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Locksmithing/correct dialing sequence for a yale lock


Hi Andy,

I obtained a Ely Norris cannonball safe with dual Yale dial locks. It is 1915 or newer per a decal on the safe.

Inside the safe is a small Yale combination lock controlling a lightweight door (locked). The prior owner said he had the combination: 25-47-23 for the inside dial  lock. He did not have the dialing sequence.

The exterior upper lock has a 4 number combination 5L, 4R, 3L, 2R turn left to the pressure stops around 5 that retracts the pins.  

The safe has a Yale Y-361 time lock.

The lower exterior lock may have a three number combination per the seller.

The safe mechanism works with the upper exterior lock only and I does not seem to matter the position of the lower combination dial. The lower lock may have been inactivated.

I am asking for the correct dialing sequence for the interior lock.

What do I need to do to verify the lower exterior dial has been disabled?

Thank you again, Randy


A couple items - Ely-Norris was acquired by the York Safe & Lock Company in 1912, though production of these safes continued until about 1920.   The Decal on the door represents York's EXHIBIT at the 1915 "Panama Pacific International Exhibition", held in San Francisco between Feb. 1915 to Dec. 1915.   This award was presented for the EXHIBIT, and NOT any individual safe, it is also NOT a manufacturing date.   All York safes for the next several years had this decal.

What the decal does indicate is that for your safe to have the decal, it would have been made AFTER the exposition was closed, or 1916 to 1920.

The lock on the outer door is a Yale model 101-1/2, dual combination lock, with 4 wheels.

The lock on the interior door could be one of a number of different locks, however the dialing sequence will be one of two - try both of them.  It will either be LRLR or RLRL.

4 times left to the first number, 25
3 times right to the second number, 47
2 times left to the third number, 23
1 time right until the dial stops.

If this doesn't work, then reverse order - or RLRL instead of LRLR.

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.

The combination lock on the outer door could be set up two ways, either as a dual custody lock or as a redundant lock.   In dual custody, BOTH combinations would need to be dialed to open the safe.   As a redundant set up, EITHER combination would open the safe.  If the lower dial doesn't do anything, then it may have had something done to it.
You will need to have a safe technician who is familiar with this safe and this lock inspect it to see what the problem is.   There in lies the problem - there are very few safe technicians who have ever worked on this type of lock so you may not have someone in your area who is proficient with this safe or lock.

Before having anyone work on it, I would recommend that you discuss the lock with them.   You will want a safe technician that is very confident in his ability to work on this lock.

This will require some disassembly work of the safe and lock, while you can look at it yourself, unless you are very mechanically inclined I would not recommend this.

I do think that you do need to have the 101-1/2 lock checked out, because if you have a problem with the upper dial, you may not get the safe open, resulting in a really expensive lockout.   Hopefully all the pieces and parts to the lower part of the lock are still there, and you simply don't have it's combination.

If you don't have a local safe company (I never recommend using locksmiths for safe work), then let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I know in your area.

Hope this helps,


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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.

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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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