Locksmithing/Cary Safe


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I know you are the man to ask regarding a Cary safe. Serial #122064. It came with a house I recently purchased and was open. I closed the safe (empty) to try the combination I was given. Haven't gotten it opened yet....
From what I have read it has a yale y-6 lock approx. Circa 1915ish. I have also read 4 CC, 3 C, 2 CC, 1 C to stop. I supposedly have been given the right three digit combination and tried many times unsuccessfully. My question is, is there any hints as to how I might actually turn the dial with the best technique? i.e. Loosely, always pull out on the dial, always push in, Proper number of actually start and stops between a full rotation. I am afraid that not being opened or closed in many years has effected the tumblers and they are not working correctly. Is there a way that I can check, now that the safe has been closed. Did I possible not close it correctly? Any extra advise you could lend would be helpful. Even possible a reference for the S.E. Wisconsin area. Thanks again for any input.

ANSWER: Hi Ryan,

Yes, I would expect your safe to have a Yale Y-6 Lock installed, however my records indicate that your safe would more than likely have been built around 1913, so it is slightly older than you thought, and would be considered an antique (over 100 years old).

The correct dialing sequence for this lock would be as follows:

5 times right to the first number,      (first wheel)
4 times left to the second number,      (second wheel)
3 times right to the third number,      (third wheel)
2 times left to the fourth number,      (fourth wheel)
1 time right until the dial stops - turn handle to open.

Note 1:  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 2:  As this lock uses a "friction fence", and a gravity drop bolt, if there is any pressure from the handle, door or bolt work, pressing on the lock bolt, it will not drop correctly.   Ensure that pressure is not on the lock.   You can do this by wiggling the handle back and forth before dialing the combination.
Note 3:  Many "owners" don't want all of the dialing listed above, so many times they will have the first and second wheel set on the same numbers, while this appears to be for a three wheel lock, the dialing sequence still needs to address the four wheels.   it can be modified as this:

5 times left to the first number       (first & second wheel)
3 times right to the second number     (third wheel)
2 times left to the third number       (fourth wheel)
1 time right until the dial stops - turn handle to open

as far as "YOUR" dialing techniques - you shouldn't have to push in or pull out on the dial at all, simply turn left or right as necessary.   If you are having to pull out or push in to engage the drive wheel and combination wheels, then you either have a problem with the lock or it needs servicing before you get locked out permanently!

Also, I'm not sure where you came up with "start & stops between full rotations" but if you are doing this, it is for YOUR benefit, and NOT the locks.   You are NOT counting revolutions of the dial, you are ONLY interested in the actual number that you are working on, and "ITS" arrival at the 12 o'clock index mark.

For instance if your first number is 50, you will turn the dial clockwise (right), stopping the FIFTH time the number 50 arrives at the index.   Don't worry about the revolutions of the dial, simply count 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, 50 four times, stopping the fifth time 50 arrives.
I don't care if these are actually revolutions - I'm trying to make this as simple as possible for you, especially as the following numbers may be in position to NOT make a full revolution the first time that you dial them.

Not opening the safe WILL not affect the "WHEELS" of the lock, however if the safe has not been serviced, then old grease, which may dry and harden, can easily affect their operation.

As far as recommending a company in your area, I'll need a better reference as to where you are located other than S.E. Wisconsin.   Generally I ask for a zipcode, as I can check my databases to see who might be close to you.

If you still have any contact with the people you bought your house from, you may want to contact them to verify that you have the correct numbers.   It would also be helpful if you provided them to me, so I can get an idea where you might be making any dialing errors at.

Hope this helps,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks Terry.
I understand the concept of counting the revolutions at the 12' o'clock index position. My questions was whether the dial needs to make a full 360 each turn or if it is OK to turn 180 then 180 or 120 then 120 then 120 to make one rotation... Minor point. The combination I was given is 86-34-22. And my zip is 53212.
I am concerned in only being given 3 number, but I haven't tried (and will) give the first number twice a try.
My handle has little to no play in it when moving it back and forth while locked so I am unsure whether any pressure is being applied to the lock. Thanks for the input and keep your fingers crossed.

Hi Ryan

I'm not sure where you are going with the 360/180 degree turns, but you are basically just going to confuse yourself - forget what ever you were trying, and keep it simple - just turn the dial.   It doesn't matter if you need to stop to reposition your hand to continue turning, the ONLY thing you are interested in is the NUMBER that you are currently dialing to.
Also, you don't need to try the first number twice, just follow the instructions that I provided.   Your dialing sequence should be:

5 times left to the first number     (86)
3 times right to the second number   (34)     
2 times left to the third number     (22)  
1 time right until the dial stops - turn handle to open

Turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the fifth time the number 86 arrives, then
Turn the dial clockwise (right), stopping the third time the number 34 arrives, then
Turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the second time the number 22 arrives, then
Turn the dial clockwise until it stops.

I'm not concerned about your only being given 3 numbers as I mentioned before, this is very common.

If the combination is correct, and if you have dialed it correctly, then the dial will stop.

Note:  When turning the dial clockwise from 86 to the first time that 34 arrives at the index mark is only about 1/2 of a revolution, which is why I do not recommend counting revolutions - it will screw you up.   Simply count the individual number.

As for the play in the handle, while it may be very slight, it should have some minor movement.   If you are not getting anything at all, then my concern is that something is causing pressure, which can keep the lock from operating.   Whether something is caught in the door, or it is simply dirt & debris, if the bolt work is providing pressure on the lock bolt, it WILL bind it in the locked position.

You might try pressing in on the door to relieve any pressure, and then wiggling the handle.

Fortunately for you, there are a couple really good safe companies fairly close to you.   Generally I'm recommending someone from 100-200 miles away, so this is a nice change.   

I recommend that you contact either or both of these companies to discuss your safe.   Please note that most lock & safe companies don't appreciate price shopping customers and may take offense.   If you elect to contact both of them be discreet in your questions and keep it about the safe, and NOT about cost.   Make your decision based on the service that you will receive and NOT the price.   If you have any questions concerning their help getting your safe opened feel free to run it by me.

You can check with:

Deskalo Safe & Lock          about 5 miles away
414-351-5366         David Deskalo
2415 West Suelane Rd
Glendale, WI  53209


Professional Safe & Lock Service          about 8 miles away
414 327 5625         John Soderland
5123 West Howard Avenue
Milwaukee, WI  53220

Hope this helps, let me know if you have any further questions.


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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 AllExperts.com

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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