Locksmithing/CSS safe won't open

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Question
I have a CSS safe S 87833 that will not open.I first changed the battery. I have found that with the battery out of it's plastic housing (if I just hold it in position with my finger)I can get the keypad to beep. It then beeps 2x after i enter the combo but the motor will not run (on 1 attempt it ran for a long time then stopped). can you help me get this open without calling a locksmith? Thank you.

Answer
Hi Kevin,

Unfortunately electronic locks only have two modes - they either work or they don't work.   If they won't work, you WILL need a safe technician - NOT a locksmith.

You haven't given me any useful information concerning the lock.   CSS was not a safe manufacturer as much as they were a distributor - relabeling imported safes with their logo.   They used a number of DIFFERENT locks depending on what the end user's needs were.   One of the more prominent locks they used were S&G's 6120 motor lock, which does have a higher than normal failure rate.

In general though, the main reason that most electronic locks don't work is simply a power issue.  Bad or Low batteries.

#1.   Use ONLY good quality "Alkaline" batteries.   Don't use cheap ones or lithium or rechargeable, or heavy duty - STICK with Alkaline ONLY!    Recommended batteries include Energizer and Duracell.

#2.   While the battery MAY container enough energy (power) to run the electronics, it may not have enough to run the mechanical portion of the lock, regardless of if its a motor or solenoid.   I always recommend checking the battery voltage with a digital multimeter.   We don't care if the battery has power, what we want to know is HOW much.   Generally batteries under 8 vdc, are considered low and should be changed out.   I've seen them operate the lock as low as 7 vdc, but not often.
Also check your new batteries.   Just because they are brand new in the pack, does NOT mean that they have a full charge.   There may be more than enough juice to run your child's bunny, but NOT a digital lock.    New batteries should read between 9.3 to 9.6 vdc.

The lock will not lose its code when you change batteries.   In fact the lock WILL NOT lose its code unless you change it.   As long as you are getting the correct number of beeps when you input the code, the electronics are accepting the code.   If it still won't open, then you have a mechanical issue that is not allowing the lock to open or retract.

If you are getting an incorrect set of beeps after entering your code, and if you haven't recently tried to change the code, then you may have a bad key pad.    Most keypads use a "membrane" type key pad, which are very susceptible to damage and moisture.   Regardless of if you can't see the damage, this doesn't mean that the key pad isn't damaged.   If it isn't functioning correctly, or it won't accept input on certain buttons, it needs replacement.

Based on your description of the problem, I would assume that you have an S&G 6120 lock with a motor bolt.   I don't like to assume, but again, you didn't provide me with much useful info.

One of the main problems with this lock, is that it is susceptible to side pressure from the main bolt work.   If the door isn't closed and locked correctly, and/or if something is caught or jammed in the door edge or bolt work, the extra pressure placed on the lock bolt will cause the motor to strip out either the drive screw or the retraction nut.   These items can only take so much abuse before one or both will strip their threads.    Then its like putting your car in neutral - you can run the engine as fast as you want, but the tires don't turn!

Recommendation #1 - Change the batteries with NEW, Alkaline only, good quality batteries.   Also check them with a digital multimeter to see what the voltage actually is.

Recommendation #2 - Ensure that the door s closed all the way - push in on it, and make sure the handle is turned fully to the locked position.   Wiggle it back and forth to ensure it is loose.
Try your code, slowly, one button at a time and ensure that you are getting a beep for EACH button, as well as the correct number of beeps to signal the code was accepted correctly.

If the lock opens, chances are you are done.   Visually make sure that NOTHING inside the safe is in the way of, or impairs the door and bolt work closing correctly.

If you still have problems, or you can't get it open, then you WILL need to have a trained safe tech, who IS familiar with digital locks, their correct operation, problems and opening techniques, to come out and pay your safe a visit.

Sorry, there isn't any magic here - it either works or it doesn't.

Check your local yellow pages under safes & vaults for a local company.    If you don't have one, let me know where you and/or the safe are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might know and/or recommend in your area.

Hope this helps,

Locksmithing

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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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