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Locksmithing/montomery ward safe 9031


was given an open mw safe with no combo. I have the locking mech. apart and out. im assuming the 5 number gaps on each of the 3 wheels. I figure the middle number would be the combo number.also how many times do I spin it between numbers? how many do I start with ect? thank you w.m

Hi Marcus,

First off, I NEVER recommend a DIY approach to safe work for the same reason that I generally don't recommend using locksmiths for safe work.   Lack of training, knowledge and tools can result in a very expensive lockout.    Its a lot cheaper to have a safe technician from a local safe company set it, than to mess with it and lock it up.

As far as your assumptions go, you are incorrect.    While the gate (gap) is where the lever fence engages isn't how you determine the number set on a particular wheel, however by aligning these gates and observing the corresponding number on the dial, you can come up with the combination.

Second item - NEVER spin or whirl the dial as this can cause damage to the lock.   dial smoothly.    Many of the safes that Montgomery Wards sold had plastic wheel packs, which were not designed to last for ever so the better care you take of it, the longer it will last.

The dialing sequence for your lock 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 - should be around 90.

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 on the dial ring.

There is no "starting point", simply start turning the dial and count the number.   For instance if your first number is 50, turn the dial counter clockwise, stopping the fourth time the number 50 arrives at the index mark.    Count left to 50 once, 50 twice, 50 three times, stopping on 50 the fourth time.

As you already have it apart, test dial the numbers that YOU obtain by observation.   If the lock does not unlock successfully then you need to take the safe or the door to a local safe company to have them recover or reset the combination for you.   They can ensure that the lock operates correctly and that you are dialing it correctly.

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

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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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