we purchased a vanguard VS-200 at a garage sale. the guy gave us the combination and said it belonged to his parents and that he had never personally tried the combination. Of course we cant get it to open backwards or forwards. if I give you the serial # and the # on the inside of the door can you look up the combination? this is what the paper says:right 4 times to 90, left 3 times to 26, right to 95, turn back to 38 then reverse dial it opens.

Hi Kathy,

There are ONLY three reasons a safe lock will not open - in order they are:

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

"ASSUMING" that the combination he gave you is correct the dialing sequence should be:

4 times left TO the first number,  90
3 times right TO the second number, 26
2 times left to the third number, 95
1 time right to the last number, 38 - stop - turn the handle or key to open.

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.

Unfortunately, many people pass combinations along the way that THEY understand them and NOT necessarily the way the lock works, that may also be the case here.

You can also reverse the directions above and try that.   If it still won't open, then you may not have the actual combination for your container.

As far as checking the serial number - sorry records simply don't exist.   VanGuard safes were an imported safe built specifically for sales by Sears & Roebucks.    They haven't been around for 30 plus years now.

If your combination still won't work, then you will have to have it checked out by a safe technician at a local safe company - note:   I never recommend using locksmiths as they generally don't have the training, knowledge or tools to work on safes without causing excessive damage or charging exorbant fees.

Check your local yellow pages under "safes & vaults" for a local company.

Warning - cost to have the safe opened will probably exceed the value of the container several times over - hope you didn't pay much for it.   This is also why I don't recommend buying stuff like this at a garage sale.  


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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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