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Locksmithing/Meilink safe unable to open

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Question
Hi Andy,

I have my father's Meilink safe. I have the combination but am not able to open it. We moved the safe (in a locked state) to our home. My question, is there a security mechanism that would cause the safe to not open due to moving the safe, causing a security breach? Re locker? If this occurred, is there any way to open the safe without damaging it? What is the best way to locate a qualified person to gain access to the safe. I also have the company name that the safe was purchased from. Would it be advisable to contact them for assistance (they are in another state). Thank you.

Answer
Hi Shari,

While some Meilink safes DO have a relocking device, unless you dropped off the back of a moving van while unloading it, you would NOT have fired it off.    If this was the case, the lock would still unlock, however the handle and bolt work would NOT retract opening the safe.   As you have indicated that the lock is not unlocking, then I would discount this probability right away.

There are ONLY three reasons that a safe lock will not unlock.    In order they are:

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

So, based on your comments, I'm assuming that you do have the correct combination, though I would caution you to DOUBLE check to ensure that you have the correct numbers.    You don't know HOW many times we arrive at a safe, and the customer indicates that they have the correct combo, which they have been using for years - upon opening the safe and recovering the opening combination it is discovered that they have made a mental mistake, either switching numbers around or substituting numbers.    When presented with the correct combination, of course they are flabbergasted and assume that the safe had to somehow change numbers!!!!

As mentioned the most often seen problem with safes, even those where someone uses it on a daily basis, is an incorrect dialing sequence.    This is really an issue where a safe is transferred from one owner to another.    Many times combinations are passed along the way that the previous owner understands the dialing sequence and not necessarily the way that the LOCK actually works.    So this is where we are going to start.    The dialing sequence that I would expect to find on a lock on your safe 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 until the dial stops  (should be around 90,   85-95ish).

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.

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 index mark.    Again, we are counting the actual NUMBER as it arrives and NOT the revolutions of the dial.


Ok, if it still won't unlock, then it may be a mechanical issue.    Chances are that during the move, you may have hit or bumped the dial and/or dial ring slightly.    This can change the actual dialing combination several numbers.    While it DOES NOT change the combination on the lock, it DOES change your reference point on the dial ring.

You can check up to 10 combinations to see if the safe will open and if this is the problem.   Simply add and subtract single digits until you have tested up to 5 numbers on either side of your combination.    So for example if you combination is 20-30-40 you would also try  21-31-41, 22-32-42,  23-33-43 and of course minus to 19-29-39, or 18-28-38  -   you get the idea.

If you manage to get the safe open using one of these combination sets, then you can either continue to use it as the new combination, or (my recommendation) would be to have the safe serviced to get everything reset the way it is suppose to be.    You shouldn't have to be playing guessing games with the safe, in order to get it open.


If the safe STILL won't open, it is NOW time to contact a local safe company.   You don't have to call the company that sold the safe, but if you can't find someone locally, you can check with them to see if there is anyone closer that they would recommend, or provide me with your zipcode and I'll see whom I might know and/or recommend in your area.   The company that your father purchased the safe from may in fact be the closest!!!!


Hope this helps, it gives you some alternatives to try before calling for expensive assistance.   If it still won't open, it may save you some money if you can load it up again, and take it to the safe company, at least you won't be paying an expensive service charge or trip charge.  

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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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