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Locksmithing/HERRING HALL MARVIN SAFE

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QUESTION: I KNOW THE COMBINATION, BUT SHE WILL NOT OPEN...
THE COMBINATION HAS ALWAYS BEEN FOUR NUMBERS, BUT WHEN I STOP ON THE 2ND TO LAST NUMBER... I'D TURN QUICKLY TO THE LEFT AND THE DIAL WOULD STOP ON THE LAST NUMBER AND THE DOOR WOULD OPEN. HELP...
WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY AND ALL HELP...
THANK YOU, JOHN

ANSWER: Hi John,

First question - WHEN was the last time the safe and/or lock was serviced???    And in answer to your question - YES, they do need servicing to keep the lock clean and lubricated correctly and the combination accurate.
Just like a watch - even if you have an expensive watch, OCCASSIONALLY you have to reset it to keep it accurate, combination locks need service.

Second item - NEVER spin or whirl the dial.    As you have mention that you "Quickly turn to the left and the dial would stop".   Quickly turning the dial until it "slams" to a stop can cause damage to the lock components AND slightly change the combination over a period of time.   Chances are it has been getting more difficult over the past several months or years and you've just ignored it.   While YOU may believe that you haven't been "Slamming" the lock to a stop, the small parts in the lock are made of brass, which is a softer metal, so it doesn't take much to damage, distort or break small pieces.

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

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

While generally I always suspect problem #1 or 2, in your case it can easily be a mechanical issue that will require hands on servicing and/or repairs.

As Herring-Hall-Marvin has basically been out of business since 1959, your safe would be at least 55 plus years old, and chances are it has only been serviced a couple times in that period.

You can try dialing slightly high and/or low (plus or minus a number) to see if you can get it open, however this is NOT going to be your new combination - Your safe will still need maintenance.

If you can't get it to open, check your yellow pages under safes & vaults to find a local safe company.   NOTE:   I never recommend using locksmiths as they generally do not have the training, knowledge and/or tools to work on safes.

If you don't have a local safe company, let me know where you are located (zip code) and I'll see who I might now in your area.

Sorry I can't be of more help at this time, but mechanical issues require HANDS ON diagnostics and solutions.




---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello Andy -
This safe has been in a climate controlled storage for 4.5 years...I haven't opened it since. This baby is huge and I have never serviced it in the past 23 years! If you'd be so kind as to checking on someone in my area, I would truly appreciate this...my zip code is 78259. I don't need to get in it right away as I am kind of broke at this time and between jobs.
Thank you once again for your advice and help!!
John

Answer
Hi John,

regardless of the "climate controlled area",  Lubricants have a "useful" life.   They begin to chemically change as soon as they come into contact with steel, brass etc.    This is one of the reasons that your auto mechanic tells you XXXX miles or X months - WHICH ever comes first.   Even if you aren't using the car the oil and lubricants begin to break down or harden up.    Wet surfaces are also dust & debris magnets, meaning that ANY debris that attaches to the lubricant becomes a sort of "grinding compound", wearing away on the metal.

While I understand the "cash flow issues" this isn't going to change your safe situation any.   Just like anything else, you simply need to budget available funds when they are available.

You can try the following safe company, they aren't too far from you.

Fuller's Alamo Safe & Lock
210-344-4523
3723 West Ave
San Antonio, TX  78213

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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