Locksmithing/SAFE COMBINATION

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Question
MY SISTER HAS SENT ME A PIC OF A SAFE THAT THEY DO NOT HAVE THE COMBO TO, THE PLATE SAYS THE SAFE CABINET LABORATORY INSPECTED LE SAFE NO. 1388 OR 1588. THE DIAL SAYS YALE. THE DOOR IS OPENED. MY QUESTION IS CAN I TAKE THE BACK OF THE LOCK OFF AND TURN THE DIAL TIL I LINE UP THE PLATES UP TO DROP THE PINS AND GET THE COMBO THAT WAY.I ALSO HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT THIS LOCK IS RLR BUT COULD BE LRL? ANY HELP THERE? I ALREADY TOLD SIS TO CALL A LOCKSMITH IN HER STATE, BUT BECAUSE I AM A LOCKSMITH IN ANOTHER STATE DEAR SIS HAS ASKED MY ADVISE FIRST.

Answer
Hi Sandy,

Your safe was made at some time between 1926 to 1955.    As long as the door is locked open, the combination can be recovered and/or reset.
The "inspected LE Safe" indicates that this was a "Light Exposure" fire resistive safe.   They also made Medium Exposure (ME) and Heavy Exposure (HE) fire resistive safes.

Note:   I never recommend lock disassembly as a DIY project for the same reason that I don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.    In general, locksmiths do not have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes.    

I did note that you have indicated that you ARE a locksmith, so I need to say that the above paragraph is nothing personal, but as you are coming to me with this request, it does illustrate exactly what I was referring to.    Hopefully this job will get you more interested in safe work, and/or motivate you to get more training.   Trust me when I say that I was once where you are, so I know what I'm talking about.

For this reason I would recommend that you contact a local safe company to have them recover the combination for you and to give you the correct dialing sequence for the lock installed on your safe.

You have indicated that you would like to remove the back cover of the lock to simply line up the wheels to recover the combination.   Chances are, this lock has a removable lock curb - meaning that the combination wheels are attached to the lock plate.    Removing the lock cover also removes the wheels, so you can't simply dial them up until they line up.

Combination recover will require complete disassembly of the lock and observation of the wheel pack and individual wheels to determine the set combination, and then reassembly of the lock and dialing "TEST" combinations to determine the ACTUAL combination that the lock will unlock on.    Depending on the lock and other factors, it may NOT dial up exactly to the combination that you recover off of the wheels.

I would need more info on the lock or photos of it, to give you the correct dialing sequence for THAT particular lock.   Yale made various types for different manufacturers, but I would have to speculate that the actual dialing sequence for your lock is probably going to be as follows:

4 times Right to the first number,
3 times Left to the second number,
2 times Right to the third number,
1 time Left until the dial stops - should be around 10.

Note:   Left is counter clockwise and 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.

Have your sister check her yellow pages under safes & vaults to see if there is a local company.    If she can't find one, or if you need a referral, let me know where she is located (zip code) and I'll see whom I might know in her area.


Also, hopefully you will pursue this extra line of study.    Safes has always been an extremely fascinating pursuit for me.  

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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".

Organizations
SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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