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Locksmithing/can not get safe open


QUESTION: We believe we have the correct combo for our Cary Safe, even though it is a 5 digit number.  The safe was damaged approx. 20 years ago and believe a new set of tumblers may have been put in.  Safe has not been opened for a number of years.  Lock smith tried to open and could not.  We really don't care about the safes value.  How can we open it?


There are only three reasons that a safe lock will not open, in order they are:

1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors,
2.  Incorrect combination, wrong numbers,
3.  Mechanical problems.

If you have the correct numbers, then you are either making a dialing error, or the lock may have a mechanical problem.

If you are dialing it correctly, and it won't open, then either the numbers are incorrect or the lock may have a problem.

If you have the correct combination AND are dialing it correctly, then there may be a mechanical problem.

Generally the latter (mechanical problems) are blamed the most, and are usually the last problem.

As far as your combination being "5" numbers - Cary never used a lock which used 5 numbers.   The Yale Y-6 lock had four combination wheels and a drive wheel.   You may be mistaking the stopping point for the drive wheel as part of your combination.   This number is simply a reference number and NOT part of the combination.

You also may be dialing the lock incorrectly.   As you didn't provide me with any useful information, I have to assume that the serial number of your safe is between 89501 to 165988, then the lock would be the Yale Y6.   If you have a different serial number, then you may have a different lock.

The dialing sequence for the Yale Y6 is as follows:

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, slowly until the dial stops  (possibly your fifth number).

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.

I NEVER recommend using locksmiths for safe work as they generally don't have the knowledge, training or tools to work on safes, especially older ones.   I recommend that you contact a local safe company, to have their safe technician check it out.

If the combination or dialing sequence still doesn't work, then you will need the safe technician.

Note:  As you mentioned that the safe was previously damaged, and a lock may have been replaced.   I have to assume that the lock that is on the safe is possibly NOT the Yale Y6 mentioned above.    Without knowing what lock was installed, or retrofitted on to the safe, I would again have to refer you to a local safe company.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll have to see who I might know in your area that I would refer you to.

Hope this helps,

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

QUESTION: Thank you for your time.  I think we maybe in a bad spot with the safe.  It was placed in a designed closet area and then the a building was built and finished "around" it.  We need to get into it and probably figure a way to have the safe removed.  We live in area code 53949.  If you know of a person that could help us, I would appreciate it.
Thank you again.


I would recommend that you contact the following company.   he can take a look at it to help you decided how to get it moved out.    He is also only around 20 miles or so, from you.

Chucks Lock & Safe Service
608 254 2792       Chuck Hegel
3851 8th ave
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Hope this helps,


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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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