Locksmithing/HHM 60NH



Hello Andy, Since more than ten years my wife and I own a house with a wall safe in the basement. Locked, of course.

Whatís in doesnít really bugs us. We cannot imagine that previous owner left leaving values in (or renters because house was rent for five years before we bought). But we are tired to heard friends and family asking if we finally open it. That safe is now known as a mythic mystery legend.

Before we ask to a locksmith to drill it, we are trying to find info about the model. Based on the wheel, it is a Herring-Hall & Marvin Safe Co with a Sargent & Greenleaf mechanism.
Thereís a plate off the SMNA on it (Safe Manufacturing national Association) with the following info. Spec:B1, SMNA Group: 6, (Serial no we guess):10Y14790, Cat.No: 60NH.
And the following on the handle : 235 785 (well, we think the second not is "3").

Unfortunately we havenít found any particular info on that specific model on the web. No pictures, nothing about HHM wall safe.

Even surprising, considering your writings, HHM was bought by Diebold in the late 40ís, which discontinued the HHM label in 1959. Bizarre, because our house were built fifteen years later. In 1974. Any info on that safe ?

Regards, Martin

Hi Martin,

While it has the HHM label on it, these doors were also manufactured under Diebold's logo.

Basic History, around 1959 during bankruptcy proceedings, Diebold acquired HHM.   About a year later the Federal Government started anti-trust proceedings against Diebold, as they were acquiring too many of the larger safe companies.   As a result Diebold was forced to close both the York Safe & Lock facilities (which they acquired in 1945) and HHM.   All manufacturing at these facilities was pretty much ceased by 1962 with the factories being completely stripped by 1964.

Basically I have no doubt that your safe was built at the HHM facility in Hamilton, Oh, however it may have been sold as a used container at some point AFTER your house was built in 1974.    Many of these older safes are still available for purchase today, so having it installed in a house which wasn't built until YEARS after the manufacturer of the safe was closed down is in fact quite normal and not bizarre at all.

As far as a "model",   Sorry, but these were simply listed as HHM's "Single Bolt, Lug Door".   any other listing would have been based on the body size of the container, and not the door itself.    The model of the actual safe really doesn't matter as these are all obsolete models and it has no bearing on the door itself.

The standard locks used on this type door were S&G's 6720 series, three wheel, GR2 locks, with an attached bolt extension and possibly an external relocking device.    The Diebold versions would have had a Diebold 177 series lock.
Also the S&G locks were not mounted true right hand on these doors, they actually locked into the frame lugs around 8 o'clock or 10 o'clock rather than the 9 or 3 o'clock normal position.

The SMNA group 6 burglary resistive safes were equivalent to a current "C" rating as these were not the higher E rated models (TL-15 equivalent).   

The dialing sequence for the lock is as follows, and presents about 1,000,000 possible combinations.

4 times left to the first number,
3 times right to the second number,
2 times left to the third number,
1 time right until the dial stops, rotate handle clockwise to open door.

Note:   Left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.    Do not count the rotations of the dial, count the individual number as it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.   For instance if your first number is 50, you would rotate the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.

You basically have two options available to you:

1.  As you have already had the house 10 years without using the safe, then I would recommend setting up a spread sheet with all of the possible combinations.    Testing 500 each and every day would only result in about 5.5 years to test all of the combinations.   Hopefully you find the one that opens it long before you go through all of them.
Cutting the number in half by only using every other number would yield about 125,000 combinations and take substantially less time, about 9 months to test them all, HOWEVER by skipping a number, even if you are close to the correct number it may not be close enough for the lever to actually engage and unlock the lock.

2.  Contact a safe technician from a local safe company (not a locksmith) to have them open the safe.    Cost to open and repair this particular safe should be in the $450 to $550 range plus any repair parts.     While manipulation is possible, you may not have any trained safe techs in your area, plus manipulation is never a guarantee, meaning that you may be paying for the service and not the result, which could be an additional $300-$600!!!!

Check your local Yellow Pages under "Safes & Vaults" for a local safe company.    Discuss opening options and associated costs with them.    They should be able to give you a flat fee price to open AND repair the container (plus any parts).    Hourly fees and hidden fees usually indicate that they don't know what they are doing, and aren't necessarily in your favor even if they seem low.

If you have questions about pricing options presented to you by a local company, feel free to run them by me, while I make no attempts to "price fix", there are many unreasonable and/or unqualified people out there that are more than willing to work on your safe, yet they have no training or skills.

You wouldn't take your car to a mechanic to have the oil changed if they indicated that they could change the oil but would ruin the engine in the process, similarly you shouldn't expect this type of service from your locksmith or safe company.

Hope this helps,


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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)


Safe and Vault related Questions; Antique Safe Repair and Restoration; With over 40 years in the Safe & Vault industry, if I can't answer your question I know where to get the answer. Current Project: Restoration of two Tilton & McFarland safes from the 1860'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.


40 years in the Safe & Vault Industry. 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

SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association

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 - 2014 - 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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