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Basement Wall Safe
Basement Wall Safe  
Andy,

We recently purchased a home that contains an old combination wall safe in the partial basement.  The home was built in the mid-50's so I expect the safe is from that era as well.  It is Johnson Pacific safe from Richmond with the old phone number (Beacon 4-4255).  The serial number is 22882.  I also have a short list of potential combinations from the original owner who is now well into her 80's.  I have not been able to get any one of the potential combinations to work.  Do you know the sequence of right/left rotations that these safes used?  It that does not work, do you have any suggestions on opening the safe without damaging it?

Thanks,
Mark

Answer
Mark,

You know what they say about making "assumptions".   Using the "Phone number" as an example, while MA Bell, began phasing out the use of the mnemonic phone numbers (LLN-NNNN) in 1958, in favor of all numbers, by 1977 only 74% of the country had made the change, so JUST using the phone number as an indication, it is just as likely that the safe was installed possibly 20+ years AFTER your home was built.

But as Johnson-Pacific was out of business in 1984, at a minimum it gives us some reference dates.

Assuming that the lock on your safe is the original lock, you could examine it for a manufacturing date (stamped inside the lock) to determine when the lock was made.   "IF" it is the original lock, this would give us a date that the safe would probably have been made after, and help adjust an approximate date of installation as well.     Obviously if the lock is not the original lock, then this doesn't help.

The lock on this safe is a modified S&G 6720 series lock.   Modified for use by JP on their doors.    The dialing sequence for this lock is:

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 (around 90).

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.    For instance if your first number is 50, you would turn the dial counter clockwise (left), stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.    There is no "starting point", simply start turning the dial left and count 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, stopping on 50 the fourth time it arrives.

Note 2:  You need to be fairly accurate when you stop on a number.   Over 1/2 number off may not work.   If you make a mistake on the first number, simply go one more revolution around.   If you make a mistake on the next two numbers, you must start all the way over.

There are only three reasons why a safe lock will not open, in order they are:
1.  Incorrect dialing sequence, operator errors,
2.  Incorrect combination, wrong numbers
3.  Mechanical problems.

In MANY cases, when a combination is passed on, it is done so in the manner that THAT owner or operator UNDERSTANDS the dialing sequence, and NOT necessarily the way that the lock works.   When the new owner attempts to open the safe, if you are NOT making the same errors that the previous owner was doing, then the lock may not operate.    Regardless of how the previous owner tells you to dial the safe, if you have the correct numbers and you are correctly using the above instruction, the lock should open.   If it still won't open, then it may be time to contact a local safe company.

As you are in California, and JP was a SF Bay area company, if you are in northern California, you are probably in my service area.   If you can't get it open with the numbers that you have, call me up to schedule a service call to check the safe out.    If you are outside of my service area and don't have a local safe company - NOT a locksmith, then let me know where you are located (zipcode) and I'll see who I might know in your area.

Hope this helps,  

Locksmithing

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Terry V. Andreasen (Andy)

Expertise

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.

Experience

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".

Organizations
SafeCrackers International and the National Antique Safe Association Safe & Vault Technicians Association (SAVTA)

Publications
The Coffee Table Guide to Antique Safes AllExperts.com

Education/Credentials
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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