a story and will have no bearing on the value of your safe.

Please use as high a resolution as possible so that I can examine details of your safe.  Pictures which are low resolution, out of focus, or from a distance don’t help when we try to evaluate the container.  Note:  with higher resolution, you may only be able to send 2-4 pictures per email, depending on the size of the file, I have a 12mb limit per email.  If photos are larger than 2mb each, you may only be able to send 2 or 3 photos per email, requiring several emails.

Please don’t send me “cell phone” photos.   Also, please don’t use online, internet photo drops as most of these also don’t allow me to easily access the photos for examination.   Send the pics directly to me, while this may be more work for you, it will make my job easier.

Please send all of the requested photos to:  andy@securitysafeusa.com

Note:  As I am in the field several days each week, covering a huge service area, I may not get back to your photos immediately, but I will respond as soon as I get an opportunity.  Due to field work, emails may tend to get backed up which means I may not answer them immediately.

Our informal evaluation is at no charge, however if you feel you need a formal evaluation or appraisal for insurance, estate sales, donations for tax write offs, or to establish it as an antique, there is an administrative fee for this service.  


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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 AllExperts.com

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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