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Locksmithing/Old "antique" Diebold Safe


Diebold Safe with keylock
Diebold Safe with keyl  
My grandparents had a Diebold safe with square cornered doors. We are having problems trying to open the safe, even though we are confident we have the correct combination.  We are also using the LRLR, 4321 dialing method.  The question is, there is a keyhole and lock located on the bottom left corner of the door.  We have the key and the lock turns, but we don't know what that lock is for. Must we turn that key in conjunction with dialing the combo to facilitate releasing the bolt?  If we need onsite help, is there anyone in the San Francisco area that you can recommend?  Thank you.


I can pretty much guarantee you that this safe isn't a production Diebold safe.   "IF" the lock was installed at the factory, it would have been for a very specific request.   More than likely it was installed at a later date by a locksmith or safe company at a customer's request for extra security.

As far as operating the lock - this lock is NOT tied into the combination lock at all.   It is totally separate and must be operated independently - HOWEVER, if it is acting as a dual custody type lock, it MUST be in the unlocked position, either for the door to open, or the bolt work to move.
Again, this has no bearing on the combination lock, other than BOTH locks need to be unlocked before the door can be opened.

based on its position, I would assume that it would be installed VU and the lock bolt would probably interact with the lower door bolt, keeping it from retracting unless this lock was unlocked.

Generally items like this are used as a "dual custody" measure, with one person having the keys and one person having the combination.   BOTH people would need to be present to open the safe.
Either lock can be unlocked in any order before opening the door - or  Open the key lock, then do the combination,  -   or  do the combination, then unlock the key lock, then turn the handle.

As far as having a service company in your area, my shop is across the bay in Hayward, so YES, you are in my service area.

As for having the correct combination, you may not have the correct combo - or you may be dialing it incorrectly.

The lock that I would expect to find on this container is a four wheel lock, meaning the dialing sequence for it should be:

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.   (lock bolt is retracted)

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 many customers don't want to use 4 full numbers, many times the first and second wheels are placed on the same number, so your dialing sequence would change as follows:

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.

There are ONLY three reasons why a combination lock won't open - in order they are:
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors,
2.  Incorrect combination, wrong numbers,
3.  Mechanical problems.

In this case if you do have the correct numbers, you may be simply making a dialing error.
If you are dialing it correctly, then I would doubt that your numbers are correct - or you are possibly missing a number.

If you still can't get it to open, then you may want to contact me to schedule up an appointment.  Our hours are Mon-Fri 8am to 4:30pm, though I like to have my guys out of the city before the 3pm traffic rush starts.
You can call me at 510-732-8710 or email me at:

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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