Locksmithing/montgomery ward 9031


I have this safe that i have opened probably every week or every other week. I read your last post with someone who had the same model and I noticed they had 4 numbers in the combination. I believe i only have 3. maybe 4. let me explain. This is the method I have always used to opened it. turn counter clockwise several times to clear it and stop on 56. Turn clockwise past 56 twice and stop on 68. turn counter past 68 once and stop on 38. That is the end of the combination that was given to me when I bought it 2nd hand. but when stopped at 38 it wont open until I turn the dial counter clockwise to 81 (I think). I have always turned the handle and dial at the same time and it stops on its own on 81 i think and the safe opens. Now I cant get it open. I've tried and tried and tried with nothing. Any ideas short of cutting torches?


Sorry but they did not have four numbers in the combination.   What you are thinking is the "fourth" number is simply a reference number and NOT part of the combination.

The problem with combinations that are passed on, is that they are generally passed on the way the former owner understands the combination, and NOT necessarily the way it actually works.

The dialing sequence for your lock will be:

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 (possibly your fourth number).

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.   Forget PASSING a number and going to another number.   The ONLY thing you need to concentrate on is the number you are currently working on - PERIOD!!!!   Also forget turning the dial to CLEAR anything, this is simply something that people who don't understand the locks operation "THINK" that they have to do before dialing the combination.   FORGET IT!!!!   When the lock was locked, the combination was cleared.   No amount of additional dialing will clear it any more!!!!

For instance if your first number is 56, simply turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping on 56 the fourth time that it arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.   THAT'S IT!   FORGET the rest of stuff!    KEEP IT SIMPLE!!!

then you will turn the dial clockwise (right), stopping the third time the second number (68) arrives at the index mark.
Then turn the dial counter clockwise, (left), stopping the second time the third number (38) arrives at the index mark.
finally turn the dial clockwise (right) until the dial stops (possibly around 81).    THEN turn the handle to open the safe.

Turning the handle and the dial at the same time doesn't help.

There are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock won't open, in order they are:
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, OPERATOR ERRORS
2.  Incorrect combination, WRONG NUMBERS
3.  Mechanical problems.

If it still won't open, then you may need to have it checked out by a safe technician.

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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