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Locksmithing/Shaw Walker Fire Safe


QUESTION: I have a Shaw Walker Fire Safe that my husband bought from the Government in 1999.  We moved it out here to California and moved it again when we moved house.  The combination does not seem to work anymore.  I had a very hard time getting it open last year.  I kept trying and eventually it did open.  I thought it was fixed so closed it again.  It won't open again.  I thought perhaps in all the moves it might have gotten "un-callibrated".  When I do the combination, I hear a click, but it won't open.  

Do you think it needs to be re-calibrated?  If so, would you be able to do it?   I live in Sausalito.

Thank you,


ANSWER: Olivia,

sorry, but there are no "calibrations" for the lock, however it could be out of alignment and/or simply just need servicing.   

Just like ANY mechanical item, it needs occasional cleaning and lubrication to continue working.   Chances are it has never had any type of service done, so the old grease may be hardened and the wheel pack may not be functioning correctly.

If you do get it open, do not close it again until you have it serviced.

Luckily you are in my back yard, so getting a service tech to you is no problem.   If you would like to schedule up a service call, phone me and I would be happy to discuss it with you.   800-326-4224

I should be in the office most of tomorrow.

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


Thank you for your response.  Do I have to have it open to get it serviced?

Also, could you please confirm that with a Shaw Walker safe, I turn the dial four times to the left, stopping on the first number.  Then one time around past the first number, stopping the second time on the second number.  Then directly to the third number.  Then back to zero, where I flip the tab in the middle of the dial and back to the first number again?  This always used to work, but since it has gotten out of whack, I just wanted to double check.

Thank you,


Hi Olivia,

Yes the container would need to be opened for service - other wise it is considered locked out - which is much more expensive.    Generally if you have the correct combination, our service techs can open it with little problem, before servicing it.

The dialing sequence for the lock will depend on what lock is installed.   

with the small butterfly knob in the center of the dial, the lock is an S&G 8400 series lock, and the dialing sequence would 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 to "0" - hold the dial and turn the butterfly knob counter clockwise 90 degrees, then continue to turn the dial right until it stops. (has nothing to do with your first number).

Note:   left is counter clockwise, right is clockwise.

You might try dialing +/- 1 or 2 numbers.    

If you still can't get it open it is probably time to have us come check it out.


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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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