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Locksmithing/Locked Diebold safe, trying to open


Hi, I have an old locked  Diebold Fire safe pat. May 23 1871 s/n 26042...45"high 30"wide 24"deep. I picked it up at a local auction, was told the family that brought it in did not know the combo or the contents, I have been trying to manipulate the wheels (lot of reading) and I know it's a four wheel pack, 100 increments. Dial collar says "left" "right" and an arrow in the center. No change index mark. After spending a week or so charting the wheels I noticed some very faint writing on an old service sticker, (the sun hit it just right), they are: 48367 and then there is a phone number (no longer in business) 824-6269.
Any ideas???? I tried all the obvious combos I could make,,thought there might be an old (safe technician standard) for concealing a numer? ,,there is an old repaired drill hole at the 80 mark, looks professionally re welded. Thanks for any advice!

Hi Danny,

The reason there is no "changing index", is because this is a "zero" change lock.

You are right, I would expect it to be a 4 wheel lock, giving you a possible 100,000,000 possible test combinations.

As far as there being a "safe techs standard" for writing down and/or concealing the combination, the answer is no.    The standard is that we DO NOT keep copies of customers combinations, and we do not write them down, even coded on the safe.   "IF" this was done, then the service tech was not an honest or ethical person and hopefully they are no longer in business.    Also, as this is not something that is normally done, if you don't know what the customers or the techs coding method was, then you have no way of decoding anything.    You may not know whether or not these numbers have any thing to do with the combination until after you actually get the safe open and recover the combination.

Generally I would tell you that your chances of hitting the lottery are better than finding something inside of an old safe, however the ONE caveat to this rule, would be a death in the family.   You didn't mention the reasons that the previous owners brought it in, however people tend to be greedy and rarely let go of or abandon a safe with the possibility of "stuff" being inside of the safe.      Sounds to me like they knew it was empty, but used that story to entice possible buyers.

As far as the welded hole, I've learned over the years NEVER to follow someone else's tracks.   I determine how I'm going to open the safe based on my experience and with the idea that I don't damage or ruin any safe or lock that may be antique as repair parts may not be available.   Second reason is the unknown repair.    When I repair a drilled safe, I repair it to meet or exceed the standard that it was built to, when it left the factory.    Which includes using ball bearings and tapered roller bearings.     I don't know if you have ever drilled through one, but if you don't have special equipment and drill bits you are in for a fight.    I always assume that the person repairing the safe has the same ethics that I do,  so bottom line I come up alternative solutions.

Good luck on your attempts at manipulation.   Even some of the best manipulators in the business won't take on a four wheel lock when there are alternatives.    Time is money and there isn't any reason to spend hours manipulating when the safe can be opened and repaired in a much shorter time, and if done professionally, there shouldn't be ANY damage to the safe or the lock.  


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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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