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Locksmithing/trouble opening safe w/combination


We inherited an older Meilink safe that is frustrating to open. We have the combination and have opened it a few times, but it takes numerous attempts. The dial has numbers from 0-99 and the instructions indicate a RLRL sequence but an added note states it may be LRLR. I've tried opening it like any normal padlock works and it does not seem to work. The big question is: What defines a complete turn either way?  Does 2R mean 2 complete turns past 0 or past the previous number? On the final turn is it a complete turn or do you stop the first time you encounter the last number? Is there any other reason why it will open sometimes and not others? Thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Hi Gary,

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.

Based on your description of the problem - it would appear that your problem is related to either item one or three.    As you didn't indicate when the safe was last serviced (maintenance), then I would recommend that it is possibly a source of your problem.   Many times combinations are passed along the way a previous owner understands the combination, and NOT necessarily the way the lock actually works.

As for the dialing sequence, the CORRECT sequence should 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.

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 - it does not matter where you begin, simply start dialing counter clockwise (left), stopping the FOURTH time the number 50 arrives at the index.

forget all the baloney about passing zero, or complete turns, etc.    Simply turn the dial left and count 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times and stop on 50 the fourth time.

Similarly if your second number is 25.    After you have reached 50 the fourth time, you would then reverse the direction, dialing clockwise (right), stopping the THIRD time the number 25 arrives at the 12 o'clock index mark.    This means that from 50 to the first time that 25 arrives will be only one quarter turn.   AGAIN - you are NOT counting revolutions, you are ONLY interested in the number you are working on.

If you still have problems and/or can't open the container, then I would recommend that you have it checked out and serviced by a safe technician from a local safe company.   After servicing it, he can go over the proper dialing sequence for YOUR combination, based on the lock that is installed.

Hope this helps,  


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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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