You are here:

Locksmithing/John d brush early 80 safe


I have the combination to my fathers safe. He passed away. My mom knowing I had the combination asked me to open it so she can get his will out. I haven't done so in 25 years or so, I can't remember how to turn the dial. Witch way how many times I pass each number ect.  I looked this up on line and it seems the way some of the ways researched are very different then I remember. They seem more complicated than I remember. Can you please help. Thanks!

Hi Barry,

Basic history:

John D. Brush & Company, is the original manufacturer and parent corporation for Sentry Safes.   They began making cheap safes.    During the depression era years, John D. Brush, Sr. and his brother-in-law Willard Punnett, opened a small shop for the manufacture of safes in Rochester, NY.   The Brush-Punnett Company was an early pioneer in the "stamping" of steel safes.    In 1943 after purchasing is sister and brother-in-law's interest in the company, John D. Brush, Sr. became the sole owner of the firm.   It was his intent to pass the business on to his sons:  John Jr., Richard and Robert.     In 1955 the company changed its name to the John D. Brush & Company.    The company moved into its current location in 1968, and began doing business under the trade name "Sentry Group" to better identify the company with its trademark name safes "Sentry".

The dialing sequence for the fairly simple locks on these containers can be dialed either LRL or RLR, though each direction would have its own unique combination.   As you only have one of these, you can simply dial both sequences to test it out to see which actually works with your numbers.

the dialing sequence should be:

3 times Left to the first number,
2 times Right to the second number,
1 time Left to the third number - stop - turn handle to open.

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.    For instance if your first number is 25, then turn the dial counter clockwise (LEFT), stopping the third time the number 25 arrives at the mark.

If it still doesn't open, then change the directions from LRL to RLR and test your numbers again.    If it still doesn't work, then you may not have the correct numbers, or are remembering them out of sequence.

As you didn't provide your combination, I can't try to decode what you have or to see what dialing errors that you may be making.

If you can't get it open and/or the numbers are not correct, then you will need to obtain assistance from a local safe company - NOT a locksmith shop.     Have their safe technician check it out and/or open it for you.
Unfortunately cost to have it opened (if your numbers are not correct) may cost more than the container is worth, so make sure that you discuss your options with them, along with pricing so that you can make a decision concerning the work.

Hope this helps,


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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)

©2017 All rights reserved.