Locksmithing/Cole Safe Peephole


Hi Terry,

I've read two responses you gave to people regarding Cole Steel Equipment Co. cabinets, and learned first off what a peephole is and what it is used for.  It's just what I need, as I have a cabinet that is open but I do not have the combination.  I have three questions before I attempt to rediscover the combination:

1) Are all Cole cabinets 4-number combinations, with 4L-3R-2L-1R rotations?

2) If/when I see a notch in each wheel when it lines up with the peephole, does that correspond to the correct number lined up at that point, or does the notch need to rotate to the 12 o'clock position for the number to line up? (My peephole seems to be at about a 1 o'clock position as you look at it from the back of the door.)

3) Are the wheels and notches visible through the peephole first to last, or last to first? In other words, will the nearest wheel and notch correspond to the first or last number of the combination?
The dial is currently at 68 of 90 (I assume 68 then is approximately the last good number), but I cannot currently see a notch in the peephole, at least not at the front. It looks to me like I can see two wheels right now, with regularly spaced holes in them. I can maybe see another wheel behind the two in front, and maybe with a notch, but it is hard to see that deep.

Hi David,

1.  Pretty much, though depending on the actual cabinet, they used various locks.

2.  Correct - If you are dialing it correctly, when the wheel gate lines up - the corresponding number on the dial "IS" the number for that wheel.
Note:  If you line up the gates slightly off, and it doesn't open, you may have to add or subtract (+/-) slightly, to each number.

3.  The drive wheel is closest to the front of the safe, and the number one wheel is always furthest from the drive cam.   So as you look at the wheels, the are going to correspond correctly to your dialing sequence.

I have no idea what you are trying to describe as 68 of 90.    The above info, if followed correctly WILL recover the combination.   Ignore the evenly spaced holes in the wheels, these are used for setting or changing the combination, but they are not usually marked so you don't know what combination you are setting.    that's what the peep hole is for - to recover the combination.

As far as your having difficulty seeing the wheels and/or recovering the combination - no one indicated that it was easy.    This is also why I rarely recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   There is no reason for you to pay someone, who may have little more info than you do.

If you still have problems, then take it to a local safe company to have their safe technician recover the combination for you.  


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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 AllExperts.com

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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