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Locksmithing/Wachovia Vault : 1970s - contest to open


Inside picture
Inside picture  

An old bank building (built in the 1970s by Wachovia in Durham NC) has recently been renovated to house a bunch of startup companies.

The renovation kept the original vault location - turning it into a lounge and keeping two of the original vault doors.

The landlord has issued a challenge to the first company to open one of the two doors.  The access panel on the *inside* of the door is available for inspection and manipulation.

The front/outside of the vault has a spin dial and two combinations.  I am assuming that no electricity is currently being supplied to the vault.  Is that necessary to open?  Assuming we can't get the vault wired - is there any other way to open it (other than drilling / etc).

I don't currently know the manufacturer of the door/lock, but will go back tomorrow and see if I can figure that out.

I do have pictures and will upload a picture of the inside mechanism for your inspection.

Once I get your email - I can send pictures of the outside as well.

I understand this is likely not yet enough information for you - but it's a start.  Other than manufacturer and additional pictures, let me know what else I can give you to help us solve the riddle!



Let me get this straight, both doors are OPEN???  and they are simply giving you the opportunity to see if you can figure out the combinations???

I would have to have more information concerning the doors to provide you with any possible information.   As the time lock movement in your photo is Diebold, I would have to assume that the door is a Diebold also, which would probably mean either a Diebold or Sargent & Greenleaf vault lock.    No electricity is necessary to operate these locks.

These were 4 wheel vault locks with the following dialing sequence:

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 number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.

Note:  These vault locks came in Group 1 - manipulation resistive locks, group 2 non manipulation resistive, and group 2m manipulation resistive locks.   So depending on what lock you actually have, you may simply be wasting your time.

If on the other hand, you simply decide to try dialing all of the combinations, a standard 4 wheel lock as the potential number of combinations as 100,000,000 which means testing 500 combos every day, would only take about 553 years to test them all.

Anyway good luck with it.    If you want to send me photos of the door, I'd be happy to look at it for you.  


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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

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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